Dalkey Tidy
Brent GoosePainted Lady
Wildlife Newsletter for the Township of Dalkey
August 2008 - Michael Ryan

In July a neighbour was expecting some American friends who had been on a cycling tour of Ireland. Unfortunately their holiday coincided with torrential rain, floods and cool winds all under a grey sunless sky. Before they even got to Dublin they had given up, worn down by the damp and gloom and booked a flight to the South of France. Holidaying in Ireland in the summer can be a gamble but Ireland in the winter attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors who are quite happy to stay here for six months or more. Not a terribly wise move you might think but then these visitors are coming here to escape days of almost continuous darkness, ice and snow in the far north and cold weather and lack of food availability in the east. These visitors are birds; waders, ducks, swans, geese, thrushes and finches. If you’d like to find out a little more about the birds that flock to Ireland in the Winter there’s a free illustrated talk about them in the Kingston Hotel on the 2nd September.
Organised by the South Dublin Branch of BirdWatch Ireland the talk is free and open to everyone. It is aimed at people who are interested in wildlife and would like to know a lot more about it. We’ll be talking about and giving identification tips on the many different species of birds including waders, geese, ducks and all the birds that might turn up on fields and parks near you and even in your garden. We’ll be explaining why some of these birds travel thousands of miles to get to our shores and lakes and what keeps them here over the winter months. We’ll also have a question and answer session afterwards so if there’s anything you want to know about birds we hope we’ll be able to answer your queries. We’ll have a little shop at the meeting as well at which we’ll be selling bird food, bird identification guides and CDs. We have meetings at the Kingston every month from September to May with a talk about birds or some wildlife-related subject and each meeting is followed by a guided outing or coach trip to see birds. Our September outing is to Kilcoole (the village formerly known as ‘Glenroe’) in Co. Wicklow. We’ll be walking down the coast with the sea on one side and the BirdWatch Ireland reserve and open fields and farmland inland. In September a lot of birds will have came down from their breeding grounds in the far north and will be stopping over at sites such as this. There will also be swallows and house martins that might be feeding up before setting off across the sea to begin their journey to Africa. The photograph shows a Roseate Tern chick which was
born in June in a nestbox on Maidens Rock off Dalkey Island. It is being weighed and having a ring, or band, put on its leg to act as a record in case the bird is recovered somewhere else, such as near its wintering ground off West Africa. Through leg rings on birds it can be established where and when they were born and where they have flown from. Through leg rings it has
been found that Roseates can live up to 17 years. They are one of Europe’s most endangered breeding seabirds, so Dalkey is privileged to have at least one pair breeding. The rings are put on very carefully and don’t cause any distress to the birds. Bird ringers have to have a licence which they get after doing hundreds of supervised ringings. Although only one pair of Roseates bred on Maidens Rock there were also Common and Roseate terns breeding on it, though once again subject to the treacherous weather of an Irish summer.