Online access to this standard text, whose lead-author R.J.
Ussher lived at Cappagh in Co Waterford, is available through Waterford County Library (see link above). Specific
references to Waterford observations are listed in detail. Note that many other of Ussher's personal observations relate to Co Waterford,
but extracts are only provided below where Co Waterford, or specific Waterford locations, are explicitly mentioned or can
be inferred. Reference to the full text is recommended, to place Waterford observations into national context
at the time.
names have been given below (see Waterford checklist for scientific names); the sequence of species is as given by Ussher
& Warren, but may be changed later to reflect modern classifications.
Song Thrush :
"...there is a general increase in winter in Waterford, Cork
and along the West. ... This bird has been seen building on the 14th February at Cappagh, but it usually commences
Blackbird : "In August and September I remark a great scarcity of them in
Waterford, and Mr. Blake Knox has noticed this in the co.
Dublin. ... In
1890 more than one bird near Cappoquin produced eggs with a white, not a green, ground, and I have a similar set taken about
a mile from Cappoquin in 1885."
Ring Ouzel : "In all, or nearly all, the
other counties [apart from Meath, Westmeath, Longford and Armagh] this species has breeding-haunts. I may specially mention the higher mountains of Kerry, Waterford, Wicklow, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and Down, but in many other counties it is not uncommon in suitable haunt. In waterford it is only found above the thousand-foot line…"
Whinchat :"Though I have observed
birds here nearly all my life, I have but once seen the Whinchat in the South of Ireland, and I know of no instance of its
breeding in Munster. True, Thompson stated, 'Mr. Neligan considered this bird common in Kerry,' but though I have several
notes of the occurrence of Whinchats in Cork, Waterford and Wexford, I cannot say that these were more than stragglers."
Redstart : "Mr. Barrington has sixteen specimens obtained at light-stations… Two are from Wexford, one
from Waterford (Dungarvan) … An immature male in the Dublin Museum was found dead at Tramore, co. Waterford, by Mr.
Spencer, after a storm in October 1889, and Mr. Moffat records two seen in co. Wexford on 8th August 1885."
Black Redstart : "They are often unsuspicious and enter houses, like two which I found in my study in October and November 1895. ... [Addendum] The following birds occurred last autumn, 1899:- 1 saw one at my window at Cappagh on 2nd November ..."
Robin: "It is most numerous in
sheltered and cultivated parts, but maybe met with on moors and mountains in smaller numbers.
Thus I have met with the Redbreast in the Comeragh Mountains, eighteen hundred feet above the sea … A
nest was built in a watering-can hung up in a porch that opened into a garden at Lismore. … a farm near Cappagh was
frequented on successive seasons by a male whose back was ash-coloured and under-parts white, while only the face was reddish
its mate was of the ordinary colours, and young were produced."
"In the counties of Dublin and Waterford, and probably in many others, it has also increased. ... Waterford ... S. ['summer half-year,
April-September'] increasing, W ['winter occurrences, October-March] -. repeatedly"
Warbler : "I … have also observed
it for a few days in May, in 1893, in my garden at Cappagh, as well as at Dromana, in the co. Waterford"
Sedge Warbler :
"This is one of the species most numerously represented from
light-stations in Mr. Barrington's collection. His one hundred and eleven specimens occurred on seventy-seven occasions. …
Waterford … 7 [occasions]"
Grasshopper Warbler : "In some counties, as Antrim, Dublin,
Wexford and Waterford, it occurs in so many localities and varieties of situations as to
denote it a common bird. … I have no record of it from the marine islands nor from the western sea-board, though in
co. Waterford it sometimes breeds not far from the coast. I have two entries of its occurrence here at Cappagh, on the l1th April, but it is usually first heard the last week in that month."
Dipper : "Great attachment
is shown to the nesting-site, in which, after the first nest has been removed, a second is sometimes built the same season.
An iron railway-ridge near Cappagh was thus resorted to annually, the nest being built on an inner flange over the river."
"A pair built at Cappagh in the dense mass of an old cypress,
among the crumbling matter lodged in its broom-like growth. Another pair bred for successive years between the wood-work of
the verandah and the wall of Comeragh House."
Grey Wagtail :
"Grey Wagtails have bred in the walls of my outside buildings
and yards for over forty years, but not always near the stream that turns our water-wheel. One year the nest was in an empty
joist-hole, close above a farm boiler in daily use. A plant of Geranium robertianum concealed this nest. Another nest
was in the trailing ivy on the wall of the stable-yard, beside the main thoroughfare and low enough for the hand to reach
it. … I have a set almost white, and another with white ground and very
distinct markings of deep reddish-brown and undershell-grey. Successive clutches of this very peculiar type were laid on my
premises, but the parent bird was probably killed, and later in the season eggs of the ordinary type were laid in the same
corner of the laundry-roof."
Golden Oriole :
"Nearly all the occurrences took place in maritime counties,
twelve in the county Cork, seven in Waterford, and six in Down. Waterford. -
One shot at Ballinamona in 1824 or 1825 (Thompson); a male shot near Woodstown 14th June 1839 (Burkitt); remains of one found,
Tramore Bay, about 1848 (Ibid.); one shot near Flower Hill, before 1858 (B. Drew);
a pair, male and female, shot Dungarvan Bridge 1845 to 1847 (Thompson);
one shot in co. Waterford before 1856 (D.N.H. Soc.); one observed at Glenbeg before 1883 (Mr. E. Foley)."
Great Grey Shrike :
"Waterford, Tipperary. - Thompson states that it is said to have been met with in both counties."
"Of the seasons marked by the immigration of this species into
Great Britain the winter of 1849-50 witnessed the capture of Waxwings in Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Wexford, Dublin, Longford,
Roscommon and Antrim; ... Waterford.- March 1850 (Kinahan)."
Spotted Flycatcher :
"Probably no bird will endure the disturbance of her home in
the same way. A boy brought up to my house two Flycatchers nests containing eggs which he had taken from the branches of fruit-trees
on the garden walls. I removed from each a cracked egg and made
him replace the nests; next day the birds were sitting in both nests, and hatched their young in them."
