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A random selection of images from past club outings.
Saturday 2nd. January 2021. On this, cold, bleak, Winter morning, from its pulpit on a leafless branch of a Hawthorn Hedge a Robin, in it's dribbling tones, delivered a sermon to an awakening world, on the miracle of spring's return. .........To those that look, it has already started with the formation of the buds on shrubs and trees, also the emergence of the green shoots of Daffodils and Lesser Celandine, stealthily making their appearance. So much to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead !
Wednesday 6th. January 2021. We received today from our dutch member Wil Buis, the above pictures of five birds, and states that all of them, with the exception of the Smew, are on the red list in the Netherlands.
At this midwinter time and pandemic uncertainty, we look forward to an unknown day, and an unknown time, when we can once again enjoy natures bounty, with heavenly choral renditions from the birds, augmented by the humming chorus of bees and insects, the fluttering of Butterflies, all in a setting of gentle fresh greenness, warmed by beams of bright warm sunshine. ............. Well, we all can dream !!!!
Ghosts From Summer 2020.
Members Jim and Anne Toland's observations of nature in their local area.
Tuesday 2nd. February 2021. This is a difficult time of year for the nature lover. Confined to our locality, we have not the option of going to those places where we know we have a chance of seeing the traditional visitors or even something unusual. So from the window or as we walk in the locality we tend to pay more attention to our surroundings. We notice the scent of Winter Heliotrope and look at Herb Robert, Prickly and Smooth Sow Thistle, Hogweed, Daisy, Dandelion, Buttercup, Wall Valerian, Groundsel, Ragwort, Ivy-leaved Toadflax and Knapweed, We watch the behaviour of Corvids, Blackbirds, Thrushes, Pigeons and notice the frenzy of Tits, especially families of Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Dunnock and the bold defiant attitude of the Robin. And every now and then our attention is drawn to a Sparrowhawk darting by in search of a meal. We pay more than usual attention to small flocks of Curlew, the colourful Jay and a pair of Foxes as they pass, leaving their imprint on the snow covered path. .......... At present we are watching out for the signs of Spring. Naturalised Snowdrops and Crocuses have made appearance but in spite of abundant foliage we have only seen buds of Lesser Celandine and to date no Primrose. As Shelley wrote, “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"
Friday 5th. February 2021. From the Netherlands, club member Wil Buis has sent a number of picture of birds recorded recently in the vicinity of her home. Most notable of these for us here in Donegal is the gathering of the Pink Flamingos.
Saturday 6th. February 2021. Our keen-eyed Martin Moloney, while out walking in his local region, reported the sighting of a Red Kite in flight, and a short time later a Merlin was observed perched on a fence post.
Saturday 20th. February 2021. Some of the emissaries of Spring, and the better time that await, as seen through the camera lenses of Sinead.
Monday 1st. March 2021. Above are just a few of Nature's gifts, bestowed to beguile us on this beautiful summer-like first day of March 2021.
Sunday 20th, 21st March 2021. "The Carnival of Spring" sometimes referred to as the Vernal Equinox, when the season of Winter transforms from its long cold, dark days, to the joyous and colourful days we have been eagerly awaiting............. Now with many roadsides awash in the splendor of waving daffodils, the occasional Forsythia Bush, their multitudes of blossoms glistening like encrusted nuggets of gold. In some roadside gardens, beautiful Cherry Blossoms are being flaunted on the otherwise bare branches of the parent trees. All of this further enhanced by the outpouring of the warming rays of a benevolent Sun. .......... Next to add to this new season will be the arrival of our Summer visitors, the Sand Martins, House Martins, Swallows, Wheatear's, the Warblers and Cuckoos to name just a few. Today, what a beautiful occasion of hope in the times to come?
Thursday 8th. April 2021. A few pictures of wildlife observed in his own patch by our member Martin Moloney, over a period of a couple of weeks. He also reports the sighting of a White-tailed Eagle, a Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Sparrow hawk, and gracing the Inishowen sky, a Golden Eagle. Life goes on as usual for the Wildlife, irrespective of the Dreaded Covid 19.
A Few Hours Enjoying the Wonders of Nature on this Beautiful Spring Day.
Saturday 17th. April 2021. The chains and shackles that kept everyone imprisoned in the five kilometer limit has been discarded, to now allow the freedom to travel to any place in our county, but with certain restrictions to be observed. ....... This being the case it was a much reduced number of members that joined our outing today. None the less, how wonderful to greet our old friends after an absence of over seven months........ Our starting point this morning was at the Stone Jug at the mouth of the Crana River, where a high tide was lapping lazily on to the sandy shore, and gently caressing the large stone pier. ........... From here it was a leisurely meander through the beautiful Swan Park, still under repair from the destructive floods of August 2017. This morning great swathes of wood Anemone their beautiful little flowers with eyes that sparkled, as they nodded a welcome from their shade-strewn abodes, while in the many nooks and crannies, Bluebells were appearing to compete with great sprinkling of the minute purple Dog Violets, with amazing displays of golden Dandelion now holding sway. ......In this wonderful park, we were introduced to our first sighting for the season of a Peacock Butterfly as it floated gingerly from bush to bush, to the melodious notes of willow warbler, Blackcap, Wren, Chaffinch, and Mistle Thrush. ........... On this special occasion our countryside was awash with the joys and splendor of Spring, overlaid by bright warm sunshine, that made our first outing since the 16th, of September, one well worth waiting for. ........... Our penultimate stop was at an amazing walk-way between Glebe and Dunree here the local stream crashes thunderously from high up the little glen, on its travel through its tree-lined way to the waiting arms of Lough Swilly. ............ The final high point of the day was to watch a Buzzard and a Golden Eagle disputing the territorial air space over the Urris Hills. .......... So concluded a wonderful day in the great outdoors.
