We now have a new component at the tourist arch in Mayo


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COUNTRY PROFILE

It looks like the last swallows are gone, but if anyone spots any stragglers, please take note.

The Irish Birding website has the last of these leaving the South Coast on October 8 (at time of writing i.e. there may be more on the spot).

Why all this focus on swallows you ask me. Migratory birds are good indicators of climate change.

If they start arriving earlier in the year and leave later than they traditionally do, we can see changes happening around us, rather than having to look at a graph or table full of symbols. and statistics.

The annual migration of our swallows is affected not only by climate change, but also by changing agricultural practices, desertification and, unfortunately, hunting.

Yes, throughout their annual journey of nearly 10,000 km, these pretty little birds that we watch so eagerly in spring will meet many challenges.

By some estimates, only 30% survive this fearless journey. It really is a miracle that they come here.

There is more news from the bird world. A pair of Little Egrets appear to have made their home in Lough Carra.

These little shiny white cousins ​​of the heron can be spotted in the morning on the shore, looking for their breakfast.

Although these beautiful birds are more at home around the Mediterranean, they have colonized parts of Ireland for the past 30 years or so, with their first attempt at breeding in Ireland having taken place in 1997.

The northward march of bird species like this is a strong indicator that our world is indeed changing.

Egrets are shy and rather elusive. Their glossy plumage is easily spotted from afar, and they often seem quite comfortable as they wade deeply in their foraging. You just try to get close, and they’ll be gone in the blink of an eye.

I wonder if there is so much surplus food available that it will not impact other resident species.

They may be much more efficient hunters, so our resident native birds may be partially displaced.

After all, there is only a limited amount of pie available, and if it’s cut into too many pieces, there won’t be enough to support anything. (They don’t eat pie, but you get what I mean.)

For the ardent bird watchers among us, it seems Achill and Belmullet are the places to go. These remote areas provide temporary accommodation to many rarities each year, and fall 2021 is already setting unusual records.

The Irish Birding website is a valuable resource in this regard. Yet a network of contacts can be just as important, if not more. Searching for an ounce of red-eyed vireo (a tiny songbird from North America) all over Achill Island can be like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

But if you know someone who knows someone else who also likes to watch out for rare birds, then you’re halfway there.

And with our vireos, and another bird called a solitary sandpiper (which unsurprisingly arrived on its own), along with the buff-bellied pipit and common finch also spotted recently, we’ve got a new strand to the tourist arch.


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