RARE FIND: Anthony O'Connor and John O'Donghue with the Little Bittern that was blown off-course by Storm Lorenzo last week.
By Sean Moriarty
The aftermath of last week’s Storm Lorenzo resulted in a very rare North American bird being swept into Kerry.
A male Least Bittern, a member of the Heron family, was found in a distressed state in local man John O’Donoghue’s yard in Farranfore on Monday.
It is the first sighting of such a specimen in Ireland and only the tenth ever in the geographic area known as the Western Palearctic that covers all of Europe, North African countries and some Gulf States since records began in 1900.
Despite his best efforts John was unable to keep the bird alive and he died within 30 minutes of being found.
John contacted another local man, Anthony O’Connor, whose brother John is an ornithologist who used to keep finches and other birds at his Ardfert home.
They were unable to identify the bird but contacted Bird Watch Ireland who confirmed it was indeed a Least Bittern and that it was the first sighting of such a bird in Ireland.
The migratory population of Least Bittern breeds mostly in eastern North America, wintering in Central America, The Caribbean, northern South America. The closest previous sightings to Ireland were one each in the Azores and Iceland.
An American Green Heron (larger species but still relatively small for a heron/bittern) was present at Schull, County Cork from October 11 to 13, 2005 and was later relocated in Anglesey, Wales.
“While the finding of this bird is a surprise, it has a supporting cast of rare North American land-birds showing up in Ireland over the past two weeks due to the series of hurricanes and storms in the Atlantic disrupting their southbound migration from North America to South America and diverting them to Western Europe,” said Niall Keogh of the Irish Rare Birds Committee.
“So far this autumn we've had eight Red-eyed Vireos, one Black-and-white Warbler [on Inishbofin, third Irish sighting], one Baltimore Oriole [on Achill Island, fourth Irish sighting] and one Common Nighthawk [in Ballymena, third Irish record] across the island of Ireland. I suspect more North American land-birds will be found over the coming weeks given the weather we are having.”
While Storm Lorenzo is the most-likely reason the bird arrived in Ireland, it is also possible he hitched a lift on a trans-Atlantic ship.
“The bird appears to be quite emaciated so no wonder it died. Not much muscle structure left on the breast. It must have just had enough energy to make landfall,” added Keogh. “These small North American herons often have a tough time of it when vagrants in Europe as they are not used to such long sea crossings. Every chance it may have spent some time on ship during the crossing also. I once saw a Little Egret on the Irish state research vessel Celtic Explorer in the Mid-Atlantic while on the way to Canada one spring. A bird going the other way to this Least Bittern.”
The bird has been preserved by Mr O’Donoghue and he is awaiting instructions from the Irish Natural History Museum.
“Our recommendation for the specimen would be to send it to the Natural History Museum and they are experts at handling this specimen. I would also imagine it would go on public display once it has been preserved,” said Colum Flynn secretary, Irish Rare Bird Committee, “It is an awful pity it didn't live long after it was found but it had obviously travelled a long way and would have arrived in the Kingdom in a fairly weak state anyway.”
The finding has attracted international media attention with several British and European specialist magazines and websites contacting Mr O’Donoghue since Monday.
Develop skills and improve employability
By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors Traineeships are developed and delivered on an ongoing basis by Education and Training Boards (ETBs) nationwide and are open to potential participants of all ages and backgrounds including school leavers, mature learners and those in or seeking employment. Developed in partnership with industry representatives […]
By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors
Traineeships are developed and delivered on an ongoing basis by Education and Training Boards (ETBs) nationwide and are open to potential participants of all ages and backgrounds including school leavers, mature learners and those in or seeking employment.
Developed in partnership with industry representatives and employers, these programmes combine learning in the classroom with a minimum of 30 percent of learning on-the-job. The focus is on ‘learning on the go’ and developing perspectives that are in tune with the ever evolving world of work. They span across a range of industry sectors including business and retail, media, manufacturing, agriculture, horticulture and mariculture, care, construction, engineering, animal science, fashion and beauty, finance, ICT, hospitality, sports and leisure, and logistics.
At the core of the scheme is a strong collaboration with the ETBs in the provision of work-based learning opportunities on existing and new programmes. Traineeships lead to an award at Levels 4-6 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and are between six to 24 months in duration. Over 75 programmes are available nationwide – although not all of them will be available nationally at all times – and the content, award and duration may vary. They are designed for flexible delivery to include online, face-to-face and blended learning.
Second level or higher education students who are interested in participating in a Traineeship Programme should contact their local ETB, adult learners should contact the Adult Education Guidance Service through their local ETB, and jobseekers will be able to access information through their local Intreo Office or Local Employment Service. For those currently unemployed, a training allowance or income support may be available. You can check out the range of opportunities offered through Traineeships nationwide on www.fetchcourses.ie and more locally check out the www.kerrycollege.ie.
Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Career Consultant – For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Return to work courses
Answer: Springboard+ provides free higher education courses for people who are unemployed (or were self-employed) and those looking to return to the workforce. Courses are offered in different areas including Information and Communications Technology (ICT), medical technologies, cybersecurity, sustainable energy and financial services. The courses range from certificate to master’s degree level – Levels 6 […]
Answer: Springboard+ provides free higher education courses for people who are unemployed (or were self-employed) and those looking to return to the workforce.
Courses are offered in different areas including Information and Communications Technology (ICT), medical technologies, cybersecurity, sustainable energy and financial services.
The courses range from certificate to master’s degree level – Levels 6 to 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). Most of the courses are part-time and last for one year or less, but there are some full-time courses.
You can access a free Springboard+ course, if you are getting a qualifying social welfare payment such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Jobseeker’s Benefit or the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). You can get a full list of qualifying payments for Springboard+ on citizensinformation.ie
If you are not getting a qualifying social welfare payment, you will have to meet the residency criteria for Springboard+.
You can also apply for a Springboard+ course if:
* You are a qualified adult of working age (under 66) on someone else’s social welfare payment
* You are signing for social insurance credits
* You are on an employment support scheme such as Community Employment (CE) or TUS
To apply for a Springboard+ course, you choose the course(s) you are interested in on springboardcourses.ie and apply online, following the instructions on the website. You can apply for up to 10 courses, but you can only take one course.
If you are getting a social welfare payment, you should notify your Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office and check what further steps (if any) you need to take.
If Springboard+ doesn’t meet your needs, there are several other ways to go back to education.
During COVID-19, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:
Tralee on Tel: Call 0761 07 7860, Monday – Friday (10am-4pm)
The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer
Develop skills and improve employability
By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors Traineeships are developed and delivered on an ongoing basis...
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Return to work courses
Answer: Springboard+ provides free higher education courses for people who are unemployed (or were self-employed) and those looking to return...
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