Thursday, 7 May 2015

Mute Swan Nesting Census June 30th

Number of Nests in Survey Area that have produced Cygnets to date = 38



The nesting survey is still on going!  There is a pair in Sean Walsh Park who have only now decided to build a nest and start sitting on it!  We are therefore at least 35 days away from being able to conclude the census for 2015!

Blessington Village: Received a report of the Cygnets first being sighted last week. They were observed on Wednesday 24th some distance from the pond they nested in.  Not sure where they were heading but I was unable to locate them today.  Thank you to Jamie O'Toole for finding this nest and subsequent reports.  Jamie is the youngest reporter on this project but his assistance has been greatly appreciated. #38

Blessington - Cygnets on the move - Photo by Jamie O'Toole


Most of my time now is going back to locations and checking Cygnet numbers to see how the cygnets are faring.  The good weather must be a help this year.  I am also reading the metal rings I failed to read during the nesting phase.
The Swans at Ballycragh Firhouse

The female Swan ring.  Ringed 2009 as a 2 year old.


Grand Canal Basin: Received a report and photo from Shane Diffily that the pair in the Grand Canal Basin have a cygnet with them.  A big thanks for this to Shane and also to Sean Hogan and Jim Duffy who have sent me reports on the nest progress from the Dart! The nest was only visible from the Dart! It would be unusual for a pair to bring a cygnet into another swans territory so it is more than probable that this is the pair that nested at this location.  #37

Grand Canal Basin.  Photo by Shane Diffily


Booterstown Marsh: Received a report from Aileen Prole of a pair of swans with 5 Cygnets in Booterstown Marsh!  There have been no swans at this location up to this report.  They are probably the nesting pair from Blackrock Park.  The male of this pair is ringed and this will enable confirmation of this in the coming days or weeks. It is close to a 1Km overland journey! #36

Citywest Business Park:  7 Cygnets today.  Delighted, as this is a location I have visited frequently
Citywest Business Park.  7 Cygnets observed today.  (1 is hiding in the shot)

Tolka Valley Park, Finglas: The nest at this location was found by Vincent Hall.  Today there was a lone cygnet with the 2 Adults.  The cygnet looked about 2 weeks old. #34
Tolka Valley Park, Finglas.  Just 1 cygnet!

Broombridge: This nest on the Royal Canal was located by Darren O'Connell.  It took a while for me to locate the family (1.5km from the nest site) but another proven breeding pair and 3 cygnets was worth the walk. #33

Broombridge, Royal Canal.

Castleknock, Royal Canal: At Castleknock Train Station the nest has produced cygnets.  This was another of the nests found by Darren O'Connell.  There were 5 this morning and they were at least a week old. #32


Lakeside Newbridge:  I didn't update the blog after an email from Brendan Kavanagh stating that there were 5 Cygnets at this location on June 6th.  Apologies for the oversite but the database was updated!  #31


Druids Heath Golf Club:  Angela Mason again has sent a report from this location.  Two pairs of Mute Swans present but only one successful pair and 4 cygnets.  #30


Druids Glen Golf Club:  Angela Mason has sent a report and photos of not one but two Swan Pairs with Cygnets at Druids Glen Golf Club!  This is excellent news. A big thanks also to the Druids Glen Golf Club who kindly allowed her access.  #28 + #29

Swan and 3 Cygnets in Druids Glen.  Photo by Angela Mason

Swans and 5 Cygnets in Druids Glen.  Photo by Angela Mason


Kilcoole Golf Club:  Angela Mason has sent a report and photograph from Kilcoole Golf Club, a site that wasn't identified as a likely location!  The proud Green Keeper brought her down to show her the Swans and three Cygnets.  #27

Kilcoole Golf Club.  Photo by Angela Mason


Skerries:  I got third hand information from the most northerly point of the Survey area, Skerries. There are apparently 8 Cygnets at Skerries Mill.  This may become successful hatching number 26 when I get the report directly from Ita Martin. #26


Marley Park:  Many thanks to Ann Dillon for reporting 2 Cygnets in Marley Park for the first time in years.  #25
Marley Park - Two cygnets photographed by Ann Dillon

Broadmeadows Swords: Great news this morning as I observed 2 Cygnets on one of the nests.  Only 2 cygnets visible, but the Pen was still on the nest so the possibility of more.  This successful hatching is especially welcome following an incident earlier where the NPWS had to be called. Special thanks to the birdwatchers and the NPWS who have kept a close eye on the area and all have now been rewarded with cygnets at this communal nesting location.  #24

Broadmeadows.  Two cygnets visible!


Grand Canal, Bluebell:  I could see cygnets under the pen but I had to wait nearly half an hour till she took them on to the water.  7 Cygnets. #23

Bluebell, Dublin.  7 Cygnets this morning!


