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Old Wednesday 10th January 2007, 20:36   #551
Peter Phillips
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M Cowming
Hi guys,

Congrats on the find...great bird for the county list. Has it been definitely identified as SBD? Any photos? Unfortunately i was away while the last bird was at tacumshin and dipped on the Bull Island bird so am interested for obvious reasons. Again, well done to all concerned!!!

Mícheál
Gerry O'Neill got some video today.
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Old Wednesday 10th January 2007, 21:17   #552
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still best described as a dowitcher sp. for now.have seen the video stills taken by Gerry and while it has a lot going for it, its not conclusive. as im sure u are all aware there can be considerable overlap in the 2 species and some people consider the call as the only sure way
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Old Thursday 11th January 2007, 16:32   #553
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M Cowming
Congrats on the find...great bird for the county list. Has it been definitely identified as SBD? Any photos?
Hi Mícheál, Here's one very crappy shot - the bird is elusive tending to forage around the edges of the spartina "islands" and going into the spartina, snipe-like, but very busy, generally does not flush with other birds, very distant for call. But it does seem to be sticking to the same small area straight opposite the quay wall, on the spit beyond the breakwater and the channel beside it. I'll try to upload some fo Gerry's shots later - i think he was having some connection problems...btw i think this is actualy the third county record for this species, second anyway!
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Old Thursday 11th January 2007, 20:22   #554
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Short-billed Dowitcher

Attached are some photos Gerry O'Neill sent of the Dundalk Dowitcher.
Having read "Dowitcher Bills" by Pekka Sarvela a surfbirds article I decided to do some rough measurements of Gerrys video grabs.

The article details the use of bill lenght:head lenght ratio to try to seperate the two species of Dowitcher and also the shape of the bill base, in particular the dept of the bill base in relation to the dept or width of the bill.

For, bill lenght: head lenght ratio, the article quotes 1.5 for short billed and above 2 for Long billed. 1.7-1.8 can be either species.
My rough measurements for two of the stills came out at 1.54 and 1.72.
Looking at the graphs in the article this gives > 80% chance of the bird being Short-billed Dowitcher.

I then looked at bill shape (again this is only rough work). Short billed has whats described as a high bill base i.e. the width of the bill close to the base of the skull is much broader than the width of the bill below the nostrils.According to this paper this feature is diagnostic. In Long billed the difference measured was only 10% difference ie the base of the bill was only marginally broader than the bill measured immediately below the nostril. For Short-billed the base was 70% broader than the bill width immediately below the nostril. On a measurement on the last photo I got a difference of 100% ie the base was twice the width of the bill width below the nostril. I think this measurement is slighty off because the bird is heading away from Gerry at the time. However even though my measurements are not taken in perfect profile or the shots are not the clearest, its obvious that the bird does exhibit a bill base a good deal broader than the area immediately below the bill.

What do the rest of you think!
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Old Thursday 11th January 2007, 21:09   #555
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at least 3 experienced birders(2 irish & 1 yank) have formed the opinion,from what they have seen in gerrys pics,based mainly on structure that it is in fact a long billed dowitcher. still an excellent bird for Louth
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Old Thursday 11th January 2007, 21:57   #556
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Hi guys,

Hard to determine much from the photos, dowitchers being difficult at the best of times!! Still, would be worth trying to hear it call just to be sure. As already mentioned, still a top find! They're all too thin on the ground down here too.

For anyone interested in seeing the Wexford SBD...see the following link.

http://www.irishbirding.com/sbd.html

All the best,

Mícheál
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Old Thursday 11th January 2007, 22:15   #557
Enda
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at least you dont have to face the long drive up this weekend,michael. and just to rub it in, ive seen both the wexford & dublin S.B. Dowitchers
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Old Thursday 11th January 2007, 22:28   #558
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Hi Enda,

