Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
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.
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
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 Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
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.
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
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.
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
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.
Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)
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.
Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus)
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.
Redshank (Tringa totanus)
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.
Redwing (Turdus iliacus)
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.
Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
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.
Sanderling (Calidris alba)
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.
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
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.
Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)
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.
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)
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.
Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
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.
Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
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.
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelus)
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.
Teal (Anas crecca)
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.