Inishowen Wildlife Club
As a follow on to the Greylag Goose neck ringing programme, carried out by BirdWatch Ireland recently at Inch Lake, it is suggested that any sighting of these marked birds be reported by contacting the following email address. email@example.com
To view the Butterfly Ireland web site Click http://www.butterflyireland.com
Please report any sightings or relevant information to Anthony Robb by way of the above link. Click Thumbnails for large picture.
Sat. 5th. Jan. 2013. The new dawn of our clubs activities for 2013 began this morning in the hushed stillness of the beautiful woodlands of Lisnagrath near Muff, where Red Squirrels scampered ghost-like to and from the abundant hoards of peanuts deposited on the ground and various suspended and permanent feeders. This bonanza was also a benefit to the hosts of little birds, mostly Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal tit, Chaffinch, and Robin, While the sight and sounds of Jay and Buzzard disrupted the harmony of the occasion. Little time was spent in this haven as we set off on our main objective of the day, and that was to engage in the Winter Thrush Survey in our allocated area in the Lenamore district near Derry City, as requested by the BTO. (British Trust for Ornithology) through our member Christine Cassidy. With this task duly completed to a satisfactory conclusion, and then suitably rejuvenated by our lunch break, we set off for the Inch Lake , where great numbers of birders from many parts of Ireland, have been reported, as they watched diligently with Scopes and cameras for a glimpse of the very rare visitor, the Bittern, that has been seen and photographed in the area in recent days. Unfortunately we could not claim any of the honour as the rain and dark cloud reduced visibality to zero, so it was off home after a very pleasent day in execptional mild calm weather.
Pictures of a Red Squirrel entering and leaving one of many hair traps set up by Anthony Robb as part of his Squirrel project. The tube contains an adhesive pad that collects the hairs of whatever animal enters, and can later be analysed . Click Thumbnails for large picture. Sat. 12th. Jan. 2013. A preview of the approaching joys of Spring was afforded to us on this club outing in support of our member Anthony Robb who has undertaken with great diligence a comprehensive survey of the Red and Grey Squirrel population of Donegal. Our investigation started at Deerpark near the Bogay area, where Squirrels have been reported, and while walking in these wooded areas the tentative appearance of the wonderful Wood Sorrel, and Wood Anemone was noted, and that in the weeks to come will have luxurious carpets of pristine creamy white flowers, carefully fitted by the hand of mother nature to avail of the sunlight before it is obliterated by the foliage of the attendant trees waiting for it's call on stage in the near future. Later at Bogay we met the knowledgeable Jackie Holmes who informed us that the Red Squirrels were in that vicinity also. Near here the first emerging yellow flowers of Lesser Celandine were recorded as they peeped from the shelter of a south facing ditch, as did the remaining pink flowers of Herb Robert that seemed to have over wintered here. Also offering their solace to the morning was the delicate blossems of the early Buttercus.........After Anthony had concluded his observations in this general area we took a trip to Blanket Nook, where the bird life on the water was somewhat subdued, but earlier on the approach to the area great numbers of Fieldfare's were recorded, as were Buzzard, and amongst flocks of small birds was a number of Yellow hammer. The final act of the day was a short visit in bright warm sunshine to the Causeway road to Inch Island to perhaps get a glimpse of the resident celeb. in the form of the Bittern, but without success..............To conclude, please report any sightings or relevant information regarding Squirrels in your area to Anthony Robb by way of the link at the top of this page.
Sat. 18th. Jan. 2013. We were transported to an Arctic environment this morning when faced with blizzard conditions that arrived overnight, and continued for a time this morning all delivered by a very cold, piercing gale, that left today's intended bird count on Lough Swilly in some doubt, but after a short postponement to see if there was any evidence of an improvement, a start was eventualy made at Buncrana, where visibility at this point was very poor with only a slight variation in the shade of gray that defined the Lough's turbulent waters, the mist enshrouded mountains, and the scurrying low flying clouds that were delivering cold wet snowflakes that made bird watching difficult, and impaired the performance of our optics...... At the Fahan Marina the bird count here was on the low side due to the very high tide, which fortunately seemed to be starting to ebb..... Later on Inch Island the benefits of the retreating water resulted in an exceptionally rewarding conclusion to our efforts, after which we treated ourselves to a little time with all the others gathered on the Causeway Road, to perhaps have the rather shy Bittern residing there, give us a curtain call before we set off home, but unfortunately it was not to be today.
Sat. 26th. Jan. 2013. The penetrating frosty pangs of winter returned with a vengeance after a beautiful calm, sunny morning, when we assembled at the Isle of Doagh road Clonmany, and then proceeded to Glasha on the southern shore of Trawbreaga Bay where the encounter with the first installment of a phenomenal count of Barnacle Geese was recorded. ....Next to Malin Town Bridge, and in the same spring like conditions we recorded Shelduck, Golden eye, Mallard, Wigeon, and Teal, also present were many Gull, mostly Common and Black headed, Redshank, Curlew, Godwit, a few Greenshank, and as expected the resident pair of Little Egrets in their radiant white plumage. ......Now with the tea break fast approaching a stop was had at the hide by the Bathing Box Lane, here more of the previously mentioned birds were noted. Further on towards Lagg two more flocks of Barnacle were added to the ever increasing list.....Some time later at the most stunningly scenic Knockamany Bens, where Buzzard soared against the ever lowering dark grey clouds and a Merlin darted skillfully over a hedge, no doubt in pursuit of it's prey, while in green pastures that form part of the steep slope to the beach of the Five Fingers Strand far below, a flock of Chough that numbered seventy eight foraged through the short grass.....By now the predicted deterioration of the weather was making it's entrance with the sunshine obscured, an increase in the icy wind and the patter of rain as it splashed against the windscreens and car roofs, it was off to Malin Head where two more flocks of Barnacle Geese were added to our list that by now was in excess of two thousand..... A most satisfactory way to conclude our outing. Wednesday 30th. Jan. 2013. Boyd Bryce reported seeing a female Hen Harrier at 9.30 this morning at Inch Lake.
Brian and Martin installing Barn Owl nesting boxes, assisted by Conor, Dermot, and Jim. Not in pictures are, Wil, Danny, Terry, and Paddy. They were looking elsewhere for other suitable sites. Sat. 2nd. Feb. 2013. In sparkling morning sunshine, with the Song Thrush, and other songsters adding to the placid atmosphere in the Fahan, Buncrana, and the Muff localities, we commenced our task of installing more Barn Owl nesting boxes to add to the number put in suitable habitats last year. These boxes, as on the previous occasions were of two types, the interior and the exterior variety, all of which were skillfully constructed and installed by our club member Brian Hegarty. We would also like to express our thanks to the land owners that were more than cooperative and pleased to have these boxes installed on their properties. .....While this work was in progress a number of Buzzard were observed as they floated higher and higher on the warming midday air, while in some pastures large flocks of Fieldfare, shared their space with lots of Magpie, and in more secluded areas the hardy little Snowdrops, and Buttercups seemed to smile back at the comforting sun. With the day edging towards evening, a final stop was again made on the Causeway road at Inch Lake, where we were entertained by the beautiful Male Smew as it dived in the shallow fringes of the Lake, that was then followed by another highlight of the evening when a considerable time was spent watching the female Hen Harrier reported in the area on Wednesday by Boyd. Then a little further on a couple of Shoveler Duck and a large flock of Greylag Geese were amongst the many other species that helped to satisfy our quest for today's treasures on the nature trail. Sat. 9th. Feb. 2013. Shrouded in a great grey mist that seemed to seep ever so slowly from the high mountains that surround Clonmany now had the static forms of the bare twigs from the hedgerows and the winters dead vegetation standing ghost like in the morning gloom .... Then on arrival at Tullagh Bay, where a far removed tide started to creep silently towards the sands of a deserted beach, except for a couple of walkers and their dogs. On the gentle shore-bound swell a number of Great Northern Diver, Cormorant, and Shag rose and fell to it's easy rhythm. While on the western side of the bay at Craigaleen Point the full impact of the Atlantic was evident as it crashed against the rocky defences of the coastline to send great white spumes of atomised water high into the dark sky.......At Rockstown Harbour where a welcomed repast was enjoyed, while in the calm waters of the inlet Brent Geese flew in and out and Black Guillemot, some showing their transitional plumage together with Shag, Cormorant, Red-breasted Merganser dived for their sustenance, with Redshank rummaging through the tide line. .....Later in the afternoon our final stop was at Lenan, where at the old Army Fort, Fulmar were noted nesting on the sheer rock face of this great monolith, and sizable flocks of Chough and Jackdaw noisily checked through the short grass. ...A pleasant time spent leisurely meandering through the crumbling remains of this fortress, and imagening how it might have looked in a time long since past was the conclusion to our outing today. Sat. 16th. Feb. 20 13. The expected return of the Spring like conditions experienced yesterday never materialised, when the bright sunshine and high temperatures were replaced today by low cloud and mist, especially on the higher regions of Glentogher, and then on the eastern side of the Peninsula at Creehennan, Drung, Glencaw Hill, and later at the silent shimmering waters of Lough Inn and lough Fad, where numbers of Duck mostly Mallard appeared from, and disappeared into the clumps of rushes and heathers growing at the shore line..... The absence of sunshine seemed to reflect the scantiness of wildlife on view, the only show of avian extravagance was the number of Buzzard recorded at various sites, also Hooded Crow, Raven, Pigeon. Jackdaw, Magpie, Starling. Song Thrush, and a large flock of Fieldfare. But from the the other side of the Peninsula Anthony Robb reported by phone that he was watching a Hen Harrier in the Clonmany area, and Brian Hegerty told of seeing a Merlin earlier in the Morning perched on a field post after consuming it's breakfast. An enjoyable day was had by all, irrespective of the number of species noted and the rather dullness of the weather.
