Inishowen Wildlife Club.
 
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First club Outing for 2016.
Saturday 2nd. January 2016. After the cold torrential rain and the restless winds of the past number of days we welcomed our first club outing for the year 2016, presented in amazingly perfect weather, bearing the gifts of a peaceful calm, and the Sun that shone it's light through a filter of very light translucent cloud cover that bore no burden of precipitation. ... Our odyssey began in the area of Straths Carndonagh, where a large flock of Barnacle Geese grazed contentedly for a considerable time before flying off to other adjacent sites. Close by large numbers of Curlew were equally cooperative, while a flock of Lapwing kept a lookout from high above. ....At Glasha and Malin Town, Trawbreaga Bay was attired in a pristine garment of silvered stilless that was ruptured on some of it's edges by the presence of Mallard, Wigeon and Teal, as they ducked and dived. Near the Malin Town Parochial Hall, on the Culdaff Road the statuesque figure of the Little Egret was on duty, especially with the presence of a very distinguished visitor to our shores as it enjoyed the company of the regular Wigeon that winter here, the dignitary in this case was an American Wigeon. ....A little later at the Culdaff River estuary, piercing the quiet waters of the high tide were a couple of Grey Seals, one of which drew it's self on to the grass bank on the opposite river bank, while enjoying the occasion were more Wigeon, Curlew, Redshank, Black-backed Gull, a Great Northern Diver, a Black Guillemot in it's winter plumage, and a Little Grebe with many Redshank racing about on the estuary shore. ........A very nicely designed Bird Hide has been installed further along the river bank. ...As we journeyed to the Drumnagasson Road region a number of Buzzard were recorded, but the hoped for sighting of perhaps a Hen Harrier was not achieved, but no regrets were harboured after our first outing of the season.
 
The Greyness of a January Bird Count Day.
Sat. 9th. January 2016. Our sortie on the first Bird Count on behalf of I-WeBS for the 2016 season was undertaken with less than the usual benevolent assistance from the weather gods who usually endow our activities with great riches, but today was not an example of their generosity. ....Our count as usual commenced at Buncrana Pier, where an exceptional low tide had dragged the usual bounty of bird life far into Lough Swilly, this together with the poor visibility that enshrouded the objects of our intentions set the standard for the remainder of the count at the Lisfannon and Fahan Creek sectors. .....At one stage the rain became very persistent, intensified by the piercingly cold wind, that we had to call a halt to proceedings, and retire to the shelter of Boyd Bryce's welcoming building at Strahack, Inch Island, where we had an early lunch. ....Some time later the rain eased sufficiently for us to resume our task, and revisit areas that we had missed earlier due to the weather. ...When the final count was completed with the usual dedicated enthusiasm, we were more than pleased with the overall result. Finaly, on our homeward journey we had the added pleasure of sighting that most beautiful bird, the male Smew in the Inch Lake as it bobbed up and down on the turbulent waters near the Causeway Road.
 
A Day With The Clonmany Scout Troop At Inch Lake.
Sat. 16th. Jan. 2016. Our activity for today's foray into the wildlife activities to be found at the iconic Inch Lake was our involvement in the hosting of the Clonmany Scout Troup, and their most diligent leaders and in turn led by William Joyce. The sense of excitement and anticipation by the children was indeed palpable as they watched the many flocks of birds on the lake, while in the air Great flocks of Golden Plover, Lapwing and Godwit, displayed against the grey clouds, with the the more sedate Whooper Swans doing their take offs and landings with great aplomb, all added to by the children seeing these things through the lenses of our scopes and binoculars. Throughout the visit Martin and Daniel Moloney explained the features and habits of the birds on show. ....A short time before our visitors arrived we watched a few thousand Greylag Geese in fields on both sides of the Slob Road some of these birds had neckbands attached, also noticed amongst this great number were a few of the rare Bean Goose. The count of Raptors for today was recorded at eleven, the young scouts seemed to show a great interest in these birds, perhaps because of their size and their elevated perching positions. . ...Soon it was time for the kids to return to base camp in Clonmany, no doubt tired and with tales of their adventure at the Inch Lake. ....A few hours later we followed their example and set off home.
 
Pictures From Our Visit To Muff Glen And Other Areas.
Sat 23rd Jan. 2016. Our Saturday club ramblings today took us beyond the borders of our beautiful Inishowen Peninsula to another paradise of sylvan beauty, The Muff Glen near the village of Eglinton Co Derry. Here the greyness of the morning was compensated by the pleasantness that exuded from this forests of giants and gurgling streams, as they wound their way to the not so distant Lough Foyle. Here and there the evidence of the approaching Spring was to be seen with the Wood Sorrel and Lesser Celandine preparing to make their seasonal entrances in a few weeks time to delight the many walkers and nature lovers that avail of this wonderland. Occasionally the usually noisy Jays were seen but not heard as they flew silently from tree to tree, while that mouse like athlete the Treecreeper scaled the dizzy heights of suitable trees, with Buzzards and rooks exchanging insults as to the perching rights on a number of tall trees, then the most diminutive of our feathered friends, the Goldcrest, checked their larders in the branches no doubt well laden with mouth-watering titbits .................. Earlier a short visit was made to the Bird Hide at Ballykelly, where very large flocks of Lapwing fluttered in flight against the grey clouds, while great flocks of Oystercatchers congregated near the tide line with flocks of Dunlin and Redshank in attendance. Plundering the shallows of a river as it entered the lough a lone Little Egret was aglow in its radient plumage. The final stop of the outing was at the River Faughan Estuary, where more waders were noted, as were the large flocks of Linnets, Fieldfare's, Goldfinch, and a pair of Reed Buntings, that were all disturbed by the appearance of a pair of Sparrowhawks, their arrival on the scene reverberated amongst all their potential prey. Now with the first few drops of rain encountered today splashing on our cars, it was time to be off.
 
The Saturday Outing that braved the Storm.
Sat. 30th. Jan. 2016. Undaunted by the severe overnight storm of extreme gale force winds and the deposits of snow that had the surrounding mountains encapsulated in blankets of ermine white that glistened intensely when the sun shone it's powerful beams in their direction. Our usual Saturday outing proceeded as normal, and due to the conditions delivered a bountiful reward, as at our first stop at Malin Town where we recorded six Little Egrets with their usual companion the Grey Heron in attendance as they sheltered in a snug position from the gale and the extremely high tide. Further out the Lagg Road a large flock of Barnacle Geese found refuge and sustenance in the shorelined fields. ......At the Culdaff Estuary flocks of those little gems, namely Teal, shared the small grass covered Islets in the calm waters of the River with large flocks of Oystercatcher, Wigeon, Great-black Backed, Black-headed, and Common Gull, while on the shore front the ferocity of the storm was venting it's anger as it thundered the great snarling breakers on to the disheveled sandy beach. ..... A short time was spent journeying through Redford, the Drumnagassan Road area, Falmore, Tirahork, and Cambry. ......Later Daniel Moloney got a phone call reporting a Puffin being washed ashore by the storm near Knockamany. This he attended to with the care and skill acquired from his dad Martin...... One lesson learned from today was that any day is a Good day to watch Nature.
 
Sat. 6th. Feb. 2016. To paraphrase Shelley "When the penultimate Winter Bird Count for the 2015/16. Season on Lough Swilly arrives, can spring be far behind"? but with the very piercingly cold wind blowing in today from an easterly direction it felt that it has a bit to go yet, and now with the lengthening periods of daylight progress is being made. All of this was applicable to our task, where with a falling tide we had a similar situation developing like last months count when the birds spent their time on the distant tide line availing of what could be found there, or enjoying the bonanza of tasty titbits skulking in the great expanses of soft mud and sand. As we progressed further up the estuary the tide was emptying very fast, and by doing so left a rather narrow strip of water where the birds were easy to recognize and record, which contributed to a very respectable count. The absence of rain made our task a lot easier, that instilled a sense of satisfaction in our members on the conclusion to our task.
 
With the South-west Donegal Birders Club.
Sat. 13th. Feb. 2016. An aura of spring was palpable over the paradise of Inishowen and beyond, with a special emphasis on the Inch Lake Nature Reserve, where we were delighted to welcome back again our good friends from the South-west Donegal Birders Club. ...........The objects of our desires, namely the birds, were in a most obliging mood exemplified by the great numbers on show in the adjacent pastures and on the Lake, as on our way to the bird hide at Tready Point very large numbers of Greylag Geese some with neck bands grazed contentedly in a large acreage on the left side of the path, and interspersed with them was a small flock of Barnacle, while close by a Buzzard was observed as it fed on the carcase of a Whooper Swan, closely monitored by a couple of salivating Crows. .......Then at the bird hide, floating serenely on the silvered surface of the Lake were flocks of Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, and lesser numbers of Redshank, Great-created Grebe and Shelduck. ...Later at the lower bird hide on the northern end of the Lake, a Black Swan was watched with interest by our visitors as it chased a Whooper Swan up and down the Burnfoot River, while in this well wooded area a few Treecreepers were displaying their climbing skills. Back on the slow flowing river water, Coot, Little Grebe and Moorhen were enjoying it's tranquil movement. Earlier the pride of ducks, the male Smew was recorded at the Farland Bank. ..........Now with the cold air of late afternoon impinging on the pleasures enjoyed birding here today and the considerable distance our visitors had to travel a halt was called with good bye's being exchanged between our members and our friends from the South-west Birders Club.
 
Sunday 14th. Feb. 2016. After yesterdays glorious outing to Inch Lake club member Brian Hegerty who found a dead Barn Owl a few days earlier that had a leg ring attached. The bird was discovered on an area of grass and bushes between the dual motorway near the roundabout at Gransha Hospital, Derry. Brian on his return home yesterday was notified that the bird was ringed by John Lusby near Faranfore Co Kerry, on the 10th. July. 2015. Surprisingly the bird managed to travel approximately 400 kl.!!
 
Thursday 18th. Feb. 2016. The usual Saturday report on our club activities will not be available on the 20th. due to the fact that the members will be off to the Netherlands for a feast of bird watching, all curtsey of our generous Dutch members who have invited us to see what wildlife has to offer in the Zider Zee area. It is intended that the report of our adventure will be available on Tuesday 23rd.
 
