Ireland Trip 2022: Puffin Lovin’ & the Cliffs of Moher

Willamette’s 2022 Trip to Ireland along Wild Atlantic Way will arrive in the prime of the Irish Spring which means on Day 3 we’ll get to see the love life of puffins at the Cliffs of Moher. There are just a few spots left on the trip and it’d be great to have you join me. 

The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most famous sights and when I was there with the 2017 Icons of Irish Natural History class we had a wonderful time with dramatic scenery, the informative interpretive center, and really feeling the wildness of the Atlantic.  We saw a few puffins but were too early for active breeding behaviors which should be relatively easy for trip participants to see in May. 

I loved the Cliffs of Moher and went back a couple with my family including my spouse Kendra Mingo and her mother Mary.  Kendra will be traveling with us and took this picture of Rook trying to feed from my hand. I enjoyed making a pun with the sign which warns folks to not go over the stone wall and end up flying off the cliff’s edge with the birds. 

For film buffs, there is a fun overlook to the place where the 1987 movie The Princess Bride shot the scenes for the Cliffs of Insanity.   If you are feeling a bit crazy it is possible to walk along the edge of this highest cliff if you are comfortable with heights and rough trails.  

If you don’t like cliffs, birds, and big seascapes there are some really fun shops with Irish crafts.

I hope to see you later in 2022, 


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Water Stone Walls


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Flapping in the Irish Winds

The flag flies in Shannon Airport and my first bird is a Hooded Crow on top of a light post, followed by European Starling flying by, and White Wagtail on the ground near my shuttle stop. I have a long and abiding connection to corvids (i.e. my Ph.D. was on crows and their relatives) so I am taking this as a great sign. I am also pleased to see European Starlings in the area where they evolved and to enjoy them as a local native bird. In Oregon, they carry the burden of being an invasive species in conflict with native cavity-nesting birds like the white-breasted nuthatch, western bluebirds, and both tree and violet-green swallows. And wagtails are just exciting as they are so lively with their long tails as they search the edges of the parking lot for an insect or other protein scrap. In Ireland, the primary subspecies of White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) is called the Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii). The evolutionary histories of both hooded crows and wagtails are fascinating in terms of plumage variation across their range in Eurasia but that’s a post for a different day.

These nice photos are sourced from

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Icons of Irish Natural History

Originally posted on

1 January 2017

This year a group of students from Willamette University and the University of Portland will start the New Year in Galway, Ireland. I’ll be teaching them how to learn about new places by being good natural historians and we’ll spend 10 weeks focusing on iconic organisms and landscapes of Ireland as a way to focus our attention. We expect to see and dig into shamrocks everywhere we go but will start with swans as they have a special history in Galway.

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Put an ‘official’ bird on it

David Rice Made in Oregon MeadowlarkI’d love to have David Rice recreate his work above on as a mural in the Oregon Capitol city of Salem. I think we should celebrate our state bird the Western Meadowlark more and more often!

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The Church Street Bridge

thanks Bonnie!

On The Way

Ellen Stevens and a group of citizens is working on saving the beautiful Church Street Bridge.  It was built in 1928 and designed by then Salem bridge engineer R.A.Furrow, one-time colleague of well-known bridge designer Conde McCullough.  The bridge is a beauty…



B 1

spanning Pringle Creek (which is a pretty swollen, roaring body of water today…due to our rain-that-will-not-stop)


Ellen walks a lot, and became disturbed by the deteriorated condition of the bridge.  She was particularly interested in the restoration of design and the spirit of the old bridge.  She came by the other day to show us some proposed designs for the balustrade replacements and she spoke so interestingly about the bridge we went to take a look during our brief sunny respite between storms…

The span is longer than we thought, and the bridge environs are gorgeous.  The original bridge has a variety of curves and “balconies” that provide…

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Terning to WordPress

Greatest place to watch the world's largest tern

Greatest place to watch the world’s largest tern

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