"Three examples were taken at Wexford lighthouses in October
and November 1897, and one at a Waterford lighthouse (Mine Head) in November 1898 (Migration Reports). These
are the only instances from light stations, but Mr. Sheridan obtained a male in beautiful plumage at Achill in October 1897."
"Around Cappagh I have found the nest in the following trees:
Apple, wild plum, hawthorn, horse-chestnut, laburnum, beech, evergreen oak, Biota cinensis, cypress, Pinus insignis,
spruce and Scotch fir, larch, also in a furze-bush, and in a rose-tree nailed to the house, as well as in ivy on a wall. Eight
nests were found in 1884 in one grove of firs on the hill called the Giant's Rock where Crossbills, Siskins, and Lesser Redpolls
"…Dr. Burkitt, of Waterford, wrote: 'Several Siskins visited us in the summer of 1852.' In 1856 I observed Siskins in the breeding season, and
in April 1857 I found a nest in a Scotch fir at Cappagh. In April and May of that year the woods here were continually ringing
with the cries and songs of Siskins. I cannot believe that the bird-had never before bred in Ireland. Its small size and habit of frequenting the tops of lofty fir-trees in the breeding season
render it liable to be overlooked. I have notes of Siskins in spring and summer, and of their nests or broods during a long
series of years. Since 1857 they are more numerous in some seasons than in others, and several pairs usually breed within
the radius of four hundred yards from my house. … The Siskin is the earliest of our Finches to breed, laying its first
clutch in Waterford and Wicklow early in April. … In spring this bird frequents
the upper parts of tall conifers, usually Scotch and silver firs in which it breeds. We have several tall groups of the latter
about the demesne in which Siskins annually breed, sometimes towards the top of the tree and always far out on the branch,
sometimes twelve feet from the trunk."
House Sparrow :
"The numbers of this bird vary greatly in country parts of Ireland. In some counties, as Fermanagh, Armagh and Antrim, it is abundant.
In others, as Waterford, it is absent from many if not from the majority of farmsteads, but
though local with us I find it increasing and spreading."
"Flocks of females have been often noticed in co. Dublin, in northern counties, and once, at least, on the Tearaght, but in January 1877 Mr. Palmer,
then at Lucan, co. Dublin, met with thirty or forty males to one female during several days, and Mr. Hart during one winter
observed the same thing in Donegal (Zool., 1891, p. 336). In co. Waterford I have failed to find these exclusive flocks, though the species is abundant it all seasons."
"In severe winters these birds sometimes appear in unexpected numbers and in unwonted localities,
but their regular visits are apt to be overlooked, owing to their shyness and general resemblance to Chaffinches. Thus it
was not until my coachman had caught one that I became aware of their visits to Cappagh, where I afterwards noticed their
appearance during a series of years."
"It breeds commonly in Waterford, as it does in most counties..."
"On the heath-clad parts of the hills near Cappagh, I have listened
to this bird in May, while, on a low bush, it uttered its song in passages or exclamations, the longest of which seemed like
"This is another of those woodland birds which is gaining ground in Ireland. Thompson described
it as rather scarce, and stated that in many of the artificially wooded districts it was not found; while Dr. Burkitt was
not acquainted with it round Waterford until about 1840, although from that time up to 1855 he found that it had become plentiful in all
directions. Within my memory it has decidedly increased here, not only abounding in the young larch and fir plantations, but
being met with along the country hedges, far from woods."
"They increased suddenly in Ireland in 1888, when Mr. Crosbie Smith knew of thirteen nests near Monkstown, Cork. In that year they were observed close to my house, and have never been long absent from Cappagh since. … I will give the results of my observations of this now familiar
bird at Cappagh since its settlement in 1888. I have been much aided by John Power and others here. …" [See full text
for extensive details.]
Corn Bunting :
"It forms flocks in places, but these do not wander like the
flocks of many small birds, and they keep together until late in spring, when the birds sing in company. I have repeatedly
in April seen such an assemblage, amounting once to fifty or sixty Buntings, on a hedge by a farmhouse in an upland locality
near our Waterford oast. The vociferous chorus they uttered was remarkable"
"... the great autumn immigration ... sometimes begins in September,
and through October and the first half of November it is at its height. …. The Rev. A. Ellison, when living up a valley
sixteen miles from the Wicklow coast, has described the low flying flocks passing south-west in October with a whizzing sound
and with amazing speed. ... They pass through Waterford along, the valleys that
lead in the same south-west direction. … A pair of Starlings used to build
twice every season in a hollow apple-tree at Brook Lodge, Waterford:
The tree was split open by a storm, when a mass of nesting-materials two feet deep was disclosed that had filled the cavity.
The bottom, which represented the earliest nest, was nearly four feet from the orifice."
Chough : "Though the Chough has disappeared from the coasts of Dublin since 1852, and more recently from Wexford and the eastern parts of Cork, it breeds regularly in the sea-cliffs of Waterford, where there are some twenty nesting-places, but from the Comeragh mountains it has long since vanished. ... Along
favoured parts of our Waterford cliffs the nests occur on an average a mile apart.… The larger
and more richly marked varieties are oftener found in the west of Ireland than in Waterford."
"At the present day it breeds commonly in the woods of Northern
Waterford along the Suir Valley … it is known to be increasing in the counties of Wexford, Carlow and Waterford …
It wanders, or occurs irregularly, in the counties of Cork, Limerick (near Bruff), South Waterford, East Galway, Westmeath,
Wicklow, Dublin, Meath and Louth."
"It has … settlements in our Waterford cliffs, where it is numerous."
"It has been driven from most of its inland breeding-places,
such as cliffs over rivers, and lofty trees in demesnes, like those of Curraghmore and Clonbrook and the islands of Lough
Erne … Two or three pairs still nest on our Waterford coast, and others in
the mountain-cliffs of this county and of Tipperary."
Hooded Crow :
"Though no migration of the Hooded Crow is usually observed in
Ireland, I am of opinion that some do visit us in winter. I have twice seen
in co. Waterford a flock flying westward as immigrants do. One occasion was on the 10th December 1891, when I observed fifty or sixty flying up the Suir."
