South Dublin Branch - Outing Report

Bluethroat - Ballycotton, Cork (photo: Paul & Andrea Kelly)

North Bull Island - 10th October 2021.

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Some of the 50 South Dublin members that made their way across the city to the North Bull Island for our October outing. Picture by Ronan Browne.

South Dublin Members on the Bull Island, 10th October 2021 (picture: Ronan Browne)

Bull Island has always been a favorite spot among bird watchers. It is also a location that is perfect for large groups. The causeway provides easy access and lots of parking, along with plenty of space to facilitate social distancing. A total of 50 people attended our October outing, with a mix of regular members and some new faces. We had luck on our side weather wise, as the sun was shining and warm throughout the morning.

With a much bigger group than usual, taking the group photo while remaining socially distant proved to be a bit difficult but Ronan managed very well. Despite the wide paths along the causeway, our photo session seemed to disturb some joggers and walkers, but a few stopped to ask the why we were there and what birds had been spotted so far.

An aerial view of North Bull Island and the mouth of the River Liffey. Picture by Aidan G. Kelly.

An aerial view of the North Bull Island (picture: Aidan G. Kelly)

North Bull Island was formed 200 years ago during the construction of Dublin Port. While the port was being built the silt was dumped in the sea south of the construction site. Since then, it has evolved into the unique coastal site that it is today, boasting four different habitats including saltmarsh, mudflats, dunes and scrub. The island was designated as Ireland’s first bird sanctuary in 1931 and was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981.

We started out on the north side of the causeway looking toward the saltmarsh and mudflats. The view definitely did not disappoint! The saltmarsh was filled with many gulls and waders, including Lapwing, Greenshank, Redshank, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit and a few Bar-tailed Godwit.

A wintering Curlew, unlikely to be from the Irish breeding population, probably from somewhere further east. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Curlew, North Bull Island, 10th October 2021 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

Close to the coastal road we were delighted to spot a Mute Swan with its cygnets among the Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed, Herring and Common Gulls. Close to the Swan family was a Little Egret, which looked sparkling white in the sunshine. Some close in Curlew gave great views to all without the need for optics. Further along the mudflats were Brent Geese, many Shelduck, some Wigeon and Pintail providing a great variety of wildfowl.

Early on in the outing, sitting on a post in the centre of the saltmarsh a Peregrine Falcon was spotted. We appeared to have arrived at the right time because had the Peregrine been hunting, there would not have been as many small ducks and waders around. In the distance we also managed to spot a pair of Buzzards flying high over houses in Clontarf.

The Bull is always a good spot to find Linnet. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Linnet, North Bull Island, 10th October 2021 (picture: Gustavo Zoladz)

While watching the saltmarshes we were also delighted by some Linnet flocks and Starlings flying over our heads. As we continued to walk along the causeway, towards the entrance to St. Anne's Golf Club we spotted Blackbirds and Meadow Pipits in the scrub.

We then crossed the road and walked back along the causeway to have a look at the south side of the saltmarsh. We were entertained by some Stonechats and Goldfinch in the scrub, many of which had yet to acquire adult plumage. We were now looking into the sun over the saltmarsh which proved difficult. As well as this, there were a lot more gullies and channels for birds to hide in. We found some more Curlew, and a large flyover of Knot gave a terrific silver display. It is always nice to see the ever present Mallard going in and out of all of these hiding places.

Some More Pictures

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Some Pale-bellied Brent Geese hunkered down in the saltmarsh. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.

Some more pictures of birds taken on the day by Ronan Browne and Gustavo Zoladz.
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Common and Hearing Gulls with a single Great Black-backed Gull on the North Bull. Picture by Ronan Browne.
A very distant Peregrine Falcon. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.
Goldfinch looking splendid on the Bull Island. Picture by Gustavo Zoladz.
North Lagoon, Bull Island looking towards Sutton. Picture by Ronan Browne.
North Lagoon, Bull Island looking towards Howth Head. Picture by Ronan Browne.
South Lagoon, Bull Island looking towards the Port of Dublin and the Poolbeg. Picture by Ronan Browne.

Despite the fact that we could not share optics in the current climate of Covid, all appeared to enjoy the morning. So we do hope that many of you will be able to join us on our next outing.

Emma Tiernan

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