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Species accounts: warblers

Grasshopper Warbler  Locustella naevia

 

Summer-visitor and passage-migrant.

 

 

Reed Warbler  Acrocephalus scirpaceus

 

Breeding summer-visitor, in small numbers, and scarce passage-migrant.

 

Breeding, territorial or singing Reed Warblers have now been recorded at probably the majority of reedbed locations in the county, including Belle Lake, Kilbarry Bog, Woodstown Bog, Ballyscanlan Lake, the Curragh Pond (Ardmore), and sites along the River Blackwater including Clashmore and Newportt and Camphire.

 

Migrants have mainly been recorded at Brownstown and Helvick Heads, especially in autumn.

 

At Belle Lake, up to ten birds (mainly well-fledged juveniles) were ringed annually during 1995-2000 and 2002-2009.  Although some of these may have been migrants from elsewhere in Ireland, breeding was suspected and was finally confirmed in 2000, when a pair of adults were noted alarm-calling and carrying food.  A nest with two chicks was found in 2002.  The breeding population at Belle Lake is difficult to assess.  No more than two singing males have been noted on any one date, but birds further from the reedbed edge are likely to have been missed.

 

 

Sedge Warbler  Acrocephalus schoenobaeuus

 

Common summer-visitor & passage-migrant.

 

Up to 600 Sedge Warblers (mainly first-year birds) have been ringed annually at Belle Lake reedbed during July-September 1995-2009.  Annual totals partly reflect trapping effort and weather but there are indications that numbers in recent years have been lower, possibly reflecting changes in the species’ population levels or in the suitability of the habitat for as a breeding or migrant-staging purposes.

 

About 30 birds ringed at Belle Lake or Kilbarry Bog in autumn have been recovered elsewhere, generally trapped by ringers in southern England, Wales, France or the Channel Islands later the same autumn.   In addition, single birds ringed in Jersey (Channel Islands) and at Ballycotton, Co Cork, have been re-caught at Belle Lake.  A Belgian-ringed bird was found dead (killed by a cat) at Brownstown Head in September 1996.

 

Icterine Warbler  Hippolais icterina

 

Rare passage-migrant, mainly in autumn.

 

1997:     One, Brownstown Head, 17 May (the only spring record for Co Waterford).

 

 

Melodious Warbler  Hippolais polyglotta

 

Rare passage-migrant, mainly in autumn.

 

2002:     One, Brownstown Head, 6-12 October.

 

 

Booted Warbler  Hippolais caligata

 

Vagrant: one record.

 

2006:     One, the Cunnigar, Dungarvan, 26-27 August (fourth Irish record).

 

Barred Warbler  Sylvia nisoria

 

Vagrant or rare passage-migrant in autumn.

 

1981:     First-winter bird,  Brownstown Head, 10 October .

               A different first-winter, 25-26 October 1981.

1986:     One, Ballynacourty Point, 26 September.*

1989:     First-winter (ringed), Brownstown Head, 16 September.

2003:     First-winter, Brownstown Head, 1-6 October.

 

 

Subalpine Warbler  Sylvia cantillans

 

Vagrant in spring: one record.

 

2008:     Adult male, Brownstown Head, 4 May.

 

 

Lesser Whitethroat  Sylvia curruca

 

Rare passage-migrant, mainly in autumn; has occurred in summer.

 

 

Whitethroat  Sylvia communis

 

Common breeding summer-visitor and passage-migrant.

 

 

Garden Warbler  Sylvia borin

 

Scarce passage-migrant.

 

 

Blackcap  Sylvia atricapilla

 

Common breeding summer-visitor and passage-migrant; regular winter-visitor in small numbers.

 

Greenish Warbler  Phylloscopus trochiloides

 

Vagrant in autumn: two records.

 

1985:     One, Brownstown Head, 15-17 October.

2006:     One, Brownstown Head,  3 September.

 

 

Pallas’s Warbler  Phylloscopus proregulus

 

Vagrant in autumn: two records.

 

1999:     One, Helvick Head, 25 October.

2003:     One (ringed), Brownstown Head, 12-13 November.

 

 

Yellow-browed Warbler  Phylloscopus inornatus

 

Rare but almost annual autumn-visitor.

 

First recorded in 1984, and a total of at least 27 individuals in the period 1984-2008.  With the exception of two in late September and one in mid November, all have occurred in October.  The bird recorded at Brownstown Head during 11-18 November 1995 was the latest Irish occurrence up to that year.
 

Full details:

1984:     One, Corbally church, 25-26 September.

               One, Ballymacaw, 28 October.

1985:     Two, Brownstown Head, 17 October.

               One, Helvick Head, 19 October.

1986:     One, Helvick Head, 6 October.

               Two, Brownstown Head, 15 October.

1987:     One, Brownstown Head, 29-30 September.

1988:     One, Helvick Head, 12 October.*

1992:     One (trapped & ringed), Brownstown Head, 5 October.

1993:     One (trapped & ringed), 3 October.

1995:     Four separate birds at Brownstown Head – one (ringed), 14-18 October; one, 19 October; one, 21-22 October; one (ringed), 11-18 November.

1996:     One, Hacketstown, near Mine Head, 24 October.

2000:     One, Ardmore Head, 1-2 October.

2001:     One, Ardmore Head, 13 October.

2002:     Two, Brownstown Head, 11 Oct (one ringed 12 Oct).

2003:     One (ringed), Brownstown Head, 15-16 October.

2005:     One, Brownstown Head, 16 October.

2006:     One (ringed), Brownstown Head, 20-22 October.

2007:     One, Brownstown Head, 7-14 October.

 

 

Radde’s Warbler  Phylloscopus schwarzi

 

Vagrant: one record.

 

1985:     One, Helvick Head, 15 October (2nd Irish record).

 

This followed the first Irish occurrence at Hook Head, Co Wexford, October 1982.

 

 

Western Bonelli’s Warbler  Phylloscopus bonelli

 

Vagrant: two records.

 

1981:     One, Brownstown Head, 12-18 September 1981.

2005:     One, Brownstown Head, 30 October 2005.

 

Both of these occurred in the same garden on the headland.  Following a review of records by the Irish Rare Birds Committee, the 1981 Waterford record became only the fifth confirmed Irish record of Western Bonelli’s Warbler, or the sixth Irish record of the ‘Bonelli’s warbler’ species-pair. (Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler Phylloscopus orientalis has no confirmed Irish records at the time of writing).  Both Waterford birds gave the diagnostic call of the Western species.

 

 

Wood Warbler  Phylloscopus sibilatrix

 

Rare passage-migrant: one confirmed record.

 

2004:     One (trapped & ringed), Brownstown Head, 8 May 2004.

 

The species has been suspected in Co Waterford on at least one previous occasion.  As yet there have been no indications of the species breeding in the county, and it is not clear if the oak woodlands here are as suitable as those in Irish counties where breeding has been noted.

 

 

Chiffchaff  Phylloscopus collybita

 

Common breeding summer-visitor and passage-migrant; regular winter-visitor in small numbers.

 

Birds showing characters of the Scandinavian subspecies abietinus are probably regular in late autumn.

 

 

Willow Warbler  Phylloscopus trochilus

 

Common breeding summer-visitor and passage-migrant; regular winter-visitor in small numbers.

 

Birds showing characters of the northern European subspecies acredula are occasionally seen in spring and late autumn.

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