"Thompson stated that in his time the Wood-Lark was to be found
in Cork, Waterford,
Armagh, Down and Antrim … The late Mr. Corbet of Rathcormack, co. Cork … said that … they used to breed at Doneraile and near Castle Hyde, Fermoy, where I
heard that a nest had been found about 1887 in a meadow. Old people recognized the bird as having bred there years before.
… Several persons living in Cappoquin, co. Waterford, have told me that they
used to take Wood-Larks in that district in the autumn and had them in cages, but they place the time as far back as 1870.
The vicinity of Lismore was another haunt mentioned. The bird thus seems to have inhabited the Blackwater Valley from Cappoquin to Castle Hyde, the practice of bird-catching having
led to its disappearance."
"The great majority leave in August, but stragglers sometimes occur in September and more rarely
in October. I have seen one here on the 4th October with a great assemblage of Swallows preparing to migrate. … I observed Swifts about Cappagh during the first week
in August 1895 moving day after day westwards, contrary to the direction one might expect. … More than one pair breed beside a public road here in the gable of a cow-house only twelve or fifteen feet
above the ground."
"It is usually noticed early in May, but sometimes in the last
week of April, at least in Waterford; it was observed in two parts of this county on the 24th April 1893, these being the earliest records I possess."
" ... in the remaining two cases it was shot not far from the coasts of Waterford and Wicklow. … The first was shot near Dunmore, co. Waterford
on 5th October 1877, by Mr. Ernest Jacob, who presented it to the Science and Art Museum."
Great Spotted Woodpecker :
"The numbers killed in the several counties have been:- …
Waterford, 1 ..."
"Irregular spring and autumn-visitor. Found in most cases near the coasts, chiefly the coasts
of Wexford, Waterford and Cork. ... When two Hoopoes occurred together they are treated as one instance in the
following tables:- … Waterford….19 ... [Addendum:] In April 1900 Hoopoes
were obtained in the counties of Cork,
Waterford, Wexford, Carlow, and Antrim
"A Cuckoo's egg which showed but the first trace of incubation
was found here in a Meadow-Pipit's nest, which contained one hard-set egg of the latter and two young Pipits just hatched."
Barn Owl :
"It has been found asleep in rock-fissures at Malin Head [Co Donegal] and Mine Head."
Short-eared Owl :
"In Waterford, Tipperary, and in several of the inland counties, it is an uncommon bird."
Marsh Harrier :
"Waterford has no extensive marshes, but an old gamekeeper of the Marquis of Waterford told me he had formerly
seen 'Kites' with white heads. "
Hen Harrier :
"Waterford. -Probably still resident on the Knockmealdown Mountains, where on 26th May 1882
I found a nest with six eggs on a steep slope surmounting the escarpment of a lonely ravine, and was entirely composed of
heather among tall plants of which it was placed. It formerly bred on the Comeraghs (Davis in Thompson). I see Hen-Harriers
occasionally, chiefly wanderers in winter."
"Waterford.- Dr. Burkitt preserved
three (one on 27th February 1838, and one in January 1854)."
Golden Eagle :
"Repeated statements have been made of this bird carrying away
and then dropping a fox in the co. Waterford mountains. … In Waterford the eyrie above Coumshingaun in the Comeragh Mountains is mentioned by Thompson as having been robbed in 1837. It was certainly used up to 1854
or 1855, if not later. I am informed that there was a second at Coumeag in the same range."
White-tailed Eagle :
"Thompson mentions a White-tailed Eagle seen on Knockmealdown,
co. Waterford, in 1837. The late Lord Lilford informed me in 1896 that be still had a female of this species, procured through Lord
Waterford's keeper in 1854 from a nest in the Comeragh mountains. He recollected to have been told that the nest was in a
high cliff over a mountain lake. As the only mountain.lake on Lord Waterford's property was Coumshingaun, it is possible that
this species bred there latterly and not the Golden Eagle, whose young was, however, taken there in 1837 (Thompson, I., 9).
Eagles are said to have bred in the Ballycurreen cliffs near Mine Head."
Honey Buzzard :
"Waterford.- An immature specimen, preserved at Camphire on the Blackwater was shot there by the late
Christopher Ussher previously to 1879."
Gyr Falcon ["Greenland Falcon"] :
"birds were distributed as follows:- … Waterford….1 … Waterford.- An adult female, in my possession, was shot near Annestown on the
coast of this county in the winter of 1893-4."
"On the Waterford coast there are eight breeding-places,
and three more in the Comeragh Mountains… The eggs are frequently disposed in straggling, untidy manner, so that they do not all touch
each other. In this they differ from the eggs of every other bird I know. In the county of Waterford [the eggs] are laid during the first half of April. … After
carefully measuring all the Irish eggs available from time to time, I find the average length slightly exceeds 2 inches by
1.59; but those from the county of Waterford exceed in size those from Wexford, Tipperary, Cork and Kerry which I have examined. One eyrie in the first-named county contained year after year eggs
of such exceptional size as averaged 2.16 x 1.66, the largest (now in my collection) attaining the remarkable dimensions of
2.32 x 1.76. And here I may quote a remark of Dr. Charles Smith (1746): ‘In the sea-cliffs of this county (Waterford)
there are eyries of excellent Falcons, which were formerly of great repute among our ancient kings and British nobility, as
appears from the tenures of some lands and estates being held by presenting Hawks from this county.’"
"...though it is so widely dispersed, this species is generally
far from numerous; in Waterford it is apparently less so than the Peregrine Falcon, and it is but little known owing to the
lonely nature of its haunts, which are seldom left in summer."
"In illustration of the sort of prey Kestrels will take, I may
mention having watched a family party hovering quite low, over our coast, and pouncing frequently on the ground, which was
covered with very short herbage; on examining the place, I found it abounded in grasshoppers."
