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. irishgreylags@gmail.com
2007 News
To view the Butterfly Ireland web site Click http://www.butterflyireland.com
Click on thumbnails for larger picture
Lisnagrath Wood.Paddy
Bluebells. Paddy.
Boardwalk at Inch Lake.Paddy.
Salmonberry Blossom. Paddy.
Grey Seal-Mark Daly
Part of a large flock of Barnacle geese. Paddy
The Pyramidal Orchid mongst grasses and bedstraw. Paddy
Teal Duck- Brian Hegerty
Sat. 4th. January 2014. In a rather grey, misty, cool winters morning our outing in search of the ornithological equivalent of the Holy Grail, was in the form of the rare Glossy Ibes, reliably reported in the Culdaff region recently, but with the poor light experienced this morning, no sightings unfortunately could be reported. Later a short visit was made to the river estuary that was in very full tide, and had large numbers of Duck mostly Widgen, Mallard, and Teal, while a Great Northern Diver plundering the deep water while it lasted. In the surrounding fields flocks of Curlew enjoyed the insects and worms brought to the surface by last nights heavy rain, but waders were in very short supply, but no doubt they will appear back on the river as the tide recedes. The next move was to Glengad Pier, with a short stop to enjoy the wonderful vista from the car park on top of Portaleen Bray, at the Pier a leisurely tea break was enjoyed in the now warm sunshine, as we watched a variety of seagulls searching in the turbulent tidal waters and disbanded seaweed, deposited on the rocks and pier by the recent storms...... In the ever improving weather a drive through the Malin Glen took us to Malin Head, where huge Atlantic swells continued their merciless assault on the defensive coastline that reacted by pulverizing the sea's mighty force, and to send the residual mist inland. In a more protected and sheltered area near Bamba's Crown, Hundreds of Barnacle Geese found peace and sustenance in the green pastures, while far out at sea, ghostlike lines of Gannets in their pristine plumage drifted to the west, and rafts of Eider Duck appeared and disappeared in the peaks and troughs of the mountainous swells. ...The road at the White Strand Bay was completely obliterated by thousands of tons of stones delivered there by the great tidal surge of this stormy period, the distrustive force was also evident as we made our way home, on the main road at Goorey near Malin town, where immense deposits of Seaweed covered parts of the road, fields and ditches... All in all a most interesting post Christmas outing was had.
 
Sat. 11th. Jan. 2014. It was with a great degree of caution, due to the very icy road conditions generated during last night and early this morning, that members arrived at Buncrana to commence the January bird count on the shores and the rather raw surface of Louh Swilly. During the first hour we were subjected to clear, dry, but very cold conditions, but as the morning progressed, the Sun made a welcomed appearance, that gave a preview of Spring, with it's warming rays dispelling the cold endured earlier, and giving us the perfect conditions for spotting the many birds and species that were duly recorded. Our midday tea break enjoyed in the lovely conditions assumed the mantle of a seaside picnic. As the afternoon progressed our very productive count concluded, which allowed time for our usual visit to the adjacent Inch Lake where amazing flocks of birds, especially Geese, Duck, Waders, and high in the air impressive flights of Golden Plover traced their paths against a background of blue.
Male Smew photographed by Brian at Inch Lake today.
 

Sat. 18th. Jan. 2014. In the silvery stillness of the morning, our stop at Malin Town Bridge revealed a full tide gently caressing the shores of the Bay, while the waters reflected the hazy silhouette of the distant Clonmany hills. Close at hand the peaceful surface was punctuated by the activity of Duck, mostly Mallard, Widgeon and Teal. To the north of the Bridge in the shallower edges, Redshank, Curlew, more Widgeon, Mallard, Teal and Oystercatcher waited for the tide to dissipate to facilitate procurement of their breakfasts. Not to be outdone the resident Little Egret made a very brief appearance before disappearing in the cover of the great reed bed.... Now it was off to Culdaff, where at the river estuary an unrushed period was enjoyed as the great numbers of Birds, similar to those at Malin, with the exception of the large flocks of Curlew and Ring Plover, that busied themselves by feeding on the mud laid bare by the now fast receding tide, Also on show was what looked like an albino Mallard and then an unidentified diving Duck that spent more time under the water than on top, Also spotted here was a Red-breasted Merganser..... With the clock indicating that most important function of the day was at hand, a dash was made to the parking place near Dunmore Head where our repast was consumed, and while doing so we were joined by Michael Mc Laughlin and his friend Helen. Michael works for the R.S.P.B. in Belfast, but is from our local Greencastle, and is familiar with the wildlife of the Peninsula. Our new friends joined us as we journeyed on to the Drumnaghassan region... With dark grey clouds starting to impair the visibility and light rain starting to fall a final stop was made at Tirahork where the second sighting of a Buzzard was recorded, then it was full speed ahead for home after a most pleasant day.

 
Sat. 25th. Jan. 2014. It has often been said that our weather has the ability to flick through the seasons in the course of a few hours, as was proven today when driving to the assembly point for the days outing at that sylvan extravagance of Lisnagrath Wood, close to the village of Muff. The rain that we set off in quickly developed into dark blankets of sleet and hailstones that slithered threateningly down the car windows, then at lower altitudes returned to rain and mist, and on approaching Muff the rain stopped to reveal a blue sky with the the Sun peaking from behind the occasional cloud. This pleasantness was further added to at our destination by a Red Squirrel that entertained it's willing audience with it's athleticism as it hung upside down to plunder a wire nut feeder with it's treasure of nuts, and all performed at about eight feet from our cars. After the rusty rodent had finished it's breakfast an exceptionally large number of small birds took up their position for the crumbs that may have fallen from the rich mans table now departed, perhaps to the comfort of it's drey, these birds were mostly Great Tit, with lesser numbers of Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, and Robin, A little later a Jay was seen shulking high in the trees, before disappearing from view. ... A quick drive to the Cloney Road, Culmore, revealed a very expansive development at what was the old dump site for the city of Derry and surrounding area. The development here could be advantageous to the wildlife and birdwatchers, with the shelter that it would offer and proximity to the Foyle. The occupants today were Wigeon, Mallard, Curlew, Shelduck and various Gulls. With the rain starting to fall again, little time was spent here. At Redcastle another short stop was made at the little pier below the local post office, but with a high tide and the wind and rain increasing the only birds to be seen were Oystercatcher, Curlew, and Herring Gull, and from the shelter of the shorelined trees a little Robin presented itself. A similar situation was the case at Moville's two Piers where we had a welcomed break after which we set off for Inishowen Head, here a large number of Thrushes were recorded, that contained Redwing, Fieldfare, and Song Thrush, as they foraged in the supersaturated fields caused by the overnight and today's rainfall. With the exception of the afore mentioned, there was a marked absence of birds on shore and none visible on the sea. Now with the rain, wind, an the piercing cold dictating that we should return home, we duly complied. But a day spent in pursuit of our favorite pastime is never a bad day.
 

Sat. 1st. Feb. 2014. No club outing today, due to a severe weather warning. But we have a report (below) from Martin Moloney on his visit last Saturday to the annual Irish Raptor Study Group held in Dublin, in the company of our friend Stephen Colton.

Stephen and I went to the conference last Saturday and found it very interesting. All of the talks bar one by Dr. John Calladine from Scotland were by Irish Raptor enthusiasts. The talks were as follows-
Dr. John Calladine Short Eared Owls.
Allan Mee: Sea Eagles.
Irene O’Brien: Raptor ringing in Mayo
Lorcan O’Toole: Golden Eagles.
Damien Clark: Raptors in Wicklow.
John Lusby: Kestrels.
Brian Caffrey: The Bird Atlas.
Eimear Rooney: Why Buzzards are doing so well in Ireland

John Calladine said that Short Eared Owls are mostly nocturnal and they only hunt during daylight hours when they need to. This is contrary to what most people believed about these birds. When they do hunt during the day they tend to stay in the lower grassy parts of the hills, while at night they move to the higher heathery slopes. Brian Caffrey gave a very interesting talk on the bird atlas and pointed out species which we were in danger of losing. After his talk there was a question and answer session and I made the point that a lot of the birds on the danger list were ground nesters and that I believed predation (foxes in particular) was a very big factor for their decline. These were birds like the Corncrake, Curlew, Twite, Yellowhammer etc. Brian agreed with me and said maybe this could be explored more. Eimear Rooney in her talk on Buzzards pointed out that people ring her and say they see fewer Buzzards during the winter. She explained that this was partly due to the fact that there are no hot air thermals in winter so the birds don’t soar as much and spend a lot of time on the ground. Lorcan made the point that he was heartened by the fact that the poisoning seemed to have lessened recently. I met Michael McLaughlin from Greencastle at the conference and he was with Adam McClure who is coming to Buncrana shortly to give us a talk on Red Kites. Overall, it was a very interesting day.

 
Sent: Thursday, January 30, 2014 9:02 PM. ..................................... IWEAG - PA 1450014 - Press release
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Press Releases about Wind Farm developments near Kinnagoe Bay.........
Hello
We are a group of local residents who have been keeping track of and responding to a development of two wind turbines on Crockbrack Hill, near Kinnagoe Bay in Inishowen.
DCC rejected their first appplication on the grounds that it was the wrong place for a wind farm. The developer appealed DCC's rejection of their first application in 2012 to An Bord Pleanala. An Bord Pleanala's inspector visited the site and agreed with DCC and recommended rejection. The board of ABP decided to ignore both rejections and upheld the developers appeal. ABP put specific conditions on their approval.
The developer has since changed the location of the substation to higher up the hill and is now applying to increase the height to 132 metres. ABP specifically said it could not exceed 116 metres.
We want to make the situation public and so are asking you to use the attached releases, plus links, in your publication/website.
The period for objections to the height increase finishes on Friday 14th February. For this reason we would appreciate if it was possible for you to use the material relating to the height application in the coming week.
If you have any questions email me or phone on 074 93 81224.
Thank you
David Simpson
On behalf of Inishowen Wind Energy Awareness Group.
 
A talk will be given by Adam Mc Clure of the R.S.P.B. Belfast, on the reintroduction of the Red Kite into Ireland. This interesting insight into the behaviour of the beautiful Raptor is being held in Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana. Commencing at 7.30 pm. on Friday 14th. Feb. 2014. Not restricted to club members, but open to the general public, so come along.  
 
Sat. 8th. Feb. 2014. Another Saturday with meteorological doom and gloom forecast, but undaunted by such obstacles a number of stalwart club members sallied forth to participate in the penultimate winter bird count on Lough Swilly for the 2013-2014 season. As the saying goes "Valor Favours The Brave" and so it was, as we were presented with a window of opportunity when the rain and wind ceased, and the intervention of occasional shafts of sunshine added to the enjoyment of the occasion, and on conclusion of the task that was achieved with an exceptionally high count of birds and species the rain and greyness of the early morning returned.
 
