23rd September 2010

Scoil Iosaef Naofa Pupils Strike Godwit Gold!

:Jim Wilson reports on a very successful outing with the pupils of Scoil Iosaef Naofa:

I met teacher Willie McSweeney and his class at the railway station in Cobh this morning at 10.15am to take the train to Glounthaune for our first outing of the school year to look for colour ringed godwits. Little did we know how good a morning it was going to be! Following a great train ride which takes us through Cork Harbour estuary and a very friendly welcome from Irish Rail staff who are now used to our routine we arrived at the station platform at Glounthaune. The tide was out and we were met with a fantastic array of shorebirds, include a very big flock of Black-tailed Godwits roosting and feeding just in front of us. Over the next hour and a half the pupils identified, counted and observed the behaviour of the shorebirds present. Apart from the Black-tailed Godwits we saw Oystercatchers, Redshanks, Curlews, Dunlin, Knot, Greenshanks, Little Egrets, Teal, Shelduck, Mallard, Black-headed Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls and many more.

Even before boarding the train at Cobh pupils are on the lookout! (photo ©Willie McSweeney )

Within a few minutes of arriving we found our first colour ringed godwit, I shouted out the colours and the pupils wrote them down straight away. We had only one telescope with us but despite all the excitement an orderly queue formed behind the telescope and all the pupils got great views of the bird. Within another half hour we had another colour ringed godwit and read all the colour rings. Everyone got to see this bird also! Towards the end of our outing we found another colour ringed godwit, unfortunately it was roosting with one leg tucked up so we only got to see the colours on the left leg - White over White. Again all got to see it. Just as we were about to leave a fourth colour ringed godwit was found and we were able to read the full combination and everyone got to see this one also through the telescope. This is the highest number of colour ringed godwits we have seen on a school outing since the project started.

Pupils looking for colour ringed godwits at Glounthaune. .(photo ©Willie McSweeney )


Pupils have a close look at Green White Green Lime flag through the telescope.

(photo ©Willie McSweeney )

Pupils enjoying their morning studying the birds at Glounthaune. (photo ©Willie McSweeney )

Pupils with class assistant Jacinta McMahon and Jim Wilson back in Cobh after a very successful morning looking for colour ringed godwits at Glounthaune. (photo ©Willie McSweeney )

We then headed back on the train after a great morning on the estuary. In recent weeks a very rare Indian House Crow was found in Cobh. It attracted over 100 bird watchers from Britain and lots of Irish bird watchers. We decided to see if our good luck was still with us and went to the town centre to try and find it. After an anxious wait the bird appeared and landed on its favorite perch overlooking Casement Square in the centre of Cobh. We all got great views of the crow and it was a great finish to brilliant morning.

Pupils 'twitching' the rare Indian House Crow in the centre of Cobh on the way back to school.

(photo ©Willie McSweeney )

PS the following morning I was lucky enough to find the colour ringed godwit that was roosting on one leg and got the full combination!

White White Green Lime at Glounthaune on 24th Septermber. (photo ©Jim Wilson )


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