Kilcoole: Report by Susan Doyle from the Little Tern Colony that there is a pair on the south Lagoon with 3 Cygnets.  All reports are gratefully received.  #22


Hermatigae Golf Club:  Report of 4 Cygnets on the Island by the 2nd Green on May 20th.  Thanks to Paul Kerr for the report.  #21


Luttrelstown Golf Course: Many thanks to Paul Kerr he has reported 2 Cygnets at this location.  Another small clutch, but another breeding pair confirmed. #20

Naas Ponds.  Another nest has hatched and 8 more Cygnets reported by Brendan Kavanagh. #19

Athgarvan Bridge, River Liffey, Kildare.  Pair with 6 Cygnets at the weir!  Thank you Brendan Kavanagh again. #18

Fr Collins Park or Clongriffen Park in Dublin 13.  Fantastic to get a report that this nest produced 6 Cygnets earlier this month.  Many thanks to Tom Carroll for the report and photo below. #17
Photo by Tom Carroll of Cygnets in Fr Collins Park


Tymon Park.  The last nest in my local park produced 5 Cygnets at the lake near the Spa Well.  #16

Tymon Park, the lake near the Spawell today.

Peoples Garden, Phoenix Park.  Two cygnets observed on the back of the Pen today!  A small clutch, but another confirmed breeding pair nevertheless.  My thanks to Sean Geraty for the sighting. #15.


Ard Clough, Grand Canal, Co Kildare.  I arrived to review this nest to find a small group of walkers who had been watching this wonder of nature from the tow path.  They had just finished hatching when I arrived.  All 9 eggs hatched successfully.  Thanks to Tom McCormck to informing me of this nest.  #14
Cygnets First Swim at Ard Clough.

St Stephens Green.  A late report that there were 4 Cygnets last Wednesday 20th of May.  Thanks to Sean Geraty for this information. #13


Blanchardstown IT this morning the pair were on the lake with 3 young Cygnets.  I was expecting more.  But a quick look at the nest at the other end of the lake revealed 4 unhatched eggs. #12

Blanchardstown IT.  23/05/2015


Received a report from Sean Geraty, that a Ringed female and 7 Cygnets on the Liffey at Huston Station.  Delighted to receive reports like this.   This could be the ones from the War Memorial Park just up stream or from a different nest, so no change to the total - as yet!  Some of the swans move once they have hatched and this is starting to become an issue with calculating cygnet survival.  We are looking at colour ringing breeding pairs in order to keep track of the different families.

21/05/2015 - Cygnet Rescue

Tymon Park, Limekiln, Middle Lake.  There were 4 new Cygnets!  I went over to check the other cygnets hatched on May 4th and there were still 7.  On the way back there were only 3 Cygnets!  I went looking for No. 4 and found it.  It had been washed over a waterfall and abandoned.  I picked it up and returned it to where it had come from.  Eventually it was chased by the male back to the others. A happy ending! #11

War Memorial Garden, Island Bridge. Also received today was Sean Kingstons report of his first nest to produce Cygnets.  Seven Cygnets at the War Memorial Garden on the Liffey. #10


Royal Canal.  Ashtown Railway Station.  Vincent Hall has reported the first Cygnets on the North side of Dublin.  3 Visible with with the Pen on the nest. #9


Corkage Park, Wild Fowl Lakes.  After watching this nest for 4 weeks I found the pen standing on an empty nest.  I had never seen eggs, so I don't know what, if anything happened.


Corkagh Park, Fisheries Lake.  6 Cygnets!  On my last 2 visits I have been unable to observe the nest as the vegetation on the Island had hidden it completely. #8

Corkagh Park, Fishing lake.  6 Cygnets today.


Jigginstown, Ploopluck, Naas.  9 Cygnets!  Largest clutch to date.  Thanks to Margaret Sinanan for the report. #7


Ballycragh Park, Firhouse. 7 Cygnets.  I was there yesterday and thought things were moving along. She was very alert and today Cygnets!  Female ringed, but couldn't read it. #6
Ballycragh, Firhouse, Dublin 24


Tymon Park, Tymon North.  3 Cygnets.  Why only 3?  They usually have 8. I first thought there were only 2 cygnets, but then another fluffy head appeared on Mummy Swans back! (Mummy Swan is not a technical term the correct word is a Pen!) #5

Tymon Park, Tymon North.


On Friday 8th, the UCD pair produced 4 cygnets.  Thank you to Des Higgins for his report.  His observation that there are 2/3 eggs left un-hatched in the nest is also noteworthy. #4


Arklow Ponds.  8 cygnets reported by both Angela Mason and Aileen Prole.  This clutch doesn't appear in the totals as they are just outside the geographic area but the clutch size will be used in the average size calculations.  It is not unusual for the Swans ringed in Arklow to appear at Bray Harbour.

Cygnets at Arklow Ponds - Photo kindly sent by Angela Mason.

07/05/2015  More Cygnets

Tymon Park, Lime Kiln big lake.  There were 7 cygnets today.  My first nest to produce.  Apparently born 4th May #3
Charlesland Golf Club. 6 Cygnets reported.  Born 2nd May - Thank you Derek Crampton. #2

04/05/2015  First Cygnets

Congratulations to Brendan Kavanagh who was first to report 8 Cygnets on May 4th at the Three Ponds in Naas. #1

Back Ground to the project.