A few pictures from our outing to Netherlands
Tuesday 23rd. February 2016. The acquisition of riches is usually calculated by what one has in the bank account but more important is the riches derived from friendship, exemplified by the generosity and hospitality lavished on our club by all of our Dutch friends and club members when we visited by invitation to their amazing country. Arriving at Schiphol Airport on Friday 19th, February where we were warmly welcomed and taken by cars to commence our great Wildlife Odyssey which would involve traveling to the northern regions and to near the southern areas. ....Our first experience of the wonderful wildlife here was being driven along the very straight road in the Oostvaarderplassen region with the sea on one side and a great habitat of reed beds and woodland on the other side, as we did, wild shrieks of excitement reverberated through the convoy as a number of Hen Harriers, Marsh Harriers, Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Buzzard, Great Egret and Red Deer appeared in quick succession, that in many ways set the pattern for the remainder of our visit. ...........A stop was made at the Oostvaarderplassen Visitor Centre (near Lelystad) for coffee and to meet with a few more of our Dutch friends, also present was our guide Michiel Babeliowsky to show us the beautiful nature of the area and the animal and birds that inhabit this immense park. At one of it's bird hides Common Buzzard and Rough-leged Buzzard were recorded as were the Egyptian, Barnacle, Greylag and White-fronted Geese, large flocks of various species of Duck, and appearing from the trees were Red Deer. ....With the sun indicating it's intention to retire for the day and the effect of this seven kilometers plus walk it was time to retire to our hosts abodes and prepare for dinner with our friends in the Community Centre at Emmeloord, after which in our relaxed state we all enjoyed the movie "New Wilderness". Then it was back to our host's dwellings to sleep after a long but exciting day.
Saturday 20. After a good nights sleep, our prepared breakfasts and packed lunch's we were ready to set off in the convoy of four cars to IJsselmeer and Friesland to see Ducks and Geese, but no one had prepared us for the numbers of Greylag, White-fronted and Barnacle Geese that were estimated at many thousands in these areas. Imagine the look on our faces when informed by one of the Netherlands' wildlife experts Nicko Groen that about thirty thousand Barnacle arrive here every winter, the numbers of Greylag are far in excess of that figure, also here are considerable flocks of White-fronted, and Bean Geese. There are Duck everywhere. To ascertain the numbers, It would be easier to count the stars, the exceptions being the twelve Male Smew, the Gadwall, Goosander and Scoter recorded at one short stop. ....Another first for most of our members was the flock of Bewick's Swans, estimated at one thousand. In some of the smaller fields families of White Storks strutted about. After an early lunch our hosts had great baskets of apples, oranges, bananas, yogurts, fruit drinks, bottled water, and so many different breads and cakes, this decadence conjured up the vision of some great ancient Roman Banquet, and this was the practice every day from day one. Later with the rain starting to fall and the wind increasing in velocity we stopped off for a break at a cozy little restaurant for a cup of tea/coffee or perhaps a different sort of beverage.. ....Next it was back to base to relax a bit before preparing for dinner in the Plaza A6 Restaurant in Emmeloord where we were joined by the spouses of our hosts where all enjoyed a three hour dining extravaganza after which it was back to our hosts to avail of more hospitality before going to bed to sleep and perhaps to dream.
Sunday. We received the same pampering as yesterday morning before setting off along the beautiful river IJssel to Kampen and after that to Zwolle. The fact that the rain and wind had intensified didn't spoil our pleasure, as the wildlife seamed to be putting in an extra effort, with more astronomical numbered flocks of Geese that had the Greylag, Barnacle White-fronted on show. More of the lovely Rough-legged Buzzard and the Common variety were defying the rain as they perched on posts or searched for worms or such in the wet grass. Earlier Brian saw a Woodpecker as it came out of a nest box. Now with the afternoon on the wane it was time to say goodbye to our most friendly, generous and courteous friends especially Wil and Martin, Beb, Anneke, Antonia, Feitze, last and by no means least Niko. All of the show was not quiet over as Martin, He of the nose for Raptors, managed to include another Buzzard two Hen Harriers and a Goshawk on our way bach to the Schiphol Airport.
 
The Day that Spring Sprung.
Sat. 27th. Feb. 2016. With the official announcement of spring's arrival as Tuesday next the first of March, Mother Nature decided to steal a march on officialdom and presented her version of spring, that most beautiful and awaited time of the year. So today with our glorious countryside bathed in bright sunshine we set off to the Straths area of Carndonagh. On arrival our spirits soared to a higher level when we saw a great flock of Barnacle geese enjoying the feeding on the lush green pastures, while across the tidal inlet another sizeable flock was doing likewise on the Isle of Doagh. .....In the silvered stillness of Trawbreaga Bay the silent tide ebbed slowly in the direction of the great pyramids of sand dunes at Lagg, the gateway to the Atlantic. As it proceeded, it exposed feeding opportunities for the numbers of Brent Geese, Shelduck, Redshank, Greenshank, Oystercatcher, Red-breasted Merganser, Wigeon and Mallard, while a Common Seal basked in the glory of the morning on a large flat rock some distance off shore. ......As expected a Little Egret made it's presence known near Malin Town, by it's pristine plumage that sparkled in the bright sunlight. ..........Somewhat overpowered by the beauty of the day it was decided to drive up to the Ballagh Hill Road and enjoy the most spectacular view from this elevated position, from where below a great arena of bucolic loveliness stretched to the shimmering waters of Trawbreage Bay, beyond which the blue grey tinted majestic mountains of the Peninsula faded into infinity. ......Next it was on to Malin Head over that other beauty spot of Knockamany Bens. The word beautiful is inadequate to describe what lies before your eyes here. Later at the White Strand Bay, and Portmore, rafts of Eider floated serenely on a sea of blue, as did the Great Northern Divers, Mallard, Red-breasted Merganser, and surprisingly a Red-necked Grebe. This sighting brought a great spring day's birding to a close.
 
Pictures from a Cold, Sunny, Spring Day.
Sat. 5th. March 2016. Today The Month of March was living up to it's reputation of being unpredictable, clearly illustrated by the variations in it's temperament which were personified by the varying strong icy wind coming from an Arctic or occasionally a Siberian direction, that had the Atlantic Ocean in a very turbulent state, all of which was greatly enhanced by the intense luminosity of the spring sunshine that had the crashing white horses glistening against their deep blue to turquoise aquatic background as they thundered against the rocky headlands and golden beaches of the coast line from Culdaff to Inishowen Head. ........This Month is also renowned for it's palette of ocher's, umbers, rich browns, greens, reds and blues that has been used to paint the masterpieces of our sun kissed landscape of hills, mountains and sea. ....Earlier in the morning a most enjoyable meander was had along a little used roadway in the Knockergrana area, here a Woodcock broke cover to disappear as quickly as it appeared. Then overhead a pair of Buzzards floated kite like against the strong breeze, later among some low bushes our most diminutive bird, the Gold crest was recorded as it flitted from branch to branch. ....In a warm, sunny, sheltered spot at Cambry, lunch was consumed before setting off via Tirahork, Carrowmenagh, and the ancient village of Ballymagaraghy to the stunningly beautiful and historic Kinnagoe Bay where Eider and Cormorant bobbed on the more sheltered waters of the Bay. ..On our way to Inishowen Head we investigated many of the roadside turf stacks for evidence of that little and very elusive assassin, namely the Merlin. At the Inishowen Head a male Sparrowhawk made a very brief appearance....... The count of birds was rather on the low side today, but the joy of being out in our wonderful countryside more than compensated for their absence.
 
The Day of the Eagle.
Sat. 12th. Mar 2016. Today's foray into the wildlife of the Clonmany region has to be designated as the "Day of the Eagle" . As our somewhat depleted numbers, due to commitments in other fields assembled in the town square Clonmany, little did we expect to encounter the object's of our visit, the Golden Eagle but within fifteen minutes of our arrival, one was observed as it drifted along the ridge of Tanderagee Hill and the great rocky bastion of Binnion Hill. As it did so, it's trajectory was momentarily interrupted by large flocks of Rooks and Ravens that seemed to object to it's presence in their territory, and a short time later a Peregrine Falcon was seen to join in the protest, but all to no avail. ...............The most of the morning was spent watching this great spectacle. Then a relaxing cup of tea was had, after which our outing was given another boost when the mighty bird we had been watching up to this point was joined by it's male partner. During this period another Peregrine, then a Merlin, followed by a Kestrel appeared on the scene. ...When it was thought that things couldn't get any better we were presented, with a close-up of the Eagles marvelous mating ritual involving sky diving, inverted flight and the utterance of their mating calls. ...No doubt our Raptor specialists are going to be dejected by their absence from the "Day of the Eagle".
 
The Final Winter Count of the Birds of Lough Swilly for the 2015-16 Season.
Sat. 20th. Mar. 2016. Our club activity today was the involvement in the final count for the 2015-2016 winter season of the Birds of Lough Swilly on behalf of I-WeBS. This exercise was carried out in a day of gentle stillness, with just the merest suggestion of a breeze, and with the improving light by the sun that never reached it's expected and hoped for crescendo, but none the less it was very pleasant, with at times the temperature merging into double figures. .......Perhaps the one drawback to our count exercise was the very low tide that had the birds a long way from shore which entailed the use of our scopes to alleviate this problem. ....The reward for being outdoors at this time of year is to see the awaking of spring, as today with the blossoming Lesser Celandine leading the parade and from their cozy nooks the Primroses bade us welcome, while the delicate blue flowers of the Periwinkle offered the perfect foil to the occasional drifts of Daffodils. On many roadside ditches Willow Trees and Bushes are flaunting their new attire of Catkins, above which a number of Buzzards floated on the still air, while through the hedges, Yellowhammer, Dunnock, Chaffinch and the cheeky little Red Robin flitted in search of a tasty tit bit.... So ended our memorable day in the great outdoors.
 
Sat. 26th. Mar. 2016. Our day got off to an exciting start this morning as on our way to the wonderful Clonmany area we stopped off at Straths to check if the Barnacle had perhaps departed to their breeding grounds in north-east Greenland but the answer to that was no, for what we witnessed was the number of skeins and flocks of these iconic Geese estimated at well in excess of one thousand. Perhaps they were preparing for their imminent departure. Also on show here was a flock of one hundred Brent, and a small number of Curlew, foraging in the lush pastures. .....This early success only flattered to deceive, as our objective was to look for the Golden Eagles that we recorded on a previous visit, but unfortunately in that respect today was a non event, with no sign of an Eagle or any other specious of Raptor. The sighting of a lone Canada Goose feeding contentedly in a field was considered rather unusual.. .....To compensate for the disappointment at the absence of our Raptor friends, Mother Nature had a little surprise in store for us when driving through the tree-lined Binnnon Road, spring was showing it's advancing steps with the brilliant display of the golden Marsh Marigold that illuminated the greyness of the morning, and the adjacent lush Green foliage of the great stretches of Wild Garlic that in just a few days time will be displaying it's pristine white flowers. The beauty and simplicity of the Primrose and the splash of luminosity from the Opposite-leaved Saxifrage brightened our outlook...... In places the roadway was strewn with carpets of discarded catkins from the arched corridor of Willows leading us to the slow flowing river that emptied into the welcoming arms of a murmuring sea, all adding to the pleasure of our outing. ....A rather enjoyable way to complete a pleasant day.
 
Thursday 31st March 2016. Our member Brian Hegarty today reported a first sighting for this year of a Swallow near his home in Sion Mills, Co Tyrone.
 