Wednesday 21st. April 2021. Our Dutch Members, Wil Buis, Beb Marten and Anneka van Zwol, are enjoying their Bird Watching, as there are no restrictions on that sort of activity in the Netherlands at the present time. They miss Ireland and the camaraderie of the Saturday Club Outings, but hope to rectify that with a visit, hopefully at the end of May. Above are pictures of the birds recorded recently, especially the nesting White-tailed Eagle
22nd. April 2021. Martin Moloney reported hearing the first tantalizing "You can't see me" call of the Cuckoo early this morning.
An April Day in Natures Treasure Trove.
Sat. 24th. April 2021. A wonderful day of temperatures reaching eighteen degrees, boosted by continuous dazzling sunshine had the effect on Mother Nature to open wide the great doors of her treasure trove of precious jewels, that formed the rewards for out little group of Wildlife enthusiasts, when this morning, after our start at the Clochan, Glentogher, we set off through Cabry, near Quigley's Point, where petite little Marsh Violets nodded from their damp abode, inside a roadside fence. ........ Now it was on to the Shimmering waters of Lough Inn, where a Kestrel watched from its high rocky perch. Unfortunately Kestrel are in decline over the past numbers of years. .......... Next it was down to a lower altitude at Ballyargus, where a roadside, ablaze in a stunning display of beautiful Whins, and to our surprise were hosting good numbers of the beautiful little Green Hairstreak Butterflies, jewels indeed. Also fluttering in the locality were large numbers of Orange-tip, both male and female. Appearing in this area after it's winter dormancy is the very intrusive False Salmonberry plant just now starting to produce it's rather nice little flowers. In this general area Buzzard, Kestrel, Willow Warbler, Redpoll, Siskin, Blackcap, Robin and Bullfinch were recorded........... The next move was down to the main road and a stop at the little pier below the Redcastle Post Office. The short drive down this tree-lined road with a cornucopian show of wildflowers peeping from within their sylvan background was a joy to behold, amongst them were Bluebell, Dog Violet, Wood Sorrel, Wood Anemone, the multi-petaled Stitchwort, Buttercup, Ladies Smock, and Primrose to name a few. Also present here were more Orange Tip and a Speckled Wood Butterfly. ........... A very short stop at the upper Pier Moville, revealed Just one Black Guillemot, a couple of Rock Pipits, and a Sandwich Tern, while over the wooded area across the road A Buzzard circled. ............ The last call of this most beautiful day was to Inishowen Head, beautiful as usual, but bereft of the expected Bird life.
Saturday 1st May 2021. No club outing today due to unforeseen circumstances, Looking forward to next Saturday.
Another Enjoyable Outing Amid the Wonders of Nature
Sat. 8th. May 2021. A very minimal number of members braved the turbocharged rain and low temperatures set against the murky grayness of the morning. But as the expression goes "Valor favors the Brave" So we set off from the town of Clonmany, up the narrow undulating road to the crown of the scenic Pinch Mountain, from where across the valley the towering hills of Urris seemed to have a scowl on their faces, no doubt due to the prevailing conditions. ............ After a short stop here it was down to Milltown near Dunree, where the Owenerk River gurgled its way to the nearby open Ocean........... next it was up through the heavenly area known as Hillside, where in places the many Birch Trees their silvered bark shimmering their beauty in the now easing rain. ....... Despite the conditions the roadsides were a joy to behold, with wildflowers artistically arranged by the masters hand of nature, among them were Stitchwort, drifts of Bluebells waving their heads in the strong breeze, Wood Anemone, Daffodils, perhaps glad to have escaped their garden prison, Dog Violets. Daisies, with their eyes tightly closed, due to the cold and absence of sunlight. ........... After midday the rain decided to surrender and a short time later the sun had a peek through the evaporating cloud cover. Things got a lot brighter when a Golden Eagle appeared high over the Urris Hills, and as on our previous visit, it was in conflict with some of it's Corvid neighbors. ........... After this we set off up the Mamore Gap, which is always a special treat, then down to the golden sands of Lenan Beach, where we relaxed and enjoyed a cup of hot tea, and an added gastronomic treat by Liam, who it is rumored has a birthday in the offing. Another enjoyable outing amid the wonders of nature.
A Cool Day in Mid May.
Sat. 15th. May 2021. A rather cold gray morning belied the fact that it is the middle of May, not the month of March. But undaunted by such a triviality our little group of wildlife lovers gathered in Carndonagh, and after the usual exchange of news and a little banter we set off to that land of dreams namely Malin Head. ...... We had the usual short stop at the Malin Town Bridge, to check what might be of interest, then continued out the Lagg Road from which we turned up to Balleelghan, through Glacknabrade, then to the elevated Ballagh Hill Road, that provides the most interestingly scenic experience that invites the eye to drift into the dreamy vista of fading blue tones on the distant hills, while below the peaceful golden sands and waters of Trawbreaga Bay are in a higher definition. The nearby fields and roadsides are decorated with colorful displays of Bluebells, Red Campion, Buttercups, and that great escapologist commonly known as "Snow in Summer" then followed by Herb Robert, and large clumps of the white variety of Bluebell. This now took us down to the Presbyterian Church, where in the Trawbreaga Bay the high morning tide was lapping against the wall on the other side of the road from the church, while Swallows and House martins skimmed silently overhead. ..... Now it was on a short distance to the "Five Fingers Beach". Here we were entertained by a flock of seven Choughs that flew into the open grazing opposite the Catholic Church.. Near by Sand Martins graced the sky, while displays of Herb robert were again demanding attention. How wonderful to see the reappearance of what might be considered by some as insignificant, but by others as beautiful, the Field Speedwell, that indicates that in spite of the cold it must be Spring. ............ on our way over that other stunning drive, "The Knockamany Bens" we recorded a number of Common Spotted Orchids, a red blossomed Cherry Tree. Then along the road at Gortnamullen, in the little river that runs parallel to the road the bright flowers of the Marsh marigold shone brightly in the slow-flowing water. In the distance was heard the call of the Corncrake, a sound that evokes in the older members, the summers of their youth. Further along the road we recorded beautiful displays of the Lousewort plant. .........Now with the obvious sign of approaching rain we had just time to celebrate Liam's Birthday with a beautiful cake by that whiz kid Mary, the picture above depicts Liam with a saw about to cut the cake !!!. Incidentally this was his second Birthday in a week. ...... So until next week.