Those who are familiar with my blogging know that for a few years I have also been recording Mute Swan ring numbers and their movements.  This year I am co-coordinating a Mute Swan Nesting Census with the ringing group I joined, the Irish Midland Ringing Group. It is 25 years since a comprehensive study on Mute Swans was conducted in the Greater Dublin area, so we have data to compare.   The survey area is all of Dublin, North Wicklow (Broadlough to Dublin) and East Kildare.
We have been locating nesting pairs over the last few months and even after the first cygnets have now appeared we have observed nest building.  We are using the reporting of Cygnets as confirmation of breeding.  We are seeking the assistance of the public in reporting the location of probable nesting Swans and the first sightings of Cygnets as confirmation of breeding.  The survey process is totally unobtrusive:  We simply want to know where there are Mute Swans nesting, if they produce cygnets and if so when and how many.  Approaching nests is not required, viewing from a safe distance with binoculars or a telescope is sufficient.

Tymon Park, Lime Kiln, Big Lake Swan with 7 Cygnets on May 7th

One element we are interested in is if the number of nests has increased.  There does appear to be lots of suitable ponds that were not there 25 years ago.

The team of volunteer observers have already being sending reports on nesting locations.  We are looking at 40 - 50 probable nests.  So if you have seen swans nesting or see cygnets in the greater Dublin Area please email your sightings to grprole”at” 

There are still lots of possible nesting sites that I haven't had reports from.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

May - Great Black Backed Gulls

May 30th

What a day!!!  Nearly everything a ring reader could wish for.  Large quantity of Gulls and it was waste collection time from the fish factories.  The 5th colour ring read after 10 minutes was 2JJ, this was one I didn't recognise!  It was ringed in 2009, but I'd never seen it before.
Great Black backed Gull 2JJ - A first for me.
The 9th ring was was a Great Black Backed Gull 1LC, which was vaguely familiar.  I hadn't seen it for almost a year, but I have never seen it at Howth before.

However, Lucky 13th ring for me was a Great Black Backed 2HH.  Again this was ringed in 2009 and again this was my first sighting.  Unlucky for it, it had a fishing hook embedded in it;s right wing
Great Black Backed 2HH - Complete with fishing hook in wing!
Fishing hook.
While photographing metal rings (and I managed to get three full codes) I photographed this Great Black Backed Gull - 1AV.  Ringed in 2010, (Judging by the number sequence), this too was a first for me.  

13 Great Black Backed Darvic Rings read
3 Great Black backed Metal Rings read
2 Herring Gull Darvic Rings Read
1 Herring Gull Darvic Ring Read

However bird of the day, which took careful consideration, goes to the Herring Gull 0LH!  It was ringed in 2013 by me!  I recorded it in December of 2013, but hadn't seen it since.  Great to know it has survived.

May 23rd

Howth Harbour, conditions were right but only 6 coloured rings read.  Some times it just goes like that!

GBBGU 1EN - Feathers look very worn.  (2010 bird)

Herring Gull 0CU - Hadn't seen this bird for nearly a year!

May 20th

Spotted another Great Black Backed with a Blue Darvic in Sean Walsh Park, Tallaght.  I assumed it would be 1VA which I saw last month at the same spot.  However, it was a Great Black Backed Gull 1JJ.

The history of my sightings for this bird is unusual.  By it's plumage it hatched in 2011, but I have only seen it twice previously in 4 years
19/05/2013 Bullock Harbour G Prole Alive colour ring read.
25/05/2013 Bullock Harbour G Prole Alive colour ring read.
20/05/2015 Sean Walsh Park G Prole Alive colour ring read.

May 10th

Just when you begin to think you know something about a bird, it does something unexpected.  The Great Black backed Gull 1RM I have recorded over 20 times over the past 3 years on my monthly visits to Howth Harbour.  ERGO - This individual always stays around Howth.  Today while checking on Swans in Clondalkin it turned up 25Km from Howth.  These birds seem to have a huge range.

May 2nd

Howth Harbour is magnificent for Gulls and any thing could turn up.  A Raven was there on the Pier again this morning.  Today, I had planned to walk the canals on a Mute Swan Project, however the weather was truly awful, so I went to Howth, where I could shelter if necessary from the rain. It was 6 degrees with driving rain but the bins of waste from the factories were being prepared for collection and the Gulls were waiting for an opportunity of an easy meal.

Larus Marinus 2AM - Always good to see regulars.

Great Black Backed Gull 2AH - Only my 2nd sighting of this bird

Herring Gull 0JH.  At Howth in May means possibly breeding on Ireland's Eye
But my bird of the day must go to this Herring Gull.  0HM was ringed in 2010 and it is my first sighting.  I am aware that it was reported in 2011, but it is a first for me!
Herring Gull + Blue Darvic [0HM]
The Raven perched on the Ice House.