Pictures from today's wonderful Outing.........By Martin Moloney.
Sat. 2nd. April 2016. In farming folklore the Borrowing Days were known as the first three days of April that were borrowed from the cold wintry month of March. Their effects were supposed to have very detrimental consequences for livestock after enduring a long impoverished winter. Perhaps yesterday might have substantiated the myth with it's cold and heavy rain, but today was more indicative of mid summer with our countryside awash in glorious warm sunshine, and a gentle stillness filling the air, that has the reappearance of the many floral gems of spring and summer making their welcomed return through the miracle of regeneration. Amongst these were the greater clumps of delicately tinted Primroses, Daffodils, and availing of the light filtering through a mostly leafless wooded area beside a gurgling stream was one of the most beautiful of wild flowers, the Wood Anemone, while the verges of many roads and lane ways were glistening in the twenty four carat gold of the Coltsfoot, and Dandelion that stretched far into infinity. ........What a very special day!! After the non appearance of Raptors last Saturday today was more than compensated for by the recording of nine Buzzards, two Kestrals, one Peregrine Falcon, one Sparrowhawk, and last but by no means least was the the pair of those mammoths of the sky's the Golden Eagles. All of these riches were enjoyed travelling by the coastal route from the district known as the Parish near Buncrana, through to the final stop at Clonmany.
 
Spring and Winter Today.
Sat. 9th. April 2016. Our outing to the Malin region today was in football parlance a game of two halves, that started with a beautiful blue sun kissed morning that escorted our party to our first stop at Malin Town, where we spent some time admiring the rather unusual visitor namely the American Wigeon with its colourful plumage as it floated with the regular winter tourists on the mirrored water of Trawbreaga Bay. .......After this it was on to the spectacular Knockamany Bens where a couple of Buzzards leisurely drifted on the gentle morning zephyr, and where we had our first sighting of that most welcomed and beautiful bird the Wheatear, that will be starting to construct it's nest in rabbit burroughs and in the security of stone walls. Some time later at the White Strand Bay Malin Head, another Wheatear was added to our list as it checked out the shore line, while at the other end of the strand amongst the large numbers of Black-backed, Herring, and common Gulls were thirty one Brent Geese as they checked the menu for what could be had in the shallow tidal stream, these brought our total of this specious today to over two hundred, while Ringed Plover scurried to and fro in rhythm with the sea. In the general Malin Head area a few more Buzzards were recorded to give a total count of five. ......... Shortly after at Ballyhillin a considerable flock of Barnacle Geese estimated at about three hundred readied themselves for their imminent departure. ..Later at Portmore a Snow Bunting, a reluctant emigrant flitted along the stone strewn beach, perhaps seeking it's other traveling companions. Up to this part of the day spring was seen to be making good progress, with great displays of the beautifully constructed Butter Burr, the cobalt blue of the common Dog-violet peaking from it's snug abode, as did the usual flowers reported on over the past few outings. ..........Later as the day wore on we decided to call a halt to our wonderful outing, then quiet suddenly spring was harshly dispensed with by a wintery thug issuing its snarling icy insults to the whole area and then depositing heavy falls of snow and hail that on some of the main roads reached a depth of over two inches. Added to this behavior was the addition of thunder and lightening. But by this time we were secure in our cars and homeward bound after another great day in Malin Head.
 
Sunday 10th. April 2016. Peter White our treasured member and eyes and ears for the wildlife activity on the eastern flank of the lovely Inishowen Peninsula, reported his first sighting of a Sandwich Tern as he did a stint of beach combing on his beloved Lough Foyle this morning.
 
Wil's Pictures From Today's Trip.
Sat. 16th April 2016. The keynote of today's outing was variety. Our group experienced four-seasons-in-one-day weather with grey skies pouring down snow, sleet and rain supported by a bitter wind,  only to be followed by bright skies and glorious sunshine. Despite the low temperatures of the past week, plant life is moving on with Cuckoo Flowers, Alexanders and Flowering Current joining the ranks of Lesser Celandine, Primrose, Marsh Marigold, Wild garlic, Coltsfoot, Wood Anemone, Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage, Butter Bur, Violet, False Salmonberry, Scurvy Grass, Cow Parsley, Daisy and Dandelion that had already made their appearance. Our journey along the North and East of the Peninsula yielded a varied cast of seabirds, including Gannet, Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Northern Diver, Cormorant, Shag, Merganser and Fulmar. Brent Geese were gathering and feeding in preparation for their northward journey, while rafts of Eider gathered in preparation for the breeding season. Curlew, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Ringed Plover. Green Shank, Red Shank and Grey Heron patrolled the shore with Wigeon, Shelduck and Mallard. Three of the Egrets were visible at Malin Town. Among the smaller birds we saw Grey Wagtail, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Lark. And our day was completed watching a pair of Buzzards over the shores of Lough Foyle. A very rewarding day after a foreboding start. .... Thanks to Jim Toland for today's report and the pictures by Wil Buis, in the absence of our regular scribe.
 
Sunday 17th. April 2016. Daniel Moloney the very observant and enthusiast member of our club has reported seeing an Osprey this evening at 6.45. near Mc Sheffrey's Bridge situated between Carndonagh and Malin Town. His attention was drawn to the bird, by the racked generated by a few Buzzards at the intrusion of the Osprey into their airspace that was then seen to head off in a north easterly direction.
 
Pictures from our Outing today.
Sat. 23rd. April 2016. A great wave of vernal freshness is sweeping over our countryside, nurturing the spectacular displays of the golden aromatic blossoms of the common Whin, the pristine white blossoms of the Blackthorn and the misty greenness of the emerging leaves of the Hawthorn that decorate roadways and fields, with further augmentations in many sheltered places by those old reliable's of Celandine, Primrose, and Dog Violets and the not always appreciated the "Wee modest crimson-tipped flower" (R.B). best known as the humble Daisy, and of course the dazzling show of the myriad of Dandelion flower heads... Such was the botanic splendor that was on show on our way to meet a most interesting man, Pat Doherty (Rogey) with an inspiring interest in the wildlife of his locality in the Malin Glen area. We had been invited by Pat to see where a pair of Buzzards had set up home, and were also shown the large collection of nest boxes for various species of birds, also boxes to facilitate Bats.. After a considerable time spent with this widely traveled man we set off in the bright if not too hot sunshine to Clonmany. Our route took us by the scenic Ballagh hill and Killin and then in the Clonmany region we took the old high roadway of Tullynabratilly where Buzzards soared and a Sparrowhawk was ushered out of the area by a number of rather diminutive birds, while through the emerging vegetation a Peacock Butterfly fluttered, a little later three Orange Tipped performed a similar routine as did a Tortoiseshell, that was the second for the day. .....From the abundant array of bushes the sweet song of the many Willow Warblers and Chifchafs was reassuring us that summer was in the offing. ..After a later than usual lunch our outing concluded with a trip to Binnion Beach where the roadway was embellished with the beauty of the many wildflowers with the Marsh Marigold most prominent and with the strong scented leaves of the Wild Garlic filling the air and that lingered in our olfactory senses long after we got home.
 
Thursday 28th. April 2016. Raptor enthusiast and club member Daniel Moloney has submitted this very detailed photograph taken today of a male Hen Harrier in conflict with a pair of Ravens while he was engaged in a survey of this rare and endangered species of Raptor that is in decline in all parts of Ireland.
 
A Visit To Our Eastern Boundaries.
Sat.30th. April 2016. With the extremely cold biting winds of the week and the temperatures reaching just three to four degrees on most days, it felt as if spring was retreating into it's cocoon of winter. So it was with some trepidation that we decided to visit the area that extends along the spine of the Peninsula from Cabry Quigleys Point, to near Moville. .... Our assembly point was at the Clochan, Glentogher, where the taunting call of the Cuckoo was heard, a sound used by many of the great composers over the centuries for their masterpieces, also heard was the melodic twittering of the many Willow Warblers from the clumps of as yet, scantily garbed bushes. Moving through Cabry the delicately tinted, and not so common Marsh Violet made it's appearance in it's expected habitat. ......As the day moved on the cold of the morning seemed to relent a little and the day morphed into a more expected image of spring, which by now had continuous sunshine casting it's beams on the great carpets of Wood Anemone, sprinkled with the blue of the common Dog Violets, all flourishing on the banks of many of the little streams in the area, a real treat for the eye. In more secluded wooded areas patches of emerging Bluebells contrasted perfectly with great splashes of colourful Primroses. .....In the Ballyargus region a male Orange Tipped Butterfly fluttered nervously near it's food plant of Lady's Mantle, but unfortunately the object of our hearts desire, the Green Hairstreak Butterfly was not making it's presence knowen even with the heat and brightness of the midday sun. ......After our alfresco lunch we had the great pleasure of watching a pair of those most beautiful of birds the Jays at close range. Sometime later we were entertained by a pair of Peregrine Falcons as they checked for a suitable abode to raise their expected family. The number of Buzzards on this lovely day out was recorded at six. Before setting off back to base a Sparrowhawk was added to our day in the outdoors.
 
Pictures From Today's Outing.
Sat.7th. May 2016. How fickle can the weather be in the glorious month of May? The past few days, especially Wednesday and Thursday when a bonanza of beautiful warm sunshine with temperatures well into the high teens was bestowed on us all. But most evidence of this benevolence was the great outpouring of colour and growth of the Cherry Trees, both the wild, and the ornamental varieties exploding into flower, to create an Oriental atmosphere in town and country gardens, while the most extraordinary and beautiful Whin Bushes that decorate hillside and ditches seemed to have acquired a new impetus. Common to all of these creations is the multitude of tender leaf tones from the the light grey emerging foliage of the White Beam, the various species of Willow, the amazing soft hue of the Hawthorn that adds the look of spring to our roadways. ..... Then this morning the weather rather abruptly reverted to it's usual slight of hand, with a cool breeze and grey rain bearing clouds blocking any sunshine that might wish to beam it's rays on our outing. The purpose of which was to check if a reported sighting of a Ring Ouzel by Ronan Mc Laughlin in the Dreanagh area of Malin might still be there. After some time checking for this elusive little bird, the expression "A needle in a haystack"came to mind. .........All was not in vain though, as Buzzard, Cuckoo, Sparrowhawk, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Goldcrest and Goldfinch were recorded. .........Another very important aspect to the day's activity was the information gleaned from contact with the friendly and informative locals. ...Among the many stunning luminous clumps of Primroses that substituted for the lack of direct sunshine was the first display of the equally lovely delicate white flowers of Stitchwort, our first sighting for this Spring. What a nice way to end our outing.
 
