Sunday, June 7, 2009

Wildlife on Connemara Preserve and Aran Islands

The past few posts have been more "travelogue" than nature posts. Today I have a beautiful picture of the sandy but rough beaches on the coast of Ireland between Galway and the Irish speaking town of Spittel. I also have an interesting picture of a shepherd that I met on the so called "Ring of Kerry" last week. He could direct his two Border Collies to round up sheep far up into the hills. For this he had a whistle with a special sound that identified each of the two dogs and he also had specific whistle signals that would tell each dog things like, "Go left!" "Go right!"..."Sit down!"...."Crouch and menace the sheep!"...."Move up!"..."Move down!"...."Stop!"...."Go!.... And so on. The shepherd could also communicate with each dog with voice commands. And, though he did not say it specifically, I am sure that there were movements of his "shepherd's staff" that also communicated things to the sheep. Thank you for your patience. I will not use my blog for travelogue...But the fact is, even though I don't have photos I have seen many English birds. I am most impressed with the large menancing Hooded Crows and also with the big grey black Jackdaws that seem to have a good relationship with the sheep. They follow them everywhere. The European Robin has become my special friend. The Great Tit and the Blue and Coal Tit are very much like our American Chickadees. But they don't sound like them, nor do they act like chickadees.
My big challenge has been to try and figure out if the English Song Sparrow, which looks "a bit" like our American one, but is larger...if it is a mimic as I suspect. It seems to have about 10 or eleven calls...maybe more. The magpies are a treat. They are so big and clumsy. There are many swallows that seem like our Barn Swallows, because they have the long forked tails. But the large majority of swallows here in the south of Ireland seem like American Tree swallows.

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