"We have fifty-one notices (some relating to more than one Osprey) in which localities are given,
and which are thus distributed:- … Waterford… 2 … Waterford. - A specimen
was obtained near Dunmore East in September 1875; another, presented to the Cork Museum by Mr. P. Smyth in 1879, was shot some years previously in the Bride in the same county."
"In co. Waterford Cormorants commence to lay in April; and on
the 4th of April 1896 several nests contained from one to three eggs, which was exceptionally
early. … On the' 28th of May I have seen some Cormorants with the white patch, others without it, in co. Waterford,
and one bird exhibited it in co. Mayo on 6th June 1898."
"A good example of a Shag's nest under a beetling cliff is illustrated
at p. 33 of 'Wild Life at Home'; the photograph was taken by Mr. C. Kearton on our Waterford coast."
Grey Heron :
"There are several small heronries in cliffs on the coast …
a similar colony existed at Island, co. Waterford, until the birds were shot; … In the following list of places where
Herons breed it is sought to give the estimated number of nests, excluding those places where that number is less than four,
though of the latter description there are a great many in Ireland. … Waterford. - Ballynatray, Cappagh, 6; Cloncoskoran, Coolnagour, Dromana, 12; Faithlegg, 6; Gurteen,
30; Kilmanahan, 15; Mount Congreve, 38; Sa1terbridge, 20; Shanakill, Strancally, Tallow Hill, 6."
Squacco Heron :
"There are eight notices of the occurrence of this little Heron
including Thompson's record, and seven of these relate to the counties of Kerry, Cork, and Waterford. … They were distributed thus: Kerry 2, Cork 4, Waterford 1, Londonderry 1; none from any inland
county. … Waterford. - A specimen was shot
at Ballynacourty, on Dungarvan Bay, on 12th September 1896, and is in the collection of Mr. Barrington; it doubtless belonged
to the same flight as the Waterville specimen, shot five days later in Kerry."
Bittern: "An old man in co. Waterford told me in 1856 that in his youth he used to hear the sound made by these birds, near the confluence of the Blackwater
and Bride, before the lowlands were embanked, and that the birds bred there. … Since it ceased to breed in Ireland the
Bittern has been an irregular winter visitor in very small numbers, occurring from time to time in almost every Irish county;
but the number of records for Cork (36) is much in excess of those for Waterford (22) and Down (21), which supply the next
largest numbers …"
Glossy Ibis :
"As might be expected, the southern counties of Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Wexford have each several records … Waterford. - One was shot at Dromana in the middle of November 1834 (Thompson, II., p.182); another was killed near Dungarvan before 1850 (Ibid.), and
passed in the Warren collection to the Dublin
"The distribution was as follows: … Waterford (2) …
Thus the four southern counties, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Wexford, yielded twenty-three, or about 70 per cent of the entire
… Waterford.- One or two killed at Dromana were seen there among birds
shot by the gamekeeper between 1830 and 1850 (Thompson). One was shot near Tramore on 5th November 1891, and shown to me by the owner, Mr. Bor (Field, 21st November 1891)."
Greylag Goose :
"… occurs irregularly and in small numbers, chiefly in hard winters; but under these conditions
it has been taken, in many cases repeatedly; in all quarters of the country except the south-eastern counties of Waterford, Kilkenny, Carlow, and Wexford,
from which I have no record of it."
Bean Goose :
"I can answer for its rarity in co. Waterford, the only specimen I know of having been preserved by Dr. Burkitt in January 1841…"
[Records of Bean Goose from the 19th century are nowadays considered unverified (Kennedy, Ruttledge & Scroope 1954; Ruttledge
1966; Hutchinson 1989).]
Brent Goose :
"… it occurs in hard winters in the harbours of Queenstown, Youghal, and Waterford, in the last of which it was
Bewick's Swan :
"Though an exceedingly fluctuating, and in most places uncertain
visitor, there are some lakes near the coast and estuaries where Bewick's Swan may be found more or less every winter. The
most southern is Lough Gill, near Castlegregory, on the north coast of Kerry, which was mentioned
as frequented by Swans in 1756 by Smith, who at the same time remarked that they were rare in Cork and Waterford, as they are at present. "
"The estuary of the Shannon on both
sides, and the islands of its tributary the Fergus, are special breeding-resorts of the Sheld-Duck, as well as Inch in Dingle
Bay, inlets of Queenstown Harbour, the Bays of Dungarvan and Tramore, the extensive sand hills and the islands of the Wexford
"… [one] shot on Clonea Bog, co. Waterford, about 20th March 1871, was presented to the same museum [Dublin Museum] by Dr. W. W. McGuire (More's List) …"
"In the co. Waterford Wild Ducks hatch in March, and in that
month I have counted nineteen drakes together on the Cappagh Lake, as they leave their mates when hatching .... Of the
Ducks which frequent the Cappagh Lake in winter only a few breed among the sedges by the water; others nest among the heather
in young plantations on hills, four hundred feet higher and nearly a mile away, whence they lead their downy little ones walking
to the lakes …"
"The Gadwall has been obtained in the following counties:- … Waterford …"
"Waterford. - Successive broods were reared on a marsh near the coast in 1893-1895 (Mr. T. Spencer)."
"Though Thompson stated the Pintail was an annual visitor to
Wexford and Waterford Harbours, it seems to have become
rare in our time …"
"Elevated bogs near mountains are their special breeding-resorts
in Waterford, and in a place of this description I have come on a Teal in a ditch
with her downy brood, which first crowded together, then stampeded at a wonderful pace across the heather, and finally disappeared
by scattering and squatting quite still."
"Among the marine estuaries frequented by these birds I may mention the bays and harbours of
Kerry, Cork, Waterford …"
"I have chiefly noticed them at Cappagh in the early months of the year …"
Tufted Duck :
"The portions of Ireland where this bird is not yet known to nest include … the co. Waterford …"
"... occurrence … on inland waters is exceptional, and when the bird is so found it is
generally only as a straggler. I have a few notes of captures of this kind from several points along the Shannon valley, and from an inland lake in co. Cork, while, in January 1857, I shot a
male at Cappagh. Three were killed six or seven miles up the Blackwater in October 1880."