16th. Feb. 2013. Martin Moloney our Raptor expert, has reported that his Goshawk, a beautiful Bird of Prey, escaped from his Aviary this afternoon. We would be most grateful to anyone that sees or hears any reports of this bird, that may have little light leather straps known as Jesses attached to it's legs... to contact Martin. Tel no. 074 93 22993 or Mob.0863514510.
Sunday 17th. Feb. 2013. We are delighted to report that Martin has recovered his Goshawk, the loss of which was reported in the above notice with yesterdays news.
23rd. Feb. 2013. The silvery stillness of the morning was what awaited us on arrival at Buncrana Pier where the mirrored surface of Lough Swilly, now well removed from the normal shore line waited as it dithered to make up it's mind as to when it would make it's return. Undaunted by the low water we commenced our monthly count of the Bird life on the water and around the shoreline. With the temperature at a cool two degrees, and the absence of any sunshine, but in the perfectly calm conditions visibility was excellent.... The afore mentioned tide level was in some locations advantageous, while in the Fahan Creek area the reverse was the case.......None the less a very thorough and successful task was completed to our satisfaction. ........The highpoint of the afternoon, though not related to the sea birds, was the recording of a very large flock that numbered over forty of those nuggets of gold, namely the Yellowhammer, also a few Bullfinch, later Buzzard, Peregrine, and Merlin were added to our list......... As is usual on completion of our count, a visit was paid to the adjacent Inch Lake where among all the thousands of birds here were the Male Smew, and the Shoveler Duck, these were reported on a previous visit, but on this occasion they had the addition of a rare visitor in the form of a Black-necked Grebe, that normally might winter on the south coast of England... What a nice way to end our day.
Sat. 2nd. March 2013. A great cacophony of sound from the massed choir of Barnacle Geese, numbering in excess of one thousand, offered its welcome to us on our first stop of the morning at Glasha on the shore of Trawbreaga Bay. In this placid setting those less boisterous Geese, the Brent swam silently on the slowly ebbing tide. Further out in the Bay a Seal was observed availing of the sunshine by basking on an exposed rock while another bobbed to the surface and to then return to the depths. Along the shoreline Ducks, mostly Wigeon, and Mallard patrolled their territory...... At the Culdaff River Estuary, the sizeable numbers of Duck were again comprised mainly of Wigeon, and Mallard. Here there was a marked absence of Waders with the exception of a few Curlew, seen to be picking through the soft mud for some tit bits. ......... A little later at Dunmore Head it was our turn to partake of our midday refreshments, and while doing so watched Fulmar, with their strong wing beat flying close to the sheer rock cliff face, to protect their partners ensconced in their nest with precious eggs or Chicks, snugly hidden from the marauding Raven, Rook, and Jackdaw, that were later joined by those fun loving aeronauts the Chough.........Now it was on to the wonderful tree lined lane way that leads to the rocky shore of Redford, here Buzzard soared gracefully along the edge of the very steep valley wall, below which a little stream gurgled it way to the sea some distance away, where a sizable flotilla of Wigeon eased out from the shore at our presents. On our way back to the main road through this sheltered heaven Lesser Celandine, Primrose, and the diminutive but beautiful Spurge peeped from their places of comfort, as if to say their welcome to the arrival of Spring........ After stops at various places and evening fast approaching a significant find of the Common Smooth Newt was made in the Falmore Area as was the extravagant number of Frogs, which suggested that it might be time for us to hop on home after a very enjoyable experience today.
Sat. 9th. Mar. 2013. In the dark, dank, murkiness, of the morning, with the never ending rain beating out its staccato rhythm on car roofs the quote, "Beware the Ides of March" seemed worthy of consideration, though not the correct date by a few days, this picture of despair was somewhat alleviated by the antics of a very small Red Squirrel and a multitude of little birds at a feast of nuts and seeds, supplied by club member Christine, these birds were mostly Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, and Coal Tit, that illuminated the gloom by their appearance. This was added to by a glowing copper carpet of Beech leaves strewn between the great towering Trees that blended into the misty depth of the forrest......Not a lot of time was spent here, as we set off for what we hoped would be the sanctuary of Inch Lake area, where on arrival the viewing platform offered some shelter from the rain and the cold wind by the density of the bushes to the north and east of our position, and from where Greylag Geese, lots of Mallard, Wigeon, Shelduck, Goldeneye, and Great Crested Grebe, were recorded as were flocks of Golden Plover, Curlew, and Lapwing as they cavorted overhead to seemingly melt into the great blanket of low grey cloud, while back on the water the Black-necked Grebe seen a few weeks past was still present.......In the adjoining fields Whooper Swans in large numbers, and Greylag Geese gathered for what may be preparation for their departure soon to the breeding grounds of Iceland and northern Europe ....... Later at the Farland Bank another large number of Shelduck were recorded..... Then it was on to the final stop of this sodden outing when at Blanket Nook more Whooper Swans, Golden Plover, Wigeon, Mallard, Lapwing, a few Greenshank, Oystercatcher, Buzzard, Merlin, were observed, and to finish, a pair of Skylarks were noted performing their courtship display, oblivious of the weather. Sat. 16th. March 2013. It was a somewhat depleted club outing, partially caused by the fact that today being the prelude to our great National festival of St Patrick's Day, many of our regular members had other pressing commitments. Nonetheless, the few devotees that did venture forth to the Malin Town, and Malin Head districts, were treated to a countryside painted in the wonderful warm colours of Winter, blended with the emerging palette of Spring freshness exemplified by the many displays of golden daffodils that stretched in great drifts along some roads and on one occasion along an interior ditch of a field, also on view here and there, were those amazing floral creations, the Primroses........ Of the birds recorded on the outing were Buzzard, Chuff, Raven, Hooded Crow, Barnacle and Brent Geese, Mallard, Wigeon, Eider, and Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Great black-backed, Herring, Black-headed, and Common Gull with the more diminutive species like Robin, Rock and Meadow Pipit, Ringed Plover, Pied Wagtail, and Blackbird. Our day finished with falling temperatures and a freshening breeze, but the discovery of a most promising location for the elusive Smooth Common Newt was most rewarding, a site that will be subjected to greater scrutiny on an other occasion...... Yesterday, member Neil Doherty reported the sighting of a Golden Eagle being tormented by a pair of Buzzards in the Clonmany Area. Sat. 23rd. March. 2013. No club outing today due to a severe weather warning.............News has just filtered back to Base Camp this evening that three members, possibly suffering from that dread malady known as Cabin Fever, set off on a Shackelton type expedition through zero temperatures, intermitting snow flurries, all excelerated by a penetrating easterly gale. The group leader Dermot Mc Laughlina was accompanied by his brother Danny and our raptor man Martin Moloney......Like their great predecessors they achieved their goal and reported back that large numbers of Whooper Swans, and Greylag Geese in their many hundreds populated the fields adjacent to Inch Lake, and while on their way to Blanket Nook, more Whooper Swans, Greylag Geese, Curlew, hosts of Fieldfare, Redwing, Blackbird, also exceptional numbers of Wagtail, all gathering as if prepairing for migration.......At Blanket Nook the turbelent water irritated by the fierce gale, was devoid of any birdlife, but sheltering on the eastern shore was a large flock of Black-tailed Godwit estimated to number three hundred. In this area an Otter was also noted....Now with evening approaching and fatigue taking it's toll, our stalwarts strugled on to the main road at Manorcunningham to observe the Big Isle, where in the fading visablity White-fronted Geege, numbering between seven and eight hundred were recorded.........Also seen on this adventure was Buzzard and Sparrowhawk, but now they decided to end their adventure and seek the succour of base camp. Sat. 30th. March 2013. There was a hint of spring in the air this morning at Lisnagrath Wood, though the temperature was no higher than the four degrees centigrade that has been the norm for the past number of weeks, but the absence of the strong icy Siberian wind engendered a sense of hope, as we crunched our way through the tinder dry leaves and the lattice of shadows cast by the Sun filtering through the tall majestic trees still bereft of any perceived foliage, but the appearance of Wood Sorrel, Wood anemone, and the new foliage of the Digitalis, reinforced the belief that with a change soon to warmer weather , one can visualise the explosion of colour that will transform the woods and countryside. On arrival earlier at the Bird and Squirrel feeding station near the main road, the only sign of animal life was a little Robin searching for it's breakfast, but then as if by magic when Dermot produced a bag of seed and proceeded to cast it on the ground, that had a great host of little birds mostly Tits and Chaffinch appearing from all directions to avail of this bonanza. Later Christine added to the frenzy by her contribution of more wholesome treats....... On our way to the Birdstown area we stopped for our spirit rejuvenating tea break, and while so doing at least six Buzzard were recorded floating high over a wooded area to our right hand side, while earlier a female Sparrowhawk was counted. Next a check was carried out on a known Sand Martn nesting site but no tenants have as yet taken up residency. At a pond created by the extraction of sand, Moorehen, Little Grebe, and Mallard were observed.... As the afternoon progressed, at the Inch lake Farm very large numbers of Whooper Swans, numbering many hundreds that had in their midst one Black Swan, and large flocks of Greylag Geese some with neck bands. On the lake and in the air, more large flocks of birds that included Black-tailed Godwit, Golden Plover, more Greylag, while nearby a Grey Heron was watched as it struggled to swallow a rather large eel....Our day then ended with a most pleasant visit to the Blanket Nook .......Missing from our outing today was Brian Hegerty who was on a very enjoyable nature cruise around Rathlin Island, and after a much appreciated lunch at the Church Bay Pier a guided walk and an informative talk was given by the local expert Paul Quinn. Sat. 6th. April 2013. Today we were treated to a vision of what Summer might have in store for us in the not too distant future, when setting off from Carndonagh in glorious sunshine that had temperatures rising to double figures, figures that were well above those endured for many months, but today boosted by a flat calm, a great feeling of serenity seemed to wash over our beautiful countryside, as we moved through Gortyarn, then down through the wonderful