"The Sandman is on his way" as depicted by the keen eye of our opportunistic photographer Brian.
A Day in Paradise.
Sat. 22nd May 2021. After the most horrendous week of this Month, with very low temperatures, strong winds and heavy rainfall that increased in its severity as the weekend approached. With our Wildlife outing scheduled for today, we wondered if it would proceed. But by some miracle or other, perhaps it was the intervention of our good friend Mother Nature, but nonetheless, this morning we set off in bright, dry if somewhat on the cold side, to visit the eastern domain of our Peninsula. With a first stop in the Malin/Culdaff region which took us through Cracknagh, Aughaclay, up to the brow of Doonmore Hill, from where we looked down on the beautiful landscape of Culdaff, it's Bay and golden Beaches shimmering in the bright morning sunlight. From here it was through Trenatubber and down to Bunnagee Pier where we had a break for lunch after checking the area for our flora and fauna desires, which were duly recorded. Included were families of the strikingly beautiful coloured Goldfinches, House Martins, Swallows, Rock Pipits, Pied Wagtails, while Seagulls and Eider Duck out on the Bay bobbed to its rhythm. ........... Now fully fortified it was on to the Bluebell Wood at Culdaff. This amazing sylvan paradise was awash in a sea of blue, that sparkled in the light and shade provided by the overhead leafy branches of the tall, well-spaced beach trees that filtered out some of the now strong sunshine, also present here were a few clumps of pristine Wild Garlic. In a nearby laneway that was tastefully covered with a dense carpet of Daisies, some tinged with tones of scarlet. From its sheltered abode, a small cluster of the white variety of Bluebells brightens their nook. ......... The "Garden of Eden" has vanished the say, according to the lyricists of the song Paddy Reilly, but we reject his claim as it was our privilege to enter this fabled land of milk and honey, when we arrived at the entrance of this heavenly place, drenched in natures opulence. On one side of the roadway with its hanging gardens of Bluebells blending perfectly with the great swathes of Stitchwort, Wood Anemone and Wood Sorrel, in the verges Herb Robert, Buttercup, Dog Violets, the tiny flowers of Mouse Ear, Yellow Pimpernel, Field Speedwell, and Wild Strawberry, all immersed in a cacophony of birdsong, further enhanced with the fluttering of Butterflies, mostly Green-veined White, Small White, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood. .......... On the other side of the valley, densely covered in broad-leafed Trees, and where Red squirrels have been reported, while at its bottom edge a little stream whispers its pleasant song that adds to this wonderland that we know as Redford ...... So ended our outing with our departure for now, from this version of the "Garden of Eden".
Our Day in the Glenveagh National Park.
Sat. 29th. May 2021. Another day with rain and mists obliterating the hills and dales of Inishowen. This was our disappointment as we set off this morning to where we had dreamed of visiting over the past eight months of the lockdown. ............. As we journeyed on from Carndonagh to Letterkenny to meet a couple of our members, the rain decided to withdraw its threatening behavior. So bolstered by this we set off to our chosen destination, the beautiful Glenveagh National Park. As what had happened last Saturday, Mother Nature intervened again today on our behalf, for on our arrival in this wonderful oasis of cornucopian extravagance, set in the beautiful silvery-gray Derryveagh Mountains, the Sun smiled its intense smile of warmth and light. What a joy? ............... Our wandering began with a dander over the Derrylaghan Nature Trail, where on three occasions Red Deer seemed to accept our presence in their territory, and where a Holly Blue Butterfly sparkled from a leaf of its favorite bush. Along the sun-baked pathway, many wildflowers were displaying their charm after enduring the very cold wet weather of early spring. .......... Where lofty pine trees offered shelter and shade, masses of Dog Violets and Bluebells, reflected their perfect habitat. On the more exposed and elevated part of the walk, the blue theme was extended to the clumps of Milkwort. The red and pink tones were mostly in the range of the beautiful, if unfortunately named Lousewort. the yellow pigment was represented by the golden-yellow of whins, Tormentil, Hawkweed, Buttercup and Primrose. ............ Back at the car park, where our lunch was enjoyed, after which some members boarded the bus to the Castle, while the more athletic decided to walk. The Castle has not reopened to the public as yet, but the Beautiful Gardens and walks are available to all, ............. In the calm warm, sun-washed atmosphere of today, one's mind can be transported to some imagined exotic semi tropical world, augmented by the sound of voices from other parts of the globe as they exclaimed their surprise and joy at what they were experiencing in our National Garden by the Lake.
A Day of Botany and Birds.
Sat. 5th. June 2021. Another morning ensnared in showers of light rain and great blankets of mist draped down over the local mountains of our home patch of Inishowen. With the weather conditions, the outing was geared more in a botanizing direction with a drive through the wonderful clad ditches and hedges of Tullynabratilly and the road at the foot of Coolcross Hill, that were sparkling in spite of the greyness, with the beautiful dense flower heads of the long stretches of Cow Parsley, like delicately crafted crochet work, and the stunning displays of Hawthorn Bushes, their branches clad in the aristocratic cloaks of ermine, with the twinkling of the little emerging Marsh Orchids in their midst. From here the call of the Cuckoo could be heard from its hidden perch, to remind us that Summer has arrived. .......... On the Isle of Doagh a little later, more floral treasures were discovered, with a hoard of Early Marsh, and Northern Marsh Orchids, Followed by Common Milkwort, Bog Stitchwort, Meadow, and Marsh Thistle, Germander Speedwell and Red Campion. Nearby a Stonechat from a fence post saluted our presence with its harsh call. Linnets, Goldfinches, and White Throats flitted through the leafy branches on the nearbye bushes, while a Sky Lark sang as it soared high into the now clearing sky, to then drop back down to earth. Later a Buzzard and a peregrine Falcon flew quickly across the area. ........... Next, it was on to Clonmany, then over Pinch Mountain, down to Milltown, the gateway to a place of peace and beauty known as Hillside, its roadside verges adorned with lavish displays of Stitchwort, Red Campion, Foxglove, common Forget-me-not, Water Cress and Bush Vetch. While here in this serene stillness we were lulled by the tantalizing call of another Cuckoo which we managed to spot and photograph. ........... With the weather steadily improving it was up and over the magnificent Mamore Gap and down to Lenankeel, but with the afternoon turning into evening it was time for home during which another Buzzard was added to our list.