Sunday 8th. May 2016. Our very keen birder Brian Hegerty from Sion Mills, Co Tyrone, was more than a little delighted when he saw an Osprey flying low over the waterway of the River Mourne that later enters Lough Foyle. Brian suggests that the bird may have had it's lunch, or checking it's availability further down
 
Sat. 14th. May. 2016. Our good friends Nigel and Kim Lloyd from the North west Birders have reported seeing and hearing a Corncrake at Muckress Point Kilcar, Co Donegal yesterday. Photograph taked by Kim.
 
The Day Spring made it's Mark
Sat. 14th. May 2016. A cornucopia of the gems of spring was bestowed on our outing to the wonderland of Muff Glen where the mighty giants of fir trees interspersed with many broad leafed varieties stenciled intricate patterns of sunlight that filtered through the maturing canopy of gentle green on to the rich brown earth of the valley floor. Added to this was the song of a gurgling stream, drifting unhurriedly to it's unknown destination, instilled a great sense of peace and tranquility and a point of pleasure for the many Grey Wagtails and Dippers. The latter will get their rewards from the larvae found amongst the stones on the bottom of the stream, while the wagtails will feed on what is available near the water. On the branches of the trees and bushes, Redpoll, Willow Warbler, Thrush, Goldfinch, Rook, Goldcrest, and Wood Pigeon, were busy carrying supplies to their nestlings, all performed to a harmonious chorus of birdsong. Along the little river banks, Wood Anemone, Wood Sorrel, and Wood Avens were strategically placed and mostly set against a background of that floral emissary of spring namely the Bluebell. ......Our other port of call on this wonderful day was to an immense forest in the Colerain area where the top prize was the sighting of a male Hen Harrier, followed by a number of Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk. ..... From within this great woodland, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting, Spotted Flycatcher, could be seen and heard. ...In some parts the beautiful flowers of Bugle, Lady's Mantle, Stitchwort, Pignut, and Golden Saxifrage decorated our passage way. With the joy's of this sun kissed outing heading into evening a halt was called to this special day.
 
 
"The Darling Buds of May"
Sat. 21st. May 2016. Our visit to the general area of scenic Clonmany was a day of mixed blessings, with the commencement of our trip under the foreboding vision of dark grey clouds that duly leaked their contents on the whole region. But this little setback soon switched to periods of sunshine and showers and eventually just to the sun's light and warmth for the remainder of our adventure. Our first stop was near Ballyliffin where the iconic call of the Corncrake as it rasps it's presence is to be heard, but not today, in it's stead Bullfinches moved casually through hedges, and Sedge Warblers flitted to and fro from wire fences to the branches of low growing bushes. It was also here that the call of the Cuckoo echoed from it's distant and unknown perch, the first of a few heard today....Now it was on through the town of Clonmany to the coastal habitat of Binnion, where the roadway was regaled with the most stunning display of Wild Garlic in it's pristine beauty, blending with an extravagant show of Bluebells and Primroses, surely a perfect example of "Mixed Blessings" ......On our way to Urris more good fortune came our way with the sighting of Kestrel, Gannet, Ringed Plover, Mallard, Wheatear, young Raven and Chough. A little later some time was enjoyed watching a Meadow Pipit as it tirelessly carried food supplies to its young securely hidden in the unkempt grass. .....As we finished our enjoyable day we passed over roads radiant with the decoration of Tufted Vetch, Dog Violets, Buttercups, and Lady's Smock, this being attended by it's dependent, the Orange-tip Butterfly.
 
The Day Of The Osprey.
Friday 27th. May 2016. We were the fortunate recipients of a special few hours of birding experience after receiving a message from our good friend and member Boyd Bryce, stating that he saw an Osprey over Inch Lake while he was attending to his farming activities this morning. So a sizable number of club members made the trip to the site, and on arrival at the viewing platform the sharp sighted amongst us saw the bird flying near the opposite shore and watched as it moved towards the Farland Bank where it was observed diving into the lake to procure it's late afternoon meal of a good sized fish, and shortly afterwards disappeared into the wooded area south of the Bank. Some time later it was seen perched on the branch of a sturdy tree, with the fish still grasped in it's talons. .....A considerable time was enjoyed watching this beautiful creation that didn't seem to object to being observed by a few mere mortals. ..Now with the sands of time trickling through the hour glass it was with reluctance that we left the great bird to consume the remainder of it's meal in peace.
 
Saturday28th. May 2016. Today we were delighted to attend the annual butterfly outing, led by Bob Aldwell, joint author with Frank Smyth of "The Butterflies of Donegal". This year the event was held in Glenveagh National Park. Although the day began brightly, rain was on the way. So we began with a short walk around the Derrylachan Trail. Despite ideal habitat the dull conditions yielded only a handful of butterflies, including Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Green Hairstreak and Holly Blue. We had two very informative talks. Bob gave a very comprehensive history of butterfly recording in Donegal. Following lunch in the comfort of The Education Centre and its gardens, Oisin Duffy from The National Biodiversity Data Centre, described how butterflies are being recorded on a national and EU level. In the afternoon, following in royal footsteps, we visited The Castle and Gardens. Again sightings were disappointing and then when the approaching rain finally arrived a stopover in the tearooms completed the day. It was good to meet old friends and fellow enthusiasts and to look forward to many more outings this summer......... Our thanks to Jim and Anne Toland for today's report from Glenveagh.
 
Pictures from todays visit to Culdaff, Lagg and Isle of Doagh.
Sat. 4th. June 2016. Today's outing was dedicated to searching for those miracles of great beauty and fragility, Butterfly's They have been experiencing one of the worst years on record, but a sense of expectancy was in the air this glorious morning, as after the past number of weeks with the temperature hitting the high teens and beyond, added to by long sunny spells and the absence of rain and any strong cold winds. This set the scene as we set off for our first stop at Culdaff, then to Lagg, and last, but by no means least the Isle of Doagh, all through a countryside resplendent in the joys of early summer with displays of Foxglove, Red Campion, a few Early Marsh and Northern Marsh Orchids, Kidney Vetch, glorious Bluebells with a few white and lilac added for a bit of variety. In many places the buttery golden glow of Meadow, Creeping and Bulbous Buttercup, contrasted with the deep blue of the emerging Milkwort and Speedwell, and occasionally little mats of Wild Thyme, Hop trefoil, Lesser Spearwort, and on our way to the Isle of Doagh a stop was made to admire the amazing show of Sweet Rocket, dazzling in the bright sunshine. It was here that we got the surprise of the day when among the number of Orange Tip, male and female, a Painted Lady, she of the Butterfly variety made a brief appearance before tantalizingly setting off to cast it's spell elsewhere. The other prominent species today was the Small Heath with numbers in the forties. The final prize of this most enjoyable day was the Common Blue recorded at the Isle of Doagh.
 
Monday 6th. June 2016. Jim and Anne Toland have reported the sighting of three Painted Ladies fluttering together in the Donegard area of Malin Head today.
 
Pictures from club Outing to Dunree, Urris and Glenevin.
Sat. 11th. June 2016. While every Club outing is a most enjoyable event, some times one particular outing can exceeded others, It's difficult to explain this phenomenon, but today was such a day. With the weather and it's cohort, mother nature been predicted to be in non cooperative mood, but we managed to escape their expected wrath as we set off over Pinch Mountain south of the town of Clonmany to meet fellow members and a group of friends from the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group who with the authority of the Parks and Wildlife Service to ring and monitor the population of Buzzards in the Peninsula, slowly the greyness of the morning dissipated and gradually the clouds parted to reveal the countryside in shafts of shifting warm sunlight. .....The loveliness of this special day was added to by the presents of our members Wil, Beb, and Aneka from the Netherlands who were enthralled to see the procedure involved in the ringing and monitoring of the Young Buzzards. .........After our sojourn in the Dunree area we drove up through Hillside with it's crumbling remains of an ancient way of life long forgotten standing silently in the shadows of many overgrown trees, and where a female Buzzard gracefully quartered the sky.. .........On the Alpine-like track through the Mamore Gap a welcomed tea break was enjoyed at one of the strategically placed lay-bys after which on our way to the Glenevin Water Fall we happened to meet our member Daniel Moloney who has been very busy recording the number of Corncrakes in the whole of Donegal, and engaging with farmers on whose land these birds are nesting, in the hope of them delaying the cutting of the tall grass....The iconic rasping call of this rare bird was another treat for our visitors. Our dander to the Waterfall in bright warm sunshine was another great pleasurable success before setting off for Home where we were greeted by an exceptionally heavy downpour that could be described as a Monsoon Experience.
 
Pictures of Sea Campion, Seals, Assembled Group, Eider Duck and Marsh Orchid from Inishtrahull Today.
Sat. 18th. July 2016. Another fantastic outing began at eight a.m. today when we were whisked speedily from the Marina at Fahan near Buncrana on the magic carpet of Emmett Johnstons high tech rib named the"Storm Petrel" to the Island of Inishtrahull, situated seven miles off Malin Head. This is a special place that on arrival casts it's spell of peace and spirituality, it's where the many crumleling remains of human habitation stand silently, and the outlines of lazy beds, the labours of their agriculture endevers embossed on the green velvet fertile acreage of land laid out below the imposing Lighthouse on the western end of the island now operated automatically. In this setting it's easy to reconnect with a life style absorbed into the oblivion of times gone by. .... The continuous calls of Arctic and Common Terns together with Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed, and Herring Gulls fill the Blue Sky, while on the silvered sea, great flotillas of Black Guillemot and family's of Eider Duck patroll, and on rocky outcrops Oystercatcher, Fulmar, Shag, Kittywake, Wheatear and Rock Pippet hold court, Further out on the Ocean Manx Shearwater, and Gannet can be seen, but a pair of Great Skua was a point of interest by their antics that suggest that they may be nesting on the Island. Another interesting find was the rather rare plant, Scot's Lovage, with the less unusual but beautiful Centaury, Sea Milkwort and great swathes of Sea Campion and Marsh Orchid to name just a few........ While here we had the pleasure to enjoy the company of that famous naturalist and program maker Colin Stafford Johnston, and his fellow camera man Brian who were doing a program for the B.B.C. After our great experience here we set off once more this time for home, tired but happy, into the evening sun on our Magic Carpet.
 
