Lissagriffin Part II

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

Lapwing. Photo: Seán Ronayne.

A total of 1,946 lapwing calls were registered at Lissagriffin over 68 dates spanning from July 15th through to November 6th. Numbers first began to rise around late August, with 68 calls registered on the night of the 29th. From here, numbers continued to climb, with 114 recorded on 17th September, 141 on 20th October, and 144 on 2nd November. Whilst lapwing does breed in Ireland, it does not do so at Lissagriffin, thus birds are Lissagriffin are migrants from elsewhere in the country or further afield. This explains the lack of birds earlier in the study, and the gradual build up towards winter.

Lapwing phenology - Lissagriffin. Lapwing is absent or rare until mid-august, which sees a spike in calls, presumably relating to the first push of migrants. A second wave arrives in early October and records remain stable - probably referring to a wintering population.
Lapwing nocturnal flight calls captured from Lissagriffin on the night of 14th September. Audio below.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

Little Egret. Photo: Seán Ronayne.

Little egret was recorded at Lissagriffin on 9 dates, with a total of 191 calls registered between July 1st and October 29th, which also had the highest number of calls with a total of 113 between 18:19 and 18:49. As this was not long after sunset and birds were not recorded on later dates, it is possible that these calls relate to a small group of birds departing after sundown. Likewise, 48 calls recorded at 8:24pm on October 11th are from birds in flight as they can be heard approaching and then passing the mic, disappearing into the distance.

Little egret phenology - Lissagriffin.
A small group of little egret departing Lissagriffin after dusk, at 18:49 on 28th October. Audio below.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

Little grebe. Photo: Seán Ronayne.

Little grebe was recorded on 12 dates between June 29th and November 1st with a total of 51 calls logged in this period.

Little grebe does not appear to breed at Lissagriffin (no evidence noted in the field, nor were any typical calls from courting birds detected), however this species engages in nocturnal territorial flight displays which extend some distance beyond the immediate territory. Likewise birds in search of a territory may pass over the site before settling down to a suitable breeding location. This might explain the occasional records between June and late August, as there are numerous ponds and lakes nearby. Records from October to November most likely refer to migrants. 

The two most typical nocturnal calls are not as often heard by day and may surprise some people. The first, and most common call heard at night is a series of thrills not unlike whimbrel, however it can be separated from the latter by the small number of sharp pips that precede the thrill. The second NFC is what’s aptly named the “wail”. Listen to the second audio, to discover why.

Little grebe phenology - Lisagriffin.
Little grebe nocturnal flight thrill with seven distinct pips preceding the whimbrel-like thrill. Recorded at 1:03am on 17th July, over Lissagriffin. Audio directly below.
Little grebe nocturnal wail, recorded at 3:11am on the 25th August, over Lissagriffin. Audio below.

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Mallard. Photo: Seán Ronayne.

Mallard was recorded at Lissagriffin on 48 dates between July 4th and November 6th with a total of 2,848 calls logged in this period. Mallard calls were rare before August, with a burst of activity until mid-September, before seeing another greater surge in early October through to the end of the study. 

Generally speaking, numbers increased steadily over the period with 1 call logged on 4th July, 30 on 24th July, 82 on 13th September, 203 on 9th October, with a peak of 242 on 3rd November. All of this points to either a lack of breeding or breeding in low numbers at Lissagriffin, followed by a steady arrival of migrants from mid- August onwards, with a steady overwintering population.

Mallard phenolgy - Lissagriffin.
Female mallard (the stereotypical duck quack) nocturnal flight call - Lissagriffin, July 4th. Audio directly below.
Male mallard nocturnal flight calls and wing beats - Lissagriffin, October 12th . Note this call is a very different sound to that of the female, and presents itsef as a slower, raspier version of that call.

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

Moorhen. Photo: Wildlife Terry.

Moorhen was a surprisingly rare species at Lissagriffin with just three records in total: 29th July at 11:50pm, 1st August at 1:27am and 5th October at 1:08am. These records likely relate to birds dispersing or migrating.

Typical clucking nocturnal flight call of a moorhen migrating over Lissagriffin at 1:08am on 8th October. Audio below.

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)

Pectoral Sandpiper. Photo: Aaron Maizlish.

This rare North American vagrant was recoded on 6 dates between October 3rd and October 20th, with a total of 70 calls logged during this period. These records probably relate to a bird found at Lissagriffin by Mark Shorten on 4th October, last reported on 14th October.