Long-tailed Duck :
"It has occurred … at … Dungarvan Bay…"
"Among the fossil bones found in Shandon Cave by Leith Adams, and now preserved in the Dublin Museum, is a left coracoid, which has been referred to this species by Professor
Alfred Newton. This would connect the Eider Duck with co. Waterford
in early times."
Common Scoter :
"In several instances single birds have been met with inland;
… [one] was caught in a fishing net on the Blackwater, co. Waterford, more than twelve miles from the sea …"
"In winters of severe frost, when other wild-fowl are numerous,
Goosanders visit Ireland more than at other times; thus, in the severe season of 1880-81 they
were taken on the Rivers Blackwater and Suir, and in the counties of Kilkenny, Carlow, Wexford, Wicklow, Kildare, Westmeatb,
and Galway. "
Red-breasted Merganser :
"In the east and south-east of Ireland it is only known as a winter-visitor, but I have received
alive a young Merganser about the size of a Teal, which was doubtless bred in this part of Ireland; it was taken on 2nd August
1897 on the Finisk River, co. Waterford. "
"Waterford. - The Smew has occurred (Thompson, III., p. 161)."
"I have seen several of these birds fluttering low about the
Cappagh lake, occasionally alighting in deep water, and taking flight after a few seconds. … In a bare district near
our coast a nest we discovered in an earth-cliff flanking a small river-course …"
Rock Dove :
"It is a common species along the cliffs of Waterford … On the Waterford coast two broods,
if not three, are reared in the season, the first eggs being laid in April; on 26th June three clutches were taken from nests
that had contained young on 12th May, and I have known a nest to contain eggs on 13th September."
Turtle Dove :
"… the instances of the bird's occurrence in Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Kerry form about 60 per cent
of those recorded from the whole country."
"In 'Smith's Kerry,' 1756, it is stated that Pheasants were then
to be seen in that county in greater numbers than in the more cultivated counties of Cork and Waterford …"
"After the famine, much of the tilled lands were turned into
pasture or reverted into moor; and about 1850-53 I heard an old sportsman remark that Quails were then much less frequently
met with in co. Waterford than they had been , while the Rev. C. Irvine dated their decrease in co. Tyrone from 1848. Still
they continued common up to about 1860, and I can remember their frequent calls during August 1858; but in the ‘sixties’
there was a steady decrease, which advanced during the ‘seventies,’ when the occurrence of a Quail became a fact
to be noted, except in such favourite counties as Louth …"
Spotted Crake :
"… fourteen maritime and seven inland counties yield notices
of it as follows:- … Waterford (7) … The three southern counties of Kerry, Cork and Waterford afford 36 per cent of the total records … [Addendum:] … Early in May 1900 the call of a Spotted Crake was heard for
several nights from a marsh near Cappagh, co. Waterford, and on the 10th of that month I listened to it for a long time and
as close as thirty or forty yards. It was loud and clear, and sounded like 'whuit, whuit, whuit' constantly repeated (Irish
Nat., 1900, p. 160)."
Baillon's Crake :
"The second example was taken alive on Tramore Bay … on 6th April 1858,
after a succession of heavy gales which drove numerous Puffins and other sea-birds on shore in a dying state. This specimen
was sent to Dr. Burkitt, who preserved it, and presented it in 1892 to the Dublin Museum."
Water Rail :
"In the south laying often takes place in April, if not earlier
(in one of the nests at South Kensington, taken in co. Waterford, the young were hatched on 17th April) … A set was
taken at Cappagh in each of which the colouring matter is almost confined to one large blotch of deep red-brown."
"On the Cappagh lakes Moor-hens nest habitually in the rhododendrons
over hanging the water, building year after year in the same spot; the spreading branch of a Scotch fir thus situated has
held a nest for a great many seasons. Sometimes they build on a bare stump projecting out of the lake or among watercress
or stems of the Equisetum in shallow water."
"The eggs are laid in co. Waterford at the beginning of April ..."
"Smith, who describes the peculiar breast-bone, mentions in his
History of Waterford (1746) as well as in that of Cork (1750), that a few Crane had been seen in these counties 'during the
great frost of 1739, but not since or before in any person's memory.'"
"The Stone-Curlew has been obtained in Ireland in ten cases. Eight of these occurred along the eastern seaboard from Waterford to Antrim … The distribution of nine birds was as follows:- Clare (1), Waterford (1) … Waterford. - A specimen was obtained at Brownstown, east of Tramore Bay, about lst March 1840 (Thompson, II., p. 82)."
"There are twelve records of the Dotterel in Ireland …
Waterford (4) … The Waterford occurrences all took place within a few miles of Clonmel, the only hills or mountains
near that town being in co. Waterford. … Waterford.
- A male, at least a year old, but in moult, was shot on the mountains near Clonmel on 24th August 1840 (Thompson, II., p. 94). An adult and an immature bird were seen by Davis in a shop in Clonmel on 18th August 1841; they were probably shot on the same mountains (Ibid.). Davis
again received a Dotterel on 30th September 1853, shot on the hills near
Clonmel (Dublin Univ. Zool. Assn., 4th March 1854). An adult female, showing
the bare hatching spots, and an immature bird of the year were shot on the Waterford hills in September 1886 by Mr. A. St. George, of Clonmel, and are now in the Dublin Museum."
Golden Plover :
"The breeding-haunts of the Golden Plover are on lonely mountain-tops in the four provinces,
and are to be found in Kerry, Cork, Waterford (?) [sic], Tipperary …"
Grey Plover :
"To Achill and Blacksod Bay, also, this bird is a winter-visitor, but to the bays of Galway, Kerry, Cork and Waterford
it comes less regularly, though at Wexford it has been at times plentiful."