A June Outing to the East of Inishowen.
Sat. 12th. June 2021. Our morning started in the sylvan paradise that is Lisnagrath Wood, where strong shafts of sunlight managed to penetrate the lush verdant ceiling of overhanging branches of the many sturdy giants of Beech, Chestnut, and ancient Firs to illuminate the forest floor with its sparkling copper sheen of last winters fallen leaves. ............ In this place of peace and stillness, a Red Squirrel speedily tip-toed over the ground in search of sustenance, perhaps in the form of a peanut left by the generosity of a benevolent nature lover, while a Jay, in its lavishly adorned feathers flitted silently through the branches. ........... Now our outing set off in a northern direction to Ballyargus, where we had hoped to see a few of the beautiful little gems, the Green Hairstreak Butterflies, but that was not to be. The only Butterflies recorded today were a few Small White and Green-veined White, partly due to the sun playing "Peek-a-Boo" from behind the increasing cloud cover, what a pity after the earlier start. ........... Ok, very few Butterflies, but lots of wildflowers, with the charming flowers of "Cats Ear" and its pal the Buttercup leading the parade, beautiful Marsh Orcids flurishing, while from a stone wall Navelwort displayed. Another exceptional find was a large blanked of the rare orange coloured flowers of Orange Hawkweed, also known as "Fox and Cubs" .......... Lunch was enjoyed in style, presented by Sinead and Anne at the picturesque little Pier at Redcastle. ............. The next move was to the upper Pier at Moville, where large numbers of Guillemots were enjoying their siesta on the sun-warmed back wall. ................. Our final visit was to the scenic Inishowen Head where the view was much enjoyed. No butterflies here either, but an obliging Kestrel did a fly-past for our benefit before we set off home.
A relaxed June Day Enjoying Nature.
Sat. 19th. June 2021. The absence of fluttering wings of those angel-like creations, Butterflies, in their heaven at Craigawanna on the Isle of Doagh, was more than a little disappointing. Perhaps it was the cold of the morning, and the non arrival of the predicted warm sunshine, which did turn up a little later on. Before we left here the activities of a White Throat and a Stone Chat were observed as they tended their nests perhaps with little chicks awaiting their regular visits, high up on the rocky hillside the raucous call of Ravens could be heard. ............... Now it was on to the beach at Ballyliffin, from where we went up a narrow plant-laden little valley, aglow with lots of Marsh Orchids, Red Valerian, Hemp Agrimony, Yellow Flag Iris and beautiful Foxgloves. Further up the pathway, a small stream cascaded its lifegiving moisture to the glistening flowers of Marsh Marigold, Water forget-me-not, Water Mint, among the many others including the wonderful tall Blue Grasses, and Scabious. At the top of this idyllic place, we rested for a short period to enjoy the panoramic vista of the Atlantic Ocean with the Island of Glashedy not far offshore, while in the distance Malin Head and its hinterland was visible, and to the east, with Culdaff and the mountains beyond. ............. Next, it was time for our alfresco lunch with a touch of class by Sinead, and added to by Anne.. ..........Now revitalised, we had a look around a little-used country lane at the highest point of the Ardagh Road where we recorded more gems, like the yellow-lemon flower heads of Cats Ear, Pennywort, the delicate flower heads of Pignut, the uncommon White Bush Vetch with a Speckled Wood Butterfly in attendence. Along this tree and bush-laden pathway, some of the ditches were clad in the wonderful scent-soaked Honeysuckle, with more of the colourful Digitalis adding to the magic of the afternoon. ............ We finished off our relaxing day with a trip down the Hillside Road to near Dunree, where we had hoped to see perhaps a Golden Eagle drifting high in the air over the Urris Hill, but our luck was out. In its stead a hovering Kestrel had to suffice.
Saturday26th. June 2021. No Club Outing today due to a number of unforeseen circumstances. One of our members Sinead Craig and her friend Carol, paid a visit to the Isle of Doagh, where in the continuous sunshine they recorded a number of Common Blue, and at last! five Dark Green Fritillary Butterflies, then to add to their joy, the rasping call of the Corncrake was heard near Lagacurry. ...........Two other members, Jim and Anne Toland, due to the early morning club cancellation decided to set off for Mullaghmore Co Sligo, renowned for the floral richness of its Dunne System, with Orchids such as the Early Marsh, Pyramidal, and Common Spotted the most prolific. Drawing the eye was the large clumps of Scarlet Pimpernel enjoying the Sun's intensity. Amongst the magnificent display of the many wildflowers, the most spectacular was the great blankets of the rather uncommon Sand Pansy, a special treat to end their Day in Mullaghmore.......... Now we are looking forward to next Saturdays Club Outing.
The Pleasure Derived From a Warm Rain-free July Day.