Below is a recording of the Lissagriffin pectoral sandpiper recorded on the 4th October. Listen for the rippling “prrt”. The next audio is an additional but much closer example, recorded earlier in the year at Tacumshin, Co. Wexford.

Flight calls from a close-passing pecoral sandpiper - September 16th, Tacumshin, Co. Wexford

Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus)

Pink-footed goose at Lissagriffin - October 2021. Photo: Brian McCloskey.

Pink-footed goose is a rare but annual occurrence in Co. Cork in very small numbers – usually in ones or twos. This species was recorded at Lissagriffin on the 6th October and again on the 20th and 21st October, with a total of 34 calls logged.

Nocturnal flight calls from at least one pink-footed goose - Lissagriffin, October 21st at 2:33am. Audio below.

Redshank (Tringa totanus)

Redshank. Photo: Ingeborg van Leeuwen.

Redshank was recorded over a total of 49 dates between July 4th and November 4th, with 856 calls logged in total. There are three distinct periods of vocal acitivity in July, August, and October/November, probably relating to returning failed breeders and juveniles, adults, and wintering birds, respectively. Peaks include 35 calls on 16th July, 40 calls on 10th August and 120 calls on 5th October.

Redshank phenolgy - Lissagriffin.
Redshank flight call at sunrise - Lissagriffin on 13th July.

Redwing (Turdus iliacus)

Redwing. Photo: Seán Ronayne.

Redwing, a winter visitor to Ireland was recorded on 15 dates between October 9th and November 6th, weath peaks of 447 calls on the night of October 20th, and 1,664 calls on the night of November 2nd.

Redwing phenology - Lissagriffin with a clear maximum peak of 1664 calls on the night of November 2nd.
Redwing nocturnal flight calls - Lissagriffin, November 2nd. Audio below.

Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

Ringed plover. Photo: Aaron Maizlish.

Ringed plover proved to be a common passage migrant and a probable wintering species at Lissagriffin with a total of 3,479 calls logged over 65 dates between July 15th and November 1st, with a clear peak in early September as 426 calls were logged on the night of September 1st.

Ringed plover phenlogy - Lissagriffin. Note a steady climb in the number of calls per night from mid-July, peaking in early Septmebr, before tapering off again, with very few calls logged from mid-October onwards.
Nocturnal flight calls from a small group of ringed plover over Lissagriffin at 4:19am on September 1st. Audio below.

Sanderling (Calidris alba)

Sanderling. Photo: Seán Ronayne.

Sanderling was recorded on just one date, September 14th with a total of 44 calls logged between 6:04 and 6:56 am. The estuarine habitat at Lissagriffin is not best suited for the species (they are typically found along the wave-line of sandy beaches), and thus is is likely that these birds were just migrants stopping briefly to refuel. Incidentally the observer noted a small group of sanderling in the area mid-September, mixed with dunlin and ringed plover. It is possible that these birds eventually found their way to one of the nearby sandy beaches or that they continued even further south on their migration.

Flight calls from at least one sanderling at 6:04am on 14th Septmber, Lissagriffin. Audio below.

Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

Sandwich tern. Photo: Roger Lancefield.

Sandwich tern was a very prominent vocalist at night over Lissagriffin, with a total of 5,755 calls detected over 58 dates between July 4th and October 9th. Peak activity included 241 calls recorded  on 22nd July, 360 calls on 10th August, and 326 calls on 17th September. The first juvenile was detected, flying with an adult on the 15th July and juvenile-adult combinations were heard throughout from this point onwards, until early October.

Sandwich tern phenology - Lissagriffin, with a clear peak of 360 calls on the night of August 10th.
Nocturnal flight calls from adult and juvenile sandwich terns at 11:04pm on 22nd July, Lissagriffin. Adults have a grating "kree-uu-eek" (a series of densely-packed vertical lines, followed by a small inverted "U" on the sonogram) sound, with the juveniles giving a much higher-pitched "sreeee" (large upside down U-shapes on the sonogram). Audio below.

Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)

Semipalmated plover with ringed plover (background) - Mizen Head.. Photo: Brian McCloskey.

Semipalmated plover, is a very rare North American vagrant to Ireland, with just 6 accepted national records from counties Donegal, Mayo, Galway, and Wexford. 

