Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird? David Attenborough.
Bhí barraíocht éan ar Chléire an mhí seo. Ceann ina diaidh a chéile a chur gliondar ar chroíthe lucht faire na n-éan in Éirinn. Tá cáil nach beag ar an oileán seo mar cheantar den scoth chun togha na n-éan imirceach a fheiscint. Ós na 1950idí tá Maor ar an oileán ag taifead agus ag déanamh staidéir ar na héin a thagann I dtír ar an oileán seo. Deirtear go mbíonn na héiníní imirceach bochta ar a seacht ndícheall ag taisteal go críocha nua don Gheimhreadh ar thóir bídh, sosa nó páirtí agus uaireanta éiríonn stoirmeacha, tagann siad aniar aduaidh orthu, caitear na héiníní óna mbealach agus tagann cuid acu I dtír anseo. Tá raidhse eolais ar fáil thíos I dTigh na n-Éan faoin éaneolaíocht sa dúthaigh seo agus chuile bhliain tagann na sluaite daoine go Cléire ar a n-oilithreacht bhliaintúil chun na hiontaisí nádúrtha a fheiscint agus a thaifead. Is ábhar bhróid é i measc lucht faire na n-éan má thaifeadann siad céad radharc d’éan neamhghnáthach. I mbliana bhí an áit ag cur thar maoil le héiníní eachtrannacha, ach ba é an ceann ba shuimiúla ná an Veery, tá an t-éan seo chomh neamhghnáthach nach bhfuil leagan Gaeilge dá ainm ar fáil in aon liosta téarmaíochta go rabhsa abálta teacht air! Tá míle comghairdeas ag dul do Mháire Ní Cheadagáin, éan- eolaí ó Chléire a bhfuil sár- eolas aici ar na héin a thagann I dtír. Ba í Máire an chéad duine riamh a chonaic an t-éan seo in Éirinn. Tá ainm Mháire anois in Annála Éaneolaíochta na hÉireann agus táimid an-bhródúil aisti! I measc na n-éan eile a tháinig I dtír bhí, An Ceolaire Fo-Alpach, an Tanagair Scarlóideach, Ealla Glórach, An Veery (Cuachaire Coille?), An Gobadán Bánphrompach agus Éigrit Eallaigh. Bhí na crainn beo le héin agus lucht a bhfaire ach b’fhiú an tairbhe an trioblóid dos na daoine a fuair lán súil de na creatúirí gleoite seo. N’fheadar cad a thiocfaidh chugainn an bhliain seo chugainn? Más suim leat a fháil amach, níl le déanamh ach do dhéshúiligh agus do bhailcaisí a chur sa mhála, leaba agus lóistín a chur in áirithe anseo agus lán do shúil a bhaint d’áilleacht nádúrtha na háite!
Cape Clear Island has been noted for birding since the 1950’s and since then there has been a bird observatory here, firstly based in the Youth Hostel and then in what was grandfather’s house in Lios a’ Móna which they christened ‘Stroma’. In 1963 ‘Harbour House’ became their base, close to the dock in Trá Chiaráin. In Late September and early October, it is not unusual to hear rustlings in the bushes which on closer inspection will reveal a flock of migratory Twitchers, usually dressed in green, with faces pressed to enormous telescopes in silent admiration of the latest winged visitor to our shores! Cape Clear is an excellent spot from which to observe sea-birds and migratory birds and some who end up blown here by some far off Atlantic storm. The island, as many will know is also a Gaeltacht and so for us it has two identities, it’s Gaelic heritage preserved in language and place name and the Anglicized versions in maps from as far back as ‘The Down Survey’, but our place names have an extra layer of meaning, places that birders would know by their own esoteric names, ‘Nordy-Wood’ which is also Gleann na Smól and ‘Central Bog’ and The Hidden Valley! These almost sacred sites have proven to be rich in bird sightings over the years. Though the Island has seen its share of rarities this year, they flocked to our shores in great abundance.
Our American visitors were notable, particularly the first recorded sighting in this country of a Veery, spotted and recorded by Ms. Mary Cadogan who is knowledgeable and generous in sharing her deep understanding of ornithology. The Veery Is a very tiny little thrush from North America. The bird looks and behaves like a Robin but has a whitey -grey plumage on chest such a cute little thing that drew the great and the good of Irish birding to see it- as it hopped about like a contestant on X-Factor and then decided it wanted a bit of privacy and flew into the deep bushes above Sean-Rua’s Pier! Its closely related bird cousin the Swainson’s Thrush also paid a visit though this bird has been spotted on Cape a few times it is no less exciting to see it again! The embarrassment of riches was further enhanced by a visit from a Scarlet Tanager, a real beauty, with yellowish-green plumage with some black on wings, this bird belongs in tropical gardens of places like Argentina, living in the tree-tops and dining on fruit and insects, how amazing to have such a bird here, where the land is only sparsely covered in trees!
From the scalding climes of North West Africa and the sunny countries of Southern Europe came a Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia Cantillans,) a woodland sprite who sings! a tiny little pretty song bird who must have got caught up in storm Calum or some such to have ended up here in the distinctly less warm Cape Clear! The White Rumped Sandpiper was also a great find, their natural home is in Canada in the tundra and yet it landed here! Finally, for now our latest visitor is a beautiful Cattle Egret who surprise, surprise was in the field behind our house with the cows! So what are you waiting for? Organise your accommodation with us, Dust off the binoculars and get out here to see what might be in flying about in 2019!
Míle Buíochas le Máire Ní Cheadagáin as cead a thabhairt dom a pictiúrí áille a roinnt libh ar an suíomh seo.
A special note of thanks to Ms. Mary Cadogan for kindly allowing us to share her stunning pictures with you.