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Monday, December 17, 2007

Big Dave in Ireland

December saw me taking a well-earned break by Ryanair to Shannon, Ireland, to spend a few days with friend, former student and Maalie Courtier Big Dave. Dave is a Project Officer with Birdwatch Ireland (roughly the Irish equivalent of the RSPB) and when I visited him in July 2006 he was a Fieldwaorker for the endangered population of Corncrakes in the Shannon Callows (you can see an account of that visit here.) Then, in summer, the River Shannon was confined within its banks, generating excellent breeding habitat for Corncrakes. In winter, the Shannon valley is a flood plain with flood water covering huge areas which are attractive to waterfowl (we found Whooper and Mute Swans, Pintail, Wigeon and Mallard).

Big Dave in summer 2006

The Shannon Callows in Winter with the flood plain under water
Dave has moved on from Corncrakes and is now the Project Officer for Barn Owls and we spent some time during my visit checking ruined castles and nest boxes for evidence of occupation. One evening we waited at dusk at a known site and, on cue, a pair of Barn Owls emerged from a chimney and disappeared into the gathering darkness for their evening's hunting.

Dave checks a Barn Owl nest box high in a ruined castle

Relaxing in Dave's home with a drink in front of a warm peat fire....

...before a pint (or two) of the "black stuff" in a cosy pub in Banagher
The final day was spent on a trip to the west coast at Galway Bay where some wintering seabirds, including Black Guillemot and Great Northern Diver were identified, helping to bring our final bird list for the visit to 80 species.

The sun goes down over the eponymous Bay


Blogger simon said...

well well well.. it looks good and the work looks good and the peat fire looks good...!!!!andthe black beer looks (sounds) good

3:05 am  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

"taking a well-earned break". Cough splutter. (Says she, knowing her own job is over in two days time;-)
Love the sunset photo.

4:49 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Well said Kiwi.

Lovely to see Big Dave. I notice that picture of you in front of the fire is so dark we can't see what you are holding in your hand. Isn't the 'black stuff' another name for tarmac?

Did you get your birthday card?


10:13 am  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

I think moustaches on T.Rex's blog started on comments on my blog about being frightened of Grandad's moustache. Madalene commented on it and invited me to join her gang with T.Rex. That just goes to show you don't read the comments!


today's word is inough

10:44 am  
Blogger Magdalene said...

What a lovely life you lead.. Sigh.

Q. What do Skylarks eat for breakfast?
A. Corncrakes!

I do apologise, it's the tablets.

2:05 pm  
Anonymous May said...

Aha! The fun continues...

6:34 pm  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

Crikey, you had only been back a couple of days and you were off again. I think Simon would have liked to join you. It all looks so lovely.
Don't you ever get blisters on your feet?

6:53 pm  
Blogger Davy said...

I thought we were on 79 species, but never mind. Just on a point of accuracy, I was a fieldworker not a conservation officer when I worked with corncrakes and I'm a project officer not a research officer. Otherwise, nicely reported. A good time was had by all.

1:59 pm  
Blogger Maalie said...

Thanks for that Davy, I have made the corrections.

6:16 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

No didn't see Poynton last night on Look North West. Apart from Netto and Mates, why was it on?

2:47 pm  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

You certainly have a very eclectic choice in your reading material, I hope you enjoy it Maalie.

7:32 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Happy Solstice Maalie!

8:38 am  

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