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Birdwatchers flock to Kylemore Abbey’s Kinfisher

A male Belted Kingfisher, one of which was spotted in the grounds of Kylemore Abbey over the weekend. ?
A male Belted Kingfisher, one of which was spotted in the grounds of Kylemore Abbey over the weekend. ?Pic: Flickr.com/Rick Leche

Feathery phenomenon attracts birdwatchers

Áine Ryan

IT IS another feathery tale from the spectacular landscape around north Connemara’s Kylemore Abbey. By all accounts its wonderful gardens continue to attract unusual natural phenomena, the latest of which is a bird not seen in Ireland for almost 30 years.
The Belted Kingfisher – or Ceryle alcyon – was last spotted here in 1985. So naturally birdwatchers flocked to the historic gardens of the one-time girls’ boarding school to catch a glimpse of the rare sight over the weekend.  
The bird is native to North America and usually does not find its way to Irish shores. Experts suggest it was caught in the Gulf Stream while avoiding storms on its annual migration south and was carried to Ireland by the strong wind currents.
This is not the first unusual natural phenomenon to occur in the restored grounds and gardens of the abbey.
In May last year, a pair of blue tits nested in a free-standing ashtray close to Kylemore Abbey’s café, and successfully hatched a brood of four chicks there – much to the amazement of visitors and abbey staff.
Earlier this year, The Mayo News reported that spring had invaded the flowerbeds of the Victorian walled garden as early as December last with strawberry plants fruiting and climbing roses and daffodils beginning to bloom.
Moreover, there was a frog population explosion also a month later. The frogs were spawned in the many rock-pools in the beautiful garden, created by Mitchell Henry, who built the stunning castle as a romantic gift for his wife. The six-acre walled garden was built along with the castle in 1867.

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