Sat. 15th. Feb. 2014. After the atrocious weather of yesterday which delivered a cocktail of non stop driving rain, sleet and icy storm force winds, with similar conditions on the menu for today, so with most members congregated at Scoil Mhire, Buncrana, for the talk on the reintroduction of the Red Kite to Ireland, it was decided to call off today's outing. The much awaited talk got underway last night when Chairman Dermot Mc Laughlin, introduced the guest speaker Adam Mc Clure from the Belfast branch of the R.S.P.B. Adam delivered with great aplomb the many trials and tribulations involved in the reintroduction of a species long lost from Ireland and that for many years just manage to survive in a few secluded valleys in Wales, where the population is now well in excess of a thousand pair, also present from the same organisation was Michael Mc Laughlin, who was seen in a few slides suspended spider like from lofty fir trees as he checked the nests and their content of Red Kites. After a very deserved round of applause from a well attended group of enthusiasts the evening concluded with a question and answer session, followed by the usual friendly get together when the audience discuss what they have just heard. ............ Our hard working and skilled Club member Brian Hegerty, has manufactured a quantity of top quality designed and finished nesting boxes for the Tree Creeper. Anyone interested in one of these boxes can contact Brian through our web site or email brian at figs_47@yahoo.co.uk
 
Sat. 22nd. Feb. 2014. A rather enjoyable and pleasant day was had by a good turn out of members that got off to the perfect start with the sighting of Barnacle Geese in a flock numbering well in excess of two hundred and fifty, in an area close to the Ballyliffin Golf Club not usually associated with these birds. Then it was on to the wonderful Isle of Doagh in dry, bright, conditions, if a little on the cold side. At the sheltered picnic area on the way past Figart, three Great Northern Divers were recorded, as were a number of Cormorants, also a Red-breasted Merganser was seen being mugged by a pair of Gulls, every time it dived and returned to the surface with it's catch it was quickly snatched from it's beak by these thugs. Also in this vicinity were Widgeon, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, and then a little later at Doaghmore, Brent Geese, Widgeon, Oystercatcher, and Godwit awaited a tidal retreat......Now it was on to see the restoration work recently carried out on the historic old ruined Castle at Carrickabraghy, and to wonder at the force of the Atlantic as it's mountainous swells crashed thunderously onto the rocky bastion and and blow hole to send great explosions of atomized spray high into the grey sky, just meters from the old Castle. ......Our next stop was at Glasha, Carndonagh, where due to the high tide, most birds were on grassy banks or in the fields, but a good number of Brent, Godwit, Curlew, Mallard, Widgon, and Redshank were noted. .....At Malin Town Bridge a short stop for a cup of tea was taken and then to Lagg. On the way and not far out the road another smaller flock of Barnacle was observed, while a number of Grey Heron stood sentry like in the shelter of a hedge. ..The last action of the outing was to inspect the ravishes inflicted by the recent storms and tidal surges on the sand dunes at the Five Finger Strand which now leaves no access to the beautiful beach. The final outstanding recording of forty plus Chough near the Catholic Church, as they enjoyed the challenge of flying in the strengthening evening wind was a nice way to finish our day's birding
 
Sat. 1st. March 2014. A leisurely meander started mid morning when we set off from Carndonagh to the Village of Culdaff, where we took a right hand turn at Dunross and from the Brow of Dunross Hill a wonderful panoramic vista was revealed, with the great expanse of the fertile plane that extends from Culdaff to the shores of Trawbreaga Bay and to near Carndonagh, directly opposite our position in the distance Doonemore hill returned our gaze. Drifting below us was a Buzzard casually quartering it's perfect habitat. Further on at Clonca, large numbers of small birds that included Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Tits, Pigeon, Rook, Jackdaw, Starling, Mistle Thrush and Magpie, flitted through the bare branches of the bushes and lofty trees........... Now it was on to Gleneely, where a left turn at Hillhead took us through Drumley, and the beautiful named town land of Carrowblagh (The Townland of the Flowers) where more Buzzards were added to the list, as they drifted over a plantation of Conifer with large blankets of flame toned Larch and a perimeter of birch, enhanced with the subtle tones of reds and browns of the emerging fresh young foliage casting it's magicial spell against a greying countryside. A half mile further on an amazing number of birds were noticed and on investigating why this should be, the discovery of about at least twenty nut feeders were seen, suspended from a fence at the rear of this benefactor dwelling, the birds were mostly Greenfinch, Chaffinch, House Sparrow, Dunnock, and Blue Tit..... Our homeward travels took through Glachnadrumman, then Larahirril, and to our last stop at Carrowmore, where we completed our total count of Buzzards to eight.
 
`Sat. 8th. Mar. 2014. A very early start saw members set off from various areas to congregate at Oxford Island on the shore of Lough Neagh, County Armagh, where the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group is holding it's Annual Conference in the wonderful National Nature Reserve Discovery Centre. On arrival tea or coffee was available with very tasty scones, with or without jam which was much appreciated after the long journey and very early breakfast. ...... Proceedings got underway with words of welcome from the chairman Jim Wells, followed by an update of the NIRSG by Mark Ruddock, then talks by Eimear Rooney, and Adam Mc Clure, who delivered a talk a few weeks ago to our club in Buncrana. Next John Lusby gave a very informative talk on Barn Owls, especially in the Republic, that was quickly followed by another break for tea or coffee, after which the Chairman talked about his favorite subject namely the Peregrine Falcon, then Ruth Tingay followed with a report on the Raptor Research Foundation. Now with lunch in the offing David Anderson concluded the session with his explanation of Long-term Monitoring in Central Scotland. During the lunch break some of our members had a brief walk around the woodland perimiter of the centre and a closer look at the great number of birds on the Lake.......The afternoon kicked off with Nick Dixon on Urban Peregrine in the UK. Then Mark Wilson discussed the B.T.O. National Peregrine Survey for 2014. Our old friend Barry O'Donoghue all the way from county Kerry, who has close association with our club, told of his experience of Raptor persecution and poisoning. The final lecture of the day was on the apprehension and prosecution of those guilty of such offences by Emma Meredith, and Jon Lees. .........Before setting off on the long journey home we joined with everyone outside to have a group photographs taken of this enjoyable event.
 
Thursday 13th. March 2014.We have been informed by David Simpson of the Inishowen Wind Energy Awareness Group, that the local residents's welcome the decision of the council to refuse permission to increase the height of the two proposed wind turbines at Crockbrack Hill by 25%. Due to the new National development called the Wild Atlantic Way, where the road passing through the Kinnagoe Bay area, is now identified as a scenic drive location. Further information can be gleaned from <https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2014/03/13/tourism-wins-out-over-turbines-at-crockbrack-hill/>

 
Sat. 15th. Mar.2014. Our expedition to the eastern boundaries of the Inishowen Peninsula began when we set off from the Clochan area of Glentogher to explore the treasures of Flora and Fauna to be discovered there. In the bright sunny morning light with the temperature reaching double figures, revealing the breathtaking beauty of a countryside awakening to the joys of spring, after enduring the long dark, cold, days of winter. But now the Lesser Celandine peeped from its sheltered positions at the bottom of hedgerows, while great drifts of Daffodils nodded their heads approvingly in the strong breeze to illuminated the many gardens of local residents. This theme of yellow continued with many roadside verges glistening with the gold encrusted show of the emerging early Coltsfoot, and the occasional clumps of Primrose. In other areas the purple flowers of the invasive Salmonberry bushes seemed eager to make their appearance, while the branches of the many Willow trees were festooned with their displays of catkins. At Lough Inn the wind blown agitated waters were devoid of bird life but nearby we were entertained by a pair of Raven as they searched out their nesting site. Near Ballyargus a pair of Buzzards were recorded to add to the others seen earlier. Then a short stop was had for our tea break at the picturesque little pier at Redcastle, after which we set off for Moville, Greencastle, and finally Inishowen Head. Here in the far distance a line of Gannets ghosted against a deep wall of haze, closer to the shore, Razorbill, Guillemot, and Great Northern Diver trolled the deep. Black-backed, and Herring Gull drifted by while on the rocks far below Shag and Cormorant enjoyed the shelter and sunshine. To complete this pleasant day, as homeward bound another Buzzard and a Merlin were added to our list.
 
Sunday 16th. March. Our first report of a Tortoiseshell Butterfly for this season comes from members Jim and Anne Toland who saw it in the garden at Glenveagh National Park on wednesday last the 12th.
 
Sat. 22nd. Mar. 2014. The final count of the bird life on Lough Swilly for the 2013/2014 season was undertaken today, after a delay of three weeks due to unforeseen circumstances, but on this occasion and against the somewhat exaggerated forecast of rather bad weather some members of our club in conjunction with the other count teams accomplished the task, and did so with a very substantial count achieved for this time of the season. Due thanks was extended to the courteous and welcoming landowners that allowed us unrestricted access to their private property to facilitate greater accuracy in the count, and expressed a keen interest in what was involved ...... Later in the afternoon we called to the Inch Lake to have a look at the new boardwalk at the southern end of the Causeway Road. This well constructed walkway will eventually lead to the new pathway now under construction, and eventually to the Farland Bank. A very impressive piece of design and construction.
 
Sat. 29th. Mar. 2014. On what could be called the "Day of the Raptors" commenced with members assembling at Carndonagh, from where they set off this morning through a rather grey but relatively dry countryside which included Tullnaree, Gortyern, and Carrowmore, where a blanket of the mint related plant and harbinger of spring namely the Yellow Archangel with its variegated foliage peeped from it's snug setting in a verge of a wooded area. About fifty meters further on a hen Pheasant trotted along the road before seeking the safety of a field overlooking the deep valley far below, then on the summit of Crockaughrim a pair of Buzzards took to the sky, and floated in a circular fashion in our direction, this was the first of many encounters with raptors today. Later as we approached Cambry another pair appeared from a woodland area. Then the next stop at Tirahork a beautiful Kestrel gave an insight to it's aerobatic expertise, as it seemed to levitate in the turbulent wind while checking it's possible lunch below. Our eagerly awaited lunch break near Falmore was interrupted by a Sparrowhawk as it made a streaking sortie into a forest clearing. Now fully fortified not only by the tea, but by seeing the colourful flowers of the Salmonberry bushes shining against the greyness of the afternoon which was further illuminated by the tentative appearance of the glow from the little flowers of the Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage from it's sheltered refuge, and then the old reliable Primrose, snuggling close to the foliage of the Digitalis that will soon give birth to those wonderful purple flowers, designed to seduce the Bees and other insects during the warm days of summer. Some time later at Crocklummon our first sighting of a Wheatear for this year was made. Earlier in the week a Sandwich Tern was reported in the Buncrana area by Dermot Mc Laughlin. .......As the day wore on and the light losing it's intensity it was time for home, and with a list of fourteen Raptors recorded, that had mostly Buzzard, but also Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, and Peregrine Falcon on the list. a sense of satisfaction was achieved.
 
Sunday 30th, March 2014. The three Little Egrets have been reported near Malin Town this afternoon. Perhaps there may be more there in the not too distant future.
 
Tuesday 1st. April 2014. Regardless of it being April 1st. our eyes and ears in Moville, Mark Daly reported seeing a pair of Swallows flying about the town at 7.20 this morning.
 
Sat. 5th. April 2014. Our journeying for a change was to the western boundaries of our domain, with a first stop in Clonmany village, from where we set off to the enchanting area of Binnon, through the old tree lined roadway, where the verges and ditches were starting to reveal some of the gems of floral beauty awakening to the call of spring. Included in the list was the very widespread Lesser Celandine, not displaying at it's best due to the lack of sunshine. But not so the Marsh Marigold in all it's sparking beauty radiated from the edges of a little stream wending it's way to meet with it's big brother further on near the beach, and as usual the very reliable Primrose, added it's magic to the morning. Near to the shore line great clumps of Scurvey Grass displayed their tiny glistening white flowers...... Where the Clonmany River turns the final bend before being absorbed into the waters of Tullagh Bay a flock of approximately forty five Brent Geese cruised contentedly on the calm slow running river water, while on the smooth but grey, sullen looking sea, a number of Great Northern Divers busied themselves. Over on the other end of the Bay at Craigaleen more Great Northern Divers were recorded, as were small flights of Ringed Plover as they flew hither and thither. Later at the Rockstown Harbor area yet again more Great Northern divers, and Black Guillemot in their transitional plumage were recorded as they bobbed up and down in search of sustenance. Also noticed was a Kestrel as it flew in our direction from a great rock formation just off shore, and on the stone strewn beach newly arrived Wheatear were noted. Now with the the sun making a somewhat belated appearance on which to end the outing, our day received a great fillip with the sight of a very pristine Tortoiseshell Butterfly as it fluttered past our car near Lenan.
 
Sat. 12th. April 2014. Unknown to us this morning was how the outing would end with a flourish in the afternoon, but as we set off to check what might be residing in the limestone quarries at Foden, Carndonagh, where great clouds of noisy Jackdaws accompanied by a few Rooks and those harbingers of doom, Ravens, apart from the bad press they have received over the centuries Ravens are beautiful large, intelligent birds, all joyfully cavorted in the strong south-west wind and bright sunshine as if to welcome the arrival of spring. Here in the shelter of some well established Beech Trees, displays of the fragile white flowers of Wood Anemone, the pale lemon of Primrose and the gold of the Coltsfoot now on the wane offered their welcome. At nearby Cashel a number of Buzzards floated silently over the woodland that might suggest that nesting has begun. A leisurely meander across the old bog road at Cuill had Wrens singing their beautiful melodic song, as Meadow Pipit, and Siskin dressed in their best coloured plumage to celebrate the season that is in it flitted from bush to bush. After lunch we were on the move again this time to Clonmany, where the unknown factor mentioned at the beginning of these notes was revealed when a huge nugget of Avian treasure was exposed with the appearance of a magnificent Golden Eagle as it floated nonchalantly in the blue sky accompanied by it's minions, namely Buzzards, this extravagant entertainment was watched with great excitement for the best part of a hour. But sadly and with great reluctance some members had to leave due to time restraints, so ended another very satisfying and rewarding club outing in the great outdoors.
 
Black Guillemot.
Black Cap.
Green Hairstreak.
Tortoiseshell
Eider Duck.
All of the above pictures today by Brian Hegerty.
Sat. 19th. April. 2014. There are days during the depths of cold dark winter when one would try to imagine the luxury of a beautiful summers day, well today was the realization of such a dream with temperatures hitting nineteen degrees in blazing sunshine and just a gentle zephyr wafting it's magic on our outing to the Qiugleys Point and Drung areas where the road verges ditches and hillsides seamed to be encrusted in gold by the reflected light of the sunshine on the glorious Whin, Dandelion, Coltsfoot, Celandine, and displays of Daffodils. At Ballyargus we fulfilled our expectancy with the discovery of large numbers of those emerald jewels, the diminutive Green Hairstreak Butterfly glittering as they fed on Bramble leaves, and Whin blossoms that provided great photographic opportunity to our master of the lens Brian Hegerty. Also in this perfect habitat Orange Tip Large White, Green-veined White and many Tortoiseshell displayed a great sense of urgency as they fluttered from one form of flora to another, this was added to by the wonderful musical rendition from the choir of Willow Warblers that seemed to inhabit every Bush. Some time later after enjoying our lunch break, great clusters of the Opposite-laved Golden Saxifrage decorated it's secluded roadside environment. This was then followed by the sighting of three Buzzards flying overhead in an easterly direction shortly followed by a pair of Kestrels, while from a different direction a pair of Buzzards appeared into view, the number of Buzzards recorded today was twelve. Later in the afternoon near Carbery a great carpet of the delicately coloured Marsh Violet was recorded in its damp but bright setting..... Adding to the this perfect day was the presence of new member Mary O Mahoney...... After we went home that great enthusiast Brian made a call to the Moville area where he procured some excellent pictures of Black Guillemot, Eider Duck, Blackcap, Seagull, and others.
 
There will be an AGM of the Inishowen Wildlife Club on Thursday 24 April 2014 at 7.30. p.m. at Scoil Mhuire Buncrana. Everyone is welcome. The agenda will be a review of 2013, election of officers, programme for 2014 and any other business.  
 
Wood Sorrel in the Gorge.
Speckled Wood Butterfly.
Carpet of flowers through the Birch Trees.
Sat. 26th. April 2014. In Christian mythology the Garden of Eden was renowned for Flora and Fauna excesses, where the warm sunshine and an endless supply of milk and honey made life there very pleasant and enjoyable. Today the reality of such a place was experienced as we meandered leisurely down the warm peaceful tree lined clay roadway at Redford where the milk and honey was substituted by the song of the many Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Goldfinch, Robin and Tits, and through the beautiful, mostly Birch woodlands on both sides of the road. On the right hand side, great carpets of Wood Sorrel, Stitchwort, Yellow Archangel, Opposite leaved Golden Saxifrage, interspersed occasionally with emerging Bluebells, all expertly fitted by Mother Nature, and her handy work even extended to the deep gorge where a little stream gurgled its way to the arms of the sea at Redford Bay some distance further on down the way. On the other side of the path clumps of the Wild Strawberry displayed unashamedly their beautiful white blossoms with here and there little posies of the small pretty flowers of Ground Ivy, Bush Vetch, and the forming umbels of Angelica showed their wares, here also were more of the gems that appeared on the other side of the road. All of these floral riches were recorded by our font of knowledge Anne Toland, ably assisted by Will Buis and Mary O'Mahoney. A continuous fluttering of beauty and fragility filled the air as Orange Tip, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Tortoiseshell, and a few Peacock Butterflies journeyed from plant to plant, and where sometime they stopped to refuel. Earlier in the Morning more recording of plant life was carried out near Effishmore and Carrowmore Glen, where a number of Buzzards were noted as was a little Goldcrest, a host of Willow Warblers, Swallows, and House Martins. Later as we partook of our lunch we did so to the serenade of the Cuckoo, so surely spring has arrived. After we moved on, more Buzzards were recorded, one of which was being pursued by a Sparrowhawk, that was then chased by a Peregrine Falcon, and later still a Blackcap, a pair of Bullfinches, a pair of Goldfinches and a Reed Bunting were included in our list. Without doubt this was a day spent in Paradise.
 
Sat. 3rd. May 2014. Oh to be in Inishowen now that Spring is here, with Natures treasure trove thrown open to reveal the great riches of our beautiful countryside resplendent in the warming glow of morning sunshine, which added to the joy of walking the beach at Ballyliffin, where Herring Gulls relaxed on the distant rocks protruding from a cobalt sea, and scurrying Ringed Plover rushing seaward from the bolder strewn beach on our approach, also small groups of what may have been Ruff or perhaps Turnstones were dodging around the rocks, then a family of Chough checked in the adjacent pasture for tit-bits that might be available, while a few pairs of Linnets flitted from fence post to fence post, with Pied Wagtails searching the sand and washed up seaweed for Sand Hoppers and Flies, but the crowning glory was the sighting in the distance of avian greatness in the form of a majestic Golden Eagle that was in conflict with a few Crows and Buzzards. Not far away a cornucopia of floral delights revealed a stunning display of Marsh Marigolds snugly placed at the edge of a little stream tumbling joyfully to the beach at Ballyliffin. Also embellishing this hideaway were Dog Violets, Bluebells, Wood Sorrel, all of which were visited by fluttering Green-veined White, Orange-tip and Tortoiseshell Butterflies, a little earlier and in the same area our first sighting of the Early Purple Orchid was listed......After our midday ritual it was off to the Binnion region where the roadsides in some parts were bedecked with great drifts of Ramsons with their unusual white flowers waving in the freshening breeze........ Our last stop of the outing was in the Arda area of Ballyliffin where more Wood Sorrel, Wood Anemone, Celandine, Lady's Smock, Pignut, Bluebell and Primrose were recorded, and in their company were Speckled Wood and Tortoiseshell Butterflies..... Now drawing to a close was another great day watching nature at its best that also had Kestrel and Peregrine in it's list of treats.
 
Thursday 8th. May. Our keen wildlife enthusiast Brian Hegarty reported his first Swifts sightings for this season today.
 
Spring in Lisnagrath Wood.
Sat. 10th. May 2014. A beautiful sunny morning changed to grey as we approached our objective that had a wonderful masterpiece of all the beauties of spring on display at Lisnagrath Wood, with a gentle palette of fragile tones of green, contrasting perfectly with the russet leaves of seasons past that now carpet the great forest floor. In this oasis of peace and stillness, occasionally interrupted my the melodic rendition of the many Thrushes, while Buzzard and Raven floated silently overhead with Jay sneaking from tree to tree, so as not to disclose their nesting positions at this sensitive time. Here also Red Squirrel can be seen nimbly scampering to their hideaway in the now dense foliage. As we sauntered leisurely through this amazing place, in some parts great swathes of Wood Sorrel were about to explode in to flower, and clumps of bilberry were giving birth to the young fruits. Among the many other plants were blankets of Bluebells, Herb Robert and that most beautiful creation, the flower head of the Cow Parsley. As the day wore on the gentle rain of earlier increased in intensity that had us depart from this haven to have lunch in a well sheltered place in the village of Muff, where a decision was made to pay a visit to the Culmore area after which we would call a halt to the adventure, and as often happens at times like this when heading home the rain ceased and the elusive sun made a miraculous reappearance.
 
Sunday 11th. May 2014. This is one of a number of photographs of a Cuckoo taken by our lensman Brian Hegarty today. Click on thumbnail for larger picture.
 
Saturday 17th. May 2014. Due to club members being committed in other fields, our usual Saturday outing has been called off , but will be back as usual next week.
 
Pictures from todays outing to Blanket Nook and Inch Lake.
 
Sat. 24th. May 2014. A morning of exceptional beauty awaited us as members that included four friends from Holland, Wil, Beb, Anneke. and Biologist Niko, journeyed from points, north, south, east and west to the restful setting of Blanket Nook. To get there involved driving through the many byways that had the ditches on both sides of the roads bedecked with opulant unending drifts of the snow-white crochet like flower heads of the Cow Parsley that sparkled in the morning sunlight. Not to be outdone, were the bough bending floral excesses of the lovely tree of magic, myth and history, the Hawthorn, that exudes its musky fragrance as the day warms up. On arrival at the calm peaceful waters of the Nook where the elusive flashing colours of the Kingfisher made a brief appearance. Further out a number of Great-crested Grebes and Little Grebes cruised contetedly ignoring the numbers of Tufted, Mallard Duck, and Mute Swans. In adjoining fields Lapwing were busy looking after their scrapes and nestlings, while Black-headed Gulls, Sandwich and Arctic Terns graced the blue sky with their presents. To the north of our position a Buzzard floated casually in the rising thermals. On the margins of the walkway near the waters edge an Aladdin's Cave of floral delights had Stitchwort, Mousear, Smooth and prickley Sow-thistle, Bush Vetch, Herb Robert, Cuckoo Flower, Cat's Ear, Lesser Yellow Trefoil, Bird's Foot Trefoil to name just a few. With the expected pangs of hunger demanding attention it was off to the well maintained car park at the Farland Bank, from this point after consuming our tea and sandwich a great cacophony of bird sound drifted up to us from the man-made islet, where a large number of Black-headed Gulls, Sandwich, and Arctic Terns protested at each others presence, also on the lake surface Tufted, Mallard, Shellduck, Great-crested and Little Grebe shared the great expanse of water with many other species, while close to the shore came a young Great Northern Diver, but the highlight of the birds on the lake was the sighting of the rare White-winged Black Tern, while high in the sky a Peregrine Falcon and three more Buzzards were recorded as was a Whitethroat, photographed by Brian and Martin as it sang from a bush on top of the Bank. To conclude our visit to the Farland Bank a Common Seal was observed as it swam in the open sea water close to the great Bank and performed a routine of violent tail shaking to disrupt the silty bottom no doubt to dislodge any food source hidden there. To end a glorious day in glorious company a short visit was made to see the work that has been carried out on the walkway and paths at the Causeway Road to Inch Island.
 
Pictures from today's river walk at Carndonagh.
 
Sat. 31st. May. 2014. In Irish folklore there is a saying that describes the weather at the beginning and end of May as either coming in like a lion or going out like a lamb, well today it was certainly the latter. With bright warm sunlight casting its intricate lattice of shadows from the many trees, bushes and the myriad species of wild flower on to the floor of the small pathway that winds it's way along the banks of the Glentogher River that will eventually empty into Trawbreaga Bay. The entrance to this little wonderland is from the Thompson Bridge at the bottom of Bridge street, Carndonagh, to where it ends at the foot bridge near the Hospital at Ard Bhride..... Our Club was only too happy to assist the group of very energetic ladies who were anxious to find out the floral riches to be found on this special area of paradise. So Anne, our most Knowledgeable of things floral, assisted by Will, Mary, Peter, Jim and Paddy, compiled a list that contained over sixty three different species of wildflowers, and seventeen species of trees and shrubs. Also discussed were suggestions that might enhance this wonderful walkway...... Now after our most pleasant and restful few hours spent there and with the gurgling river waters still ring in our ears it was off to the Isle of Doagh to check on what Butterflies might be found there on this wonderful day. What was revealed in the great Sand Dunes System at Craigawannia was a very large number of Small Heath, followed by considerable numbers of the amazing bright red and black colours of the Cinnabar Moths, and then by a few Large White and fewer numbers of Small White Butterflies, also seen were a number of Ravens and two families of Stonechats. What a beautiful day !!!!
 
Royal Fern.
Young Wheatear. (Brian0
Red Admiral. (Brian)
Teatime on Tory.
Sat. 7th. June 2014. At Magherorty Pier near Falcarragh in the west of our stunningly scenic County, we donned our sealegs as we got on-boarded the ferry boat "Tormore" that took us to a place of mythology and fable namely the Island of Tory where a wonderful day was spent exploring the rugged landscape for the Flora and Fauna that surrendered their bounties to us. Some members spent hours Botanising under the leadership of Anne, while others reported on the Bird life that had amongst the species found, Common and Black Guillemot, Puffin, Shearwater, Storm Petrel, Gannet, Common Gull, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Wheatear, Lapwing, Reed Warbler, Ringed Plover, Buzzard, no doubt enjoying the plentiful supply of Rabbit to be found here, Peregrine Falcon and Raven. Later as we wearily trudged back in the direction of the pier after our trek around part of the Island the familiar sound of Corncrakes vibrated through the Still air and quiet surroundings of this place of spiritual and mental retreat. Earlier Brian photographed a couple of Red Admirals, they were the only Butterflies seen today. The floral finds of the outing had amongst the list, Danish Scurvy Grass, Marsh Pennywort, Bucks-horn Plantain, English Stonecrop, Dwarf Willow, and Northern Marsh Orchid. As we cruised in glorious sunshine back to the mainland it was decided that another visit was necessary to enable the exploration of the remainder of the Island.

Bob delivering his talk.
The damp conditions.
A splash of colour in the mist.
Stewart's impromptu talk.
Sat. 14th. June 2014. The arrival in Inishowen of one of Irelands leading Lepidopterists Bob Auldwell, was awaited eagerly, not only for the rich vein of knowledge he posses on his subject that he lavishly dispenses to his followers, but also the prospect of having it all wrapped in an atmosphere of bright warm, sunny weather, where great hosts of Butterflies would float and flutter to the soothing hum of Bees and other insects over and through the rich dense vegetation of the Fort Dunree region. But as Burns one said "The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry." Ands so it was as we were presented with a rather dark, damp, morning with visibility decreasing and the prospect of seeing the objects of our desires failing to make an appearance.... But all was not doom and gloom, as on arrival at the iconic Dunree Fort we were met by Terry Tedstone and Dermot Mc Laughlin who had a welcome cup of tea and cakes in the onsite cafe awaiting all the participants, some that had traveled a considerable distance. This was then followed by the sizable gathering moving to the Saldanha Suite where Bob delivered his illustrated talk on his fifteen years of Butterfly Surveys in Donegal, which was greatly appreciated. Some time later a short stroll was had along the elevated costal pathway then it was back inside again to be mesmerized by a rather amazing impromptu illustrated talk by Stewart Dunlop on the relationship between all life forms. As evening was fast approaching the very enjoyable day concluded with Bob and some others setting off to check what might be seen in slightly improved conditions at the Isle of Doagh.
 
Wednesday 18th. June 2014. A few club members set off this evening to Malin Head to hear the Corncrakes calling, and they were not disappointed as the birds duly obliged. It must be one of the best years for these rarities with reliable reports of their unique serenade's echoing from various sites in the area.
 
Thursday 19th. June 2014. Today club members Jim and Anne Toland took a trip to the glorious woodlands of Ards Forest where they had the pleasure of recording in rather misty and breezy conditions a number of Butterflies that included Peacock, a large number of Small Heath, three Small Copper, one Marsh Fritillary, two Common Blue, one Small Blue, and a couple of ringlets. Also noticed was great displays of Orchids: Common Spotted, Heath Spotted, Pyramidal and a number of Twayblades and finished with a Thyme Broomrape.

 
Pictures from today's outing at Ballyliffin.
Sat. 21st. June 2014. How wonderful on this midsummer's day to be blessed with the gift of a glorious warm sunny morning and the choral outpouring of Sky Larks as they ascended high into the blue cloudless sky and then flutter leaf-like back to the point on the ground from where they took off, while the familiar call of Choughs alerted us to their presence as they floated on the thermals rising from the warming farmland. This was just a small part of the pleasure derived from our walk on the shore line of Pollin Bay at Ballyliffin, where Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, and a pair of Shellduck foraged on the tide line, but most surprising was to see, well out on the beach a Hare scamper between rocks in an easterly direction, as usual hosts of Pied Wagtails chased after Flies and Sand Hoppers on the seaweed deposited on the beach by an earlier tide. Out at sea Gannet dived from great heights to snatch their mid morning snacks while a little closer a Black Guillemot was seen. On the Flora front the rather uncommon Roseroot, a succulent plant that when it's root is crushed releases the heady fragrance of a rose. Amongst the many other plants revealed by Anne were Bog/Meadow Thistle, Common Valerian, Hemp Agrimony and Bog Asphodel, with lots of Northern Marsh Orchids, Pyramidal, and Common Spotted. After lunch a very enjoyable spell was spent in the Ardagh area, where a few Common Blue, Ringlet, Speckled Wood, and Meadow Brown Butterflies, fluttered over a habitat with Wild Roses and where great clumps of Foxglove reached skywards. Our next and last port of call was to Craigawannia where for the short time spent there, eighteen Dark Green Fritillary, twelve Common Blue, five Small Heath, ten Meadow Brown, four Ringlet, and one Green-veined White Butterfly were recorded.
 

A great photograph of a pair of Peregrine Falcons at a nest site today, Sunday 22nd. June, by our very keen birder and cameraman Brian Hegerty................ Click thumbnail for larger picture.

 
Martin, Eimear and Michael
A young Tagged Buzzard
Adam, discussing the days work.
Michael likes a bird.
Tuesday 23rd. June 2014. The following report has been received from our raptor expert Martin Moloney who together with son Daniel was engaged in aiding our friends Michael Mc Laughlin, Adam Mc Clure, and Eimear Rooney and friends Helen and Kevin from the Belfast RSPB to tag (under licence) young Buzzards in the Inishowen area. This is the beginning of a joint project between the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group which our club attended on the occasion of their inaugural Annual Conference on the eighth of March last at Lough Neagh, and the Inishowen Raptor Study Group of which we are founder members.  Eight young buzzards in all were tagged. The colours used were:  Black on the left wing and yellow on the right wing.  The letters A to H were printed on the tags and there are also contact numbers printed on the tags. Anyone that sees any of these tagged birds can contact us on our web page.
 
Wildflowers and Ringlet Butterfly from todays club outing. pictures by Mary o'Mahoney.
Sat. 28th. June 2014. The club's prospects of finding Butterflies today was as bleak looking as the morning, with grey overcast skies covering the Inishowen Peninsula, but undaunted we set off for the great Sand Dunes at Lagg, a perfect habitat for most of the current Butterflies on the wing at this time of the year in the Inishowen area. After a slow start the light slowly began to improve, with this and the absence of rain and wind there was a gentle awakening of insect life, with thousands of Micro Moths moving over the vegetation. Then the shout went up "There's a Ringlet" next a meadow Brown, followed by a Common Blue. Now the game was on, as we entered deeper into the dunes that were now starting to display their great carpets of colour, with a perfect combination of the purple of Wild Thyme and the chrome yellow of Lady's Bedstraw, augmented with the addition of Yellow Rattle, Smooth Hawksbeard, the delicate tints of the Burnet Rose. the dark tones of Self-heal, the Agrimony with it's elegant yellow floral spike glistening in the improving light, then Red Bartsia, the Pyramidal and the Common Spotted Orchid towering over the diminutive Eye bright, the Common and Sea Milkwort, all of which had large numbers of fluttering Butterflies, the most prominent being the Ringlet, Meadow Brown, the Common Blue, and the Dark green Fritillary. After a couple of hours spent here, the morning now was gradually being consumed by midday, so we retraced our steps and headed for Ballagh, an elevated area from where a landscape of outstanding beauty is revealed with the distant mountains of Clonmany and Glentogher dominated by the iconic greatness of the beautiful Slieve Snaght, while below silvery waters and golden beaches of Trawbreaga Bay craved our attention. As we walked part of this beautiful place. Anne, Wil, and Mary demonstrated their knowledge that has earned them the well deserved praise of all the members and those beyond the club's boundaries, as they pointed out some of the plant life found here that included St John's-wort, Meadow Vetetchling, Cat's Ear, Tormental, Tufted Vetch, Wood Avens, Herb Robert, while in the background Great stalks of Foxglove and Red Campion stood statue like, and by this time of day the ubiquitous Ringlet and Meadow Brown were present. Our next and final move was to Craigawannia in the Isle of Doagh, where with the sun at full power, there was an explosion of Butterflies filling the air, with numerous Common Blue, Dark Green Fritillary, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, and a few Small Heath. a little time later we discovered a great way to check for Butterflies when we sat on the rim of a great sand dune theater in lovely warm sunshine, and to find that the Butterflies of the previously mentioned species just flew in great numbers continually in front and below our positions.
 
Pictures of part of new eight kilometer walkway at Inch Lake today.

Sat. 5th. July. 2014. It was a morning aglow with brilliant warm sunshine that greeted our club outing on arrival at the car park of Inch Lake, to seek the Flora and Fauna treasures available in this great store house of riches. after a short time spent looking at the many hundreds of Mute and a few Whooper Swans, all multiplied by their mirror like reflections on the silvered lake surface while multitudes of Duck and Geese cruised in a leisurely fashion, and peeping from the taller vegetation were numbers of Grey Heron, with Black-headed Gulls, and Terns, mostly Sandwich sitting on the little sandy beaches surrounding the many small islets enjoying the tranquility of the hour. Overhead great squadrons of Swifts and swallows performed exquisite fly past maneuvers.... Now we set off for a dander on the Flora strewn walkway that had numerous Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Green-veined White Butterflies fluttering over the beautiful garlands of the stunningly colourful Tufted Vetch, Bird's-foot Trefoil, the honey scented Meadowsweet, and the glowing Fumitory. Among the many wonderful Grasses, the protruding stalks of Hedge and March Woundwort displayed their colourful elegance. In the slow flowing stream on the right hand side of the path great masses of Watercress, and an extravagance of the beautiful blue flowers of even greater masses of Water Forget-me-not flounted their charm. Then we sauntered through the intricate dappled shade of the tall, well spaced Trees in the little Woodland, and crossed the new bridge that spans the Burnfoot River, and moved in the direction of the new Bird Hide that overlooks the specially tended marshland . It was at this point that a stunning discovery was made, by taking a turn to the right led us to an extraordinary new pathway where more Butterflies were recorded that included a Red Admiral, Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, flying over the lush vegetation on both sides of this path that can take you to the Causeway Road , and then to the new Boardwalk that leads to the Farland Bank and from there another fine walkway will take you back to the main Car park where we started from in the morning, a total distance of eight kilometers (six miles). This development is an amazing piece of design and engineering that must be a big boost to the tourists coming to the area. The project aims to deliver two world-class visitor and outdoor recreation attractions at Inch Wildlife Reserve, Inch Levels, Co. Donegal, and at the East Coast of Lough Foyle near Limavady. The project is supported by the European Union's INTERREG IVA Program, Managed by the Special EU Programes Body and delivered by the North West Region Cross Border Group. Total funds allocated to the project amount to €839,880. The new walkway is being officially opened on Sunday 27th July.

 

New Rural Development Plan offers a lifeline for farmland birds

9th July 2014

BirdWatch Ireland warmly welcomes the recent announcement by Minister Coveney that farmers undertaking actions to conserve critically-threatened farmland birds will get priority access to substantial funding within Ireland’s new Rural Development Programme.  If properly implemented, this offers hope of halting declines and restoring bird populations in parts of their range.

Ireland’s biodiversity is facing very severe threats, as evidenced by declining populations of many farmland birds and losses in extent and quality of many semi-natural habitats in the mosaic of Ireland’s farmed landscapes.  There has been extensive research in the UK, in particular, which has related farmland bird declines to changes in agricultural practices since the 1970s.  Specific causes for these changes included a variety of farming practices, including increased use of pesticides and fertilisers, increased mechanisation and losses of hedgerow extent and quality.  These changes in agriculture also took place in Ireland over the same period.  The new Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (RDP) offers an opportunity to address many issues threatening biodiversity in the wider Irish countryside.
 
“As a group, farmland birds have experienced some of the largest population declines and range contractions of any bird species in Ireland,” says Dr. Alex Copland, Senior Conservation Officer with BirdWatch Ireland.  “The causes of these declines have been varied, but many are related to modern agricultural production methods, which leave little room for wildlife.  Agri-environment measures, whereby farmers are paid to manage their land in a more environmentally-sensitive manner, provide an opportunity to halt and possibly reverse these declines, if properly administered."
 
Ireland’s new RDP for the period 2014-2020 was formally submitted to the European Commission last week. Many farmland bird species that are threatened in Ireland, including Corncrake, Grey Partridge, Hen Harrier, Chough, Twite and breeding waders such as Curlew, Lapwing and Redshank, are given priority status within the draft programme.  As farmland birds are flagships for much of our native wildlife, measures to protect them will deliver many other benefits for wider biodiversity.

 

Grey Partridge: one of the threatened farmland species that it is hoped will benefit from the new Rural Development Plan (Photo: Shay Connolly)


Grey Partridge: one of the threatened farmland species that it is hoped
will benefit from the new Rural Development Plan
(Photo: Shay Connolly)

“Whilst the level of funding to support farmers for these measures is welcome, we would urge Minister Coveney and his Department to ensure that measures are targeted appropriately and sufficient advice is provided to farmers to help deliver them effectively,” continues Dr. Copland.  “Although we have yet to see the details of the proposed measures for these species, we very much hope that Ireland could be on its way to delivering on obligations to protect and conserve some of its most charismatic yet threatened wildlife."
 
A period of negotiation on the exact detail of the RDP is now underway. BirdWatch Ireland will continue to work with fellow environmental NGOs and with officials in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service in the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to ensure the RDP will deliver an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for rural Ireland.

Pictures from today's outing . (left to right) Common Evening Primrose, Linnet, Common Centaury, and Forget-me-Not.
Sat. 12th July 2014. With the prospects of heavy and persistent rainfall forecast for today that might impact on our wildlife venture, it was decided after some dithering last evening to give our outing a go. The decision was justified with a very pleasant morning as we assembled with members from far and near at the Square in Clonmany where the surrounding high mountains were resplendent in the bright sunlight that cast it's spell of beauty on the great tapestry draped on these monoliths, woven with the lush green foliage of Bracken and the purple delights of the emerging Heather against a background canvas of blue-gray. As the morning progressed our rewards increased with the sighting of that Monarch of the Skies, the Golden Eagle, as it sailed nonchalantly high above the local peaks with a dismissive flap of a wing to the entourage of Rooks and Ravens that were suggesting it should leave and move elsewhere. Some time later Brian added a Peregrine to our list of ticks as it set about it's search for perhaps a kill to feed to it's young. On arrival at Binnion a quick sortie was made into the Sand Dunes where we encountered Common Blue, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, and Tortoiseshell Butterflies nectaring and flying in the ideal conditions. Then another treasure was revealed when Jim spotted one of a rather rare plant not often found in this part of Ireland that belies the name Common Evening Primrose, what a find! As the afternoon wore on there were indications that rain was in the offing, but fortified by a tea break earlier, a check was made on the Flora of the Urris region that had among the many treasures, carpets of Bog Asphodel sprinkled with the sparkling colours of Common Spotted Orchids. In some lane ways the beautiful but very invasive Himalayan Balsam brightening their surroundings with the by now cloud laden darkening sky. Some of the other Stars on show included the radiant blues of the large clumps of Tufted Vetch. The Hedges overflowing with Marsh Woundwort, honey scented Meadow Sweet, Montbretia already in full bloom, the glistening Burnet Rose, and the amazingly constructed flower heads of Wild Carrot and Angelica all added to our sense of achievement. Now with the rain exerting it's stranglehold on our outing a halt was called on a day we were glad to have experienced.
 
Part of a great Geranium carpet growing in the wild.
Common Lizard, that has lost it's tail.
A Burying Beetle. (Nicrophorus Vespilloides)
A rather dishevelled Speckled Wood Butterfly.
Sat. 19th. July. 2014. As we traveled from Carndonagh through our domain in an easterly direction, we had to pinch ourselves occasionally to make certain that we were on our own turf and not in some African tropical paradise, with the temperature hitting the twenty four degree mark assisted by a light zephyr made our trudging through the many nooks and cranny's most pleasurable, where continuous displays of Butterflies with a predominance of Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Green-veined White, Large White, a few bedraggled Speckled Wood, and just a few Small Tortoiseshell fluttering here and there. At the Culdaff River earlier in the morning, a few Greenshank, and a small flock of Ringed Plover searched the tide line while a couple of Grey Heron, and Black-backed Gulls kept a watching brief on proceedings. At Redford our spiritual home, a pair of Jays were observed as they scurried silently into the cover of the dense vegetation. A short time later and a little further on our attention was drawn to the impatient calling of young Sparrowhawks, their position eventually given away by the parent leaving the site in the quest for more provisions. The amount of Wild flowers in this wonderful pathway was extravagant in the extreme, with the addition of the great splashes of colour cunningly applied by the hand of the master artist Mother Nature. The next stop was at Tremone Beach where we partook of our lunch break and utilised the recently constructed tables and seats crafted from beach stones, and while enjoying our repast we were joined by a Common Lizard that was also soaking up the hot midday sun. Later a short sojourn was had at the Mossy Glen looking down on the blue waters of Kinnagoe Bay from a position beside the plaque commemorating the loss of the Spanish Warship the "La Trinidad Valecera" that foundered on the rocks below in the year 1588 . As the afternoon progressed into early evening, we finished out trip on this wonderful day with a visit to Inishowen Head, after which it was off home, somewhat exhausted by the very warm and pleasant day.
 
Monday 21st. July. Anne Toland one of our members from the Letterkenny area, has reported Painted Lady Butterflies in her Garden on a few occasions recently.
 
Yellow Bartsia.
Green-veined White Butterfly.
A perfect environment.
Tortoiseshell Butterfly.
Sat. 26th July 2014. In a rather grey, misty, wet morning we drove towards the highest point on the rim of Holywell Hill, and as we approached from out of the greyness, a scene of biblical proportions opened before our eyes to reveal far below a landscape of bucolic greatness glowing in bright morning sunlight that added to the glittering from the myriad fields of gold awaiting the approaching Autumn to deliver their bounty of riches. Stretching far into the distance the great River Foyle snaked it's silvered waters in a northerly direction, beyond which the grey silhouetted mountains of County Tyrone faded into the distance. From our elevated position a Buzzard soared into the blue sky close to where we were standing, to then drop from view behind the hill near the tall T. V. mast. On the upper side of the road a display of Bog Asphodel merged with the Ling, Bell, and crossed-leaved Heather. Later on arrival near Bogay House a short walk was enjoyed, where the Botanists amongst our party noted the many prized items found here that had Yellow Bartsia, Red Bartsia, the beautiful but often overlooked flowers of the white, and the pink of the hairy variety of Bindweed, then a laneway laced with Yellow Loosestrife and the Marsh, and Hedge Woundwort. After a considerable time spent in this wonderland it was off to the old slate quarry at Hillside near St Johnston, where more Buzzards and Kestrels busied themselves in their daily pursuits. Here we added to our list the local Flora that had abundant clumps of Rosebay Willowherb, Wild Angelica, Eyebright, Scentless Mayweed, Enchanters Nightshade, and the pale pink of the many clumps of Centaury were noted. Here also many Butterflies frolicked over and on the plants and grasses, with Green-veined White, Large White, Small White, Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, and a solitary Red Admiral. Also in the area a number of Hares were observed scurrying to the cover of the dense undergrowth. As usual on a good days outing the gravitational effect on the sands of time, indicated that it was time to set off in the direction of Inishowen, but with the intention of a return visit.
 
Wed. 30th. July 2014. A Corncrake has been reported calling for a number of days in the Black Bridge area of Burt by our good friend Dessie Mc Callion.
 
Pictures from today's visit to Lough Eske.
Sat. 2nd. August 2014. A trip beyond the boundaries of our beautiful Inishowen saw us enjoy the spectacular Blue Stack Mountains form the perfect backdrop reflected in the still waters of the exquisite setting of Lough Eske near Donegal Town. Also encapsulated in this bonanza of beauty is the arboreal paradise of Ard Na Mona Wood, with it's well maintained walkways that thread their ways through the spectacularly large sky-reaching trees of Pine, Fir, Ash, Beech, and Oaks with their great sprawling arms reaching out in many directions. From this sylvan extravaganza the occasional mewing call of Buzzards filtered through the stillness of this great Cathedral, while a Jay disappeared from view with stealthy urgency on our approach. Earlier our timeout was had at the well prepared picnic area where our alfresco repast was eagerly consumed after early breakfasts and long drive. Then we continued our meander through the Woodland, where at some places the joyous gurgling of little streams could be heard as they tumbled their way to the Lake far below. Also on show here the many beautiful glasslike fountains of arching Grasses, and a wonderful collection of Bracken, Soft Shield Fern, Harts Tongue, and the spectacular Hard Fern. In other places the Woodland floor was carpeted with great areas of the Common Cow Wheat, with it's yellow flowers glistening from the shadows cast by their tall neighbours, while here and there Wood Avens, St John Wort, Tutson, continued this theme of yellow followed by Enchanters Nightshade flaunting it's delicate little white flowers, The purple of the Hedge Woundwort, the tall plants of Self Heal, and the very prominent glow of the abundant Purple Loosestrife along the edges and roadsides of it's lakeside habitat. The Gods today were in a very benevolent mood for just as we finished out exploration the rain began to fall, but we set off home very satisfied with our visit.
 
Pictures from our very pleasant visit to the River Roe Country Park Centre Today.
Sat. 8th. August 2014. Butterflies drifting leisurely in the bright warm morning sunlight, the whimpering call of Buzzards floating on rising thermals above a bountiful countryside, the almost silent swish of a great powerful brown-stained river that has gouged it's way through deep ravines upstream, and now glides peacefully between beautiful Tree lined paths on both of it's banks. That was the introduction presented to our outing at the scenic Dog's Leap, Roe Valley Countryside Centre, near Limavady Co Derry, where anglers were testing their skills in the warm bank side environment in the hope of landing the catch of the day. In the more turbulent stretches Dippers take things a bit further by diving under the surface to look for their sustenance in the form of insect larva ensconced between the stones of the river bottom, while above lots of the misnamed Grey Wagtail, resplendent in their bright yellow waistcoats flit from stone to stone...... As we dandered through the seven mile pathway, a list was compiled of the Flora encountered, but with a few exceptions, due perhaps to the mild winter and early spring most of the wildflowers have passed their best, that in turn may suggest the early approach of Autumn. After the expenditure of energy by our walk in the warm summer conditions and noting the different species of Flora and Fauna we looked forward eagerly to our lunch that was then consumed at one on the many picnic tables strategically placed in a well maintained grass area, and while relaxing here we wondered how our other two members Brian, and Martin, were getting on, as they had availed of a trip by boat from Ballycastle to the Island of Islay off the west coast of Scotland, where they expect to see some of the great Raptors that frequent the island. A report on their trip will be posted on this page as soon as available...... Our last action at this lovely place this afternoon was a journey into the past by visiting the onsite Museum with its many antiquities.
 
Above are a few pictures from Brian, Martin and Daniel, taken on their boat trip to Islay today, and a very brief report of their experiences after a two hour cruise. On disembarking after the journey from Ballycastle, Brian was the first to see a Golden Eagle and was amazed when it was joined by another, all just a few minutes on getting off the boat. As Martin and son Daniel travelled by another vessel from Portrush they did't meet up with Brian until lunchtime. At such a crucial and relaxing event a large number of little birds were noted that included Twite, Linnet, and especially a Whinchat. Other birds of note seen on the Island were Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, and a small number of Chough. Of the Mammals recorded was a herd of Red Deer. After their enjoyable expedition, in bright sunshine, with only a couple of light showers, it was time to set off on the two hour return journey to Ballycastle and Portrush.
 
Pictures from todays outing in the Ballyliffin area.
Sat. 16th. Aug. 2014. After last weeks sun-soaked outing to the Roe Valley Country Park, the other side of the coin presented a different scenario when this morning we set off to the coastal resort of Ballyliffin, where a canopy of mist was suspended over the local hills, with the addition of intermitting light showers adding to the gloom. On getting out of the cars at the car park near the beach the outlook improved when as the rain stopped and a Peregrine Falcon was watched as it flew over the renowned Ballyliffin Golf Club. Now a trawl of the beach in a westerly direction revealed a high tide that had great pristine white foam embellished waves crashing on to the sandy Beach and over the rocky outcrops..... Far out on the grey backdrop of the horizon, ghostly forms of Gannets plunged like projectiles shot with amazing velocity from a great height to spear their breakfasts from below the surface of a turbulent sea, while closer at hand Herring, Common, Great-black Backed Gulls and Curlew searched the tide line or perched on the rocks, while further out a small number of Eider Duck and Cormorant appeared and disappeared on the ocean swell. On the beach Pied and Grey Wagtails rushed about to feed on the large numbers of flies hovering around the decomposing portions of weed etc. deposited by the in rushing tide, and a Turnstone displayed it's skill as it searched for tit bits. Around this time the weather improved with the introduction of shafts of sunshine through patches of blue sky, but it was only flattering to deceive. So after a check on the local Flora, with a special emphases on Seaweed contributed by Anne, our goddess of all forms of Flora, and as the rain was getting heavier, it was back to the cars and then off to Binnion to check on the rare Evening Primrose Plant. At this stage of proceedings and with teatime slipping behind schedule a place of peace and shelter was had at the Glen House, where our snacks were consumed while listening to the many words of wisdom and stories about helicopters uttered by some members.
Member Liam Mc Laughlin, our ears and eyes in the Malin Town region, has reported seeing four Little Egrets today in Trawbreage Bay near the Parochial Hall. And from another member, Brian Hegerty comes the report of a Great Spotted Woodpecker near Moville. A bright finish to a rather dull wet day.
 
Some pictures taken at Outing to Moville and Cooley.
Sat. 23rd. Aug. 2014. Our Saturday outing kicked off with a quick visit to Malin Town where we verified the number of Little Egrets in residence there since last week at four, as reported by Liam Mc Laughlin. As we were about to leave, we met and had a chat with Paul and his friend Jerry whom Martin and Brian met on their excursion to the Island of Islay two weeks ago. Then it was away to the Cooley area of Moville where it was suggested that the rare Ladies Tresses Orchid may have been seen, but with the guidance of our Botanic sleuth Anne, unfortunately no evidence of it was found, but this setback was overlooked when a pair of large Hares were seen at close range in an adjacent field, that then departed at warp speed in the direction of Drung, could it have been something we said ? In this area two Sparrowhawks were recorded, and martin reported evidence of Buzzard activity. Now after all the excitement it was down to the Stone Pier at Moville where in warm sunshine a relaxed lunch was enjoyed before setting off this time to the Glen, where we walked through the archways of mighty trees comprised of mature Oak, Beech, Chestnut, Ash, London Plain, and many other unidentified specimens, all enjoyed with the sunlight filtering through the leafy canopy, the stillness of this beautiful sylvan heaven was enhanced by the serenade of a tumbling river in a deep ravine obscured by the dense vegetation. High up in some of these gigantic woodland edifices the deserted nests of Buzzards were noted. But now, as usual Father Time was taking his toll, so it was best to be homeward bound........ It was a great pleasure to have the company of Liam Doherty with us today, here on a short holiday from Dublin, but originally from Buncrana.


Sat. 30th. Aug. 2014. With summer drawing to a close it was decided that a final check should be carried out on the local population of Butterflies in recognized habitats on the Peninsula, as we have found that the numbers of the various species have not been as good this year as in previous years. But before this task was undertaken a walk was had on the pathway that leads from the playground at the Ballyliffin Beach to the Castle on the Isle of Doagh, this entailed a survey of plants to be found along the path, and the results indicated that the onset of Autumn has duly set in, with the skeletal remains of the many plants that had added great swathes of colour all Summer to the benefit of the Bees, Insects, Birds and other Animals, and pleasure enjoyed by visitors and locals. Now barely recognizable but like the phoenix they will with a wave of Natures Wand reappear to brighten the days of next Spring. The presence of a Peregrine Falcon, flocks of Curlew, Starling, Meadow Pipet, and Goldfinch, reminds us that life goes on. The real purpose of today's outing commenced at Craigawannia on the Isle of Doagh, regarded as a perfect habitat for our Butterflies, but to our amazement not even one was seen in the area. After lunch it was with great haste that we set off for Lagg, another outstanding Butterfly habitat that lies beyond Malin Town. Here we were delighted but not overwhelmed by the number we found that included six Small Copper, four Common Blue, and one Ringlet. In this general area another Peregrine and three Kestrels were recorded. The big prize of the day was a large acreage of Devils Bit Scabious, discovered by the sharp eyes of Anne and Jim Toland, that hopefully next year may produce great fluttering's of the rare and beautiful Marsh Fritillary Butterfly. This goes to show that there is never a non productive day watching Nature at work.

 

Monday 1st. September 2014. Below is a report from the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group on the wing-tagging project that involved their work in Inishowen.

I will be producing a Blog in the next few weeks which will be updated with maps of movements of wing-tagged buzzards which will make it easier to share information. Until then keep checking our Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/NIRSG ) for updates

 

Wednesday 3rd. Sept.2014. The number of Little Egrets at Trawbreaga Bay has increased from four to five as was suggested my Jim Toland on Saturday 23rd. August, and was confirmed today by Ronald Boggs and Paddy Mc Crossan.

 
Pictures from todays Swilly Count

Sat. 6th. Sept. 2014. In a rather cool northerly breeze with horizon to horizon grey cloud suspended over the Inishowen Peninsula we started on behalf of I-WeBS the 2014/15. winter count of the Sea Birds on our allotted section of Lough Swilly with an appreciated turnout of club members, and with the higher than expected count so early in the season, the task was completed satisfactorily by late afternoon, a special word of thanks is due to the farmers that allow us the privilege of access to their property that facilitated a very accurate survey. After a relaxing dander around part of the new walkway at the Inch Lake, and where a little area with a rich vein of wild flowers that have avoided the avenging death pangs of Autumn was admired. As often happens at times like this, the sun made a dramatic entrance as we journeyed to our respective bases, But later, members Jim and Anne, who may have been in a penitential frame of mind decided to walk part of the Lake walkway in the early evening sunshine, and reported a host of Butterflies that had fifty two Speckled Wood, one Small Copper, one Large White, and two Green-veined White. How about that for an encore!!

 
Pictures from our wonderful outing to the Malin and Culdaff areas.
Sat. 13th. Sept. 2014. There can be days of great beauty that are etched on the memory banks of the mind that will not easily be deleted, and today was one of those special occasions, when Autumn seemed to have withdrawn its threat in the sparkling sunlight that radiated temperatures in the twenties, with many wild flowers reinvigorated by the exceptional warm weather of the past week. Our first experience of this step back to Summer was our stop to admire the dreamy silken surface of a high tide at Malin Town Bridge, and where the ghost-like forms of Little Egrets shimmered in the distant haze as they flew to the eastern end of the Bay. Nearby Widgeon and Mallard duck, together with a selection of Gulls, and a lone Grey Heron relaxed on and near the shore line awaiting the the tidal retreat. A short distance from Malin Town a surprise awaited with the sighting of the rare Evening Primrose plant with it's glowing yellow flowers decorating the roadway. some time later at the shore road Culdaff, it was nice to see more Widgeon, here to spend the winter in our more temperate climate where they will have the company of the many Curlew some of which could be heard uttering their plaintive calls from the river banks and adjacent fields. A few hundred yards further on at Carrowtraw Beach a first was achieved with the recording of four Little Auks in the company of a few Guillemots in their transitional plumage, spotted by Brian, Martin and Daniel, also in the mix were two Great Northern Divers. Then Will and Antonia our Dutch members contributed another exciting moment when they spotted a playful Porpoise on the calm sea off the White Strand Beach. In this general area a Sparrowhawk had us all enthralled as it tried to secure it's lunch from flocks of Starlings, but in turn it was the hunted when attacked by a number of Crows that launched an ariel attack on the bloodthirsty assassin. During our welcomed tea break near Dunmore Head another Sparrowhawk gave a display of it's aerobatic skills. Later at Redford we abandoned our cars, and sauntered down the leaf-shaded pathway to the shore below, and while so doing recorded the many surviving wild flowers that attracted large numbers of Speckled Wood Butterflies, also noted here was the diminutive Goldcrest. Back into the cars and on to the Drumnagassan area where our total count of Buzzards reached three and where twelve Reed Buntings and three Stonechat's were recorded. Our final halt was at Tirahork, where the Buzzard count reached four. Now with late afternoon beckoning the thought of such a wonderful day having to end but as fate dictates end it had too.
 
Pictures from todays outing to the Falmore area.

Sat. 20th. Sept 2014. Another special day once more enjoyed in bright sunshine as was the case last Saturday but with a decrease in temperature this morning by a couple of degrees from the sweltering heat of last weeks outing, but there was a similarity with the previous event as we continued from where we left off on that occasion.... Our last stop of mid morning was at the recently thinned out Pine Forest near Nastackan, where the more nimble members of our party practiced the art of tree climbing, under the skilful and experienced eye of Michael McLaughlin, acquired through his work with the R.S.P.B. On completion of this task, and the pleasant time spent in this well maintained woodland where the sounds of the outside world were kept at bay, and in the many peaceful sun saturated clearings hosts of Speckled Wood Butterflies nectared on the food sources that must surely be dwindling as Autumn makes it's entry. High overhead Buzzards were noted as they circled their domain in search of sustenance. ....After a relaxing tea break in the bucolic setting of Michael's back garden at his recently acquired home, a beautiful young lady entertained the party with her archery skills.... Now well fortified it was off to Falmore, where a visit was made through the dense undergrowth to the wonderful setting of Effish Lake, the waters of which were encrusted with masses of beautiful Water Lilies and where lots of Coot, Moorhen and Mallard Duck appeared and disappeared in the lake side vegetation. as we made our way back to the old road great clusters of glistening Blackberries adorned the bushes and ditches, with evidence of feasting by Foxes and badgers. On arrival on the road we made our way by foot to the skeletal remains of the once great house destroyed by fire a number of years past. In the ghostly silence of this sylvan Wonderland one can easily imagine previous residents going about their daily duties, with perhaps the peal of the bell from it's lofty tower on a farmyard building calling the workers in the fields to their meals, or to signal the end of the day. perhaps it signaled for us the end of another glorious outing

 

BTO Birdwatchers Conference 2014 booking form

Please find attached the programme and booking form for this year's BTO NI Birdwatchers Conference. If you are interested (and you should be because once again Shane has gathered a fantastic line-up!), then please send Shane your completed booking form as soon as possible (by post or email) as places are limited. 

 
Sat. Sept. 27th. No no club outing today due to other commitments.
 
A tint of Autumn today.
Sat. 4th. October. 2014. In a cool but bright morning from our elevated vantage position near the brow of Cruckroosky Hill the true beauty and charm of Inishowen was revealed in all it's glory, with the stunning Mediterranean-like Trawbreaga Bay, and its Lapis lazuli waters embellished by the pristine white churning breakers at the Bar Mouth, the glistening sandy beaches and lofty sand dunes at Lagg, behind which the great bastion of the Knockameny Bens majestic in the morning sunshine, while drifting to infinity in the light haze was Malin Head and to the east, Culdaff and it's hinterland. Shortly after moving from our position the sharp eyed among the group spotted three Swallows, busily refueling no doubt for their impending long flight to Africa, from where we will eagerly await their return next April. Now it was on through the well manicured hedge-lined roadway to Tiraboy, where a Buzzard was sighted and a check was made through our optics to see if it had a wing tag attached, but none was noted. Our next stop was Cambrey here a Red Admiral, the first for today was recorded. On the many cone-laden Fir trees lots of Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Siskin, and to Martin's delight Lesser Redpoll flitted to and fro. Now on to Tirahork, where some time was enjoyed with the expectancy of perhaps a visit by our friend from this day last year, namely the Hen Harrier, but it was not to be, but in it's stead a Kestrel and a Buzzard made their appearance . With a stop in the Falmore area where we revived our spirits with the usual intake of caffeine, after which it was off to the beautiful Kinnagoe Bay and in the warm sunshine a very relaxing time was spent, and where more Red Admirals were added to our list as were Razorbill, Mallard, Great Northern Diver, and those great pristine projectiles Gannets penetrated the smooth surface of the Bay, also here a common Lizard was spotted by Daniel and Peter. Our final destination of the day was a visit to Inishowen Head, so it was through the Mossy Glen, down the Ballymacarthur Road, and on to our objective where the fifth and final Red Admiral Butterfly was recorded. Homeward bound in the early evening the total count for Buzzard reached six, and also recorded was a Peregrine Falcon, to conclude another pleasurable experience.
 
Sunday 5th. October 2014. At four PM. six Whooper Swans landed on the high tide near the Parochial Hall Malin Town for a short period but took off again due to the appearance of a large dog nearby.
 
Pictures from Brian's trip to Isley today
Sat.11th. Oct. 2014. An October morning akin to the best that summer might deliver and with a sunny stillness filling the air, how privileged we felt as we set off to explore for the treasures of nature to be found in the Clonmany area where the great mountains still clad in their cloaks coloured by a mosaic of purple, orange, green and brown, reaching high into the cloudless blue sky. Following the road at the base of the Urris Hills we reached Lenan where the sharp eyed Daniel Moloney spied an Otter as it without any great urgency swam up the slow flowing tidal waters of the Lenan Keel, here also were numbers of Stonechat, Pied Wagtail, and Robin. Now it was on to the nearby old ruined Army Fort, and as we neared our objective a Buzzard was observed perched on a fencing post, then at the Fort a small raft of Eider Duck were seen as they floated rhythmically on the gentle Atlantic swell as did Black Guillemot in their winter plumage while Oystercatcher called from the base of the great rocky fortress. A little later we had a fly past by a Buzzard, probably the same one seen earlier........ Observed as it fluttered at the cliff edge a very fresh Tortoiseshell Butterfly caught our attention, and also in this area a number of Chough flew to and from their grassy feeding places. But the highlight of the day was when a Golden Eagle was observed being pestered by a collection of irritable Ravens high up on Reachtain Mhor...... On the way to the Craigaleen area of Tullagh Bay flocks of Linnets were noted, while on the Bay a Great Northern Diver was recorded, also a small number of Ringed Plover. This our final stop ended another very pleasant day in the great outdoors............. Member, Brian Hegerty was availing of an other opportunity to visit Isley on the west coast of Scotland where thousands of Barnacle Geese have been reported. Details of his visit will be added to today's news when to hand....... Brian's report of trip to Isley today: The RSPB Loch Gruinart Nature Reserve lies to the north west of Islay and covers some 1600ha. It is a special kind of nature reserve because it includes a working farm – in fact, the biggest in-hand farming operation on a nature reserve anywhere in the UK, and possibly in Europe. Roughly a third of the reserve comprises farm land for grazing or for silage or arable crop production. The rest consists of approximately 250ha of mud flats and salt marsh, and 980ha of heather moorland. Today I saw approximately 15000 barnacle geese which could rise to 56000 over the next few months also, Greenland, White-fronted, Canada, and Brent, but not in large numbers. Also recorded were 12 buzzard, 3-4 Golden Eagle 1 female Hen Harrier ......flocks of Lapwing, Starling, Mallard, Widgeon and other Waders and as expected Red Deer stags standing guard over their females. Overall a worthwhile visit
 
Friday 17th. October 2014. The number of Little Egrets in Trawbrega Bay this morning has increased from five to six.
 
Pictures from todays Octobers bird count.

Sat. 18th. Oct. 2014. The term "Up with the Birds" is not usually applicable to many bird watchers, but in the case of our members Brian Hegerty and Daniel Moloney they took it to a higher level by getting up this morning before the birds, with Daniel greeting the dawn in the south County Derry region to record a female Hen Harrier as it rose from it's winter roost in search of some warm sustenance to start it's day. Meanwhile Brian arrived at Blanket Nook with his watch indicating six thirty a.m. and as the first lumen of light crept above the eastern horizon to reveal an Otter as it foraged for a morning snack. Then as the sun light intensified a Peregrine, and a Sparrowhawk searched for some way to take the edge of their night enforced fast. Next a Kingfisher flashed by, it's slumbers possibly disturbed by the cacophony of squabbling erupting from the large numbers of Geese, ducks and Swans as they greeted the day. This was all done before Daniel and Brian met with Martin and Paddy in Buncrana, as they set off to do the October Winter Bird Count on Lough Swilly, and what a pleasurable experience that was, with the bright sunlight and an amazing temperature of sixteen degrees, only slightly reduced by the strong breeze. ...... Apart from all the birds recorded on the water and shore today, we also had six Buzzards, four Peregrines, two Sparrowhawks, and perhaps a female Hen Harrier, a platoon of Long-tailed Tits, and two beautiful Peacock Butterflies. Later high in the sky above Inch Lake thousands of Golden Plover stood out against a blue sky and orange tinted clouds.

 
Saturday 25th. October 2014. No club outing today due to other commitments.
 
Thursday 30th. October 2014. The following announcement has been received from Boyd Bryce, our member in Inch Island who is heavily involved in an effort to reintroduce the Grey Partridge to Inishowen and beyond. The undertaking is recognized as being of a rather difficult nature.

The Donegal Grey Partridge project.
County Donegal Regional Game and Wildlife Council, with assistance from the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC), have undertaken a momentous project to re-introduce the native Grey Partridge to the county. The Grey Partridge, like the Red Grouse and unlike the introduced Pheasant, is a native Irish game bird, which although originally widespread, gradually declined during the first half of the twentieth century. Eventually the species dwindled to a tiny number on the cutaway bogs at Boora, co. Offaly. The NARGC together with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, nurtured these remaining birds and augmented them with Partridge from Estonia, which had the closest DNA profile to our native birds, of all Grey Partridge populations throughout Europe.
As the Boora project was successful in increasing the breeding population of Partridge to a more sustainable level, The Donegal Game and Wildlife Council decided to emulate the Boora project here in the county. Boyd Bryce and Inch Gun Club bravely undertook to run the scheme, and to that end, Boyd took charge of five pairs of Grey Partridge. The initial results were mixed but we now have some young birds which we shall be releasing on Inch Island. We shall retain these birds near the release site by having others in pens. Boyd has given over part of his farm to the project by sowing a game crop to provide food and cover for the Partridge. This food will be in the form of various seeds at this time of year but the crop will nurture insect food for the wild bred young chicks next year.
Although the principal aim is to reintroduce the locally extinct Grey Partridge, we also foresee an increase in the numbers of farmland birds. These include the once common yellowhammer, the linnet and other declining species. Unfortunately we are too late for the now nationally extinct corn bunting.
As is evident from our name, Donegal Game and wildlife council is dedicated to preserving our wildlife and not just those on the shooting list. The Grey Partridge is a fully protected species and will continue to have that status. They are part of our wildlife heritage, along with the Yellowhammer etc. and deserve our protection and nurturing to at least return them to a self-sustaining level. If we are successful, we intend to replicate the project in other suitable parts of the county.
We hope for the support of the people of County Donegal in furthering this project and in protecting the vulnerable species which have disappeared or are on the cusp of doing so.

_____________________________
David Murphy,
P.R.O.,
Co. Donegal Game and Wildlife Council.
P.S. The initial release of a group of young Partridge will take place on Wed. 5th Nov. at a time to suit the press, and daylight.
.

 
Saturday 1st. November 2014. No club outing today due to the festivities and other commitments. But our intrepid ornithologist Brian Hegerty did manage to make a trip to Malin Head from Sion Mills and arrived at Bamba's Crown before eight am. where he met local birder Ronan Mc Laughlin and together they enjoyed a fruitful day recording and photographing the many species of resident, and newly arrived birds that spend the winter months in our milder climate, that included a flock of Barnacle Geese, numbering about four hundred. Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper, Eider Duck, a very large flock of Twite, Curlew, Meadow and Rock Pipit, Oystercatcher, Gannet, and heading off to warmer climes was a Wheatear, To conclude his adventure brian's count of Raptors was exceptional with three Buzzard, Three Merlin, one Sparrowhawk, and one Peregrine Falcon. on his return in the late afternoon at Malin Town he recorded and photographed the six Little Egrets that have been resident in the area for the past number of weeks
Purple Sandpiper
 
Wednesday 5th. October 2014. A large flock of an estimated four hundred Barnacle Geese was reported in the Lagg area of Malin in bright sunshine this morning, also in the area are numbers of Brent.
 
Sat. 8th. November 2014. The Gods of Nature were lavishly dispensing their bountiful gifts on our outing with a peaceful, calm, bright, sun soaked day, added to by the camaraderie of our group as we set off this morning through a densely planted forest of Sycamore Trees at Straths, Carndonagh. Here a Sparrowhawk was observed as it pursued it's prey with amazing speed and agility, with the outcome of the pursuit unknown, also present here was evidence that Buzzards and Owls are availing of this quiet habitat, as were Song Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch, and Goldcrest that flitted to and from the bare branches and hedges. A short distance further on a large flock of newly arrived Barnacle Geese, estimated at near five hundred was recorded as it grazed contentedly in acres of lush grassland, shared with a sizable number of Curlew, and Oystercatcher.... Next a short respite was had at Glasha where a welcomed tea break was enjoyed, and where shortly after, another Sparrowhawk, this one heavily laden flew across our path carrying it's lunch that looked like it's victim may have been a Jackdaw.... With the early morning spring tide retreating into the distance followed by most of the Duck, Geese, and Waders, it was decided to go a bit more inland...... So off we went to the Tirahork and Falmore regions, where a number of Buzzard were recorded, and while here a check was made on the possible sighting of a Hen Harrier, but to no avail...... Next it was homeward bound through Culdaff, where from the river walk, Teal, Mallard, Wigeon, Redshank, Greenshank and Ringed Plover searched through the river's recently exposed mud that glistened in the fading evening sunshine. ....Now it only remained for us to say thanks to those Gods for such a wonderful day.
 
Pictures from todays Lough Swilly's Bird Count.
Sat.15th. November 2014. The November assault on the winter Bird Count of Lough Swilly was launched today in exceptionally fine, summer like weather conditions, that prevailed throughout the day, and contributed to the wonderful high count obtained by our group of enthusiastic birders that congregated at Buncrana from different areas of Inishowen and beyond, as in Brian Hegerty's case who travels from Sion Mills, in County Tyrone to our Saturday outings. ......With the very high neap tidal waters maintained throughout most of the day, especially at the new car park on the western shore of the Inch Lake it offered an excellent opportunity to get up close to the great multitudes of Duck, Waders, Geese and Swans. High in the blue sky the usual large flocks of Lapwing, and Golden Plover entertained their audiences by the display of precise aerial aerobatic skills presented, that perhaps it was time for us to fly off.
 
Tuesday 18th. November. 2014. Our valued correspondent on Inch Island Boyd Bryce, has reported positive sightings of a Barn Owl in that Area.
 
Sat. 22nd. Nov. 2014. The cold air of morning had the alarm bells ringing indicating the austere days of winter are about to make their entry after the luxury of a glorious autumn now dissipating into the past. But all was not gloom and doom, for on our trip to the Malin and Glengad regions we had the advantage of bright sunlight focused at a rather low angle on the wonderful scenic landscape. With a very brief stop at Malin Town to check on the resident family of six Little Egrets, we were able to report seeing three of them rushing frantically through the shallow tidal waters for little fish or crustaceans. At Culkeeny, Glengad, we stopped to see Buzzard and Sparrowhawk hunting over the heather clad hillside. Next it was on to the Pier at Portaleen where fishermen were busy unloading their catch of shell fish, while out on the Bay Great Northern Diver, Cormorant, and Herring Gull, floated on the silvered sea. On shore well disguised in the shadows of the grey rocks five Rock Doves had their midday siesta. ...At Malin Glen on our way to Malin Head another Sparrowhawk was recorded. Later at Portmore Pier, refreshed by our tea break, more Great Northern Diver, Eider Duck, Black Guillemot in their spectacular winter plumage, Oystercatcher, and Great black-backed and Herring Gull bobbed up and down on the gentle swell. A little later at Ballyhillin a small flock of approximately one hundred Barnacle Geese was enjoying the fresh grass in the fields near Bamba's Crown... Now with the sun soon to slip below the line of the distant hills we concluded our visit to Malin Head with a brief stop at the White Strand Bay, here Turnstone, Greenshank. Redshank, Curlew, Eider, and a large number of Mallard readied themselves for the impending night. Now homeward bound, at Lagg, a sizable number of Brent Geese, Widgen, Greenshank, Curlew, and Oystercatcher completed our list for today.
 
Pictures from today's outing to check our Owl Nesting Boxes.
Sat. 28th. Nov. 2014. On this the last Saturday of November and with the continuing summer-like conditions that saw the early morning mist gradually fade to reveal the splendor of our glorious countryside, we set off on the task of checking the condition and occupancy of our Owl Nesting Boxes that were skillfully constructed and installed a couple of years ago by our masterful and energetic member Brian Hegerty, ably assisted by Martin and Daniel Moloney, Peter White, Jim Toland and other club members, acting in other capacities. Our visits on this occasion included various sites in the Muff, Newtowncunningham, and Burt areas. ...... Today as as on other surveys we have undertaken, a special word of thanks is due to the gracious land owners that not only allow us access to their property's, but also show their interest by assisting our enquiries with valuable information gained from their observations as they perform their daily farming activities. ...... During the visits to the different locations a large number of Buzzard were recorded, totaling sixteen, with one Peregrine Falcon and two Sparrowhawk.. A number of waders were noted that included Greenshank, Curlew, Turnstone, Grey Heron, Oystercatcher, Mallard, Widgen, Teal, Shellduck, Great-crested Grebe, large flocks of Whooper Swan and larger numbers of Greylag Geese. .....A most productive and pleasant day was our reward.
 
Sat. 6th. Dec. 2014. What a difference a week can make with regards weather, when on the last outing the sun made it's appearance mid morning, while today the whole country was cocooned in a dark blanket of mist and rain that had the ability to reduce visibility greatly, but the assembled group of stalwarts showed no sense of despondence. When at the first stop on the shore of Trawbreaga Bay at Glasha, we were presented with a dark vision of brown rocks draped with even darker seaweed, laid bare by a spring tide long since retreated to form a narrow stream only just visible in the distance against the grey background and where one could envisage a great many Waders and Geese availing of a possible bonanza to be found there....Next it was off to Culdaff via Malin Town where as usual a check was made on the Little Egrets that appear to enjoy life there ...........The main reason for today's outing and especially to the Culdaff region was to examine the possible existence of suitable winter roosts for Hen Harriers, as we have had very reliable reports of sightings in the area.This activity set the pattern for most of the day with stops at various locations extending to Falmore. ...With the rain and mist continuing their onslaught, and the light faltering, our tea break was put on the proverbial back burner so that we could continue our search.... Then the whole day changed with Biblical proportions, not quite the "Parting of the Red Sea" but close, when to our delight a young male Hen Harrier rose from a side road near Falmore and flew off to our left, with what appeared to be prey dangling from it's talons. ...... Then things got even better when about fifty meters further on when a spectacularly large and beautifuly marked female Peregrine Falcon was spotted on a fence post consuming it's dinner of Woodcock....Our final activity now was to have our delayed tea break that was consumed with an air of satisfaction, when the other recordings of the day that included two Buzzard, another Peregrine, and a couple of Sparrowhawks were added to our list.
 
Pictures from today's Swilly Count
Sat. 13th. Dec. 2014. With the Peninsula in the icy grip of winter, and the temperature just making one degree centigrade, it was with great caution that members made their way to the assembly point at Buncrana to commence the December Bird Count on the Lisfannon and Fahan Creek areas of Lough Swilly. As the morning progressed the frosty hand of mother nature released it's unwelcomed hold somewhat, and by midday a very pleasant afternoon was being enjoyed with the complete absence of any form of precipitation, or wind to cause a distraction which resulted in another very satisfactory recording of the bird numbers. As is customary on these occasions when on completion of our task we usually visit the Inch Lake, but today we did a mini tour of Inch Island first, that eventually returned us to the Lake at the Causeway Road where among the multitudes of Ducks, Waders, Whooper and Mute Swans, we were graciously welcomed by the pair of resident Black Swans and their little Cygnet as they raced to greet us close to the wall at the roadway...Now with evening casting it lengthening shadows that would soon entrap us, it was time to set off for home.
The Annual Christmas Outing is as usual on the day after Boxing Day which this year is Saturday 27th. Dec. The meeting point is the Causeway Road to Inch Island, and the time is 10.00am. Everyone welcome, including non members. Don't forget the warm clothing and hot beverage.
 
Sat. 20th. Dec. 2014. With the ever increasing proximity of the festive season that entails the observance of certain domestic responsibilities, it has been decided to postpone today's outing, but normal activities will resume next Saturday (as stated above) for those that survive the seasonal excesses. A happy Christmas is extended to all our members, and to all of our friends at home and in foreign lands.
 
Pictures from today's Christmas Outing.
Sat. 27th. Dec. 2014. Today the magic of the festive season extended to include our Annual Christmas Outing that also coincided with our usual Saturday event. The predicted gloom of cold windy weather laced with rain, hail and snow, never materialized..... On our arrival at the assembly point this morning on the Causeway road to Inch Island, the sun reached into it's sack of goodies and lavished it's benevolence on the large number gathered there and where those well known and liked, local wildlife enthusiasts Boyd and Bridie Bryce, welcomed us with the prospects of a bird netting demonstration, but unfortunately the birds declined the invitation, but the local Black Swan filled the gap, as it paraded and posed within touching distance for the willing audience with their cameras clicking feverishly. ......This was followed by by a short stop at the new car park at Mc Grath's where a pair of Otters were observed frolicking on the calm lake surfae, while close by Jack Snipe broke cover and flew a short distance nearer to the water. Also in the area Buzzard and peregrine were recorded, as were the great hosts of Waders, Geese, Swans and Duck. High in the sky Lapwing and Golden Plover formed great shimmering clouds. ....... Now with that bewitching hour approaching, lunch was consumed at the Farland Bank, after which a visit was made to Blanket Nook, where more Buzzard, Peregrine, Kestrel and a Little Egret were noted.......Our final stop of this wonderful day was near Manorcunningham, from where far below on the Big Isle flocks of White Fronted and Brent Geese glistened in the afternoon light, while along the retreating tide line long necklaces of Waders were busily feeding in the low water and silt. .......Here also Buzzard and Peregrine and another Little Egret were recorded as was a small flock of Reed Buntings stocking up on provisions for the approaching evening. ......Now the weather decided to change from it's placid mood to something very different, with hail, and a cold wind that signaled home time, after this glorious last outing of the 2014 season.
 
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