Pictures from outing to Rathlin Island with new member Jarlath doing his Workout.
Sat. 25th. June 2016. Our annual pilgrimage to that wonderful shrine of avian greatness on the beautiful Island of Rathlin off Ballycastle, County Antrim, was undertaken today. A place where birds in their many thousands congregate during the months of May and June for the breeding season. This hotspot is on the R.S.P.B. bird sanctuary at the lighthouse on the western side of the island where mighty rock stacks rise from deep on the Ocean floor to reach high into the sky and very close to the shore, offering security from any land predators to the multitude of sea birds, comprised mostly of Guillemot, Razorbill, Kittiwake, Fulmar and everyone's favourite the little Puffin, but as you would expect with so many nests and scrapes laden with eggs and chicks, predation from the air continues during this time of plenty. .. Some of our members decided to do a hike to the lighthouse at Rue Point where a couple of Peregrine Falcons a Kestral and a Buzzard, were added to our list, while in an adjacent lake a considerable number of Greylag Geese whiled away the day. Many Wheatear, Stonechat, Linnet, Wagtail and Chaffinch were also recorded in the area. Our purveyor of things Botanical, Anne, added a list that contained some of the following - Red Valerian, Yellow and White Water Lilies, Great Mullion, Sealed Bindweed, Sea Radish, Kidney Vetch, and the emerging Rosebay Willowherb. Now with the time to board the Express Boat for the return voyage to Ballycastle, the unmistakable lament of the Grey Seals basking on the warm shore filled our ears. Could it be because of their grieving at our departure?
 
Views from visit to Lisnagrath, Birdstown and Inch Lake.
Sat. 2nd July 2016. Morning arrived accompanied by exceptionally heavy rain of monsoon type proportions, dispensed with venom from out of a dark storm clouded sky that begged the question, could this be the month of July, or was it perhaps some type of time warp that would put our outing in some doubt ? but undaunted by these conditions a good number of members that included Wil Buis on her monthly visit from the Nederlands and that exponent of the photographic arts Sinead Craig, made their way to Lisnagrath Wood where for a short period the sun peeped through a little opening in the clouds, enough to let us see the beauty of the woodland in it's summer setting, and where colourful Jays scampered through the leaf laden branches, and buzzards floated high above the canopy, while the song of Blackcaps, Wrens, Great Tits and many others added to the magic of the place. .... Soon the rain returned so we set off to the area near Birdstown where the rain offered a cessation of it's activities that allowed the sun to make it's return and us the pleasure of seeing a great number of Ringlet and Meadow Brown Butterflies flutter over the tall grasses and wild flowers near a beautiful little lake, where Dab Chicks floated on it's serene surface, and on it's shore hosts of Common Spotted and Marsh Orchids mingled with the many other wildflowers and grasses. At another location large flocks of Sand Martins flew urgently to and fro around their nesting places in the tall mountains of sand, deposited here millions of years ago. ...... During the drive to our next port of call, the Inch Lake the rain returned but on arrival at our destination it once more stopped, this allowed for the important and pleasurable task of tea taking, after which we checked the Lake for it's bird life from the viewing platform, and the bird hide at Tready Point, where among the many species recorded were five Black Swans, and how beautiful they are in flight. Also noted were Canada and a few Greylag Geese as they cruised close to the shore.. ..... On the little Island near the southern end of the Lake a great cacophony of bird calls could be heard as the many Terns protested at the presence of Black-headed Gulls on this property specially prepared as a breeding place for the Terns. . ....In the air many squadrons of Swallows, Sand and House Martins, and the most amazing of all Swifts skimmed with precision over the lake waters and the treelined banking. .......Now in very warm sunshine it was departure time after a day that started badly but ended on a high note.
 
Our saunter in the rain to Fr. Hegerty's Rock, Swan Park and a Woodland near Grainny's Gap.

Sat. 9th July 2016. It was our intention to travel beyond the boundaries of our Inishowen Domain to search for jewels of nature that might be found there, but due to the prophesy of exceptionally heavy rain and strong winds for today it was decided last night that perhaps we should stay local. With this in mind that's what we did, when with the mountains hidden by a grey cloak of mist and the first indication of the impending approach of rain we set out suitably garbed from the Stone Jug at the mouth of the Crana River Buncrana for a botanising saunter that took us to near Stragill Beach, but with the rain increasing in intensity we decided to return to near where we started from and continue our walk through the beautiful Swan Park where the whispering and at times thundering waters of the Crana River rushed to empty into the great Lough Swilly. ........As the day progressed the rains anger eased and the sun made a cautious appearance that amplified the colours and structures of the many wildflowers and grasses that decorated all the scenic walkways. Pride of place was held by the rare Orange Hawkweed and the Ivy-leaved Toadflax, both of these seem to be addicted to the lime mixture of the large number of walls in the Park. Other floral personalities included the Marsh and Hedge Woundwort, Rosebay and Great Willow herb, Enchanters Nightshade, the glistening gold from the Corn and Perennial Sow Thistle.. ..........A small number of Ringlet Butterflies were noted as they flew over a jungle of tall Grasses that had Cocksfoot, Rye Grass, Crested Dogstail, and Yorkshire Fog. ........In the snug corners of the park, Hearts Tongue, Polypody, Maidenhair and Spleenwort Ferns seemed happy with their lot. .....After our late lunch break we were on the move again, this time to a wooded area near Grainne's Gap, where some time was spent walking through the very mature Fir Trees, and where a Sparrowhawk did a fly past for our benefit. On return from the darkness of the forest to the open countryside we were greeted by warm bright sunshine. I suppose it was a case of "Better Late Than Never".

 
Very Few Butterflies Today, But Lots Of Botanical Treasures.
Sat. 16th. July 2016. Dreams are those mysterious functions of the human mind that can make life worth living, and in this case the picture conjured up was of bright warm sunshine radiating from a cloudless blue sky on to a countryside bedecked with lush vegetation and a myriad of many coloured and fragrant flowers, and from where the relaxing buzzing of busy bees would be heard, and over which clouds of many species of Butterflies flutter like glistening stardust, sprinkled from above by the hand of Mother Nature. .......But sometimes dreams can be shattered as was the case this morning when setting off in a grey morass of cloud and mist with the added ingredient of a temperature just reaching double figures, our objective was to check the locally recognised hotspots for these magnificent creations. .....What a shock and disappointment awaited our arrival at the Sand Dunes of Lag and Craigawannia on the Isle of Doagh, both perfect habitats for Butterflies, and where a considerable time was spent searching for the objects of our desires, but ended with a most disappointing and incredibly low count of just four Ringlet and two Burnet Moths.... After this the remainder of the outing was spent under the leadership of our cherished Anne, checking on the Botanical treasures that were to be found in the local areas, that had Lady's Bedstraw, Red Valerian, Herb Robert, Red Campion, Germander Speedwell, Common Valerian, Navelwort, Kidney Vetch, Harebell, Yellow-flag Iris, Hop Trefoil, Forget-me-not, Water Speedwell, Red Bartsia, Hedge Parsley, Pyramidal Orchid, St John' Wort, Marsh Ragwort, Self heal, the Spear, Creeping, Marsh, and Meadow Thistle, Bog Asphodel, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Hogweed, Angelica, Wild Carrot, Yarrow, Meadow Sweet, Tufted Vetch, Common Spotted and Heath Spotted Orchid, Tormental, Smooth and Prickly Sow Thistle, Meadow and Creeping Buttercup, Scentless Mayweed, Sea, Great, and Ribwort Plantain, Spearwort, Eyebright, and Wild Thyme. These are just a few recorded on a list in excess of sixty.
 
Today at Culdaff and Redford.
Sat. 23rd. July 2016. Our wanderings today took us to the great treasure trove of botanic opulence to be had in areas of Culdaff and it's hinterland of Redford. The first stop was at the lay-by near Dunmore Head, where colourful displays of Red Geranium, Great Willowherb, Large Bindweed, Tufted Vetch, Self Heal and St John's Wort set a very high standard. This was followed by a dander along a grassy path near the base of that great Headland that had an extravagance of colourful wild flowers and grasses all draped artistically over an unkempt base of humps and bumps reaching upwards to the walls of the iconic bastion of Dunmore. This garden of plenty was further enhanced when reasonable numbers of Common Blue, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Large White and Green-veined White Butterflies fluttered in the splashes of warm Sunlight, here Anne focused our attention on the rare Scots Lovage plant in full bloom. A considerable time was enjoyed in this enchanting place. Then back to our cars where we all partook of a somewhat special tea break under the direction of Anne and Mary. .........Next we were off to the rocky beach at Redford, through the charming clay road lined with trees of Oak, Elm, Sycamore, Hazel and Ash, all infiltrated with the glories of Harebell, Self Heal, Tutsan, Red Bartsia, Yellow Pimpernel, Enchanters Nightshade, Wild Raspberry and Strawberry, while in the more open areas, and standing to attention were a few of the upright and elegant Great Mullion in their uniforms of yellow, and on the pathway, Yellow Rattle and Red Bartsia were prominent. On the right hand side of the roadway in a deep ravine hidden by the dark shadows cast by the dense foliage of the overhanging trees, a gurgling stream offered it's serenade to natures production up in the sunlight of the afternoon. This meander in a heaven on earth experience revealed even a greater abundance of wildlife, where a number of Buzzards drifted on the warm thermals, and a Sparrowhawk made it's appearance perhaps hoping to encounter the flocks of Linnets, Redpoll, Goldfinch, or maybe the Blackcap that entertained us with a few musical bars, or perhaps the family of White Throats. .....Down on the rock strewn beach a Common Sandpiper waited for a change in the tidal level. .....Our great Day of camaraderie ended with a brief visit to the shore of Kinnego Bay, then home.
 
Outing to the Roe Valley Park.
Sat. 30th. July 2016. On our drive this morning to the beautiful Roe Valley Park near the town of Limavady in very heavy rain, instilled a sense of trepidation for our proposed undertaking to find the bounty of flora and fauna to be discovered on, and near the rich habitat of the riverside walkways. As luck would have it the Gods were in our corner, for within about three minutes of our arrival the rain ceased and the dark threatening clouds were replaced by the prospects of a nice day with bright warm sunshine, and so it was. .........As we leisurely strolled along under the leaf-laden, tree lined, river bank where in places the sun filtered through to the well maintained paths. On one side of which, the dark waters of the magnificent river rushed with a sense of urgency while on other reaches of this waterway a more relaxed movement was employed as it flowed to it's journeys end into the welcoming arms of Lough Foyle. ....... Our botanical expectations were met and exceeded, led by everyone's favourite with it's soft ivory colour, and sweet scented flower head, appropriately named Meadowsweet, followed by beautiful combinations of montbretia, Knapweed, Yellow Loosestrife, Red Campion, great swathes of Meadow Vetchling, Tufted Vetch, Fat Hen, Angelica, Wild Carrot, Prickly Sow Thistle, Wound Wort, to name just a few. ........This wonderful habitat unfortunately following the national trend was disappointing in the number of Butterflies recorded here today when only four were noted, and these were unidentified Whites, but the antics of the river loving Dipper and colourful Grey Wagtails, together with the occasional playful splash of trout in the "fresh" of the overnight rainfall contributed to a most pleasurable outing.
 
