Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Rockabill Species List 2014

So as part of our day-to-day work we've been keeping a species list of the birds we see on and around the island - it's done by a lot of similar projects, and it can be particularly interesting for an island such as Rockabill because only a few species really belong here, but plenty either get lost or blown of course and end up out here! Here's the list of species we've seen so far......

So we've seen all of the usual species that breed on and generally hang around Rockabill:
1) Roseate Tern
2) Common Tern
3) Arctic Tern
4) Black Guillemot
5) Turnstone
6) Oystercatcher
7) Rock Pipit
8) Kittiwake
9) Great Black-Backed Gull
10) Herring Gull

Common Tern - the most numerous species on Rockabill (Picture taken under NPWS license)

We've also seen a lot of water/sea-bird species that breed on the nearby Lambay and Skerries Islands:
11) Cormorant
12) Shag
13) Common Guillemot
14) Razorbill
15) Puffin
16) Fulmar
17) Gannet
18) Shelduck
19) Manx Shearwater

Razorbill - they don't breed on Rockabill, but do breed on nearby Lambay, so they're commonly seen feeding in the sea here
Gannet - Like the Razorbill they breed on Lambay Island, but are often seen passing Rockabill.

We've also seen a few spring migrants that took a slight detour out here! Some probably got lost or blown off course, but the Swallows have bred out here in the past and we're hoping we'll have a pair again this year!
20) Barn Swallow
21) House Martin
22) Cuckoo
23) Willow Warbler
24) Chiffchaff
25) Whitethroat
26) Wheatear
27) Spotted Flycatcher
28) Common Sandpiper

(Barn) Swallow - Hopefully a pair will decide to nest in one of the buildings/sheds on Rockabill this year. (Picture not taken on Rockabill unfortunately)

And here's a 'record shot' of the Whitethroat in one of the gardens on Rockabill. A record shot basically means a photograph that isn't always very good, but shows enough that you're able to ID the bird from the picture!
Male Whitethroat on Rockabill (record shot)

Then there's some birds that are common around Ireland that occasionally show up here. Again, probably somewhat lost but these ones aren't too surprising to see either:
29) Hooded Crow
30) Dunlin
31) Feral Pigeon/Rock Dove
32) Common Gull
33) Collared Dove
34) Pied Wagtail

As well as a not-so-accidental visit from:
35) Peregrine Falcon

And lastly we have two birds that aren't really at home in Ireland at all, but that do turn up here from time to time - both nice surprises to see out on Rockabill! 
36) White Wagtail (a different subspecies to the Pied Wagtail - these guys live on mainland Europe)
37) Little Gull (a passage migrant, a small number spend the winter in the south/east of Ireland)

White Wagtail - a much paler colour than the Pied Wagtail that's quite common in towns and carparks across Ireland. (another record shot).

So that's the 37 different bird species/subspecies we've seen in our three weeks here so far. Last year the wardens managed to see 51 bird species in total - so that's our target to beat!

- Brian and Donnacha

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