"I have … observed a great increase on Dungarvan Bay in the middle of November …"
"A southward movement certainly takes place in autumn, for large
flocks may then be found on the bays of Waterford, a county where none
are known to breed. … The occurrence of Oyster-catchers in flocks during the breeding-season, which is observed on all
sides of Ireland, indicates that large numbers, probably birds of a year old, do not
breed. In May and the beginning of June considerable flocks have been observed passing Dungarvan Lighthouse …"
Avocet : "The Avocet has been obtained in thirteen instances and observed in four or five more … one
on the Blackwater, probably in Waterford … Waterford. - An Avocet, which I examined, was shot on the Blackwater before the end of 1880 and preserved
Grey Phalarope :
"The occurrences have been distributed thus: … Waterford.5
"… in Smith's 'Cork' (1750) it is remarked that this bird had been 'known to breed in
England,' as though unknown to do so in Ireland; but the same writer in his volume on 'Waterford' (1746), after stating that
Woodcocks were birds of passage, said: 'they pair before they go' and 'sometimes stragglers, left behind when their fellows
go off, remain in these countries all the summer.' Now, if this referred to Ireland, it may be concluded that such 'stragglers'
sometimes bred here. … The earliest cases of breeding known to Thompson were in the following counties:- Queen's County
1833, Wexford and Antrim 1834, Down 1835, Wicklow 1837, Sligo 1838, Waterford (at Gurteen) … [Addendum] I have just received,
1st July 1900, from Miss Fairholme, Comragh, co. Waterford, the following very interesting description of a Woodcock which
lifted two of her young at once: - 'My sister and I were standing in a field here one day in May last, and our two dogs were
hunting in a small oak-wood at the other side of the fence near, when we heard a noise, close behind us, something like the
cry of a Kestrel, but not quite so loud. On turning round we saw a Woodcock crouching on the ground, fluttering her wings
and crying. On our going a step or two towards her to see if she were hurt, she gathered up two little ones; one clasped to
her breast by her head and beak and the other between her feet. She flew on slowly a few yards to the top of a very low bank
where she let down the young ones, and crouched over them fluttering her wings and crying as before. We waited to see what
would happen, when the dogs came out of the fence from the wood. The bird immediately raised up the two young ones as before
and flew back into the oak-wood. Both flights were short, and she flew heavily and near the ground, so that we saw the whole
proceeding perfectly. We caught the dogs and took them away at once.' Miss Fairholme
had remarked previously to me that the bird's bill was invisible during her flight, but that when she let down the nestling
which was supported by it she put out her bill. I have never before heard of
more than one young Woodcock being carried off by the parent. The mode of carrying between the legs has been often observed,
but the second little one was held in the less usual way described to me by a woodman at Brittas, in Queen's Co. (Zool. 1882, p. 306)."
Purple Sandpiper :
"It is found in ... Waterford … On the Waterford coast in November I have met with small parties of three and five, which seemed reluctant
to leave the dark rocks on which they stood or crouched, for after performing a short circuit over the water they returned
to the same rocks, as horse-flies will return to a horse's back after they have been brushed off. On alighting they oscillated
their bodies a little, somewhat as a Wagtail does."
Harbour … it is little known, and the same may be said of the Waterford coast, where I can scarcely say that I know it, though I have seen a few Knots which were shot
on Dungarvan Bay one hard winter."
"… on the Cork and Waterford coasts, though not common, it is observed occasionally in autumn and
"The following table shows the distribution of sixty-four instances
of which the localities are known:- … Waterford...2 …"
Common Sandpiper :
"It is scarcer in the counties of Waterford, Kilkenny, Carlow,
and Wexford, where it is chiefly known on migration and breeds in but few places … The Common Sandpiper usually appears
in various parts of Ireland from 14th April to the beginning of May, though I have observed it on 12th April on the River
Suir above Waterford … Mr. Barrington has received specimens, chiefly early in May, from various light-stations between
Mine Head, in co. Waterford, and Rockabill, off Dublin…"
Wood Sandpiper :
"Another Wood-Sandpiper [4th Irish occurrence] was shot when alone on a marsh near Tramore Bay,
co. Waterford, on 25th August 1899, by Mr. J.F. Knox. Owing to the heat of the weather
this specimen was not in a state to be mounted when it reached Dublin, but it was identified by Mr. E. Williams (Irish Nat., 1899, p. 231)."
Green Sandpiper :
"It usually occurs singly or in couples, but I have shot three
together on the Cappagh Lake, and though the bird
is decidedly uncommon I have obtained it in co. Waterford on three occasions at long intervals … Records of sixty-nine
instances which are available show the following distribution: - … Waterford....7 …"
"Mr. R. J. Ussher has shot it at his lake at Cappagh, co. Waterford …"
"… late in [June] and early in July great numbers have
been seen from Dungarvan lighthouse, flying westward (Migration Reports). … In March a great northward migration has
been observed at Limerick and up the Shannon
Valley, as well as over the cities of Waterford, Dublin, Belfast
and Londonderry in several country towns too …"
"The Migration Reports show that flocks of Whimbrels arrive late
in April and early in May at all our south coast [light] stations, from the Fastnet to Coningbeg, flying northward."
Black Tern :
"The distribution of these cases is as follows:- … Waterford (5) … Dr. Farran noticed a Black Tern on Clonea Marsh, co. Waterford, which, instead of plunging
into the water after its prey like other Terns, alighted with its feet on the surface, and picked up its food there, after
the ,manner of the smaller Gulls (Thompson, III., p. 306)."
White-winged Black Tern :
"Waterford. - Another [4th Irish occurrence] was shot on a small lake near Cappagh on 13th May 1875, by my gamekeeper, Richard Wolfe, and is in the Dublin Museum."
[Sabine's Gull] :
"A bird reported doubtfully as a 'Hawk' was noticed at Mine Head,
co. Waterford, in October 1897. It was described as 'nearly all of a light grey
or white, and had a black head with a forked tail' (Migration Report, 1897, p. 549). This bird may have been an adult Sabine's
Gull, but was not obtained."
Herring Gull :
"It is a common breeding species along the whole Munster coast, having a huge colony on the cliffs of Moher in Clare, and is the principal Gull that nests
in co. Waterford. … Herring-Gulls congregate at their breeding-haunts in co.
Waterford by the middle of April."
