Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours specialises in whale and dolphin watching but it is always a pleasure for us to have birders on board and to do more specialised birding trips because both whales and dolphins can be elusive and hard to find but we find that there is rarely a boat trip we take where we do not see some interesting bird life.
Puffins are top of the priority list for birders who come to Kerry for their bird watching holidays. You can view rafts of them on the water on the outer Blaskets on our afternoon guided eco marine tour departing from Ventry Harbour at 1300hrs and returning at 1700hrs. They are one of our earliest birds to migrate, migrating back to sea at the end of July, so come early in the season and don’t be disappointed!
Gannets are one of the most majestic and spectacular of our seabirds and Little Skellig rock, across Dingle Bay from the Blasket Islands, is home to one of the largest gannetries in Europe with approx. 30,000 breeding pairs. We are likely to see them on any of our tours from Ventry Harbour and are always on the lookout for “bird clouds” of gannets plummeting vertically from the sky on shoals of fish which often indicate to us the presence of dolphins and Minke whales.
Manx Shearwaters and Storm Petrels:
The Blasket Islands hold the largest populations of breeding European storm petrels in the world.
Manx shearwaters come all the way from Brazil and Uruguay to breed around the outer Blasket Islands. For people interested in birding and catching sight of rare birds they are a beautiful bird to see in flight on the open sea as they shear the water alternatively showing their dark top and white under side. They only come back to their nest sites at night, trying to avoid predation from their main enemy which is the Great black backed gull. Because of their set back feet they are unable to walk properly on land [they are born aviators] and the native Irish red deer present on Inishvickillaun also supplement their diet with them! Later in the season we see sooty shearwaters and occasionally the rare Balearic shearwater.
PELAGIC BIRD WATCHING BOAT TRIPS FOR BIRDERS AND BIRDING ENTHUSIASTS
Skipper Mick with a storm petrel on coach roof off Inishvickillaun
For the 2014 bird watch season Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours are going to organise new pelagic bird watching boat trips for birders and birding enthusiasts alike, west of the Blasket islands, Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry, S.W. Ireland from mid August to mid October. This is the best time of year to watch migratory species passing by our shores including Wilson's and Leach's storm petrels, Balearic and sooty shearwaters, phalaropes and Arctic, long tailed and Great Skua among other rarities.
The trips are of 8 hours duration, 2 hrs out to beyond 100 metre depth contour, 4 hrs in optimum area and 2 hrs return to Ventry Harbour. The trip departs from Ventry pier [4 miles west of Dingle town, on the Slea Head drive, road R559] at 0830 hrs. and arrives back at 1630hrs. in time for a nice quiet pint outside Quinn's pub overlooking Ventry Harbour. We can supply hot drinks but please bring your own lunch.
We have our own "chum" recipe to attract sea birds, like garden birds to a feeder, and you can bring some of your own if you like but please do not bring any D.M.S. [we use raw cod liver oil] unless you want to charter the boat by yourself! We organise these trips on a charter basis, usually with a group of up to 12 passengers, or lesser numbers if you want a more specialist trip - but overall charter price remains the same.
Also these pelagic bird watch boat trips are ideal for seasoned whale watchers as this is the best time of year and location to watch humpack whales off Dingle Peninsula, West Kerry, S.W. Ireland and both pastimes are not mutually exclusive as some birders and whale watchers seem to think. It's the same ecosystem and we are always very happy to see bird watching enthusiasts and whale watchers rubbing shoulders on board. We are very enthusiastic about these pelagic boat trips and hope you can organise your birding friends to join us as we search the waters west of the Blaskets for our favourite rare birds and cetaceans.
Gannet from Skellig rock across Dingle Bay, one of the largest gannetries in Europe
Razorbills and Guillemots - expert deepsea divers
Guillemots [common and black], razorbills, cormorants, shags, fulmer petels, kittiwakes, oystercatchers, skuas, choughs, wheatears, peregrines.....
Apart from the land birds we see all of the above birds on a regular basis and we also moor off the Great Blasket island as part of our afternoon guided Eco Marine Tour and you may get a chance to see some ravens and choughs there oor even occasionally a pair of peregrine falcons. The rent formerly paid by the Ferriters to the Earl of Desmond for the Blaskets was a pair of peregrine falcons from Inish Tuaisceart [Northern island] or more commonly known as "The Sleeping Giant" or "The Dead Man"
For a complete bird watch tour of the Blasket islands and Dingle Bay you should join the all day tour departing from Ventry Harbour at 1000hrs and which includes a 3 hr stay on the Great Blasket island.
Our most valued and delicate summer visitor is the Arctic tern which formerly nested in some abundance on Beginish island [about 150 pairs] but because of degradation of habitat by dogs and other animal and human movement on this little island [which is an SPA] both during the summer for the Arctic terns and by over grazing by sheep during the winter for the Greenland white fronted geese who formerly overwintered here, the terns have now moved to a more isolated offshore rock where they are trying to establish a foothold.
The Artic Tern - will defend their nests ferociously. Holds the world record for length of migration.
This little sea swallow migrates a greater distance than any other bird in the world [including the bar tailed godwit] and the fact that its habitat on Beginish,one of the Blasket islands, which is a SPA, cannot be protected is an indication of how fragile our ecosystem is and how badly it needs to be protected.