Pictures of Red-throated Divers by Mary O'Mahony.
Sat. 6th. August 2016. Today our small group decided to leave the charms of Inishowen and see what the rest of the county had to offer. As Summer approaches its end, nature was putting on its final floral display. Willowherb was abundant along the roadside as was Ragwort and Meadowsweet with its intoxicating fragrance. The emerging purple bloom of heather formed a backdrop to the burnt orange of Bog Asphodel. We also passed patches of the gigantic Gunnera and the purple hues of Purple Loosestrife. The arrival of Montbretia brought it home to us that Autumn was truly on its way. Although birdlife was scarce, we were amply rewarded by spotting the very rare Red-throated Diver, resplendent in its Summer plumage. This alone made today's  expedition worthwhile. Today's report was contributed by the masterful hand of Jim Toland due to the absence of our regular scribe.
 
A Beautiful Day at Ards Forest.
Sat. 13th. August 2016. Again this week we left our paradise of Inishowen, on this occasion to visit that wooded wonderland of Ards Forest that nestles in the shadow of the towering monolith of the great Muckish Mountain, resplendent in the warm glow of welcomed Sunshine. ...... On arrival at our destination we had the pleasure of meeting with our friends Peter Brennan, Neil Sweeney, and Maitiu O'Murchu, all from the western boundaries of our County. .......After a few exchanges of pleasantries we set off along the marvelous board walk positioned a reasonable distance from the beautiful sandy beach of Sheephaven Bay, this imaginative construction seamed to be floating over a sea of cornucopian botanical wealth and beauty that shimmered with a great blue mist of Harebells responding to the movement of a gentle breeze, and interspersed with sprinklings of elegant Scented, and Pyramidal Orchids, Twablades, Lady's Bedstraw, Knapweed, Golden Rod, Wild Thyme, and in places the very unusual white version of the plant. One of the highlights of the day was to record a high number of the glorious Silver-washed Fritillary Butterflies, further along the way and near the shelter of the woodland, Common Blue, Small Heath, Ringlet and Meadow Brown Butterflies were added to our list. ...........Now with the withdrawal symptoms caused by missing our lunch break having its effect it was decided to return to the cars. So it was off through the aisle of the great cathedral of giant fir trees that reached heavenwards into the blue yonder, and where a certain stillness appropriate to the setting filled the air, and where Anne, our doyen of things botanical, was busy pointing out the gems to be found in this environment. ......We managed to sustain enough energy to get back to base and refuel with that nectar to be had in "a cup of tea" What a way to finish a very enjoyable day.
 
Today's outing to the Ballyliffin Region.
Sat. 20th. Aug. 2016. Against all the odds a very enjoyable and informative amble through the wonderful Nature Trails of Tullynabratilly, Ballyliffin Beach, and the Isle of Doagh got under way this morning, against the fact that late last evening we were considering the cancellation of today's outing due to the extreme weather forecast of gale force winds and torrential rainfall, that fortunately never materialized. But as we have found on similar occasions "Valor Favors the Brave" exemplified by our arrival in the Tullynabratilly area that was ablaze of colour, with displays of the pristine white Yarrow with pinheads of wholemeal coloured dots arranged in the most pleasing of designs on it's flower head, great drifts of Eyebright sparkling from their humble road side abodes. The brilliant colours of Purple Loosestrife, Woundwort and Rose-bay Willowherb countered by the many networks of the blue Tufted Vetch entangled in the maze of dense vegetation. .....this pleasure was added to by the sighting of a Golden Eagle being pestered by a number of cantankerous Ravens, the encounter continued for a considerable time while a Buzzard Drifted blissfully in a different segment of an ever brightening sky................ Next it was onwards and downwards to the expansive sandy beach at Ballyliffin, where an exploration of the charming little valley on the western side of the strand revealed a treasure trove of floral gems that included Devil' bit Scabious, Wild Carrot, Common Knapweed, Perennial Sowthistle, Silverweed, Common and Red Valerian, Water Mint, Angelica, Mouse Hawkweed, Cat's-ear, Hemp Agrimony and many more. ...........With the weather offering it's apologies for what it had threatened us with, it was off to the Isle of Doagh where at Craigawannia a brief search was made of the region for the existence of the Dark-green Fritillary or other species that were found here in large numbers in previous years, but not on this occasion. ......With stops at various places a few more Buzzards were recorded as were Whinchat, Stonechat, Chough, Redpoll, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, but the icing on the cake was the recording of a family of Peregrine Falcons. Later near the Castles a number of Meadow brown, Speckled Wood, Small Copper, Green-veined White Butterflies were noted. The botanists in our midst made a list of their finds that included Glasswort, Cut-leaved and Dove's foot Cranesbill, Germander Speedwell, Sea Mayweed, Square-stemmed St John's-Wort, Montbretia, Common and Red Valerian, Angelica and to add to it all the unusual Greater Knapweed. The enjoyment of the outing was enhanced by the presences of our Dutch members Wil and Cornilia.
 
Wednesday 24th August 2016. How wonderful to experience a warm sunny summer's morning with a spirit-lifting continuous visitation of marvelous Butterflies, attired in their most colourful garments, as was the case this morning as they dined on nectar-laden buddleia bushes in a garden near Malin Town.
 
Summer's Bounty on the Eastern Boundaries of Inishowen.
Sat.27th. August 2016. The silvered waters of a tranquil Lough Foyle viewed from the lofty heights of Creehennan near Glentogher this morning, reflected the sense of enjoyment and appreciation of what nature can bestow on it's followers, and this was aptly illustrated as we drove through a kaleidoscope of floral grandeur that had a prominence of Fuchsia bushes with their brightly glowing lantern-like blossoms nodding their approval to the glories of the day as they lined both sides of the narrow road for a mile or two. This little road took us to a viewing point overlooking Lough Inn..... Near by a check of the old redundant quarry revealed the recent use of this place of shelter and security by perhaps a bird of prey .........Later at Ballyargus our attention was drawn to a little field that was partly covered in a large carpet of the aromatic plant Sneezewort, and where the second sighting of a Buzzard was noted, as was a large flock of Linnets, and in their company a small number of Red Poll as they flitted from clumps of bushes to a very military style line high on a roadside telephone wire. After a relaxed lunch break at the stone pier at Moville, our attention was drawn to the activity of a pod of Dolphins, just out beyond the pier as they frolicked, and fed on a plentiful supply of fish that occasionally they would throw into the air with great dexterity. Quite some time was spent watching this spectacle, while Anne and Sinead did a bit of botanising around the pier and recorded a list that included Pellitory Of The Wall, a plant more common in the Southern half of the Country, also Ribwort, Greater, Sea and Buck's Horn Plantain. our trip to Inishowen Head in the afternoon, produced more botanical riches with Yarrow, the diminutive English Stonecrop, Mouse ear, Chickweed, Corn Spurrey, and St John's Wort (square stemmed). But we finished our outing on a high with the sighting of a Minkie Whale not far of the rocky cliff face.
 
Our Day in the Muff District.
Sat. 3rd. September 2016. In the Autumn-tinted, leaf-laden woodland of Lisnagrath this morning we were the privileged recipients of a most joyful reception from those lovable creatures, Red Squirrels, as they fussed amongst our members before we set off on the day's adventures, that started with a visit to the Gortin area of Aught, where it was evidence the floral opulence of summer was on the wane. It was from here that we intended to go to the summit of Aught Hill, but as it was now obscured by a thick blanket of grey mist, instead it was off to Muff village where a pleasurable and relaxing visit was enjoyed as we wandered through the tree-lined avenues of Kilderry estate, where colourful Jays noisily flew from tree to tree. Here and at Cloney Road Culmore, a number of not so common plants were recorded, especially the Large Flowering Hemp-nettle, the Common Hemp-nettle, Marsh Cudweed, the beautiful multi-coloured Pansy also known as Heartsease, Lords and Ladies, Wild Woodbine and the harbingers of Autumn in the form of great clusters of ripening Blackberries. .......At the Cloney Road, with the tide retreating, large flocks of Mallard Duck puddled through worm rich soft mud in search of sustenance while three Little Egrets and a Grey Heron kept watch. .......With the sun having a peep from behind the thinning cloud it was decided to have another chance at getting to the crest of Aught Hill now that the mist had dissipated. This proved to be a good decision as shortly after our arrival a kestrel made it's entry into the grey sky, then a little later the sharp eyed Jim Toland announced the appearance of the ghost like form of a Male Hen Harrier as it quartered the local hillside to the delight of all. Here also the most wonderful Fungi called the Sickner and the Root Fomes (Heterobasidion Annosum) identified by Mary O'Mahoney caused a sense of wonder. This concluded our adventure in this amazing place of Natures bounty.
 
The first Winter Bird Count on Lough Swilly for the 2016-17 Season.
Sat. 10th. September 2016. "The Sands of Time" move with an overpowering silence, and swift relentlessness that was exemplified by the realization that the renewal of our clubs commitment this morning to the counting of the birds of Lough Swilly for the 2016/17 season on behalf of Bird Watch Ireland was upon us. Our last count for the 2015/16 season concluded on the 20th March....... So here we are again after achieving a busy period of birding activities in the intervening month's of Summer. .........Today's involvement was achieved in the most ideal weather and tidal conditions that had members discarding coats and sweaters to be pampered by the warm sunshine and caress of a most gentle zephyr. This all contributed to the success of a very enjoyable count. .....The appearance of a number of Red Admiral, Peacock and a few Painted Lady Butterflies, missing throughout most of the Summer, performed their Swan song's for us before the ravages of Autumn and Winter removes their beauty from our eyes for the many long cold months, as we await the miracle of Spring's renewal.
 
Sunday 11th September 2016. Those old reliable and welcomed visitors, the Brent Geese, had been recorded yesterday during our Bird Count on Lough Swilly, and today at Trawbreaga Bay. They arrive on our northern shores to avail of our temperate winters and to escape the very severe conditions of their Arctic breeding grounds.
 
Our Outing on a Day of an Indian Summer.
Saturday 17th. September 2016. In the dying pangs of an Indian Summer how privileged to be out in a sun saturated countryside enjoying the process of Summer transforming into Autumn, and then the inevitable bleakness of winter waiting in the wings. Our first stop of the morning after setting out from Carndonagh was at Effishmore, then on to the shadow stencilled roadway through the arching tree lined beauty of Carrowmore Glen, where our first sighting of a Buzzard was noted as it perched on a small stack of recently harvested oats, that had many small birds availing of the bounty of seeds available in the stubble. ..........Next it was on to a favorite area at Cambry where the dense vegetation of the many Wild Flowers, Grasses, Shrubs and the trees were undertaking their form of hibernation, to awaken for our enjoyment later when they respond to the call of spring. ..........At Tirahork a relaxing, and as had happened on another occasion a special tea break was enjoyed, during which an eye was kept out for the possible appearance of Hen Harriers but none were spotted. .......Now it was on to the main objective of the outing and that was a visit to the heavily wooded Falmore. Today it felt as if we had been in a time warp with a surreal atmosphere lingering around the now ruined structure of the big house, standing ghostlike among the stately guardians of giant trees all immersed in a perfect stillness.... Back in a real world of warm sunlight, where many roadsides and hedges were ablaze of colour with the heavily laden red berries of the Rowan Trees, what a treat for the birds when the weather turns cold in later times. .....The bird count for today included a number of Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Ravens, Pigeon, Magpie, Rook, Bullfinch, Stonechat, Siskin, and Linnet.
 