Saturday 3rd, July 2021. From the beautiful serene setting at the old Pier, beside the Stone Jug Buncrana, our club outing ambled its way across the Castle Bridge, and on through to the wonderful old-world style pathway to Father Hegerty's Rock, and beyond, it's ditches clad in the summer rich garments from Mother Natures Wardrobe. In places a variety of Orchids, that included Common Spotted, and Northern Marsh proudly displayed their beauty while Hedge Woundwort, Cats-Ear, the most beautiful Orange Hawkweed, the pale lemon umbels of the Alexander, and at one place the petite flower of the Woody Nightshade. What a joy?. .......... On our return to the cars at the Stone Jug, we had the privilege of wishing Martin Moloney a slightly belated Happy Birthday, and with a rather distorted vocal rendition, then Mary the lady from County Clare presented the ageing recipient with an appropriately decorated cake. ........... Celebrations now over it was off to the peaceful sandy beach at Stragill, where more gems were recorded, the most noticeable being White Campion, also a little of the more common Sea Campion, and the unusual White Ramping Fumitory. Also in the area was the less welcomed Hemlock Waterwort. ............ Our leisurely outing finished off in grand style with a visit to a hidden wonderland, where river water tumbles its journey over great rocky obstacles, in places overhung by the leafy arched branches of the many trees guarding its banks and pathway. In this little paradise in Desertagney, beautiful arrays of Sheeps-bit, Monkey Flowers, Mayweed, Selfheal, and just emerging the beautiful soft flower heads of the Meadowsweet, added to its charm and made our day something special.
Saturday 10th. July 2021. No Club outing today due to other commitments. Looking forward to next Saturday.
Our Day in Paradise.
Sat. 17th. July 2021. It's not every day one has the opportunity to enter Paradise, but that was our reward when we drove to the heavenly woodlands, walkways, and beaches of the Ards Forest Park, situated under the shadow of the mighty Muckish Mountain. In this beautiful setting, sizzling in the hot sunshine that was stretching well into the twenty degrees scale but made enjoyable by the intervention of a gentle breeze wafting in from the glistening blue waters of Sheephaven Bay, that rippled to a halt on the silken toe-burning sands of the large areas of Beaches in this "Heaven on Earth". Where Butterflies flutter in their many hundreds, with the common Blue, both male and female, outnumbering the plentiful Silver-washed, and Dark Green Fritillary. Also in abundance were Small Heath, Ringlet, and lesser numbers of Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and, Meadow Brown. Feeding on some of the grasses was the spectacular Cinnabar Moth flaunting it's beauty. ................ Underfoot along the sandy walkways wildflowers took pride of place, with carpets of Wild Thyme, and in one particular place the very rare White Wild Thyme. Then the colour changed to the mustard shade of Lady's Bedstraw, then to the blue tones of the Harebells that seemed to like life in clumps. ........... In the Grassy areas near the beach was an extravagance of colourful Orchids, mostly Pyramidal and the Fragrant variety. ......... Our Day in paradise culminated with the most enjoyable time relaxing in the afternoon sunshine and having our cup of tea and the usual trimmings by one of our Fairy Godmothers. I suppose in Paradise Fairy Godmothers are replaced by Angels.
The Joys of A Summers Day.
Sat. 24th. July 2021. Each month in each season has its dominant displays of flora, dependent on the light and temperature available at that time, as exemplified by June just past, with the dominance of the magnificent crochet-like flower heads of the Cow Parsley that heralds the arrival of Summer. Today the equally charming displays, of the wonderful Meadowsweet, easy on the eye and tender to the touch, exuding its gentle fragrance from the hedges and ditches as if paying homage to that glowing sphere set against a cloudless sky of blue. ............. Our main intention today amongst all this floral opulence and lushness was to seek some of the butterflies that to date have failed to make their appearance in what are regarded as Butterfly hotspots. .......... From our stop, high up on the road near the base of Coolcross Hill, while admiring the spectacular panoramic view far below of Glashedy Isle, set in a mirror of Atlantic stillness, followed by Malin Head, the Isle of Doagh, Malin Town, Culdaff and beyond, three Buzzards were observed, this was quickly followed when the sharp-eyed Mary spotted our first Red Admiral that was also the only one of this outing.......... next it was on to the Isle of Doagh where a few Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Green-veined White, Dark Green Fritillary and Common Blue were recorded. This was followed by a drive through Fegart, Doaghmore and on to the Castles, where we watched what looked like a pod of Orcas near the beach on Glasheady. This then led to an unusual triple Birthday Celebration, that included Brian, Wil, and Paddy, that was duly conjured up by two members of the Fairy Godmothers Catering Company. ............... Our final fling of the outing was to the Lagg Sand Dunes at Malin, but this was curtailed somewhat by the intense heat and the numbers of people enjoying this wonderful weather. Among the many wildflowers observed today were Yellow Loostrife, Yarrow, Red Bartsia, Mayweed, Woundwort, Great swathes of Rosebay Willowherb, the beautiful and unique white Harebell. ............... It was with great pleasure that we had in our company, Wil Buis and her Husband Martin, after a ten months absence due to the Covid restrictions in the Netherlands,
Wednesday 28th. July 2021. Picture of White-tailed Sea Eagle recorded at Carndonagh this morning. One of three reported in Inishowen at present.
Saturday 31st. July 2021. No Club Outing today due to unforeseen circumstances.
Our First Outing to Inch Lake for 2021. (due to Covid restrictions)
Sat. 7th. August 2021. Dawn was awaited with bated breath this morning, but surprisingly the gloomy predictions of heavy rainfall and perhaps accompanying thunder and lightening, was replaced with a smirking Sun rising over the eastern horizon of our peninsula to set up our club outing to the glorious Inch Lake and the surrounding area. Now armed with our lunch packs and other titbits we arrived at the lakes silken waters, which were relatively undisturbed, as is the case at this time of year, before the winter rush of birds arriving from the many northern climes to avail of our milder climate. On the water were small flocks of Greylag and Canada Geese, a few Gray Heron standing to attention, Mute Swans were moving serenely on the calm lake surface, while in the little stream that runs parallel to the pathway from the car parking facility, a lone Swan was gorging on the blanket of Duckweed. On the grass banks, Mallard, Godwit, Lapwing, Greenshank, and Redshank foraged. ............ This was all observed from the viewing platform, after which we indulged in a pleasant meander down the tree-lined walkway to the bridge over the Burnfoot River, that allowed the opportunity to record the great fluttering's of Large White and to a lesser degree Speckled Wood Butterflies, nectaring on the beautiful drifts of Meadowsweet, Wild Carrot, Great Willowherb, Knapweed, and Tufted Vetch. On reaching the northern end of our walk, we were surprised by a short light shower that appeared out a mostly cloud-free sky. ...........On return to the cars a break for lunch was enjoyed, after which, with dark foreboding clouds forming, that produced a short time later a period of heavy rain. It was decided that a trip to Blanket Nook would be a nice way to end our outing. .............. On arrival at this destination the rain retreated, and out popped the Sun again. Here we recorded our second Sparrow Hawk, a sparkling jewel in the form of a Kingfisher, a large flock of Greylag Geese, with a White Goose joining them in flight. Jim had the good fortune to record for us a Painted Lady Butterfly, a first for this year, The wildflowers observed here included Cat's Ear, Wild Parsnip, Wild Carrot, and Red Bartsia. ....... Now with the raindrops splashing the windscreens, it was time for home.