glen of Carrowmore where a great carpet of the not so common Yellow Archangel, a member of the mint family was flourishing in a woodland shelter. On the road with it's archway of tall trees that delivered us to the main thoroughfare at Baskil, were still without their new season foliage, which aided the view of the gurgling stream far below in the valley floor on our right hand side. Next it was on to Tirraboy where hedges of Whin, manicured to perfection with their wonderful floral display were radiant in the morning light, and where flocks of Fieldfare and other Thrushes prepared for departure, all watched from above by a pair of Buzzards. A short time later at Cambry a search of the forest was undertaken to to see if Squirrels were in residence, but unfortunately no evidence was found. A number of Chaffinch were noted as they flitted through the well spaced fir trees. .......How time flies on occasions like this, so our cup of tea was consumed as we watched a pair of Buzzards etching glorious circles against a lapis lazuli sky ........Further along the road at Tirahork how surprising to see a Hare running down the road between residental properties and farm buildings before disappearing into a field on the left. .......A little later a return visit was made to a forest area near Falmore where Smooth Newts were recorded a few weeks past, but on this occasion we were disappointed to find that the pond had been drained , so no amphibians.........Our final stop was near the ruins of Falmore House, where the roadside was lined with many False Salmonberry bushes that were exhibiting their colourful purple flowers, while on a high rock face a clump of Primroses glistened like a nugget of gold. ........Near Carndonagh on our homeward journey we were entertained by a fine specimen of a Fox in a field, standing to acknowledged our presents, and then proceeded to jog nonchalantly for a couple of hundred yards in a line parallel to our car and at a distance of about twenty feet. what a nice finish to a nice day. Sat 13th. April 2013 Another beautiful morning was bestowed on our ramble through the wonderful Kilderry area of Muff, where a certain stillness filled the air that was exemplified by the surprising exclusion of the expected birdsong at this time of year, the only exception was the chattering of a few Chaffinch and Great Tit emanating from a leaf strewn wooded area. A saunter through the cathedral like, tree lined roadway took us to near Kilderry House, where on the roadsides the only sign of Springs floral displays were provided by the gleaming clumps of the reliable yellow flowered Lesser Celandine, and the occasional bush of the False Salmonberry, adding it's bright purple blossoms to the morning....... Next it was on to the Cloney Road on the Culmore side of the border, from where a commanding view of the River Foyle and a sheltered little Bay is to be had from our observation point, here flocks of Wigeon and Mallard Duck moved easily on the mirrored surface, watched over from a position high on a sheltered bank by a most elegant sentry like Grey Heron, while on the other side, columns of statuesque Curlew and Redshank appeared to be resting up as they waited for the high tide to recede and allow feeding to commence. ....Now it was on to the final objective of the outing, that started across the Foyle Bridge at the woodlands of Gransha Park. where as we moved through the giant Beech, Chestnut and Oak trees a good view was had of the mouse like ability of a little Tree Creeper as it scaled suitable trees in search of insects to be found in the many little nooks and cranny's on the rough bark. here also was heard the vocal rendition of a Song Thrush, and then how pleasant to hear the utterance from the emissary of Spring, namely the Chiffchaff. .....A short time later a deterioration was starting to show in the weather, with a cold wind beginning to increase in force, then the sunshine fading, to present a complete reversal of the morning experience. so a halt was called to our activities in the great outdoors just before the rain started to fall. ...We were pleased to have as our guests today three ladies from Holland, member Wil, and her friends, Bed and Anneke, who enjoyed their experience. Wednesday 17th. April 2013. Today a Swallow was reported in the Carndonagh region at 4.12.p.m. Usually they arrive here at the end of March or early April. Sat. 20th. April 2013. Our club was heavily involved in multi-tasking today, which saw some of our members going to Belfast on a invitation to attend the inaugural meeting of the Federation of Irish Field Clubs, being hosted by the Belfast Naturalists Field Club. while others from our club made a trip to a Barn Owl Fieldwork Workshop, organized by the Ulster Wildlife Trust. On arrival at the wonderful venue at Carn, Tirkane, Maghera, we were warmly welcomed by John Woolsey. (Barn Owl Project Officer of the Wildlife Trust) and our friend Conor Mc Kinney who on the 6th. Oct. last year, delivered a talk on the habits of the Barn Owl to a enthralled audience at a venue in Burt, Co Donegal........ Before proceedings got underway at 10.30 am. tea, coffee, scones, biscuits,and a great tray of various fruits were placed at our disposal, then John introduced the main speaker, Colin Shawyer (Barn Owl Conservation network coordinator UK and Ireland) who gave a very informative talk on the nesting habits of Barn Owls, and how, and where Nesting boxes should be placed. Once again it was time for another tea break, then Colin concluded by giving a very detailed account of the molting and structure of the Owls feathers........ At approximately 1.00 pm. it was time for lunch !!!!..... What a display of hospitality and friendliness by all concerned, that made our day one that will be remembered for a long time, and that concluded in the late afternoon with a visit to the Drumnaph Farm, where John showed everyone around and told of the work being undertaken there ...........The following report on the visit to Belfast has been submitted by Peter White, who tells of how club member, Dermot and he, attended the conference of the Field Clubs of Ireland at the Ulster Museum in Belfast on Sat. 20th. April 2013. It was a very enjoyable day with talks, art and poetry, all related to wildlife. The conference was the official launch of the Federation of Irish Field Clubs. The day concluded with short talks from field club representatives from all over the island of Ireland and Dermot flew the flag for Inishowen with an excellent talk on what our club does and what we would like to achieve in the future.
Sat. 27th. April 2013. Due to holidays and other commitments by members, there is no outing to report on. Sat. 4th. May 2013. With shivering temperatures fluctuating between six and nine degrees Celsius, that were made to feel nearer to zero by a penetrating wind chill factor, and Spring having great difficulty in establishing a foothold in what is usually considered the fairest month of the year, a visit to the eastern side of our beautiful Peninsula from just north of Quigley's Point, to Inishowen Head, proved to be a rather sterile experience, with the usual abundant Flora and Fauna at this time of year greatly reduced, but for the clumps of Primrose and Daffodil that had found refuge in the roadside ditches, and in some locations the emerging blossoms of the very invasive False Salmonberry bushes added a little colour on this grey occasion. The Avian population was reduced to Hooded Crow, Raven. Magpie, Pigeon, Blackbird and Chaffinch, and at a disused stone quarry, near Lough Inn, a number of Starlings were utilising any nooks and crannies on the tall rock face to build their nests, while close by a pair of Buzzards floated high in the strong wind. ......During our most welcomed tea break at Ballyargus, on the site of a recently cleared woodland, a Willow Warbler was watched as it searched through the discarded twigs perhaps for little insects or flies that had lingered there, and where Butterflies used to flutter angel like over the beds of various wildflowers that graced this once sheltered haven. ........Our final stop was to the lofty heights of scenic Inishowen Head, where at one place a number of Shelduck were observed on a grassy ledge, here they may have found a secure and sheltered place to rear their family while on a great rock face nearby a family of Raven were being looked after by diligent parents .......Further on at the picnic site, and far below from our viewpoint a colony of Cormorant rested on an outcrop of rocks and whiled away the time as they waited for the lowering of the tide. Off shore numbers of Gannets circled and wheeled then dived for their prey into the grey turbulent sea. In this general area Razorbill, Black Guillemot, and Great Northern Diver patrolled their patch, as we departed for home on this winter like evening. Sat. 11th. May 2013. No club outing to report on today, as members have other commitments to attend to. Sat. 18th. May 2013. Again, another Saturday without any club activity, on this occasion the reason was the forecast of very heavy rainfall, and the chance of flooding, which duly arrived as predicted. It is our intention to have a club outing to Rathlin Island on Saturday the 8th June. (weather permitting) to see the thousands of sea birds that congregate there at this time of year to breed. To avail of this opportunity and witness the spectacle, contact Peter White at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dermot Mc Laughlin, at email@example.com. or through the facility on our web site. It is imperative that you submit the names and numbers wishing to participate before next Friday the 24th. May, as ferry booking have to be made many days in advance. Sat.25th. May 2013. After yesterdays warm sunshine and gentle breeze, the anticipation of a wonderful summers day pulsed through our groups outing this morning, as we set off in ideal conditions on the long drive through the stunningly beautiful landscape of Donegal to meet with that expert Lepidopterist Bob Auldwell, together with enthusiasts from many parts of the county we assembled in the car park near the Ostain na Rossain (Hotel) at Bunbeg. After an early breakfast before leaving home this morning, and now with the clock approaching miday an eagerly awaited lunch was consumed with relish while enjoying the wonderful vista of sea and sand upon which rested the skeletal remains of an old fishing boat that formed a perfect composition....... By now the sky was being obscured by high grey clouds and a cold breeze started to dispel the vision we held of a warm sunny day serching through the Dune system of this perfect habitat to record the many different species of Butterflies known to exist here, but our disappointment was reflected by the complete absence of any of these marvelous creations, with the exception of one Green-veined White, but occasionally the caterpillar of the rare Marsh Fritillary was discovered in the immense area of it's food plant, namely Devil's bit Scabious. Overhead a pair of Chough protested at our presence in their domain with their characteristic call, while Larks soared in the cold wind to utter their musical contribution. The colourful Flora of the region was illustrated by the line of Early Purple Orchids and Milkwort found sheltering on a fault line in a great Granite bolder, with clumps of Common Dog-violet, Germander Speedwell, and Primrose, to mention just a few that were scattered hear and there. Now with light rain starting to fall, and a decrease in temperature a decision to call a halt was made. so after saying goodbye to our like-minded friends, we set off for Inishowen.
Pictures from todays visit to the Marble Arch Caves in County Fermanagh. Sat. 1st. June 2013. Our quest for adventure today necessitated a rather early start that saw us set off on a two and a half hour drive to the enchanting Lakeland area of Co. Fermanagh, but the attraction to this part of the country was not just the scenery, but to visit the magnificent Marble Arch Caves, where on arrival we were warmly greeted by members of the Belfast Naturalist Field Club who had organised this weekend event with great aplomb. ........ This UNESCO Geopark covers part of Fermanagh and Cavan. The Nature Reserves of Killykeeghan and Crossmurrin are the best examples of Limestone Karst in Northern Ireland, and the Burren area of Cavan...... With some of our members deciding to go on a tour of the amazing Cave structures that involved a short boat trip, after which the tour was completed on foot, that enabled close-up views of the many Stalactites and Stalagmites and all the other strange formations formed over a time scale of many thousands of years. Others opted to go Botanising under the expert guidance of Robert Northridge. After all of this activity we gathered to have our alfresco lunch....... Then later on in the afternoon our visit concluded when with all the other participants, drove to Cuilcagh Mountain Park to have a look at Monastair Glen Gorge. Now after a most enjoyable day we set off on our long homeward journey.
Pictures from today's visit to Rathlin Island showing teatime at the RSPB Centre, (Number 2) the only Stack visible in the sea mist, and (Number 3) a view of the lighthouse and bird viewing station on the west of the Island. Sat. 8th. June 2013. The icy deathlike grip of winter that had held spring in it's clutches to a point that cast a sense of doom and gloom was released by summers fond caress, with temperatures soaring up into the twenties, added to by sparkling sunshine that shows to us the beautiful country that is our privilege to enjoy. This was manifest today as we set off to Ballycastle, Co Antrim, to board the ferry to the beautiful Rathlin Island almost five miles off the coast. On the roads to our destination, verges and hedges were festooned with amazing displays of Wildflowers, with great carpets of gold encrusted Buttercup stretching in unending lines, the wonderful Cow Parsley standing proudly overall, and the magical Hawthorn in it's explosion of pristine beauty compensating for it's retarded start. At other locations stunning displays of Rhododendron in full bloom added a further sense of opulence to the occasion. ....On arrival at Rathlin off the large ferry boat, it was straight on to the little bus that conveys the hosts of pilgrims, to the avian shrine at the west end of the Island that is run by the RSPB..... When we descended to the viewing platform at a lower level the sound from the thousands of sea birds that come here at this time to breed could be heard, but not seen, due to a great blanket of sea mist that completely obliterated the amazing gathering.... ..Now with just a short time spent here it was back up the many steps and paths to the higher level with it's warmth and sunshine, and of course the first tea break of the day ......Later at various points on the Island, Buzzards were recorded as were the only resident pair of Chuffs. Also added to our list were Wheatear, Stonechat, Reed Bunting, Hooded Crow, Peregrine Falcon, and those harbingers of death namely, the Ravens. .......On the calm mist free water on the southern side of the Island many rafts of Eider Duck floated on the silken surface while Guillemot and Razorbill appeared and disappeared on the deep water, and a brief sighting of a Dolphin was had by one of our group as it quickly sought cover in the depths. The Botanic highlight was to find that the rather rare Spring Squill in full flower was flourishing in it's Island habitat ........After our joyous day it was back on to the ferry to return to Ballcastle, and then home. Féile Grianán Áiligh's Dawn Chorus and Family Fun Day.the Summer Solstice 802 feet above sea level in Inishowen's An Grianán Áiligh.CelebrateExperience our Dawn Chorus with the wonderful Inishowen Gateway Choir on June 21, at the Fort. 3.45am for the 4.50am sunrise. This is a free event. The Annual General Meeting of the Inishowen Wildlife Club, will be held in Scoile Mhuire, Buncrana, on Thursday 20th. June at 7.30.pm . Everyone welcome. Sat. 15th. June 2013. No club outing today due to the incessant rainfall and flooding during last night and through the day. We have just received a confirmed report by local enthusist Seamus O Donnell, of a Jay in the woodland of Crocknakilladerry, Carndonagh. Thursday 20th. June 2013. A most satisfactory and well attended AGM was held in Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana, last night which saw the outgoing Chairman Dermot Mc Laughlin, Secretary Peter White, and Treasurer Christine Cassidy, all re-elected..... Amongst the various discussions on the night was the clubs activities of the past months as were the projected events for the remainder of the year starting with a visit to Inishtrahull Island next weekend the 29th, (weather permitting)......The meeting reached it's conclusion with a welcome extended to new members John and Terence Coyle, who are preparing to open a Digital Wildlife, History and Heritage centre for Lough Swilly and it's Hinterland, at the Old Fort, Neds Point, Buncrana.
The tree lined walkway at Redford, and Anne at Kinnagoe Bay checking a species to see if it's Horsetail (Equistum Temmateia) or Mare's-tail (Hippuris Vulgaris).
Sat. 22nd. June 2013. Our first stop this morning in quite reasonable weather was at the iconic Dunmore Head, Culdaff, where we watched mesmerized at the ghostlike aerobatic flight of Fulmars as they floated to and fro close to their partners ensconced in nests on the rocky headland, and to make sure that the many Jackdaws, and Ravens didn't interfere with this family bliss. Close to our viewing position, Northern Marsh Orchid vied for attention with drifts of Tormentil, a great clump of Geranium, and Self heal ..... After spending some time here admiring the beauty and tranquility of the morning it was on to our favourite habitat at Redford, With the guidance of our flora expert Anne Toland, a very relaxed and informative meander was had where she imparted her knowledge to her enthusiastic audience. ......Some of the plants seen on this short walk, through the tree-lined road included Herb Robert, Herb Agrimony, Herb Bennet/Wood Avens, Lady's Mantle, Lady's Smock, Bugle, Pignut, Yellow Iris/Yellow Flag, Sweet Woodruff, Meadowsweet, Foxglove, Stitchwort, Bird's foot Trefoil, Heath Bedstraw, Germander Speedwell, Silverweed, to name just a few....... After a tea break at the Tremone Bay car park, it was on to the beautiful Kinnagoe Bay where an Otter was observed as it plundered the deep waters near the shore line, while to our right Guillemot and Razorbill searched for sustenance, and in the distance lines of Gannets stretched in a westerly direction. .....Now with the ominous signs of an approaching shower, it was home time after a most enjoyable outing that was not spoiled by the occasional shower that sought us out now and again.
Members of our clubs outing on arrival at Glenveagh, National Park, and some of the party involved in the Flora survey at the northern end of the Lake where the Lesser Butterfly Orchid grows. Sat. 29th. June 2013. Our intended visit to the mystical Island of Inishtrahull off our northern coast had to be called off due to another forecast of rain and strong winds for the weekend. So undaunted, we set our sights on a visit to that oasis of Flora and Fauna, namely the Glenveah National Park, where on arrival in mild but breezy conditions that had a gentle mist scurrying across the enchanting landscape, that allowed soft shafts of warming sunshine to illuminate this stunning place of history and myth ....Shortly after arriving, some of our group decided to go directly to the stately Castle area, to enjoy the kaleidoscope of dazzling colours in the exquisitely maintained walled garden, with it amazing variety of flowers and shrubs. Next it was to the great lawn with it's exotic plants and shrubs, that would have one thinking that perhaps they were in some tropical location......The other members of our outing decided to do a survey of the many species of wildflowers and plant life to be found in the area at the northern end of the lake. Our valued member Anne, ably assisted by Will Buis, our visitor from Holland diligently recorded the treasure trove of Flora to be found here, and compiled a list in excess of fifty species. Also recorded in this area in good numbers was the rather rare day-flying Moth "The Chimney Sweeper".....With the afternoon upon us a visit was made to the gardens, and to join our colleges at the Castle. In this amazing environment of colour and tranquility a relaxing time was spent sitting enjoying the by now blazing sun.
Sat. 6th. July 2013. Our travels today took us to a haven of peace, beauty, and an amazing collection of wonderful Wild Flowers, Butterflies, wild Bees and day flying Moths. So it was with great anticipation that we approached our destination that was the wonderful Ards Forest and National Park, situated snugly on the shore of Sheephaven Bay, and just a few miles from the lovely town of Creeslough....... Now after our long drive from Inishowen, a quick cup of tea was consumed, before setting off in the direction of the place of sylvan greatness, and then to a well constructed boardwalk that sneaked its way through an area where the prominent colour was of Purple with variations through to the pale pink of the hosts of Pyramidal, Marsh, Common Spotted and the less beautiful Twayblade Orchid, all of which were interspersed with the myriads of Grasses, and other plants where again today Anne recorded a number well in excess of sixty, a list too numerous to mention here....... Also in this special location quite a few of the elusive Small Blue Butterflies were recorded, together with the very rare Marsh Fritillary, Large White, Ringlet, Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Common Blue, Small Heath, and Meadow Brown. Gradually our walk took us to higher ground and into the forest , where the main walkway was through an arboreal cathedral of silent giants that allowed the occasional shafts of sunlight to further enhance the plant-laden verges......Back at the cars it was time for an another intake of that wonderful nectar in the form of a cup of tea, to sustain us on our journey back to Inishowen
Sat. 13th. July. 2013. A voyage into the past was begun when we set sail on the motor cruiser the "Vagabond" under the experienced seamanship of the Lafferty Brothers, Charlie and Hugh, to the forsaken Island of Inishtrahull off our most northerly coast. ......On arrival at this place of peace and tranquility we were watched with great curiosity by large numbers of Seals, bobbing up and down in the sea as we disembarked at the little pier ..... Before setting off to our first objective, the old disused Lighthouse on the eastern side of the island, Jim Toland gave a brief but informative talk on the island's history and it's inhabitants, this was further augmented by his showing of old photographs of how the place looked over a hundred years past. Jim's wife Anne, has a direct connection here as her grandfather was employed as the Lloyd's agent, receiving messages from their passing ships, and then transferring them by semaphore to the mainland, from where they would be sent to London by wire. .......As we ascended the rather steep path to the old Lighthouse we had our first view of those giants of the ocean, the Basking Sharks, one to the north and then one to the south side of the Island. Also in this area a sizeable colony of Arctic Tern skimmed gracefully hither and thither. Out on the calm surface of the ocean Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag, Eider Duck, Puffin, Black-back, and Herring Gull were recorded as were the long lines of distant Gannets, closer to shore Fulmar performed with their elegant grace, while female Eider with their young families cruise in the security of rocky inlets......As we collected our list of the wildflowers, we also found a number of large regurgitated pellets from perhaps a Snowy Owl, or Golden Eagle. .......On our way to the new Lighthouse on the western end of the island, where the only sounds are the lonely call of seabirds and on this occasion the gentle lapping waves of the great Atlantic onto the rocky defences and small sandy beaches.Then in the stillness of the hour on passing the crumbling remains of houses where family's once lived long years past, and eked out a difficult existence fishing, and a little farming on the small uncompromising soil, you could almost hear their voices echoing down through the centuries engaged in conversation emanating from within, or children's laughter ringing out, to be then switched to the sound of tears being shed for perhaps someone consumed by the cruel sea. .....Now with the fast ebbing tide that would expose the dangerous rocks at the little pier, it was time to get on board our boat for Bunagee. Then thanks to our skipper who had a surprise for us all when he took us to a part of the coastline where we had a close up encounter with at least six Basking Sharks. what a way to conclude our trip. Sat. 20th. July 2013. A rather numerically depleted club outing, due to holidays, and other pressing commitments, but those stalwarts prepared to brave the sweltering heat of a sizzling sun that had temperatures in the very high twenties congregate at Lagg, in the Malin area. Here it was decided to split our numbers still further, with one group heading to Malin Head, while the other party, like members of a French Foreign Legion patrol, well protected from the rays of the burning sun penetrated deep into the Sand Dune System in search of the elusive Butterflies that had been reported missing until recently, but not today. How lovely to see these beautiful wonders of creation flutter with gay abandon everywhere in the system, with large numbers of the Dark Green Fritillary holding pride of place followed by Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Common Blue, with the addition of a small number of Green-veined White. Later at a place with a large clump of Stinging Nettles, from which a spontaneous flurry of Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies fluttered with great intensity in all directions........ Then as this search party struggled through the scorching crucible to find relief in the breeze circulating at the beach at the foot of the Knockamany Bens, we were entertained by the very recognisable call of the Chough cavorting high in the blue sky, while on the rocky face of the Bens a flock of wild Goats moved with complete disregard for their precarious position ....A short time later near the beach we encountered what is often referred as the disappearing Butterfly, its proper name is the Grayling, but due to the fact that once it lands it closes its colourful wings that then make it most difficult to see. The report from the garrison on duty in the Malin Head area had a similar response with exceptional numbers also recorded.
Anne, and Peter with our young guide Kyle. Dark Green Fritillary. Kyle, Anne, Jim and Paddy, enjoying our day in the Isle . Sat. 27th. July 2013. Mother Nature cast her spell of benevolence on our trip to the Isle of Doagh, where our first stop was at Craigawannia, a place renowned for its Butterfly habitat, and on this occasion it more than lived up to expectations with what could be described as a blizzard of beauty with Small Tortoiseshell, Dark Green Fritillary, Meadow Brown, in their hundreds, performing their ballet of complicated and delicate routines over the great tapestry of Thistle, Ragwort, Birds foot Trefoil, Wild Thyme, Marram Grass, etc, followed by Common Blue, then lesser numbers of Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Ringlet, and a small number of Small Copper. ......Later at an old sand excavation site where we all just sat in the very pleasant warm sunshine and enjoyed the continuous comings and goings of that elusive Butterfly the Grayling.......... Now it was time for us to start nectaring on our lunch boxes, after which we set off to see if we could find the treasures of pre Celtic etchings found recently on large flat rocks on the eastern end of the Isle. We were having difficulty in locating these stones until we asked a little boy out on his bicycle if he knew their location. Not only did he supply the information required but insisted in turning around his cycle and leading us to our objective. Our young guide and historian was local lad Kyle Mc Bride. How pleasant it was to meet a young gentleman, who was most helpful and informative. .....So concluded our very enjoyable visit to the beautiful Isle of Doagh.
The beautiful walks and Waterfall at Glenevin, Straid, Clonmany, with boys cooling off. Sat 3rd. Aug. 2013. With rather unpredictable weather prospects on the cards for today, it was decided that perhaps a visit to the old Army Fort at Dunree might be a good option, a place that has among it's many attractions a museum containing a great collection of militaria, that include many small items, like a small calibre round of ammunition up to the huge guns, that would have had the capability to fire their great shells many miles across the Bay. After a morning absorbing the atmosphere and the information gleaned from this experience it was out into the by now brisk breeze and welcomed sunshine, that had the few remaining Fulmar floating easily along the high cliff face of this great rocky bastion, and where further out Gannet glided gracefully before diving lance like into the Ocean....Next we set off on the many pathways that thread their way through great carpets of Purple Heather, where wild flowers struggled for a position of prominence, but that was held by the rather rare Golden Rod, as it glistened from it's purple and green background....... Now with midday past, and the significance of this hour well known to our members! our next move took us to Hillside a place of old world charm, where Buzzard and Kestrel squabbled over a territory of ancient Oak and Birch Trees that offered shelter and shade to the many remaining old wall steads of a once thriving community long since gone, and where many Large White and Small White Butterflies fluttered endlessly in this warm sheltered environment. .... Soon after we reached the top of the lofty Mamore Gap. From it's alpine type roadway, with it' shrines, hairpin bends and lake, where once Red Throated Divers used to frequent, far below a stunning view the Urris Parish and Dunaff Hill extends north to the Atlantic shore. ...While in the area a visit was made to the ruined Lenan Fort, a sister fort Of Dunree. It was at this disheveled structure that we had the surprise of the day when at the moat hewn from solid rock that surrounds the land defences of this once great fortress a Long Eared Owl was observed for a considerable time before flying off in a southerly direction. Later within the precincts, what appeared to be an endless murmeration of Starling perhaps disturbed by the presence of a couple of Sparrowhawks drifted low over an area being used for grazing sheep. .......Our final activity of a very pleasant and informative outing was a relaxing stroll up to the thundering waterfall in the beautiful Glenevin Valley near the town of Clonmany. Sat. 10th. Aug. 2013. The rust tainted edges of a retreating summer was evident in places when on our visit to the Malin region, with our first stop at Malin Town Bridge, where along the tide line clumps of Sea Aster nodded their pale blue flower heads from where they flourished on the raised mounds of clay and sand, that can be subjected to submersion on a high tide. Further along the recently surfaced walkway from the bird hide, a great bed of Creeping Thistle was hosting large numbers of Small Tortoiseshell, and a few Small Copper Butterflies, while in a rush infested field on the other side of the path a storm of Green-veined White Butterflies fluttered silently.... Last week near here, there was an unconfirmed report of a Clouded Yellow. .....Before moving on from Malin Town the surprise of the day was to see the Little Egret back in it's usual haunts after being missing for a few month as happened last year........At the Lagg Sand Dunes System there was great activity with Dark Green Fritillary, Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Small Copper and considerable numbers of Grayling, no doubt preparing for the creation of new life by laying their eggs under a suitable leaf that in time will magically be transformed into a caterpillar, and then to a chrysalis from which will emerge next summer a masterpiece of beauty in the form of a Butterfly. .......The approaching season of autumn has already called home to mother earth most of the great blankets of colourful Orchids and Violets that were on display here, with Lady's Bedstraw, Wild Thyme and Foxglove, in close pursuit. .......A drive through Balleelaghan. and the stunning vista of Trawbreaga Bay and beyond from Killin, with the road sides bedecked with amazing displays of Wild Angelica, the fluffy scented flower heads of Meadow Sweet, splashed with the reds of Common Knapweed, Rosebay Willowherb, Purple Loosestrife and Red Campion, this in itself was reward enough for our outing. ..........Later at the edge of the recently resurfaced car park at the magnificent Knockamany Bens, Bog Asphodel was loosing it's struggle with mother nature to remain in flower. Our first sighting of a Raptor was a Male Buzzard, and later a Sparrowhawk, as we set off from here to Malin Head on the final leg of our journey.
Jim, Cornelia, Will, and Paddy.
Beautiful Riverside walk.
The dappled shade
Our lunchtime guest
Sat. 17th. Aug. 2013. A most memorable day was experienced when we set off up the shaded tree lined path at the glorious Roe Valley Park, Limavady, Co Derry, with temperatures in the twenties and strong sunshine casting intricate latticed patterns of shadows on the well maintained walkways. This all despite the predicted forecast of heavy rainfall and gales. Here in this environment Autumn was not showing it's hand to any great extent. A short time into our dander we had our first sight of one of the number of Buzzards seen here today, when it came towards us from a wooded area some distance away and did a fly past, as if to say welcome. ......A little further on a Treecreeper displayed it's climbing skills as it continued on it's was to the top of a very large Ash Tree, it's movements scrutinised by a curious Great Tit. A little earlier a beautiful male Bullfinch was observed partaking of a second breakfast, this was followed by an excellent view of our smallest bird, the Goldcrest, while high up in a cloudless blue sky large numbers of House Martins flew speedily in pursuit of what may have been flies caught in the rising thermals. ......Strewn along the paths, clumps of Yellow Loosestrife glistened in the mid morning sunlight, as were the displays of the honey scented Meadowsweet, and swathes of Woundwort, with the Creeping Thistle on the wane being now replaced by Knapweed to the satisfaction of the Butterflies, that had Large White and Speckled Wood vying for prominence with Green-veined White and Peacock well down the list. ..... In a riverside meadow, carpeted with the glow of Redshank interspersed with the occasional pale blue flower of the Flax plant, an appropriate find in an area that was heavily involved in the growing of Flax, and the Linen Industry, of which many old ruined buildings can still be seen in the locality..... In the wide fast flowing river where skilled fly fishermen cast their lines with great expertise, and where families of Grey Wagtail fluttered high to collect their lunch of flies as they hovered over the river, Dippers searched beneath the turbulent waters to seek their sustenance..... After our well earned lunch break where we had the company of a very cheeky young Robin. a most enjoyable visit to this Wooded Wonderland concluded with a look at all the old tools and other items of another century to be seen in the on-site museum.
Our keen eyed member Karl King has reported seeing an albino Swallow in the Buncrana Town area recently.
Sat. 24th. Aug. 2013. Our wanderings today took us along the beautiful north coast in an easterly direction with a short stop near the great rocky monolith of Dunmore Head, Culdaff. Here a little time was spent checking the bird life on the placid waters of Culdaff Bay, and the lush vegetation in the immediate foreground and roadsides, after which we set off to walk through a paradise of natural beauty and serenity that leads to the rocky shore at Redford, during this pleasant ramble some of the flora recorded included Tutson, with it's display of glowing red berries, the neat little umbels of Yarrow, the spikes of Hedge Woundwort, Rosebay Willowherb, Purple Loosestrife, the wispy glow of Montbretia, then the cool blue of Devils Bit Scabious, the greens and yellows of Knotgrass, Sow-thistle, both prickly and smooth, all soothed by the soft, sweet scented Meadowsweet, and the magnificently structured Wild Angelica. .....Over most of these, Spotted Wood, Large White, Small White, Tortoiseshell, Green-veined White, and Peacock Butterflies fluttered hurriedly....... Next it was on to the tea break that was had overlooking the magnificent vista of the glorious Kinnagoe Bay where the great spanish warship La Trinidad Valecera foundered on the rocky shore in a very severe storm in the year 1558..... Now it was on through the Fuchia lined old hill road that runs between Barnes Hill and Crockmore to Inishowen Head. On our arrival at our destination we had the pleasure of watching a large flock of Glistening Goldfinch, as they flew to and from great blocks of Creeping Thistle that had clouds of Tortoiseshell rising and falling and with many Peacock Butterflies in their midst...... Then to our rear, over farm land and houses an exceptional number of Buzzard estimated at eight or nine were seen circling in no particular direction. With all the excitement that this generated it was deemed necessary to have another tea break that was duly consumed at the roadside picnic table at Cnoc na Leachta.... On our homeward journey, and to end a great outing to the eastern boundaries of our peninsula we were again privileged to be able to report the sighting of two Peregrine Falcons, as they waited to snatch any unsuspecting prey that might make it's self's available.
One of the many Peacock Butterflies at Ardagh today. Some club members checking the flora The Speckled Wood Butterfly enjoying the sunshine Sat. 31st. Aug. 2013. The sound of thundering surf filling the air as it crashed relentlessly on to the deserted golden sands of Pollan Beach to send it's fragmented spindrift, assisted by the strong offshore breeze in our direction as we trawled the walkway adjacent to the Ballyliffin Golf Club for any Flora or Fauna to be found there, a special visit was paid to a site that in the past was known for it's habitat that had the rare Marsh Fritillary Butterfly present, but no evidence was found there today....Now it was to the western side of the Bay where Herring Gulls, and Oystercatchers stood statue-like on the wet sand that gave them a perfect reflected mirror image, as Ringed Plover scurried mouse-like between rocks while overhead a noisy flock of Choughs enjoyed the bracing breeze.... In this area we found a perfect sheltered heaven of peace where an abundance of Peacock, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White and Small Copper Butterflies fluttered over a cornucopia of plant life that had Purple Loosestrife, Sea Plantain, Woundwort, Hemp Agrimony, Water Mint, Meadowsweet, Devils-bit Scabious, Harebell, Knapweed and Wild Carrot among others..... After the usual midday break it was up to the Ardagh area, where we were overwhelmed by a beautiful and sheltered sunny environment that had us enthralled by the parading of continuous troops of Butterflies, with pristinely turned out Peacock leading the fly-bys, closely followed by equally resplendent Speckled Wood, Large White, Small White, Small Cooper, Common Blue, and for a change just a few Small Tortoiseshell. .....This is an area with a reasonable amount of Devils-bit Scabious and will be a place to check more thoroughly next season.
Monday 2nd. Sept.2013. Just back from safari on the holiday island of Arranmore off the west coast of Donegal, is where clubman Brian Hegarty, a keen birdwatcher, and photographer spent the last week studying and collecting photographic records of a regular annual visitor, and locally considered something of a celebrity, namely the Snowy Owl.... Above are a few of Brians pictures. Wednesday 4th. Sept. 2013. Two Little Egrets reported on Trawbreaga Bay near Malin Town, at 2.30.pm. Sat. 7th. Sept.2013. No club outing today due to monsoon type weather conditions prevailing. Sat. 14th. Sept. 2013. The Clubs winter count for the 2013-2014 Season of the birds of Lough Swilly, on behalf of Bird Watch Ireland, commenced today in wonderful summer-like conditions, with good visibility, warming sunlight, and just a gentle zephyr wafting from across the Lough. This pleasure was greatly enhanced by the sight of an Arctic Skua at very close range near Buncrana Pier, as it attacked a number of Sandwich Terns, that managed to escape what was considered to be certain death. ....Our quest for more sea birds took us to the Lisfannon area, and to the Marina at Fahan, and then bit by bit to an elevated area near the Causeway Road to Inch Island, from this vantage point that gave a panoramic view of a great expanse of soft mud with it's larder of plenty being pillaged by large numbers of waders that were in turn being pushed ever closer to the Causeway wall by the rushing incoming tide. A little later while crossing the Causeway, on the Inch Lake a perfect photo opportunity was offered to Brian by a pair of Black Swans with their family of little cygnets as they floated on the silvery lake surface. .....after a tea break at club man Boyd Bryce's farm, more birds were recorded as were the numbers of Speckled Wood, Large White, Green-veined White and Peacock Butterflies and the most amazing Peppered Moth Caterpillar designed to look like a twig found by our font of Lepidopteran knowledge, George Mc Dermott..... As the day was most pleasant and our task completed to a satisfactory level, a visit was made to the adjacent Inch Lake where the bird numbers are building with the approach of winter and to see the many improvements that are being undertaking there. Sat. 21st. Sept. 2013. In that place inhabited by great sky-reaching arboreal giants, namely Lisnagrath Wood, near the village of Muff, where the golden touch of Autumn's hand has turned many parts of this paradise to a kaleidoscope of seasonal colours with vayring tones of yellow, orange and brown, that today had a myriad of rust encrusted leaves float ghost-like to the russet forest floor adding to the silent tread of nature lover's feet as they enjoy the solemn stillness to be found here. The presence of the many colourful Jays, usually raucous in their musical renditions remained silent as they flew from tree to tree, as if in appreciaton of the tranquility of the occasion. Following our relaxing experience here some light refreshments were had, after which an enjoyable time was spent meandering along a hushed roadway at Kilderry, where Mistle Thrush, Woodpigeon, Redpoll, Siskin, Long-tail and Great Tit, Chaffinch, and Goldfinch flitted from one group of trees to another, here also a numbers of Speckled Wood Butterflies were nectaring on the remainder of Summers bounty. ....Our next stop was at a suitable viewing site on the Cloney Road, Culmore, where large numbers of Waders were recorded, with Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Godwit, Grey Heron, Mallard and Wigeon, very much to the fore, and as we were about to leave a skein of Brent Geese arrived and settled on the shore line some distance away, also recorded from this spot were many Starling, Redpol, and Siskin. Our day ended with a short stop at Culmore Point, where a family of Mute Swans with four Cygnets was observed as they swam contently on the calm waters of the lough.
Photo of Black Swan family at Inch Lake (all photos by brian) Sparrowhawk at Blanket Nook today The rather shy Curlew Sandpiper. One of the many Red Admirals seen today Sat. 28th. Sept 2013. It was a sun-soaked morning at the placid lake waters of Blanket Nook that a marvelous nature watching exercise was enjoyed, with temperatures in the twenties augmented by a flat calm and the wonderful tranquility that this engendered, especially as we stood enthralled by a family of Otters as they played and splashed quite close to where we were standing. This aquatic activity continued for a considerable time. On the shore an unusually large flock of Greenshank in excess of twelve and a lesser number of Redshank were enjoying the warm rays of sunshine, and to our delight a Curlew Sandpiper was spotted on a little islet close by. To the south eastern end of the lake large numbers of Greylag Geese rested with the companionship of Mallard, Wigeon, Teal and Curlew. Occasionally a sparkling of Lapwing would appear overhead from some unknown destination to settle on the shoreline or on the grassy banks near the waters edge. Not all the action was on the water, as flocks of Goldfinch and Linnet flew from the trees near the car park. Then for a period, a sense of panic swept over all of the birds, on and off the water by the appearance of a large female Sparrowhawk that pursued different targets without success. Later a check was made to establish if the stunningly coloured little Kingfisher was at it's usual residential area, and while doing so a large Hare was aroused from it's slumbers and raced away with great urgency. Also today in the general area we had the pleasure of admiring a welcomed eruption of Red Admiral Butterflies and the less obvious Speckled Wood..... A visit was made to the Farland Bank and in conclusion to the Inch Lake where a check was made on the Black Swans and their family of two, reduced from the original four. The Raptor count for today was seven Buzzards and two Sparrowhawks. Sat. 5th. Oct. 2013. The Gods looked down on us with the gift of another Saturday morning that had the beautiful countryside wrapped in swaddling clothes of summer-like sunshine and warmth, as we stepped from our transport at the bush and heather clad townland of Effisfmore, not far from Carndonagh. with Crockroosky hill, and Slieve Snaght mountain to the south against a backdrop of a Cobalt Sky. From the bushes, wire fences, and posts in the foreground, throngs of little birds, mostly Hedge Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, and family's of Stonechat flitted from one perch to another. A little further on, and before entering the dappled shade of Carrowmore Glen, the first Raptor sighting for today was when three Buzzards drifted contemptuously along the ridge of Magherard Hill, pursued by a flock of disgruntled Jackdaws. ..... Now emerging onto the main Carndonagh - Moville road, a turnoff to the left at Baskil took us through an area of perfectly manicured roadside hedges, mostly comprised of Whin. Here more Buzzards were added to our list. ....After crossing the main Culdaff Road at Tirraboy that then took us to Cambry where an intake of tea and sandwich was enjoyed, after which we set off to Tirahork, an island of agriculture activity in a great sea of vegetation awash with the warm tones of Autumn, and where the highlight of the day began when a male Hen Harrier was sighted, and was watched with great excitement for almost forty five minuets, during which it did a fly past, hunted over heather and green pastures, and at times perched on fencing posts, and bushes, also present here was one of two Kestrels seen today. Now with the afternoon slowly drifting towards early evening a quick visit was made to the Mossy Glen, where more Buzzards were recorded making a total of eight, as was the unexpected sighting of a colourful Jay....... The numbers of Red Admiral and Peacock Butterflies seen today were greatly reduced from last Saturday. Sat. 12th. Oct. 2013. A cold air agitated by an easterly breeze that had suggestions of Siberia in it's clutches was our greeting today, when it was decided that we would check the bird life at places that were familiar to us on Lough Swilly. After our customary first stop at the Pier, Buncrana, where we were rewarded by a high count of birds and species. Now it was on to a little more sheltered but bird deserted beach at Lisfannon, where the only activity was the many people out for a morning stroll with their dogs, a pursuit that continued in the area of the Fahan Marina. ......Next to a position overlooking the Lough, north of the causeway road to the lovely Inch Island. It was from this vantage point that a very high numbers of waders, Geese, Duck, etc. were recorded as they were pushed closer to the causeway bank by the incoming tide. The list of birds and species increased as we checked the shore line of the Lough to the extremity of our patch. ...A pleasant if cool, but rain free day concluded with a visit to the new car park at Inch Lake and to the viewing platform on the other side of the Lake, followed by a trip to Blanket Nook, where as at the previous stops, a great cacophony emanated from the hundreds of Swans, Geese, Duck and all the other choir rejects, as they awaited in the diminishing light the approach of evening. Sunday 13th. Oct. 2013. The Brent Geese have made their welcomed return to Trawbreaga Bay during the past week to bolster the numbers of birds that arrive from Arctic regions to spend the winter in our more temperate conditions, amongst them are the Widgeon Duck that have preceded the Brent by a few weeks. Sat. 19th. Oct. 2013. At Malin Town Bridge in temperatures that belied the fact that we are on the lap of winter and not in mid summer. With coats discarded, we enjoy the wonderful local and distant landscape of Clonmany with it high blue mountains reflected on the great canvas of the still waters in Trawbreaga Bay that produced a masterpiece of beauty, disrupted occasionally by the activity of Mallard, Widgeon, Curlew, Red-breasted Merganser, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, and various gulls, while a short distance away Grey Heron, and Little Egret. plundered the shallower water near the Parochial Hall for their morning tit-bits..... Now it was on to the Culdaff Estuary in similar conditions, where large numbers of Curlew, mostly in the adjacent pastures, foraged enthusiastically. On the grassy area further down the slow moving river, good numbers of the recently arrived Widgeon grazed peacefully, while to our left a pair of Water Rail scampered into the tall reed bed, but returned briefly for an encore. Close by a small flock of Redshank scurried hurriedly while a lone Greenshank looked on....Now it was full speed to the Drumnagassan area as a straight faced member said that he had organised an interview for eleven thirty a.m. with a very special guest, namely a male Hen Harrier, when on arrival we sat with scopes and bins at the ready, but the time ticked by without the celebrity appearing, so it was suggested that we should move on, and as we were getting into the cars, there it was as promised. .......What a wonderful half hour was spent in his company as the great and beautiful bird entertained it's audience by a perfectly choreographed display of flying and hunting skills. In the same area, and not to be outdone a pair of Kestrels put on a lovely exhibition of aerial antics ..... The next stop was at a little road to Balloor in the Long Glen region, a place that should be a perfect habitat for Butterflies when the season comes around again. Later a short visit was made to Inishowen Head where a Buzzard was recorded as were a number of Gannet far out at sea. Coming back down from the Head to the little Beach at Strove, eight Common Seals were observed as they frolicked on a small rock and in the water, while on another rocky outcrop twenty Shags rested perhaps exhausted after a hard days fishing. Finally to finish off our great day and with the prospects of some rain approaching, a short stop at Cornashamma Bay revealed a treasure trove of little birds comprised of Goldfinch, Linnet, Greenfinch, Wheatear, Meadow pipit, Stonechat, Pied Wagtail, Reed Bunting, Redshank, and Black-backed Gull. Sunday 20th. 2013. The number of Little Egrets has increased on Trawbreaga Bay with the sighting of three birds in the Malin Town area this afternoon. It has also been reported that Barnacle Geese had arrived in Malin Head during the last Week. Wednesday 23rd. Oct.2013. A large flock (aprox. four hundred) Barnacle Geese sited close to the Lagg Road near Malin Town. While near Mc Sheffrey's Bridge, a party of twelve Whooper Swans had just put down to rest after their long journey, to spend the winter perhaps at Inch or travel further south.
Sat. 26th. Oct. 2013. We were requested to do a rerun of the Bird Count on the Swilly, as the count carried out three weeks ago on Saturday the 12th. was deemed invalid, due to some confusion by Bird Watch Ireland. So in what was forcast to be a very cold, wet and windy day we started as usual at Buncrana and continued to our conclusion point on Inch Island, enduring the piercingly cold wind, but escaping the predicted rain untill we were reaching the completion of our project. A high count of birds and species was achived as on the previous visit, but on this ocassion the tide was rather high and stayed as such for most of the count. One of our members has reported seeing a Snow Goose in the Inch Lake area today.
Autumn this morning at Lisnagrath Wood . Sat. 2nd. Nov. 2013. Our focus today was on a visit to some of the Barn Owl nesting boxes installed last year at various locations on the peninsula, and to add more Red Squirrel feeders at appropriate sites. So in what might be described as a rather bleak damp sunless morning soon changed when on arrival at our assembly point, The Wonderland of Lisnagrath Wood, where on display was a tapestry of breath taking beauty created by the extravagant Autumnal palett of Nature at its brilliant best. Some time was spent absorbing the magintude of this miracle before setting off on inspection duty...... As yet there have been none of the hoped for feather clad tennants occupying any of these luxury appartments, but perhaps there will be more positive results in the next breeding season....... Brian our master craftsman who constructed all of these Boxes and Squirrel feeders, when we all went home after a cup of warm tea at Blanket Nook in the late afternoon he stayed for a while, and was rewarded by a stunning display at close range, by a Sparrowhawk and a Kingfisher, that managed to avoid the attempts by the Raptor to have it for an evening meal....In conclusion we would like to say thanks to all the landowners that not only allow, but welcome us on to their property to install the boxes and feeders and to check them from time to time.
Sat. 9th. Nov 2013. The First blanket of light snow covered the crest of Slieve Sneact as we made our first stop today at Glasha, where we were rewarded with an array of birds enjoying the Autumn sunshine that glistened on the calm waters of Trawbrega Bay. These included: Curlew, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Redbreasted Merganser, Goldeneye, Brent Geese, Barnacle Geese, Mallard and Grey Heron. Passerines included: Dunnock, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit and Woodpigeon. Our next destination was Lagg where those beautiful Winter visitors namely Widgeon, foraged near the tide line accompanied by Brent Geese, Curlew and Oystercatcher. Here too we saw those gems of the Corvid world, the Chough as they displayed their acrobatic flying prowess.... Malin Head was our next port of call, and here we encountered a large flock of Barnacle Geese which had assembeled to spend the Winter months grazing the fields adjacent to Bambas Crown. Further along the coast Eider Duck appeared, and disappeared on the whitehorses of the Atlantic, like mini yachts..... Raptors seen today included Peregrine (male) and two Sparrowhawks........ We are very grateful to Martin Moloney for this contribution in the absence of our regular scribe .....Later Martin sent in a report of how he and son Daniel, also a keen wildlife enthusiast went to Malin Head early this the Morning to see if they could locate the satellite tagged female Hen Harrier named Miranda who has been on her travels from Scotland to Ireland via the Isle of Man, then to Co. Longford, on to Co. Cavan followed by a stay in Glenveagh National Park, now spending some time at Malin Head. They were delighted to report to Barry O'Donoghue (Hen Harrier Expert) in Co. Kerry, a positive sighting as he had sent Martin a grid reference of her approximate location.
Monday 11th. November 2013. We have been informed by Carndonagh man Lexie Carey, that a Grey Squirrel was reported to him by a reliable source . The sighting was recently, and in the Glassalts area. The Luxury of Autumn. Sat. 16th. November 2013. In what must be the most beautiful and extended Autumn in living memory, with many trees still flaunting their wonderful foliage of lemon, yellow, through to gold, orange and rust, factors that acts as great boosts to see us through the encroaching dreary darkness of Winter ..... Our first stop of the morning was a short sojourn at Inch Lake, where on the water great flocks of Duck, comprised of many species, with a predominance of Mallard cruising close to the shelter of the many reed and rush beds, but also a continuous arrival and departure of flocks of Waders, Swans and Geese. In an adjacent field large flocks of Whooper Swans were watched from the security of our cars as we checked for birds that might have had tags attached, but none were found. .....Next it was up the road known as the Green Lane and past that iconic monument the Grianan an Aileach, and from here a breathtaking vista, fleetingly enjoyed, that had Inch Island sparkle in the sunlight, while Lough Swilly separated the Inishowen and the Fanad Peninsulas both bathed in a soothing light as it extended to infinity in the distant Atlantic Ocean. On arrival at the western lip of the fertile valley of Bogay, where the many stately trees glowed in an extravagance of colour and where a Sparrowhawk was watched as it pursued a pigeon with success due to it's aerial dexterity of manoeuvrability. ......Later on reaching the valley floor of this haven, a walk was had through the leaf encrusted roadway where an abundance of that hardy flower Herb Robert, that had it's wonderful little flowers radiating it's presence from a sheltered abode in a snug hedge setting. During our lunch break the shrieks from a number of Jays echoed through the stillness, while in the graying sky a pair of Sparrowhawks performed a ritual usually associated with Spring rather than Autumn, and in the distance Buzzards hovered despite the attention of a few interfering crows. ........There is the old maxim that states "Time flies when you are having fun"suggested that with the light starting to fade a quick dash should be made to the last stop of our outing namely the Blanket Nook, and while in transit to our objective, large flocks of small birds were seen flitting from hedges to stubbled pastures, these were mostly Chaffinch with Tree Sparrow, Green finch and Linnet interspersed amongst them. At the Nook Great Crested Grebe floated and dived, and at least sixty Godwit (Bar tailed), Forty plus Goldeneye Duck, and twenty five Greenshank lined up on the far shore, while on a sand bar very large flock of Lapwing readied for takeoff. As we were about leave a Little Egret appeared quiet close by.... In adjoining fields Greylag grazed undisturbed by the numbers of Fieldfare and Redwing that feasted on the plentiful supply of berries and overhead a large flight of Golden plover in excess of one hundred disappeared into the encroaching light mist now making it's appearance. ...Recorded today were four Buzzard, three Kestrels, and three Sparrowhawk. Sat. 23rd. Nov.2013. A most beautiful autumn day with great shafts of dazzling sunlight swiveling hither and thither to highlight our magnificent countryside, with occasional scarves of mist wafting through the valleys and some mountain tops, to then quickly dissipate as the morning warmed up. This was the setting for the months winter count of the great population of birds and species that were found on the mirrored surface and shore lines of the stunningly beautiful Lough Swilly. After completing our task of the designated patch to a high degree of satisfaction, then as is usual on these occasions and to end our outing, a short visit was made to see the avian activity on the Inch Lake, where immense numbers of Swans, Geese, Duck, and many Waders, busied themselves in preparation for the oncoming night, while in the air large squadrons of Lapwing and Golden Plover flew in intriguing formations. Finally our Raptor count for today was two Buzzards and a Peregrine Falcon Sat. 30th. Nov. 2013. With the vision of Christmas appearing on the horizon, generating the prospect of an indulgence in a feast of shopping with its detrimental side effects, our outing to the wild and wonderful, was put on hold today, with the prospects for next saturdays outing flashing as a beacon of hope.
Greylag Geese with neck bands and leg rings at the Inch Lake area today, as photographed by Brian Hegarty. Sat. 7th. Dec 2013. Setting off on a bright sunlit morning bestowed on us from a cloudless sky, with not even the suggestion of a breeze to disrupt our expectations of perhaps some exotic or unusual species of birdlife that might have been blown off course by the weather experienced earlier in the week and maybe now sheltering on, or near Inch Lake, our destination for the outing. But alas it was not to be, actually the number of birds on the Lake was below expectations, due perhaps to the very low water level. Things improved when in adjoining fields large numbers of Whooper Swans in the hundreds were noted as were the great flocks of Greylag Geese, some flaunting their bright red neck bands, and leg rings. .....Amongst the Waders recorded on our travels were high numbers of Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Tufted, and lesser numbers of Goldeneye Duck, then Lapwing, Redshank, Greenshank, Curlew, Great-crested Grebe, and that sparkle of stunning colours, the Kingfisher. At Blanket Nook the weather developed into a rather dark, dank, wet afternoon that extended into eventide, reducing the hours of light considerably which in turn had us heading for the benefits of home comforts. Sat. 14th. December 2013. Our winter bird count on the usual patch of Lough Swilly for the month of December was undertaken by a few stalwarts in rather extreme weather conditions that had the grey waters of the normally placid Lake in great turmoil and crashing relentlessly with great clouds of spray swirling on to the more exposed areas of shore line, those beaches today were devoid of the usual numbers of walkers and their dogs that can cause considerable disturbance to the bird life in the vicinity. The weather gods did bestow a little good fortune in the early part of the count as we escaped with only light rain that later turned heavy, but by then the count was reaching it's conclusion which instilled a great, and deserved sense of satisfaction, as the large numbers of birds and species recorded exceeded our expectations. Sat. 21st. Dec. 2013. On this the shortest day of 2013, a year when we experienced one of the finest summers in living memory, followed by a wonderful and coloured autumn, but now being subjected during the last few weeks or so, to a very cold and stormy start to winter, that had our outing today to the Isle of Doagh, the shores of Trawbreaga Bay, and Malin Head in some doubt. Our main objective of this operation was to check on the numbers of Barnacle Geese in these areas, and despite the forecast of dome and gloom, a most enjoyable and relaxed day was had in bright sunny conditions, with the complete absence of rain, or gale force winds. Our project got off to a stunning start at the Isle of Doagh Road, Ballyliffin, where a massive flock of Barnacle were watched as their white head and underbody feathers sparkled in the morning sun while they grazed contentedly until they were disturbed by the proximity of golfers on the adjacent links, these birds were located a short time later near Straths. ....Next to Glasha, Carndonagh, another couple of flocks were added to our growing list. .....At Malin Town a check was made on the presence of a Little Egret, after which a halt was made for the tea break, consumed in the bird hide at the Bathing Box Lane, then it was on to the beach at the Five Fingers Strand to look at the damaged done by the ravages of the recent storms, next over the scenic Knockamany Bens to Malin Head, with no expectancy of seeing more Geese, but at Ballyhilion another large flock of Barnacle were encountered, which gave a count in excess of sixteen hundred. One strange aspect of today was that no Brent Geese were recorded. Perhaps they have gone away for Christmas. The Annual Christmas Outing is as usual on the day after Boxing Day which this year is next Friday 27th. Dec. The meeting point is the Causy Road to Inch Island, and the time is 10.am. Everyone welcome. Dont forget the warm clothing and hot beverage. Kittiwake found dead near Burnfoot, and Great Northern Divers at the Farland Bank . Friday 27th. Dec. 2013. This our clubs annual Christmas outing was undertaken with the specter of very severe weather casting its dark shadow over the event. But undaunted a somewhat reduced number of participants assembled at the Inch Causeway Road ...While waiting for others to arrive, we were entertained by by a magnificent display of piscatorial and swimming skills by a large Dog Otter, while a little earlier a Kingfisher was noticed. ......Moving on to the new car park near where Mc Graths old house used to be, overlooking Inch Lake today due to the exceptionally high water level resulted in obscuring the hundreds of hectors of land in it's domain, and was gently lapping close to the car park.....On our way to the Farland Bank large flocks of Greylag geese, and larger flocks of Curlew and Lapwing were noted as was a family of Barnacle Geese keeping a low profile in an obscure corner of the wet muddy field. On reaching the Bank, a perfect close up view of a pair Great Northern Divers were recorded as were the sizable flock of Little Grebe, numbering about eighteen, and seven Red-breasted Merganser followed by another Kingfisher that landed just a few feet from where Brian was concealed..... Later at Blanket Nook with a heavy rain shower threatening, a quick observation revealed another Otter, and many Curlew, Oystercatcher, Widgeon, Mallard, Tufted Duck and a few Greenshank, all very securely sheltering from the cold, wet, and storm. The last stop of the day was at an elevated position at Manorcunningham overlooking the Big Isle where flocks of White-fronted Geese were noted, now barely visible in the fast fadeing light ..... On returning to the mornings assembly point Brian saw a dead bird on the road, that on closer observation revealed it to be a Kittiwake that must have been blown inland and in it's confusion collided with the high chain link fencing surrounding the football pitch at the Watery Road... So concluded our day of grey, and at times glimpses of sunshine.