Powerscourt is home to an abundance of winged residents and visitors. Search for them…
Listen out for the deep croak of the large ravens, which live in big bulky nests in the rocky crags around the waterfall. Often seen performing aerial acrobatics, these scavenging birds are easy to identify in flight by their huge bills and wedge shaped tails.
This striking bird of prey hunts by hovering motionless in the air like a helicopter, head into the wind and tail fanned. Able to detect the slightest movement, it will drop like a stone once it spots its prey, and favours small rodents and birds. Look out for kestrels around the waterfall cliff ledges, where they breed, and listen for their loud ‘kee-kee’ call.
Dippers can be spotted flying fast and low over the surface of the river, making a sharp ‘zit’ call as they go. A fan of aquatic insect larvae, dippers will dive under the water and walk along the river bed [like an old fashioned scuba diver], turning over stones in search of a meal!
The grey wagtail flies with an undulating, unhurried flight across the surface of the river, in pursuit of flying insects. Look out for them perched on rocks in the middle of the river, constantly flicking their long, slim tails – a characteristic movement that gives them their name.
A number of migrant songbirds take their summer holidays to Powerscourt every year. These include the early arriving chiffchaff, which can be found here from March to October. They build their nests just above the ground in the protective cover of shrubs and ferns. Listen out for their repetitive ‘chiff-chaff’ song.
The willow warbler, with its delicate descending song, is another common visitor. It can travel up to 12,000km from Southern Africa to make its summer home here on the forest floor. Look and listen for these sweet singers among the brambles and low growing plants.
Watch carefully for these small woodland hawks, which can sometimes be seen flying low through the trees, skimming shrubs to sneak up on prey. These stealthy raptors, with their long legs and wide taloned feet, are perfectly suited for snatching small agile birds mid-flight.
After spending the day sleeping in the abandoned homes of squirrels and crows, these silent hunters come out at dusk to feed on small birds, rodents and insects. The upright tufts on the top of the head which give this owl its name are not actually ears! They are merely decorative feathers used for communication and camouflage. However, these birds have excellent hearing due to their dish-shaped face, which channels sound like a satellite dish and allows them to hunt in complete darkness.
Should you stand here at dusk, you may be lucky enough to hear the remarkable song of the male nightjar, which sounds like a melodic lawnmower! These rare birds are most active at dawn and dusk, where they twist and turn in the air, hunting insects like moths and beetles. During the day they are difficult to see, as their patterned feathers keep them well camouflaged while crouching on the ground or lying horizontally along the branch of a tree.
You are also likely to see: [Consider including pictures of these birds, with the names underneath]
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