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Birds and walks in Galway, Ireland

Earlier this summer we were in Galway, Ireland. There's lots of good countryside for walking around in, and as I blogged before there's nice beer and food too. it was May/June so there were plenty of birds out singing too - here are some of the ones I noticed:

We did a little tour to Omey Island, a lovely, still little tidal island. It was a clear day and in the blue sky there was a tiny pinprick, a skylark flying right up high as they do, but singing so loudly and with such a clear complex song - it's really impressive to hear when you're somewhere quiet and still and the bird is so far away as to be invisible. I've been studying skylark song a bit so I've listened to plenty of recordings, but this is the way to hear it.

A very different sound was the caw of the jackdaw - in Galway City we walked to the ruined Menlo Castle, which was home to dozens of jackdaws. It's not a very accessible ruin but if you can find it, it's a nice spot. Here's a photo:

Photo of jackdaw over Menlo Castle

Chaffinch photo by Andreas Trepte, CC-BY-SA

We also heard chaffinches singing all around the place. I didn't ever see one (hence the photo I've used is from Wikipedia - photo by Andreas Trepte), but the distinctive call, ending with a little "oowOOoo", was really noticeable. Having come home and listened to recordings online, I think the whoopy "oowOOoo" must be specific to Irish chaffinches, since none of the recordings have quite that wolf-whistley ending.


Coole Park was a nice place to walk. I'd normally go for the more untamed kind of walks but this was a great little nature reserve with various trails, woods and a very scenic lake. The woods were full of chaffinches and many other birds such as the chiff-chaff with its distinctive three-note chink-chink song.

Slightly outside County Galway was Adare. The village itself was kinda boring, to be honest, but we walked into the priory and were surprised when swifts darted past us in the corridors. They were amazingly fast little things (I tried lots of times to get a photo and failed every time) fluttering in and out of the cloisters. Also, for forest walks Curraghchase Forest Park is just near Adare Village and is great.

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