Already planned to have a go for the Bufflehead so hopefully it's still there. Quite a bit of stuff knocking about in Clare aswell so it should be a good day out! I'm sure I'll connect with a SBD some day....Dungarvan Harbour would be nice!!! Have a good weekend guys!
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Old Thursday 11th January 2007, 22:44   #559
Enda
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hope the bufflehead is there for you Micheal,an no doubt a s.b dowitcher is on the cards somewhere close to u soon
all the best
Enda
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Old Friday 12th January 2007, 09:16   #560
breffni
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enda
at least 3 experienced birders(2 irish & 1 yank) have formed the opinion,from what they have seen in gerrys pics,based mainly on structure that it is in fact a long billed dowitcher. still an excellent bird for Louth
The link to that discussion is here: http://listserv.arizona.edu/cgi-bin/...01b&L=birdwg01 see items six and seven. Killian Mullarneys comment was heavily leaning towards long billed but not ruling out short billed completely yet...(hope springs eternal!)

"From: Killian Mullarney
Subject: Re: Dowitcher in IRELAND
Comments: To: Kevin McGowan
Comments: cc: gerry o neill

Kevin's spontaneous assessment of this bird based on Gerry O' Neill's video-grabs (see http://www.birdguides.com/birdnews/p...s.asp?t=376810) is very welcome, as there has not yet been any public debate on the identification in Ireland (Dundalk, incidentally, is on the east coast of Ireland, not in Britain).

I have not heard the reasons why this bird is considered probably a Short-billed and I am unsure if this tentative identification is proposed by observers who have seen the bird or if others have offered this opinion based on the photographs and verbal accounts. Either way, I don't think anyone involved would be inclined to "presume" anything when it comes to identifying a distant winter-plumaged Short-billed Dowitcher in Europe, where Short-billed is very much rarer than Long-billed.

I received slightly clearer versions of Gerry's shots last night (which I'm sure Gerry wouldn't object to me forwarding to anyone on this list who'd like to receive them) but I cannot discern anything to make me think it looks more like a Short-billed than a Long-billed; indeed, several features, if they can be determined reliably from these images, point to it being a Long-billed. It appears to have more Long-billed-like diffusely darkish centres to the brownish scapulars and in most shots it looks decidedly round-backed. I'm not sure how reliable an indicator of Long-billed this round-backed look is, but in marginal quality images of this kind I am wary of judging the subtle plumage differences that help differentiate between the two dowitchers in basic/winter plumage.

There is a good chance this bird (discovered only a couple of days ago) will linger and that when the strong winds die down it will become easier to view, and maybe even to hear a call. In the meantime, it would be good to hear the opinions of others on this list who take an interest in dowitcher identification.

Regards,

Killian Mullarney

----- Original Message -----
From: Kevin McGowan
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2007 5:54 PM
Subject: [BIRDWG01] Dowitcher in Britain


I just got an alert from Birdguides that pointed to a presumed Short-billed
Dowitcher in Britain, at
http://www.birdguides.com/birdnews/p...s.asp?t=376810. A quick look
made me think Long-billed, based one round body shape and bill
length. Anyone else care to comment?

Kevin


************************************************** ***
Kevin J. McGowan
Co-editor, New York State Breeding Bird Atlas
Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
607/254-2432
fax 607/254-2111
[log in to unmask]
http://birds.cornell.edu/crows/
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Old Saturday 13th January 2007, 18:00   #561
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Managed to see the dowitcher this afternoon for about half an hour. It was very busy but stayed within a small area and was visible nearly all the time for that half hour.
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Old Saturday 13th January 2007, 19:22   #562
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Long-billed Dowitcher

I see from the excellent photos on Paul and Andreas www.irishbirdimages.com site that the "Dundalk Dowitcher" has been positively identified Long-billed. I'm a little embarrased and a little wiser after the fact. Its a new one for me having seen the Short-billed on Bull Island a couple of years ago. If it stays till tuesday I can get another look at it. Hopefully Asiatic Dowitcher will turn up next, it looks a little easier to identify! (We will have to chip in to get Gerry a better camara! Or new glasses for me).
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Old Sunday 14th January 2007, 15:39   #563
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dark bellied brent from lurgangreen today
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Old Monday 15th January 2007, 13:28   #564
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Nice day out yesterday in very nice light - carrion crow at carlingford lough yesterday, between greenore and carlingford and a flock of 190 scaup on carlingford lough near omeath, nice to see so many. Also at least 6 ruff at dundalk harbour with the (now) long-billed dowitcher, twitched nonetheless by at least 20 visitors during the day...
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Old Monday 15th January 2007, 18:57   #565
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[ Also at least 6 ruff at dundalk harbour with the (now) long-billed dowitcher, twitched nonetheless by at least 20 visitors during the day...[/quote]

Make that 21 Breffni. Thanks to Enda's call I managed to pick up the dowitcher on Sunday morning. Super bird.
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Old Monday 15th January 2007, 19:19   #566
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Pic Long billed dowitcher

Quote:
Originally Posted by fredbern
[ Also at least 6 ruff at dundalk harbour with the (now) long-billed dowitcher, twitched nonetheless by at least 20 visitors during the day...
Make that 21 Breffni. Thanks to Enda's call I managed to pick up the dowitcher on Sunday morning. Super bird.[/quote]
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Old Tuesday 16th January 2007, 18:16   #567
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Castletown Estuary bird signs

I went for a walk down along the Castletown Estuary, just east of the Dundalk Docks. I have never been down here before and was delighted to see how accessable the birds of the bay were to the public passing on the footpath. A number of people stop to ask me about the birds and were surprised to here how important Dundalk Bay is for waders and ducks.

A number of signs depicting the birds of the bay had apparently been put up in the last year but many have been vandalised. A further extention to the path to link it to Blackrock is in the planning stages and I think its a good time to ask the council to put up some signs that would be less prone to vandalism (I have a few ideas) and perhaps some signage that accuratly reflects the species present ( Blue-winged Teal and Painted Snipe are both on the signs- The Painted Snipe is on a nest!). Also if the signs could highlight the importance of the bay and its ecosystems it might give people a greater sense of pride in the place.

Breffni, would it be possible to get Birdwatch to have some imput into future signage and perhaps get some free advertising in return.

I walked on further and found Soldiers Point. Where exactly do/did the Twite hang out. Has some/all of their wintering habitat been built on?

Went to Lurgangreen. Dark-bellied Brent, Peregrine and Merlin present
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Old Tuesday 16th January 2007, 22:16   #568
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Peter

The walk you were on today is called the Navvy Bank. I'm always amazed at how interested people are in birding along this route - perhaps it's because they regularly walk the route and see the various birds, or just enjoy the outdoors and anything associated with it. It's one of those places you can take a scope or even binoculars, and you will spend more time talking to walkers about birds, than actually birding. Maybe this would serve as a good location for our next outing - especially with such a large population close by (and of course a good range of birds on view).
I've seen twite (not this year) in the bushes / trees near the old houses at Soldiers Point and often along the pathway. Regarding the loss of habitat, they were there last year when all those new houses were already built. Some of the trees they used to frequent got the chop last year.
There was a flock of them in the trees about half way down the Shore Road (probably same ones as it's only a field or two away) - (Directions = drive from the Soldiers Point along the Point Road until you reach a yield sign at a sharp bend. Turn right onto the Red Barns Road, pass two sharp bends and after approx 1/3 mile take the right turn). This tree lined road runs right down to the marsh (actually where the extended walkway you referred to will pass). In previous years the hawtorn bushes provided food for the largest Waxwing flocks ever seen locally. Always worth a quick look.
Peregrine and merlin nearly always a certainty at Lurgangreen recently.

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Old Wednesday 17th January 2007, 09:47   #569
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I was out that way myself yesterday - beautiful light - dowitcher still on show though tantalisingly just out of range for decent photography.

There is a project with the council for the improvement of signage. There was a suggestion to put a hide in this area but i think there is little point because the birds are used to walkers and it would be prone to vandalism. However a few shelters would be nice such as those along the bull wall in Dublin. The pointman on all this is Brendan McSherry, Heritage Officer at the council (give him a call with any ideas for vandalism-proof signage).