Lesser Black-backed Gull :
"The local habits of this Gull on the coast are very pronounced;
thus it is hardly ever seen along most of the co. Waterford shores, but its fondness for the offal of towns is so great that
a flock of these handsome birds is an every-day sight on the Suir at Waterford even in May and June, though their nearest
breeding-place is on the Saltees, thirty miles away."
Great Black-backed Gull :
"An occasional pair breed on the tops of stacks along the coasts
of western Cork, and in one such place in co. Waterford. … These Gulls are more apt to come up harbours in stormy weather, but they may often be seen among other Gulls
on the Suir at Waterford."
Glaucous Gull :
"Though it has not been identified in co. Waterford, still in several instances white or drab-coloured
Gulls have been shot or observed on Dungarvan Bay or on the Suir near Waterford. ... Sixty-five cases of the
occurrence of the Glaucous Gull have been distributed as follows:- … Waterford....1 [sic] … The Migration Reports
contain a good many notices of Gulls which, from the descriptions, must have been of this or the next species [Iceland Gull].
Such information has come chiefly from Donegal stations, from Black Rock, co. Mayo, and from the Tearaght, co. Kerry, the
harbours of Queenstown and Dungarvan having also furnished similar notices, which amount in all to about twenty-four. These
corroborate in a general way the preference of the Arctic Gulls for the north and west coasts and the occasional extension
of their winter range to Cork and Waterford."
"In Waterford the Kittiwake has no considerable colonies, though
Helvick Head was mentioned by Thompson … on the 9th of [October] thousands have been seen passing Dungarvan Lighthouse
towards the south- west."
Great Skua :
"Only nine [Irish] specimens are known to have been obtained
which are mentioned below, though eleven others are said to have been observed, and in some of the latter cases the determination
was no doubt correct. … it is stated to have been twice observed off Dungarvan in co. Waterford."
Pomarine Skua : "The number of times this Skua has been recorded from the several counties is as follows:-
Waterford…1 …Dr. Burkitt preserved another that was killed on Tramore
Bay, co. Waterford, in August."
Arctic Skua : "It has been recorded repeatedly from thirteen maritime counties round Ireland-viz., Kerry,
… a Skua has been seen in Dungarvan Bay chasing other birds in
Long-tailed Skua : "The inland occurrences were as follows: - An immature bird, accompanied by another, was shot
on the co. Waterford mountains near Clonmel on the 14th October 1881 by Mr. H. S. Boyd, as he was pursuing a flock of Golden
Plover, and he was surprised to see the Skua pounce on them like a Falcon. There had been heavy gales previously. …
The distribution of forty-one instances is here given:- … Waterford…2
… Thompson records one which was shot in a ploughed field near Tramore (on the same coast-line) on 1st March 1846."
Razorbill: "… it is the only Auk that breeds on the co. Waterford cliffs. … Mr. E. McCarron … light-keeper … speaking of his observations on the Tearaght [Co. Kerry]
in winter, says:- 'As many as two or three hundred might be seen almost every day. ...' He found them equally common in winter
at Mine Head, co. Waterford, up to the middle of February …"
Great Auk : "This now extinct bird was once obtained, on the co. Waterford coast in May 1834. The late Dr. Robert J.
Burkitt, who preserved the above specimen, gave me notes in which he corrected some statements in Thompson's account of it.
These corrections had previously been communicated to Mr. J. H. Gurney and mentioned by him (Zool., s. s., p. 1449
). I have, moreover, been shown by David Hardy, now deceased, the spot where the capture occurred, close to the cliffs
between Ballymacaw and Brownstown Head; it was not at the mouth of Waterford
Harbour, but several miles further west. He referred to the bird spontaneously
as a 'Penguin,' and said that it appeared to him w have a white ring round its eye (a slight mistake, but sufficiently near
the truth to show that he remembered this Great Auk). After it had been observed by Hardy swimming about the locality, a fisherman
named Kirby captured it without difficulty. It showed so little suspicion that sprats thrown to it enticed it near the boat,
when it was taken in a landing-net, and appeared to be half starved. This was stated to have occurred, in May 1834, by Mr.
Francis Davis of Waterford, who purchased it ten days afterwards and sent it to Mr. Jacob Goff,
of Horetown, co. Wexford; where it was kept in captivity for four months. For some time it took no food, but potatoes and
milk were then forced down its throat, after which it ate voraciously. It was fed chiefly on fish, which were swallowed entire,
and trout were preferred to sea-fish. 'This Auk stood very erect, was a very stately-looking bird, and had a habit of frequently
shaking its head in a peculiar manner, more especially when any food was presented to it; thus, if a small trout was held
up before it the bird would at once commence shaking its head.' (This statement Dr. Burkitt supplied as a correction of what
Thompson said-that the bird stroked its head with its foot.) It was rather fierce, and seemed to have an aversion to water.
Its subsequent preservation resulted from a request made by the late Captain
Spence, when on a visit to Horetown, that if the bird should die it might be presented to Dr. Burkitt. This took place, and
the entry of the fact in Dr. Burkitt's collecting-book is as follows:- 'September 7th, 1834, I obtained a young Penguin from
Francis Davis, Esq., which was taken off Ballymacaw, and which I presented to the Museum of Trinity College, Dublin, 1844.' It was described as a young female, not in good plumage, and was cured with arsenical
soap. It now stands under a glass shade in Trinity College Museum, and is the only known example in immature plumage, the white patch
between the bill and eye being mottled with blackish-brown feathers. The measurements are given by Thompson. The bones were
preserved by Dr. Burkitt and given with the skin to Dr. Ball, but nothing is known of them now. … the first place in Ireland where the remains of the Great Auk have been found is White Park Bay, on the Antrim coast, not far from Rathlin. In the kitchen-middens
of that place, Mr. Knowles, of Ballymena, found bones of Alca impennis associated with flint implements and flakes
and shells of edible molluscs ('Proc. Rl. Irish Academy,' Vol.
