28 Aug 2016

28 Aug 16 - Slea Head, Ireland

After we left Inch Beach, we followed the road out to Slea Head at the far end of the Dingle. A good number of tourists had already arrived before us. We tried some seawatching from the car park overlooking the Blasket Islands, but other than a few Gannets, Fulmars & Shags, it proved quiet.
The Blasket Islands from Slea Head: The final population of the islands which had dwindled to 22 (from around 200 at the start of the century) were evacuated in 1953
Herring Gull: Adult. The locals Herring Gulls were very approachable
Herring Gull: Juv
Dave returned from exploring the nearby headland with news of a Bumblebee tick for me. So we headed down to see it. By this time, the steady breeze had dropped & the Midges had appeared in large numbers: we were all keen to see one or two quickly, before quickly escaping.
Moss Carder Bee: The all yellow hairs (& lack of any black hairs) on the abdomen is one of the features. It does occur in Dorset & now I know the features will have to pay more attention to my local Carder Bumblebees
One of the great things about the West coast of Ireland is the masses of wild flowers on the verges. Unlike the UK, where wild flowers are often seen as something that needs cutting back by local councils or farmers, nobody seems to do that in Ireland to the same extend as in the UK. There were some stunning local roads full of various species of native flowers, along with large blooms of Montbretia & Fuchsias: both common garden escapes.
Montbretia: A stunning roadside verge as we headed back towards Dingle
We headed back to see the Royal Tern again & had better views for our efforts. Then it was time to start heading back towards Rosslare. As we passed Ballylongford, Paul mentioned there had been a Semi-palmated Sandpiper there on the previous day. We had no further information other than it had been in a flooded pool in a field. Deciding on a quick look, we followed some side roads down to edge of the Shannon. There was no sign of any flooded pools, but after a couple of miles we found the ruins of Carrigafoyle Castle with a causeway across to the small island of Carrigafoyle. Apparently, there were 2 Semi-Ps on the island, but it would have been hard to find the exact location without further information. But it was worth the diversion to see the castle & have a quick look at the saltmarsh.
Carrigafoyle Castle: This was built between 1490 & 1500 by the O'Connors of Kerry who appear to have made their money by a mixture of taxation of ships going up to Limerick & smuggling
Carrigafoyle Castle: This is now an Irish National Monument 
The Dunbrody: The final stop on the way to Rosslare was to photograph this modern reconstruction of an 1840's Irish famine & emigrant boat. New Ross