Musings and photos of wild and everyday life

Posts tagged “Magpie

Crows

Jackdaw on fence Dublkin Zoo xs 8947.jpgSome of the commonest and noisiest birds are in the crow family.

Found in most regions of the world they tend to be medium to large sized, intelligent, mainly blackish in colour and relatively brave around people.

Here in Ireland, the Jackdaw is one of the most visible members of the family which numbers approximately 40. Its white eye ring and mixture of black and grey feathers making  it easily identifiable.

Rook portrait BG 5125xLsRaven on ruins above Miners Village Glendalough xs 7243
Hooded Crow St Stephens Green pond Dublin 0005xs
Slightly bigger are the Rooks which often mingle with Jackdaws.

They are much tougher looking and have a strong beak with a whitish patch at the base. They also show a dark blue tint when the sun shines.

They make untidy large nests in colonies known as rookeries, in the tops of trees in whereas the Jackdaws nest in holes, such as in trees or chimneys.

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The biggest of our crows is the Raven with a wingspan of up to 1.3m.  These are birds of higher ground, mostly scavenging on dead animals.

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The other typical Grey-Black crow we have is the Hooded Crow.  It is very similar to the Carrion Crow, found in England, which does not have any grey.

This is the main crow in many European continental countries.

Hooded Crow pairs nest on their own in tops of tall trees.
Magpie hunting on grass Merrion Square Dublin xs 5769
However, another common crow here is the Magpie – a really beautiful bird but with a bad reputation due to their success in towns and dominance over small birds.
Jay at feeding station Dodd Wood Keswick 6264xs
Reasonably common but not seen as much is the Jay which has much less black in its plumage.

It is predominantly Brown with patches of blue, black and white and is most often seen in woods, particularly Oak woods.Chough flying Great Saltee 4021xs
The final Irish Corvid is the least known but possibly the most interesting and certainly my favourite.   The Chough is similar in some ways to the Jackdaw but has red legs and beak.  Also the beak is thinner and down curved – designed for poking into the ground.

The best places to see these are along the South and West coasts. They will probably be noticed first by their unusual ‘chough’ calls.

That’s a reasonable number of ‘Crows’ for a little country.  In a blog to follow, some of the other crows will be highlighted.

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Wildlife in Dublin City

Dublin from WestAlthough we often prefer to go somewhere quiet to watch birds and wildlife, there are many opportunities and good places in Dublin city.

The streets see common birds such as Gulls, Crows, Robins and starlings.  There is even the odd Peregrine.

But there are also a number of good places such as parks and waterways where birds, rabbits and foxes can be regularly seen.  These include the Phoenix Park, the Liffey, Trinity College, Blessington Basin, the Grand Canal and Saint Stephen’s Green.  I will do posts on some of these separately but here are some of the birds regularly seen in the city centre.Hooded Crow on wall with pedestrians Clanwilliam Place Dublin 

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In many cases the birds have become used to people and provided you don’t go too close or make sudden movements they can be quite close.

This closeness with nature feeling does help to take the edge of the concrete jungle.

For photography purposes, this means that a very long zoom is often not needed.

Herring Gull paddling for insects Dublin
Wood Pigeon Dublin

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Grassy oases around the city, can harbour a number of birds such Woodpigeons and Magpies, foraging or nesting.   Herring Gulls often ‘paddle’ their feet to disturb insects in the grass or soil.

Magpie Denzille Lane Dublin

‘In trees on some of the busy streets, such as O’Connell Street,  Wagtails, Starlings and Long-tailed Tits often roost in numbers in the winter.

It can also be surprising to see the places that birds find for nest sites in what seems at first sight a forbidding mass of hard surfaces.

Blue Tit coming out of Nest hole Dublin Castle

Other wilflife includes rats which have been a feature of Dublin for centuries, foxes which are becoming more and more common in our cities and Squirrels.

The Reds are a bit timid for cities and in any case are being overrun by the Greys which now inhabit a number of Dublin parks including Phoenix Park, Merrion Square and Stephen’s Green.Grey Squirrel in grass Merrion Square

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Insects of course are ever present but some go largely un-noticed.

Scale insects can be seen on many trees but look more like a fungus, if they are noticed at all.

Scale Insects on tree Dublin Castle

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Still most people’s favourite is the Robin.  Alll the parks in Dublin have friendly Robins that come very close as you sit, especially if you have a sandwich!

Robin juv on tree Merrion Square Dublin