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Wildlife Newsletter for the Township of Dalkey
September 2012 - Michael Ryan
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  Some very disturbing reports in late June about separate incidents of people in motorised inflatables dangerously harassing the little pod of three bottlenose dolphins that had been seen regularly in Killiney over the last few years. One person reported saw a inflatable near Dalkey’s White Rock beach which circled the dolphins forcing them into a tight group then seeming to drive the boat straight at them with a total disregard for the dolphins’ safety. Apparently people on the beach were very distressed and were shouting at the boat’s occupants who were reported as laughing loudly as they drove at the dolphins.
  Somebody else had seen a similar incident the previous week in the bay near Sorrento Terrace and wrote this account: 
  ' On the afternoon of 24th June around 3pm I witnessed a speedboat which was circling the pod of dolphins at high speed and placing them at risk. The boat in question was a 20 foot (approximately) RIB with a white fibreglass hull and grey flotation tanks. It had what appeared to be a 80-100 horsepower outboard engine and a central steering console. The person in charge was, in my estimation, grossly reckless. On several occasions he appeared to aim the boat directly at the dolphins and had no concern for their safety. Whilst doing this he was towing a large floating tube with a person in it; he also had several passengers. The incident was witnessed by several yachts and lasted about 10 minutes. In addition, the RIB in question appeared to be within the safety distance from shore as per coastal regulations. This incident was also witnessed by my daughter from an different vantage point who was equally horrified by the spectacle. I might add, I have not seen the dolphins in the bay since then, although that might be coincidental.’

 What’s even worse is the fact that from their description these incidents seemed to have been caused by two different boats . At the time of writing I haven’t seen the dolphins for over six weeks and there have been no sightings of dolphins in Killiney or Dun Laoghaire logged into the IWDG, the Irish Whale and Dolphins Group’s website since early July whereas before they were being reported on almost a daily basis. There was a group seen near Howth on 4th July but there was at least six in that group so very probably not the same pod.
  There are strict Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources regulations regarding behaviour of boats that encounter dolphins and whales under Marine Notice No. 15 of 2005. Any incidents of deliberate malicious harassment of these creatures should be reported to the coast guard.
  
The IWDG say they are very concerned with these incidences and would be interested in talking to somebody in the coastguard for evidence of the harassment. They say they would be prepared to test the force of the Department notice if the evidence was available.


Nature Beetle on Thistle
Hemp Agrimony   
Hemp Agrimony
  A nice story in mid August about a adult Cuckoo which was found in a very sorry state in south-west London, with a wounded wing, injured head and infested with parasites. It had been found two weeks previously very close to death. Possibly weakened by a shortage of its staple food caterpillars due to the very bad summer, she had been badly attacked by other birds.
  She was one of a small number of cuckoos that had been fitted with a satellite tag last year to find out where the birds spend winter and the routes they fly to get there. She was nursed back to health by Leatherhead’s Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF) and then since she was very late migrating British Airways agreed to fly her on a plane to Italy, accompanied by a veterinary nurse from where she would be released to continue her journey south to her wintering grounds in Nigeria. A case of the early bird getting the worm but the late bird getting the plane.
  
   Most adult cuckoos would be gone from our shores by mid July but any cuckoo chicks that would have been born in other birds nests could be here a lot later. In the last long hot summer we had, in 1995, I went to Donegal in August and while walking down a laneway in Gweedore I looked into a field and saw a bird perched on a stone in a field. It was a juvenile cuckoo and while I watched one of its foster parents, a Meadow Pipit about one third of the cuckoo’s size, flew in with a bill full of insects to feed its enormous adopted fledgling. The good weather of that year might have prompted the cuckoos to stay a little longer since their host birds, the pipits probably had extra broods to avail of the insect food.
Someone told me that many years before their father had found a cuckoo and figuring it was abandoned had put it in a cage and fed it over the winter. I don’t know what happened to the bird which at the least would have been confused at spending the winter in Ireland rather then under a African sun. It was probably a juvenile which I always think are one of the greatest wonders of nature when, never having seen their parents, they can fly unaccompanied half way down the planet and do the same journey in reverse six months later.
 
Raven on telegraph station, Dalkey

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