This bird was first detected on July 2nd at 4:43am when it flew over the Lissagriffin listening station, calling six times at close range. Additional nocturnal flight call records were captured on 29th July, 2nd August and 11th October.

This bird was subsequently discovered in the field on 1st October by Paul Moore and was well seen and further documented by many.

The distinctive nike-tick sonogram of a semipalmated plover flying over the recording device at Lissagriffin at 4:43am on 2nd July. Audio below.
Spotted redshank flight calls - recorded at Tacumshin, Co. Wexford. Whilst superficially similar, spotted redshank flight calls are typically lower-pitched, with a greater frequency range (shallow nike-tick in semipalmated plover vs deep "V" in spotted redshank), giving it more of a punch.

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

Short-eared owl. Photo: Caroline Legg.

Short-eared owl is mostly a wintering species in Ireland, made up of Scandinavian birds which depart south in Autumn. It is also a very rare (perhaps under-recorded) breeding species. 

A single bird was detected on 5th July at 4:10am. Records of this species in July are not common in Ireland but are not unheard of, either. Perhaps this record refers to an early/late migrant or perhaps it relates to a dispersing/hunting Irish breeding bird.

Nocturnal flight call from a short-eared owl at 4:10am on 5th July at Lissagriffin. See audio directly below. See second audio below for an additional example of the same short-eared owl vocalisation, recorded by Romuald Mikusek in Poland.

Skylark (Alauda arvensis)

Skylark. Photo: Caroline Legg.

Skylark is a widespread but rapidly declining breeding species in Ireland that is heavily supplemented by northern migrants in Autumn. This species breeds and can be heard singing in the sand dunes of Lissagriffin in summer, however only flight calls of migrants at night (the species migrates through the night as well as by day) are included in this analysis.

A total of 443 nocturnal flight calls were logged across 39 dates between August 29th and November 4th.

Peak activity occurred in mid-September, with 51 calls logged on the night of September 16th, with an absolute peak of 56 calls on the night of September 19th. Other high counts include 44 calls on the night of October 3rd, as well as 41 calls on the night of October 29th.

Skylark phenology Lissagriffin, with a clear peak of calls in mid-September.
Nocturnal flight call of a skyark over Lissagriffin on 11 October. Audio below, with an additional example from just before sunrise on 12th October.

Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)

Snipe. Photo: Scyrene

Snipe is a widespread breeding species in Ireland, however, numbers are highly supplemented by northern migrants arriving to spend the winter. 

This species was recorded on 70 dates between July 26th and November 6th with a total of 21,697 calls logged during this period. Peak activity was recorded in mid to late October with 1,653 calls on the night of October 19th,  1,519 calls on October 20th and an absolute peak of 2,493 calls on October 21st.

Snipe phenology at Lissagriffin, with an obvious peak in mid-October.
Nocturnal flight calls from at least one snipe on the night of October 20th. Corresponding audio below.

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelus)

Song Thrush. Photo: Seán Ronayne.

Song thrush is a widespread and common breeding species in Ireland that is supplemented by northern migrants in autumn. A total of 117 calls were logged over 19 dates, mostly between September 28th and November 4th, with a singled call registered on July 8th. Peak counts include 15 calls on the night of October 10th, 37 calls on October 28th and 21 calls on November 2nd. Song thrush passage usually coincided with heavy movements of redwing, and to a lesser extent, blackbird, further pointing to the northern origin of these birds.

Song thrush phenology, Lissagriffin with a peak of 37 calls on 28th October.
A single nocturnal flight call from a song thrush migrating over Lissagriffin on the night of October 21st. See corresponding audio below, as well as a number of additional examples from the project.

Teal (Anas crecca)

Male (foreground) and female teal. Photo: Seán Ronayne.

Teal is a scarce Irish breeding species, however, we receive a large volume of migrants in autumn, which spend the winter. 

A total of 7,637 calls were logged across 49 dates, mostly between September 3rd and November 5th, with 2 calls recorded on 6th July.

High counts include 470 calls on the night of October 21st, 1,329 calls on October 27th, 1,605 calls on November 1st and 482 calls on November 5th.

Teal phenology, Lissagriffin. Birds are mostly absent until mid-September, with numbers beginning to climb rapidly in mid-October, peaking late-October.
Nocturnal flight calls from a male teal - Lissagriffin, September 11th.
Nocturnal flight calls from a female teal - Lissagriffin, September 23rd.