Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Very Rare Visitor on Rockabill

Given the lovely weather and calm seas today (and dire forecasts for the next week or so), and our hard work ethic (!), Andrew and I decided to put our rowing lessons to good use and take a trip over to 'The Bill' today to check for Arctic Tern nests, Black Guillemot nests and see if the Kittiwakes have started laying eggs yet (first egg on 'The Rock' yesterday!). 

Almost immediately we were greeted by two Swallows, a Wheatear, a Racing Pigeon and a Collared Dove - all species we've seen already on Rockabill this year, but all a welcome sight nevertheless. But then something a bit different caught Andrew's eye - a female Ortolan Bunting! We managed to get a good look at it, as well as a few pictures, as it bounced around in the rocks and small patches of vegetation on the Bill, before it headed off west towards the mainland - so keep your eyes out if you're in Dublin!!

Female Ortolan Bunting (A.Power)

The Ortolan Bunting is a very rare visitor to Ireland and Great Britain, with most Irish records from counties on the south coast and more often in autumn than in spring/summer. So this is not only quite a rarity, but is quite possibly the first record of the species in Dublin!

Female Ortolan Bunting (B. Burke)

The Ortolan Bunting winters in tropical Africa and breeds in many European countries, with this bird obviously having overshot it's normal migration and accidently ending up in Ireland. Unfortunately they are a target for some French chefs who catch them in nets, force-feed them and then drown them in brandy before serving them on a large plate for them to be eaten whole (read more here). Luckily we had both just had lunch, so were happy to just watch our new visitor!

It just goes to show you have to keep your eyes peeled no matter where you are, you just never know what might turn up!

Female Ortolan Bunting (B. Burke)

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