Irish Impressions 1. Early april in Cork

Subject: Irish Impressions 1. Early april in Cork
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998 20:47:54 +0100
>This spring, thanks to the University College Cork and my colleague prof.
>Alan Myers, I have the opportunity to experience spring somewhere else than
>at 70*N, something I always find utterly fascinating. The change from the 6
>ft of snow and freezing temperatures of my homeplace Tromsø to the green SW
>Irish city of Cork was dramatic : never are the differences between Tromsø
>and more southerly areas as great as in early spring. In Tromsø we had just
>welcomed the first Snow Buntings, but the first green plants were still
>many weeks away; while in Cork everything was green, and the gardens full
>of Magnolia, Ribes and already fading Forsythia, with lawns full of Crocus,
>daffodils and surprisingly often large blue Veronica (V. chamaedrys?).
>These first weeks I have had little time and opportunity to go birding: I
>had come here to work on amphipods, and was also too busy installing myself
>in my temporary home away from home, an apartment in downtown Cork, high
>above the river Lee that traverses and beautifies the city. My flat is down
>a short flight of stairs, looking out in front on the parking lot, and in
>the back on a neglected lawn lined with trees. So I won't build up an
>impressive yard list: as everywhere here in Cork Winter Wrens, European
>Robins, Eur. Blackbirds, Wood Pigeons, Rooks and Jackdaws are dominant,
>while Great and Blue Tits and Collared Doves also occur.
>Early in the morning, before first light, there is a magnificent concerto,
>dominated by the bittersweet cadences of the Robins and the stately hymns
>of the Blackbirds. Later in the day the wrens seem to be everywhere, and
>much easier to watch than e.g. in Holland (the same applies to the
>robins)--the song of the wrens is as high-spirited than in continental
>Europe, but the trills seem somehow less sharp and 'more Irish' than in
>Holland (or in the mountains of Krete, where they also dominated the bird
>chorus last week, when an amphipod conference brought me there). Also
>Chaffinches are ubiquitous and easily more common most places than the
>House Sparrows.
> Cork is a medium town (ca 250 000 inhabitants, I think) on the south coast
>of ireland, situated on a magnificent natural harbour (also not yet
>visited), The town gives the impression of newly overcome poverty: many of
>the houses are tiny (one door, one window), the streets are too narrow for
>their traffic, and the concrete sidewalks chipped and uneven---but there is
>building, repair and extension everywhere, and the general mood seems to be
>one of great optimism.
>It is also a spectacularly untidy town, with large amounts of litter on the
>streets, and shopping carts dumped from the bridges in the river Lee.
>Nevertheless, I still have to see my first Starlings in town, and also
>Black-headed Gulls are virtually absent on the tidal portions of the Lee,
>while the Hooded Crows and Magpies, so active in garbage scavenging in
>Tromsø, somewhat surprisingly leave this aspect here completely to the very
>numerous Jackdaws and Rooks. The latter seem thoroughly at home in town,
>and descend even into the smallest gardens---they apparently nest in a
>woodland a bit out of town. There they mix with the Jackdaws, but these
>latter probably also nest on chimneys, church towers ( always in ample
>supply in Ireland) and other buildings in town.
>Pigeons and doves are also common and widespread. Besides the feral pigeons
>there are everywhere Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves, both completely
>acclimatized in town, while the Stock Doves remain confined to larger
>stretches of woodland. Although the river Lee is tidal and thus
>periodically uncovers muddy banks, it does not seem to be all that
>attractive to birds, and the only birds, besides Hooded Crows and feral
>pigeons, that I have seen on these banks are Grey Wagtails. (I have also
>seen Pied Wagtails in the area, but nor as yet actually on the river
>banks). There are Mallards on the river, although not many and some with
>the unmistakable stamp of 'farmers ducks', while walks upriver have added a
>few Cormorants and the odd Oystercatcher. (Please understand that Cork has
>to offer much more to the active birder; I just have not yet been out of
> I found it interesting to note that the local Coal Tits, in this country
>where both Willow and Marsh Tits are absent, have spread far from their (to
>my experience) native pine forests, and f.ex. can be found in the narrow
>strip of alders along the river, together with the Great Tit, also here the
>commonest of the tribe, and the Blue Tit. Long-tailed Tits are also regular
>and much darker than I know them from Norway, but these ever active bushtit
>lookalikes are as endearing as elsewhere---here they seem already to have
>paired off. Another always welcome sight are the colourful Goldfinches,
>that always sound so cosily content with their lifes.
>Strangely enough I did not hear a single warbler in the first half of
>April. Even the always so early Chiffchaff seemed absent, but yesterday (23
>April) they finally had arrived and sang their metronomic chiff chaff chiff
>chaff many places along the river and in the woodland.
>I walk from my flat to work at the Zoology department in about 10 minutes
>through town, or I can detour via the leafy and green UCC campus, where
>Mistle Trushes join the ubiquitous Song Trushes and Blackbirds, and where
>Greenfinches trill and rasp everywhere in the trees. Here, as so many
>places in the city, I am enthralled by the vegetation on the old walls.
>There must be chalk in the mortel here, for the flora is really very
>diverse, and I have counted as many as 7 different ferns (Asplenium spp,
>Phyllitis, Ceterach, Polypodium, Atthyrium) on one small wall, together
>with the roundish fleshy leaves of Umbilicaria, the red flowers of
>Kentranthus, and various other plants that I had not seen in years. On the
>meadows along the Lee the flora is less exotic: yellow Ficaria verna,
>pinkish Cardamine and the last white Anemone nemorosa, all very much like
>in Holland or Western Norway. In the woodlands there will be more to
>discover, but that will have to wait till coming weekends, when I've sorted
>out the bus-tables to neighbouring villages and to the outer coast some 25
>km further south.
>Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum
> 9037 Tromsø, Norway
>until 20 June: UCC, Dept of Zoology, Cork

To unsubscribe from this list, please send a message to

Include ONLY "unsubscribe birding-aus"
in the message body (without the quotes)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Irish Impressions 1. Early april in Cork, Wim Vader <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU