Snow Buntings are a regular winter visitor to Ireland, and in particular the west, north and east coasts of Ireland. They are much scarcer along the south coast. The area around Dublin Port appears to be a regular wintering haunt each year for a small number of Snow Buntings. Each of the winters since 2008 that I have been living in Dublin, Snow Buntings have been present around Dun Laoghaire piers, Bulloch Harbour and Bull Island. Some have been seen within striking distance of Dublin, such as further south in Bray Co. Wicklow and further north along the beaches of Laytown Co. Meath and and Cruisetown Co. Louth. Whenever Snow Buntings are reported within striking distance of Dublin, I always make a point of going to see them. They are such stunning birds.
Not all Snow Buntings are tame but some are more tame than others. This series of images were taken along Dollymount Strand on the Great North Bull Wall of the Dublin Port/Dublin Bay area, in the company of my good friend SC. I spent 5-6 hours lying down in the sand, hunched along the rocks or kneeling in rotting seaweed to get the photographs, and all the time cursing inconsiderate dog walkers who let their dogs off the lead to blatantly run at any birds along the shoreline. Such an activity is illegal on places such as Dollymount Strand and Bull island as they are both nature reserves and have been tagged Special Protection Areas (SPAs) under EU Law, as well as being a UNESCO Biosphere area. As such, by law, dogs are to be kept on leads at all times. Unfortunately, due to lack of enforcement and lack of a dog warden, dogs run riot and roosting shorebirds get constantly harassed, thus robbing them of critical energy stores required to thrive. In addition, petty thieves have been targeting birdwatchers/photographers, and also breaking into cars, in this area. This means that you have to be aware of your surroundings and so cannot focus 100% on the birds. Crime is, unfortunately, rife along this stretch of the Dublin coastline. A sign of our times.
Despite all that, I was determined not to let those vagaries of society detract from my enjoyment of watching and studying the Snow Buntings.
Keywords: Birds of Ireland, Bunting, Canon, Carmody, Collins Press, Dublin, Ireland, Jim Wilson, Mark Carmody, Snow, Snow Bunting
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