A Few Stills From the Filming of " Living the Wildlife "
Sat 24th. Sept. 2016. In this "Season of Mists and mellow Fruitfulness" our visit to the Illies, a region between Carndonagh and Buncrana today tended to err a bit on the heavy side with the mists. ....... After a long absence from this rather pleasant area that was renowned for its variety of wildlife with the regular sightings of Buzzard, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Merlin and Hen Harrier, with the occasional visit from the White-tailed and Golden Eagle, not to mention the many small birds and mammals, but now with the explosion in the growth of the plantation of Fir Trees that have obliterated the ability to see beyond the roadsides. ......Our sojourn here was curtailed, not because of the weather or the absence of many birds, but to the commitment of a number of members to other functions. .........So after our congratulations to Martin and Daniel on their involvement in last nights marvelous showing on RTE 2 of " Living the Wildlife" it was back to base until next Saturday. Below is the article in the Derry Journal by Laura Glenn of our two Members involvement in the making of the program
 

" Living the Wildlife," one of a series of programs by Emmy award winner Colin Stafford-Johnston called on the expertise of well-known birdwatcher and expert Martin Moloney from Buncrana for the new series. ............The program is now in its seventh year and shines a light on the unique beauty of the Irish Landscape as well as the diversity of the wildlife that surrounds us. ......Martin is well known across the county and country as an expert on birds and is a practicing falconer. ....... He has a particular interest in birds of prey and was approached by Mr Stafford-Johnston after being recommended to him by Inishowen Wildlife Ranger Emmett Johnston.. ....Martin along with his son Daniel, who works for Bird Watch Ireland and is Corncrake Officer for Donegal, as well as their friend Jes Mc Sparron also helped out with the filming last summer. .......The crew were focusing on filming sparrowhawks, a bird of prey which can prove quite elusive. ........ Martin told the "Journal" how sparrowhawks can be quite difficult to detect and one of the only places they can be clearly viewed and therefore filmed, are in their nests. .......He said "They fly very low and take smaller birds by surprise, you can never predict where they will be." ..........Martin regularly Monitors sparrowhawks' nests across Inishowen, with the aid of Daniel, and Jes, a tree surgeon who aids with access. The trio were able to guide the film crew to a nest in the Inishowen Forest, where they got some great footage. Martin, who regularly visits schools and community events with his birds of prey, said the filming of the show was "very enjoyable."

 
 
Monday 26th. September 2016. Club member Brian Hegerty was very fortunate to get these excellent pictures of Stoats at play this morning, like Brian they were up early.
 
A Beautiful October Day at Inch Lake and Bogay.

Sat. 1st. October 2016. For the Club Outing on this occasion we were gifted the heavenly reward of a perfect harvest day that oozed excesses of warm sunshine delivered in a perfect stillness that was further enhanced as we drove through a countryside where great prairie fields of ripened grain sparkled in the early light that seemed as if they had been touched by the hand of Midas. At our first objective, Inch Lake, where it's reflective water echoed the profile of the flotillas of Canada and Greylag Geese, Mute, Whooper and a few Black Swans, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Coot, Redshank, Greenshank, Mallard, Wigeon and Tufted Duck, a number of Grey Heron were added to the list. ....On the far bank as seen from the viewing platform great lines of Common and Black-headed Gulls shone brilliantly against their darker background.. ......From the bird hide at Tradey Point a similar number of species of what had been recorded earlier was noted., with the addition of a Kingfisher, and on the Trees near the hide a flock of Siskin flitted from tree to tree. After our regular and mandatory midday break it was off to the Farland Bank where amongst the many birds on the little Island at the southern end of the Lake a pair of Ruddy Shelduck was a source of curiosity. ............Next it was onwards and upwards past the ancient and historic An Grianan Fort, and then to look down to the beautiful valley of Bogay and beyond, as the great silvered River Foyle in a snakelike fashion slithered it's way in a northerly direction, as was our intention after a fantastic day in wonderful company that included Wil and Antonia our Dutch members.

 
Friday 7th October 2016. Our roving reporter and photographer Brian Hegerty has done it again with his sighting of a Spoonbill today in the Ballykelly area of County Derry.
 
 
The October Swilly Bird Count.
Saturday 8th. October 2016. Today dawned with bright warming sunshine that belied the fact that we are in the middle of October, and not July or August. This happy situation continued through the day which contributed to a very pleasant and enjoyable time spent doing this months winter Bird Count of the species to be found in our allocated section of Lough Swilly, on whose shimmering ultramarine blue waters the many newly arrived visitors will enjoy the solace, and plentiful supply of food after their long journeys, they also come here to avail of out temperate winter conditions, and intermingle with our own resident birds. The disturbance on the sandy beaches on both sides of the Lough from Buncrana to Inch Island was a bit on the high side, no doubt due to this burst of summer weather which had people taking advantage of it with outdoor sports like walking, some of them accompanied by dogs while others could be seen jogging, and who could deny them? ......All of today's counting activities were not confined to what was to be found on the water or on the shore, for circling high in the blue sky like Icarus many Buzzards availed of the thermals rising from the warm water and land mass, while closer to terra firma a number of Sparrowhawks hurried with perhaps thoughts of tasty prey in mind. .......As with our usual diligence the count was completed with the recording of a significant number of birds and species .
 
Our Search for the Spoonbill.
Sat. 15th. Oct. 2016. A day full of expectancy and excitement saw us set off in a morning living up to it's season of Autumnal overtones with gold tinted trees, and the russet foliage of the many well maintained hedges and ditches forming the perfect foil for the greyness of the distant hills and wonderful bucolic countryside. ......Our outing from our Inishowen domain to the coastal regions of Lough Foyle, near Ballykelly to the mouth of the River Bann Co. Derry engendered the sense of anticipation by the presence of a very special visitor, a Spoonbill, as discovered by members Brian Hegerty and Daniel Moloney during the past few days. ......Unfortunately life doesn't always fulfill ones dreams, as was the case by its non appearance on this occasion. Unperturbed by the setback, the credit side presented a high count of Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Merlin and Peregrine that eased our pain considerably. Added to these were large flocks of Golden Plover a smaller number of Grey Plover, followed by a sizable number of Little Egret, Brent Geese, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Curlew, Gulls that included Common, Black-headed, Herring, Black-backed Gulls, Mute Swans, Linnets, Wheatear and a Kingfisher .........Apart for a short period of light rain in the afternoon we had a very enjoyable experience on our visit to the coastal nature trails on the eastern shore of Lough Foyle.
 
Wednesday 19th. October 2016. This afternoon the very vigilant Daniel Moloney spotted a Glossy Ibis feeding in a field adjacent to Malin Town Bridge. He was soon joined by a few other Club members. Three years ago Daniel also spotted one in the Culdaff area
 
Enjoying a beautiful Day installing Barn Owl Nest Boxes.
Sat. 22nd. Oct. 2016. With a symphony of peace and stillness reverberating through the Peninsula of Inishowen in a sun saturated morning embroidered with threads of autumnal coloured extravagance draped over the countryside, how fortunate to be availing of this beauty as we homed in on our objective for today, which was to check and install in suitable places, Barn Owl Nesting Boxes in the Burt and Newtowncunningham areas where there were reports of Owl activity recently. ..........It is rewarding to experience the enthusiasm and welcoming the local farming community are to our endeavours to protect and promote wildlife in their areas We also are very fortunate to have in our club the master craftsman, and wildlife enthusiast Brian Hegerty, who designs and constructs these excellently presented Nesting Boxes, as well as a variety of other wildlife boxes. .......As the day turned to afternoon and the hard work done a more relaxed time was enjoyed bird watching at Blanket Nook and the Ballybegly region where eight Buzzards, and two Merlin were recorded as were Kingfishers, Skylarks, Golden plover, Grey Plover, Mallard, Grey Heron, Blackbird, Linnet, Pied and Grey Wagtailed to mention just a few. So concluded a most pleasant and enjoyable summer-like day.
 
A beautiful Day in October.
Sat. 29th. October 2016. A leisurely saunter was enjoyed through the gentleness of this October's day, the last outing in a month that bestowed its gifts of mostly calm, warm, sunlit days. Conditions that surely must act as a magnet to the great hoards of birds that visit our country at this time of year. ....Occasionally we can be fortunate to acquire extra special species, such as the Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Little Egret, and Cattle Egret, one of which was reported in the Malin Town Area, and that we had hoped to see today, and also an American Wigeon, back in the region after it's sojourn here last year. .......With the silken waters of Trawbreaga Bay far removed from where we expected to see the Cattle Egret and the Wigeon might help to explain their absence. Perhaps that other rarity the well documented and photographed Glossy Ibis has left the area. But to substitute for this disappointment we were presented with a flyby of approximately four hundred newly arriving Barnacle Geese that announced their joy on arrival with a great cacophony of vocal delight. ....... With the day brightening in a literal and a metaphoric sense at Culdaff we did have the pleasure of recording an American Wigeon..... Now with great beams of sunlight the countryside was aglow with the dazzling tints of autumn as we headed to the stunningly beautiful golden sands of Kinnagoe Beach, where a small number of Little Auks were noted. With the day morphing into late afternoon we made Inishowen Head the final stop of our glorious outing that had seven Buzzards and one Sparrowhawk to add to our list.
 
Sunday 30th. October 2016. One of the objects of yesterday's club outing to the Malin Town area and beyond was the Cattle Egret reported in the area recently, but after a considerable time spent looking it was not to be seen. However that was rectified this evening when spotted by members Daniel Moloney and Paddy Mc Crossan..
 
A Few Pictures From Today's Bird Count on Lough Swilly.
Sat. 5th. November 2016. With a seasonal change today that had our outing ensnaired in an icy grip, intensified by the stiff northerly wind and heavy rain showers that asks the question, could this be a portent of what winter may have in store for the coming months? But it also had its lighter moments, when the sun made its appearance at appropriate times to illuminate the turbulent waters of Lough Swilly, and the rain gods only vented their displeasure while we were in transit from one venue to another. A great advantage as we engaged in the November Winter Count of the birds on the lake and on the surrounding shores. The numbers and species were high as expected at this time of the year but today it was exceptionally so. This added to by the great camaraderie enjoyed by our members made the day special.
 
"In The Theater of Dreams"
Sat. 12th. Nov. 2016. A morning spent at the woodland of Lisnagrath. That "Theater of Dreams"near the village of Muff, where natures palette offered the most amazing blend of beautiful colours that cast a spell of supernatural wonders, that had many of our members having bestowed on them the privilege of Blue Tits and Great Tits flying to their outstretched hands to feed on the little titbits on offer, while Red Squirrels pursued us playfully for the same attention. ...........After this special time here it was off to the very recently opened Culmore District Park. What is now a perfect spot for Bird Watching on that area of Lough Foyle was once the City of Derry's refuse dump, now has been transformed into this beautiful setting, and completely sealed to prevent the leakage of water-born pollutants from entering the Lough, and specially treated to enable the trapped the gas that these dumps can generate to be collected and be used to generate electricity. From our vantage point on this very well reconstructed development large flocks of Birds could be seen close to the railway bridge over the River Faughan on the eastern side of the Lough. So it was decided that we would like to have a closer look. .......... On arrival at our destination we recorded a large flock in adjacent pastures of about three hundred plus Whooper Swans with more arriving as we watched. On the mud at the mouth of the Faughan where it empties into the expanse of the Lough, great flocks of Seagulls with Redshank and a few Greenshank gorged themselves before the "take-away" would be closed by the incoming tide. Also in the area were flocks of Goldfinch and Redpoll that were the subject of great interest by a couple of Sparrowhawks.
It has been reported today that nineteen Waxwings were seen in the region of the Waterfall at Glenevin, Clonmany, Co Donegal.
 
A cold November day's Birding in Clonmany.
Sat. 19th. Nov. 2016, In this November morning of eerie greyness and bone-chilling temperatures set against a background of snow-capped mountains in the Clonmany area, we were all aglow with excitement, encountered when at Craigawannia on the northern end of the Isle of Doagh Road, a pair of Little Egrets were recorded as they foraged in the shoreline grasses, while nearby a flock of Brent Geese engaged in a similar activity. Then after some time here it was decided to see if we could find the Waxwings seen by our Daniel Moloney during the past week close to the Glenevin Waterfall, and true to his report, on our arrival Jim Toland located these avian treasures beside the Glen House, from where in the most scenic of locations refreshments are available. The sighting of these spectacular birds were an exciting first for Jim's wife Anne. In this same location large flocks of Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Redpoll and many Thrushes were noted ............After a further intake of warmth in the form of hot tea and sandwiches we set off for Straths, where another bonanza of joy was revealed, when a flock of approximately six hundred Barnacle Geese carpeted a large acreage of grass in a field a short distance away across on the Isle of Doagh, while great numbers of Curlew flew in to land close to our position. .........Then at Glasha Carndonagh, we had the pleasure of watching a female Sparrowhawk scouring the area from it's perch on a fencepost, then another little Egret was recorded as were Mallard Duck, Redshank, Oystercatcher and Black-backed Gull.. Now with the cold and precipitation intensifying the final act of our bountiful outing was at Malin Town, where yet again two more Egrets were added to our list, but most surprising of all was to see a sizable flock of Barnacle Geese grazing on the recently reclaimed and grassed land at Mc Sheffrey's Bridge.
 
An enjoyable day with the South West Birders.
Sat. 26th. November 2016. Today dawned with an expectancy of the weather enjoyed over the past number of days when the sun shone it' s continuous rays of warmth on our winter landscape that had still retained most of it's kaleidoscopic autumnal colours. That was the dream, but the reality was very different, when it was realised that a great blanket of grey fog seeping with an eerie quietness had encapsulated our dream. .........Undaunted we all gingerly set off through the hazard to the Inch Lake car park, where we had arranged to meet with our good friends from the South-west Birders Club. After a cordial reunion it was decided that with the visibility greatly reduced we should change our plans and go to the Malin Town area, where reportedly the fog was less intense. On our arrival at Mc Sheffrey's Bridge, a flock of approximately three hundred Barnacle were contentedly grazing, and in their company were a number of Pink Feet. .....Then a very short stop was had at Malin Town Bridge, but with the tide having retreated far out into the Bay, coupled with the fog, it was off to the hide at the Bathing Box Lane where we struck gold when an American Wigeon was spotted, but most odd was the absence of any Little Egrets, or the Cattle Egret seen in the locality recently. ...........With the day progressing it was off to Malin Head where large flocks of Barnacle have been reported, but none to be seen in their traditional sites on this occasion, but in their stead were Eider and Mallard Duck, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Herring and Great Black-back Gulls. Also seen in the locality was a Peregrine Falcon, while earlier five Buzzards were recorded. ............Our final trip of the day was to Glenevin in Clonmany where the outing finished on a high when we spotted thirty plus Waxwings, a great delight for anyone that had never seen them before.. ....It was here that we said goodbye to our good friends from the South-west Birders Club as they set off on their long homeward journey.
 
A fine December Day at the Inch Lake and Blanket Nook.
Sat. 3rd. Dec. 2016. How things can change from one week to another was illustrated by the great dense blanket of fog last Saturday that obliterated the beauty and Wildlife concealed beneath its sullen dampness at a place that acts as a magnet to the many enthusiasts drawn to the most iconic Wildlife Reserve of Inch Lake. But today it was a different scenario when our visit was enjoyed in dry, calm and perfect visibility if at times a little on the grey side, but the luminosity beamed by the great number of birds and diversity of species brightened our outlook, further enhanced by a few special ticks that included a rare Russian White-fronted Goose, seen foraging among a large flock of Canada Geese. ....On the silken lake surface a number of Shoveler, Pintail and a Male Smew were recorded, while overhead a Sparrowhawk and a Merlin took turns at patrolling the area with one thought on their minds. ..........As we journeyed to the Blanket Nook many more large flocks of Greylag Geese were encountered, but at one place an unusually large number of Pink-footed Geese were noted and counted that revealed the number to be seventy nine. At the Nook a Little Egret was seen to be socializing with six Snipe. During this visit to the Lakes area one Yellow Hammer and eight Buzzards completed our quest.
 
The final bird count on Lough Swilly for 2016.
Sat. 10th Dec. 2016. Good fortune was our companion today as we concluded our participation in the Bird Count of Lough Swilly for the 2016 section, but the page will be turned when on the 21st./22nd. January next we will continue our contribution to the program's conclusion in March 2017. ........But back to todays activities that were performed in the most pleasant weather for this time of year, that had a complete absence of either frost, rain or strong cold winds, in their stead was bright warm sunshine, that had the blue waters of the great Lough shimmering, and the surrounding mountains aglow in it's mellow rays, reminiscent of a day in June or July. .....as usual a high turnout of club members produced a very comprehensive report of what was on show. ..... Apart from the birds of the Lough, the Raptors were represented by Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Merlin that were welcomed by all, an inclusion that never fails to impress.
 
Our Annual Dinner and Slide show.
Wednesday 14th. Dec 2016. Our most eagerly awaited club social event of the year was enjoyed at Mc Grorys Restaurant, Culdaff. ......Where the evening kicked off with a side-splitting slide show of members being portrayed with the most comical speech boubbles indicating what they might be thinking or saying, further exemplified by an appropriate musical background. The show had everyone in tears of laughter at the behest of the one and only Martin Moloney. This sense of fun and well being lingered throughout the evening that later had us seated at a well prepared dining table, where the palate was treated to an appetizing menu that stimulated the senses. During this feasting a rendition of "Happy Birthday" was directed to our "Queen of the May" Anne Toland as she sliced her cake provided for the occasion. .....After all the wisecracks and jokes, we participated in a quiz organised by the restaurant, after which it was goodnight to all, then home after a memorable gathering.
 
Saturday 17th. December 2016. Due to he close proximity of the Christmas Holiday and the appropriate demands of family for last minute shopping trips and other requirements it was decided to call off today's outing. .....Our next event will be on Tuesday 27th. December at 10.00 a.m. when we will meet at the Causeway Road to Inch Island. As is usual on this particular day non members are welcomed to join the fun, but it is advisable to be suitable attired and have a flask of warm beverage and a sandwich to combat the December weather. See you there, and a happy christmas to all.
 
Tuesday 27th. December 2016. That dreaded malaise known as" Cabin Fever" that can afflict any person confined to the indoors for extended periods, especially at this time of year was exorcised today with our final outing of 2016, to the Inch Lake and surrounding area in incredible summer-like conditions that had the continuous rays of warm sunshine saturating every nook and cranny of our beautiful frost free countryside, and without a cloud to mar a pristine sky. All of this further enhanced by the company of our good friends. ...........The number of birds on show were also enjoying the occasion, with the flocks of Whooper Swans and especially the flocks of Geese, mostly Greylag in their thousands in the fields on the Slob Road and the Lake areas. .......On the smooth waters of the Inch Lake A small number of Pin-tailded Duck were intermingled with their more common relatives. Earlier a couple of Otters were watched as they frolicked in the Bridgend river. On our way to the Farland Bank, a large flock of Canada Geese were observed, among them were a few Greylag and a Russian White-fronted Goose as they feasted on the lush grass near the Tready Point hide, this goose was first recorded by us on the 3rd of December. ...As the day progressed the temperature started to decline, so it was adios to our penultimate day's birding for 2016. ...Happy New Year to everyone.
 
The last Club Outing for 2016.
Sat. 31st. Dec. 2016. Today saw our last input to our glorious year of Birding and other types of Fauna and Flora, a time that had it's many highlights, such as the amazing trip to our friends in the Netherlands, together with the places closer to home. With the New Year on our doorstep more adventures are in the pipeline for the months to come. ..........But back to this morning when we set off in rather grey but dry conditions with the prospects of heavy rain and wind forecast from midday. Our destinations were the Isle of Doagh, Straths and the Glasha areas. At Straths we encountered a number of flocks of Barnacle Geese, one of which was estimated at over four hundred . ....In the same general area a male and female Peregrine Falcon were observed, at one stage they were seen to be hunting, sometime later were observed perched. ......On the Isle of Doagh, Blackbird, Mistle and Song Thrushes, Redwing, Wigeon, Merganser, Redshank, Curlew and Cormorant were recorded. Later at Glasha with the tide line lost in the fading light and the arrival of the heavy forecasted rain, accelerated by the strengthening wind, small numbers of Brent and more Barnacle Geese could be just discerned as they pillaged between the the dark rocks and seaweed on the dank forlorn beach....... Now with the worsening conditions it was decided to call a halt to the proceedings and head for home..But on leaving our position, what looked like a piece of black plastic snaged on a barbed wire fence occasionally fluttering in the storm a few hundred meters across an adjacent field. But Martin one of the pair of the Moloney Boys (actually father and son) decided that the object was not a bit of plastic but a bird that was ensnared on the fence. Both of these heroes immediately set off into the storm regardless of the absence of suitable rainware, and spent a considerable time releasing what was in fact a Jackdaw that was impaled on the wire. The bird was then taken back to the shelter of the car where the damage to the injured leg was examined before being released. How wonderful to see the bird fly off to the shelter of a stand of trees... Their actions showed what the real love of nature means.
 
 
 
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