BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, TIMOLEAGUE, CO. CORK


Black-tailed Godwit, Timoleague, nr Kinsale, Co. Cork (Keith Salvesen)

I saw black-tailed godwits for the first time (to my conscious knowledge…) this summer in southern Ireland in Timoleague, at the head of an estuary to the west of Kinsale, Co. Cork.

Black-tailed Godwit, Timoleague, nr Kinsale, Co. Cork (Keith Salvesen)

Mostly they were on the far side of the water, and hard to capture in detail on camera. We watched them foraging, sticking their long probing bills into the squishy sand. In fact, their entire heads.

Black-tailed Godwit, Timoleague, nr Kinsale, Co. Cork (Keith Salvesen) Black-tailed Godwit, Timoleague, nr Kinsale, Co. Cork (Keith Salvesen)

Eventually one of the godwits took flight across the estuary and landed in the muddy margin on our side. Here are some of the photos that resulted. These birds seem to be rare for the area, so they were a lucky and unexpected find. 

Black-tailed Godwit, Timoleague, nr Kinsale, Co. Cork (Keith Salvesen)Black-tailed Godwit, Timoleague, nr Kinsale, Co. Cork (Keith Salvesen)

Now I have met these lovely godwits, I’ll know what to look out for next time. As long as I don’t get confused with the similar bar-tailed godwit…

Black-tailed Godwit, Timoleague, nr Kinsale, Co. Cork (Keith Salvesen)

All photos: Keith Salvesen

 

 

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HYBRID BIRDS OF PREY IN IRELAND: A GYRFALCON / SAKER FALCON CROSS


Gyrfalcon / Saker Falcon cross / hybrid, Russborough, Co. Wexford

During a recent short trip to Dublin, we hired a car for a day to explore the Wicklow Mountains and to visit Russborough House in Co. Wicklow. This wonderful country estate has a fabulous collection of paintings and furniture – and has been the location for some spectacular burglaries. One was by Bridget Rose Dugdale, for example, for those with long memories. It is also home to the National Birds of Prey Centre of Ireland, which we had time to visit briefly.

Gyrfalcon / Saker Falcon cross / hybrid, Russborough, Co. Wexford

I took some photos of several uncaged birds that were tethered out in the open. Many were, or at least looked, familiar. They were unlabelled and when I came to check IDs later, including on the centre’s website, some of them didn’t add up. Eye-colours were wrong. Facial and frontal markings were unusual. And so on.

Gyrfalcon / Saker Falcon cross / hybrid, Russborough, Co. Wexford

I emailed some low-res imaged to the centre, and they quickly explained the reason: we had been looking at hybrids. This post shows one example, a juvenile female gyrfalcon crossed with a saker falcon. Here are wiki pics of each of the pure-bred birds.

GyrfalconGyrfalcon / Saker Falcon WikiSaker Falcon Gyrfalcon / Saker Falcon wiki

So now I realise that there’s a whole extra angle to bird of prey ID that I had never before considered…Gyrfalcon / Saker Falcon cross / hybrid, Russborough, Co. Wexford