The Arboreal Wonderland of the Roe Valley Country Park.
Sat. 14th. August 2021. From our beautiful Inishowen, we were transported for today's outing to an arboreal wonderland, added to by the dark rushing waters of the River Roe, that starts its snake-like journey in the Sperrin Mountains, to pass through our venue for today, The Roe Valley Country Park, it then acquires a meandering trait, a few miles before entering the sea at the mouth of Lough Foyle. ............ Back in the park, to our delight the sun managed to nudge the light cloud cover aside, that added a sparkle to the scene as we wandered, and wondered at the beauty and tranquility of the place. .............. Under the shade of the mighty towering Pine Trees, and the many others such as Oak, Ash. Sycamore, Rowan, and Birch, the sun managed to pierce the roof of this Cathedral of sylvan magnitude and sprinkle splashes of sunlight onto the pathway below. ........The river banks were adorned with many Wildflowers and Grasses, that seemed to be telling us that they have given their all, and were preparing for the advancing season of Autumn. ..........The birds recorded in our visit today had Buzzard, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Pigeon, Hooded Crow, Song Thrush, Wren, Robin. Swallow, and Dipper, while a reasonable number of Large White Butterflies were recorded as was the one Painted Lady. ............. Our final activity at the Roe Valley Park was to have a late lunch, after which, while homeward bound we stopped for a time at Ballykelly Shore, where among the birds seen here were Greylag Geese, Curlew, Greenshank, Lapwing, Egret, and flocks of Linnets, and Swallows. Finally that great assassin the Peregrine Falcon.
Saturday 21st. August 2021. No Club Outing today due to a yellow rain warning issued yesterday evening by the Meteorology Service for our area. But now we look forward to a better prediction for next Saturday.
Saturday 28th. August. No club activity today due to other commitments
Monday 30th. August 2021. Club member Brian Hegerty, on a family outing in the Clonmany region this afternoon, reported seeing three Sparrowhawks, a Peregrine Falcon, a Buzzard, and what may have been a Golden Eagle, but due to the blinding effect of the strong sunlight, Brian could not confirm his assumption.
The Recommencement of the Swilly Bird Count, Amid the Colours of Autumn .
Sat. 4th. September 2021. The absence of the bird census on the Swilly since the 18th. February 2020, due to Covid restrictions, recommenced today with our members partaking in our usual stations and included the activity as part of the Saturday club outing. In this, the season of Autumn, with its mists and fruitful riches. A time much revered by artists and poets down through the centuries. is now showing its courtesy to the summer just past, by allowing it to display its sunshine and warmth in the past few days of September. In the cool, gray, dampness of this morning, it seemed to have demanded back its ownership of the season, as we commenced the count at Buncrana, then on through Lisfannon, next to Fahan Creek, and later concluded our task at the north-eastern shores of Inch Island. ............ With a very low tide for most of the day, the birds were at some points barely visible from the shore, as they gorged on the plentiful supply of food, laid bare on the now great meadows of the Swilly Estuary. ....... With the earlier morning rain and mist ceasing, the temperature increasing with the arrival of hazy sunshine, enhanced further by the ever-increasing warm colours of Autumn spreading their charm, made for a most pleasant outing.
Saturday 11th. September. No club activity today due to members other commitments.
Seasonal Changes of Autumn,
Sat. 18th. September 2021. To see the response to the seasonal changes on all forms of wildlife, especially the flora, from the excesses of Summer to the withdrawals of Autumn, we started at Inishowen Head the most north-esterly boundary of the Peninsula. Here great beds of decaying nettles were hosting large fluttering's of Tortoiseshell Butterflies and where bouquets of Purple Heather blended with the clumps of Yarrow. Out on the smooth waters of the Ocean, a feeding frenzy was observed, as Gannets and Gulls dived continuously for about a period of twenty minutes on what must have been a large shoal of fish . ........... While in this area, we stopped at the place from where St. Colmcille is said to have departed from when he went to the Island of Iona. Today we celebrated our own form of sainthood when Jim with his halo shining brightly was presented with a special Birthday Cake, prepared by the angelic Mary......... Now it was off and up the very steep and winding roads to the heather-clad mountain of Crock Alainn and to the viewing area from where we could look down on the plain of Magilligan and the great monolith of Binevenagh in the background. ....... What goes up must go down, was proved as we drove on the exceptionally steep road to sea level and the beautiful Kinnagoe Bay. Later this was followed with a short stop at Tremone Bay. Then it was on to the heavenly little road that leads to the beach at Redford Culdaff, where at the start of our dander, both sides of the pathway were lined with Whorled Mint with its deep purple / blue flowers on display. Further on where the arching trees cast their welcomed shade, one of the most prominent wildflowers was the stunning Montbretia, followed by the Fuchsia, then Knapweed, followed by the golden yellow of the occasional Ragwort. On the pathway large amounts of Hazelnuts were strewn, a welcome treat for the Red Squirrels reported in this wonderland........ Along the sides of the path, the remains of summers jewels are slowly entering their form of hibernation, to awaken to the world next Spring with their beauty and pleasure for all of Mankind. .....During our travels today among the birds recorded were Buzzard, Mistle Thrush, Rock Dove, Stonechat, Yellow Hammer, Linnet, Sparrowhawk, and Peregrine Falcon.
