Friday 15 December 2017

Rare osprey is captured on camera

Osprey spotted in Dundalk
Osprey spotted in Dundalk

Anne Campbell

A LOCAL birdwatcher managed to capture a magnificent picture near Blackrock of a rare osprey as it headed from Scotland to winter in Africa.

Gerry O'Neill, a long-time enthusiast and member of the north Louth branch of Birdwatch Ireland, chaired by Breffni Martin, was contacted by a friend, Peter Phillips, last Sunday week who said the magnificent bird had been spotted at Seabank, between Blackrock and Castlebellingham.

Although Gerry missed spotting it at this location, he quickly found where it had gone and was able to watch it, and take this picture, at Lurgangreen the following morning.

Gerry said the osprey, which is mostly found in Scotland, was most probably on its way from its summer breeding ground to warmer climbes in Africa, where it will spend the winter. Sometimes, ospreys will stop along the east coast of Ireland on their journey to rest and feed before the next leg.

But they are only spotted in Louth once or twice a year and that's what makes Gerry's picture even more rare. In addition, he was able to make very good use of the birdwatching hide that has been built at Blackrock to watch the bird.

He said: 'I was delighted when Peter rang me and I was able to get this picture. Ospreys feed on fish from the sea and rivers and while his wasn't the first time I had seen one in County Louth, it is pretty rare.

'Ospreys return to the same nest they had the year before and that's why it makes it very difficult to start breeding programmes for them in Ireland. The best time to see the osprey from the Louth coast is between now and the middle of September between Lurgangreen and Annagassan at high tides.'

For more information on all the bird-related activities around Louth, search for Gerry's blogspots, Louthbirds blogspot, Lurgangreenhide blogspot and also on Twitter (appropriately enough) LouthBirdNews.

The Argus

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