I., No. 5, p. 625; Id., Vol. III., No. 4, p. 654). A similar discovery
awaited me in co. Waterford, where among the sand-hills on Tramore Bay are extensive kitchen-middens, containing layers of
shells of oysters and cockles with limpets, mussels and other shells, charcoal, burned stones (split from use as pot-boilers),
and bones of domestic animals and fowls, with bones and horns of red deer. Among these objects, which were on the surface,
my companions and I found in different places, seventeen bones of Great Auk, comprising eight coracoids, five humeri, one
tibia, two metatarsals and one pelvic bone. In one case a right and a left humerus were found together. The coracoids, according
to Dr. Gadow of Cambridge, who kindly determined the remains, represent at least six individual
birds. A selection of these bones is in the Science and Art Museum, Dublin, and others are in the Museum of Zoology at Cambridge. The above facts lead to the conclusion that the Great
Auk was used for food by the people who created the kitchen-middens, and the inquiry will arise how they procured so many
of these oceanic birds. This could have been easily done if breeding-places of the species existed in their vicinity, such
as Rathlin might have afforded. On the Waterford coast there are no large islands, but not more than sixteen miles from Tramore
Bay are the low Keeragh Islands, eminently suited for such a bird to breed on; and the incursions that the sea has made along
the Waterford coast, removing two successive school-houses within my memory, may well have washed away any low flat island
that existed in Tramore Bay. This locality is nearly as far south as the fifty-second degree of latitude, probably the most
southern point at which the remains of the Great Auk have been found in Europe, and it is to be hoped that when more of the
Irish coast is searched similar discoveries will be made elsewhere."
Guillemot : "Along the cliff-girt, coast of Waterford
the Guillemot has no breeding-place …"
Black Guillemot : "In the south this Guillemot nests in many places in the cliffs of western Cork, and in some similar localities in Waterford,
a few pairs breeding near one another in some sequestered spots. … Black Guillemots have been observed on the water
near their cliff-haunts in co. Waterford as early as 28th February, though more usually at the beginning of
Little Auk : "Waterford…3 [occurrences] … The
[only Irish] March instance was recorded by Mr. McCarron, who reported that he saw a little Auk at Mine Head."
Puffin : "… few, if any, … nest on the Waterford coast."
Black-throated Diver : "… this bird has occurred on all sides of Ireland, and has been obtained in the counties of Kerry, Waterford …"
Great Crested Grebe : "Many have been observed in January in Dundalk Bay, a convenient winter-resort for those which breed in the neighbouring counties; but others travel further and visit
the coasts of Kerry, Cork, Waterford, and Wexford, immature birds being frequently obtained in these southern localities."
Red-necked Grebe : "The Red-necked Grebe, which is the rarest of its family, has been obtained in about ten instances: … [including]
near Waterford … Waterford. - An immature male was taken about two miles inland from Tramore Bay, and brought to Dr. Burkitt on 25th January 1854. He preserved it in his collection."
Slavonian Grebe : "There are six notices of the bird from Kerry, but other southern counties have only one each
Black-necked Grebe : "The twenty-one cases cited have occurred in the following counties: - … Waterford..1 … Waterford. - I received an example
from Dungarvan Bay on 22nd February 1890, which is now in the Dublin
Little Grebe : "In a dry summer, when the water was low, a Dabchick had her nest in a shallow place in the
centre of the Cappagh Lake. Whenever anyone appeared
on the bank she covered her eggs and dived … The eggs are ordinarily laid in co. Waterford at the beginning of April …"
Leach's Petrel : "The south-westerly storms of September 26th-30th and October 4th-14th 1891 proved far more disastrous than the former
gale [on 20th November 1881] to this species … Fork-tailed Petrels were obtained at the time named in the eighteen counties
of Kerry, Waterford ..."
Great Shearwater : "The Great Shearwater has been met with singly, in small parties, and occasionally in large
flocks on the sea off the Irish shores, from Waterford and Cork in the south, round the western side of Ireland up to and including Donegal … Waterford. - Davis
obtained two living specimens, caught by hake-fishers off Dungarvan, one in August 1835, and the other in September 1839 (Thompson,
III., p. 407)."
Manx Shearwater : "There are no suitable islands [for breeding colonies] off Waterford …"
... Species whose claims to be included in the list of Irish Birds
are at present considered to be insufficient. ...
["Gold-vented Thrush Pycnonotus capensis"]
: "A specimen referred to this species by Professor Newton, after
he had seen the original sketch of it, was presented in 1846 to Trinity
College Museum by the late Dr. Burkitt of Waterford. I have before me his correspondence with Yarrell and Professor Newton about this bird, and his private notes on the
subject, intended for no eye but his own. It is indisputable that he be1ieved it to have been shot at Mount Beresford on the
10th January 1838 and to have been skinned and preserved by him; He had, however, a friend, Captain John Hudson, at the Cape,
from, whom he received natural history specimens from time to time. Could the skin of a Bulbul have been received from this
gentleman, put by unlabelled, and afterwards mistaken by Dr. Burkitt for the skin of a bird he had preserved in 1838? He is
unfortunately not now, alive to throw light on this, and the specimen has ceased to exist. I saw it in 1854, but before 1860
it had disappeared, possibly in the removal of the collections of Trinity
College Museum to another building. The original coloured sketch of it, however,
is in the Science and Art Museum, Dublin."
[Spotted Eagle Owl] : "The South African Spotted Eagle-Owl preserved by Dr. Burkitt was supposed
by him to have escaped from some vessel near Waterford Harbour, as stated in his later communications."
[Nightingale] : "The following species were excluded by name in the last edition of the 'List of Irish Birds'
by A. G. More, published in 1890, and have not been admitted in this volume;- … Nightingale ..." [There is an
unpublished pre-1900 record in R.J. Usshers's manuscripts, not published in Ussher & Warren 1900.]
Species tabulated as having bred in Co Waterford in the 19th century:
* breeding recorded;
r "exceedingly few of the species breed";
H "formerly bred, but has ceased to do so" (by 1900);
*? "has bred, but proof is wanting that it does so regularly";
? "the indications of breeding fall short of proof".
In total, 98 breeding species, and one possible breeding species, were listed:
|Great Black-backed Gull