A Quiet Interval in the Naturalist's Calander.
Saturday 25th. September 2021. This time of year could be regarded as a quiet interval in the naturalist's calendar. The breeding season is over for the birds and the visitors among them have left for foreign lands. The winter visitors have yet to arrive. For the botanist. only a few winter  plants are awaited and summer's bounty is fading. For the lepidopterist no new broods are expected from now on.
So it was for us today on our migration from Dunree Fort, travelling northwards to end up at Binnion Strand. The brooding weather with its intervals of sunlight shone the spotlight on the magnificent views available along that route: dark mountains, shady woods, wide vistas, shimmering sands and broad oceans views, interspersed with suprising snapshots of berried rowan trees, abundant fuchsia and hotspots of butterflies.
The planted wildflower garden at Fort Dunree was our main source of delight regarding plants, with the remains of some unexpected blowins, adding interest to the local natives. A flight of Goldfinch fed among the woods inthe company of Chaffinch, Great Tit and Wagtail as we moved along Hillside. But only Hooded Crows were visible on the mountains, not even a Buzzard or the hoped for Golden Eagle. Over Mamore Gap and down again to the seashore revealed Cormorants, Gannets, Oystercatchers, Eiders,and on the roadside a Stonechat and a Snipe.  At Roxtown Harbour, a colourful garden carved out of the wilderness by some nature lover, revealed a  flight of butterflies, mainly Tortoiseshells feasting on the remains of the garden's produce.. A lone seal basked in the sun. All food for the soul as we await our winter visitors.. Thanks to Jim Toland for todays report.

The October Bird Count on the Swilly.
Saturday 2nd. October 2021. This morning on our arrival in Buncrana to continue the Winter count of the birds on Lough Swilly for this Month there was a sense of foreboding hanging like the Sword of Damocles over our outing, due in part to the bitterly cold wind that had the dull grey waters of the Lough protesting against its unwelcomed intrusion by casting the white horses high into the air with disdain, while coming from the dark cloud wrapped mountains, it looked as if the heavy showers predicted were on their way............ Unfazed by all of this we got counting in the Lisfannon area, then on to Fahan Creek, where we avoided a heavy shower by remaining car-bound until it passed, that allowed the Sun to make a rather welcomed, if hesitant entrance and the temperature to rise by a few degrees. ............Next, it was up to the old railway platform at Lambertons. This was followed by counting the birds on the exposed sands on the outer wall side of the Causesway Bank. ............Bit by bit the weather improved, and we concluded our enjoyable task at our various stops on Inch Island, where many of the roadsides and hedges bedecked with beautiful Hawthorn, flaunting its autumnal tinted freckled-like fruits to be the delight of the birds during the cold days of Winter. .
Tints of Autumn.
Saturday 9th. October 2021. A murky start to the morning did not bode well for our outing. Having welcomed back our Dutch friends we were hoping for an interesting day. After making our way through the mists around The Grianan of Aileach we arrived in the woodlands of Bogay. to be greeted by a family of Long-tailed Tits. Overhead we spotted a Red Squirrel scamper through the canopy. Competing with the chatter of Magpies was the raucous chorus of Jays. We watched these colourful birds dart through the trees, whose still plentiful foliage provided them with adequate cover. A Sparrowhawk was spotted on the prowl and we watched a Goldcrest make its way through the ivy-clad trees.
On to Blanket Nook and large flocks of Golden Plover mixed with Black-tailed Godwit and Lapwing. Teal,and  Widgeon were also present. On the seashore, Curlew, Little Egret and Greenshank fed. A flock of Goldfinch was spotted feeding along the hedgerow. After the tea and sandwiches, supplemented by some continental goodies. we called it a day. On our way home we came across a flock of about two hundred Canada Geese, accompanied by a small group of Greylag Geese, all contentedly grazing in a stubble field. As yet we have not seen many migrants, but no doubt this will change as we move into winter. We did spot a few Buzzard but not as many as anticipated in this area.
As expected plants are in decline and only Herb Robert, Nipplewort, Catsear, Yarrow, Bush Vetch, Groundsel, Red Deadnettle and Tutsan were noted. ..... Thanks to Jim for todays report.

Autumns Signatures.
Saturday 16th, October 2021.Today's outing took us to the southeast bank of Lough Foyle. Despite the forecasted threat of rain, conditions were ideal.  At our first stop at the mouth of the River Roe, among the many gulls (Blackbacked, Blackheaded and Common) feeding along the estuary, we noted Lapwing, Greenshank, three Egret, and  perched on a post surveying the situation, a Buzzard.
Moving futher south along Ballymacran Bank we were greeted by the welcome honking of those iconic winter immigrants, Whooper Swan. Across the vast expanse of Myroe we spotted Skylark, Egret, Brent Geese, Buzzard, a lone Barnacle Goose, a Snipe and the dazzling colours of a Kingfisher as it fished along the inner waterway. A stubble field seem to be the focus point for the flocks of arriving Whoopers.
At our final stop near Ballykelly, Brent geese fed at the tide's edge in numbers, accompanied by Mallard, Wigeon, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank and Greenshank. While a flock of Golden Plover flew above the waters of the Lough, in the nearby inlet, three Grey Plover with their familiar hesitant gait, were feeding.
As a chilly breeze arose and dark clouds approached we decided to call it a day. An auspicious start to our winter season of birdwatching. .................. Thanks to Jim for his report..
A Soft October Day At Lisnagra.