Soldiers point used to be good for twite, white wags, water pips and more - the rough area south of the point where the Blackwater flows into Marsh South, prone to flooding, used to provide foraging for the twite in particular. Much of this is now cleared for housing with removal of several hedgerows and stands of sycamore. Further development is planned, including several multi-story apartment buildings (much to the consternation of the folks recently moved into the "mansions" down there). The whole area is a few inches above the high water mark (i wonder how long it will be practically habitable?) But I think the lack of twite, brambling, waxwings etc this year may be more due to the extremely mild winter in continental Europe http://en.rian.ru/russia/20070116/59141276.html. Confiding bullfinch and song thrush in sloe berry bush at harbour...
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Old Wednesday 17th January 2007, 16:09   #570
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I think the idea of a hide on the Navy bank might be asking to be vandalised or used by junkies etc, but the shelters that are on the North Bull Wall that you mentioned are excellent.
I took a walk down there last Sunday ( North Bull )for the first time and was surprised at how well developed and balanced the area is.
Just an off topic question, Does the council have it within its capacity to take part in conservation work etc. There have been sightings of a Barn Own in the Clarkes Wood?/ Belfry Avenue area over the past few months and there are precious few breeding sights available these days. I think that whole area beside the Marshes shopping Centre including the woods is set for future development thus threatening the last viable breeding site for the Barn Own and Sparrow Hawk that have been spotted in the area.
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Old Wednesday 17th January 2007, 19:02   #571
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I think that whole area beside the Marshes shopping Centre including the woods is set for future development thus threatening the last viable breeding site for the Barn Own and Sparrow Hawk that have been spotted in the area.
Gareth
I don't think there's anywhere suitable for barn owl to breed there, but it may well be providing a rich food source to such predators. As far as I am aware, Dundalk Town Council has plans to develop the area known as "Clarkes Forest" into a public park, which in itself, if not properly undertaken, may be detrimental to the area's wildlife.
PS - I note from an earlier posting, that you mentioned you're living near the Avenue Road (as I do) and that you had not seen any blackcaps this year - has this changed, as this is the first year I recall not having them eating me out of apples!
Derek

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Old Thursday 18th January 2007, 07:15   #572
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Bird Talk

Hi Breffni,

Is the BirdWatch monthly talk on this monday at the Spirit Store. If so what time is it starting at?
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Old Thursday 18th January 2007, 08:06   #573
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Gareth
I don't think there's anywhere suitable for barn owl to breed there, but it may well be providing a rich food source to such predators. As far as I am aware, Dundalk Town Council has plans to develop the area known as "Clarkes Forest" into a public park, which in itself, if not properly undertaken, may be detrimental to the area's wildlife.
PS - I note from an earlier posting, that you mentioned you're living near the Avenue Road (as I do) and that you had not seen any blackcaps this year - has this changed, as this is the first year I recall not having them eating me out of apples!
Derek
Still no Blackcaps I'm afraid ! Plenty of Goldfinches though, I had a group of 4 on the feeders over the weekend. My new house is in the Avondale area, I wasnt expecting such a variety of birds to the feeders stright away.
Your probably right about the breeding sites around the Marshes i'd love to know where the predators are breeding as I expect if its in an urban area it might well be under pressure for development.
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Old Thursday 18th January 2007, 10:46   #574
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The Clarke's Forest tender is here: http://www.e-tenders.gov.ie/search/s...x?ID=JAN074776
Barn owl is red-listed in Ireland - a confirmed breeding site would have to be taken into consideration by the council in any planning/development activities. Incidentally I notice that a developer has taken aim at the Mounthamilton woodland area (Willow Grove, near the railway station)...

The next talk is on Monday the 29th at 8pm - more details later.
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Old Thursday 18th January 2007, 13:43   #575
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Clarke's forest

Speaking of Clarke's forest - more damage was done in one hour this morning by the wind, than any council could do in a week!
I'd estimate that at least 10% of the trees were blown down in the storm. It was difficult to see the extent of the damage as the whole area around the Marshes Shopping Centre was closed off due the falling / flying debris.
I will visit later when I get a chance and get better estimates.

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