Saturday 23rd, October 2021. The still silent wood of Lisnagra near Muff was our starting point today. This ancient remant of nature conjures up images of sorcerers, witches, wee folk and invisible spirits. Sifting our way through the patchwork of fallen leaves, Gound Ivy, Wood Sorrel, Bramble and Bilberry, we were surrounded by giant Beech, ancient Oak, Scots Pine, Rowan and Birch, Old trees clad in Ramalina and other lichens spread their tentacles around us. On the ground, reminders of decay in the form of fallen branches and rotting vegetation sparked quiet philosophical conversations of passing time, forgotten birthdays and "Go mbeimis beo ag an am seo aris". Among the Fungi we noted Red Brittlegill and Tinder Bracket (Hoof Fungus). Later at Kilderry where we stopped for lunch, we added Common Puffball and Shaggy our list. Our final stop was at The Country Park at Culmore. Here was a different atmosphere. In an environment of wide open spaces and tarmac walks, we looked down on the lagoon and reedbeds adjacent to Kilderry, where we spotted large numbers of Redshank, Wigeon, Brent Goose, Common Gull and Lapwing, Four Egret shone in the changing light, feeding with their stealthy cousin, the Heron. Here the forecasted rain made its appearance: our cue to end the day. .....Thanks Jim.
Sunday 24th. October 2021. One of our members reported a sizable flock of those harbingers of Winter, Barnacle Geese, early this afternoon resting up near Mc Sheffreys Bridge Malin, after its long journey from Greenland, He also counted twenty five Brent Geese at Lagg. A short time later a Buzzard was observed circling in the strengthening breeze.
A bright Cool October Day at Inch.
Saturday 30th. October 2021. A marked drop in temperature greeted us as we headed for our destination, Inch Island. Meeting at McGrath's Carpark, we noticed the height of the water in the lake. Much of the area now being enclosed by a fence under construction by Birdwatch Ireland was under water. Hopefully when completed it will protect the area used by ground nesting birds during the breeding season.
Walking towards The Farland Bank we spotted Whooper Swan, Black Swan, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Wigeon and Teal. Because of the height of the water there were few waders, At The Farland Bank, on the seaward side, Curlew, Oystercatcher,  Redshank, Greenshank and a few Heron hugged the shore. A scenic tour of Inch Island produced Buzzard, Brent Goose, Dabchick and Egret and further Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatcher, and many forms of unusual Fungi. Lunch break included a celebration (complete with cake and candles) of a landmark birthday of one of our members who began her days on Inch. A quick trip to The Viewing Platform on The Tready Bank ended our day. A few hardy plants, Herb Robert, Woundwort, Meadowsweet, Hogweed, Bush Vetch and Corn Sowthistle were still visible as well as an abundant supply of berries to welcome further migrants during the coming winter. ....... .Thanks to Jim who is now our regular scribe, while Paddy takes a break.
A Damp Gusty November Day Embroidered With the Threads of Changing Light and Colours.
Saturday, 6th. November 2021. Today's outing was spent around the shores of Trawbreaga Bay in North Inishowen. The weather forecast was foreboding as we set off in the direction of Malin Town. As one of the members put it " a day for driving through rather than waiting around". 
But our eyes lit up as we came across a flock of 600 Barnacle Goose just north of Malin Town. In the same area we saw Little Egret, Curlew and flocks of Brent Goose, Wigeon and Merganser. And the weather turned out to be spectacular also with passing clouds producing everchanging effects of colour, hue and light in the sky and on the water. The artists among us were in awe.
Retracing our steps we headed in the direction of The Isle of Doagh, with a detour through Tornabratilly with its panoramic views. Although the tide was high we saw Oystercatcher, Brent Geese, Curlew, Greylag Geese, Cormorants, Rockdove and Stonechat. At sea we watched Gannets feeding, a marvelous sight in the gusty conditions and had our first view of a Great Northern Diver as it cleaned and preened in a sheltered bay. As the weather improved we lunched and took in the area of Glasha on our way home. Despite our initial hesitancy,  once again Nature had surprised and delighted us.
An Enjoyable Day Counting the Arrival of Winter Visitors Amidst the Splendor of Autumn.
Saturday, 13th. november 2021. Today our club was involved in a bird count on behalf of Birdwatch Ireland. Every month from September until March, all over Ireland and in all weathers, groups of volunteers record the number of birds along a fixed stretch of seashore. Our members survey the area along The Swilly from Buncrana to Inch Island. It is interesting to spot the different species as they arrive to spend the winter with us.
Because of the mild weather this autumn, the migrants have been slow to arrive and not in the usual numbers. Also because ot recent yearly rises in temperatures, it is exciting to see new species arrive. The dazzling whiteness of the Little Egret has become a more common sight.. The chatter of the Whooper Swan, the gargling of Brent Geese and the distinctive call of the Curlew announce the winter season. Today we saw a sizeable number of Greenshank and Crested Grebe, while we noted the absence of Lapwing and Brent. It was sad to see the number of dead swans as a result of an outbreak of avian flu.
Meanwhile Nature in its multicoloured coat continued to please. Along with the russet colours of the trees, summer survivors such as Herb Robert, Dandelion, Buttercup, Smooth Sowthistle and Red Clover can be found among the fading browns and yellows of the roadsides. The Robin, Chaffinch and Blackbird are now becoming more visible as their cover fades away. There is definitely a sense of excitement in the club as we await the further influx of winter visitors. Our members' joy was complete when later in the day, they watched the Fern give way to the Shamrock.

Winter Giveth, and Winter Taketh Away, as Exemplified by the Visiting Birds, and the Dying Wildflowers.
Saturday 20th. November 2021. Another pessimistic forecast preceeded us as we met at St. Aengus Church in Burt. Our first objective was to get as close as possible to the flocks of Whooper Swans that were feeding near The Black Bridge. In the vicinity  we watched a Sparrowhawk cross a field and come to perch on a nearby tree. On to Blanket Nook where we spied a number of Buzzard and in the lake Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Wigeon, Golden Eye, Teal, Lapwing, Egret and Heron and on the adjacent shore were Oystercatchers, and Redshank. To escape the cold inshore wind and the approaching rain we headed for the hide at Tready Carpark. A quick stop on the way to check again on The Whoopers revealed a large flock of Greylag geese in their midst. In the comparative comfort of the hide we had lunch and watched the birds below us. Again it was distressing to see the number of bird carcasses there. The winds of the past week had removed the foliage and made visible the smaller birds. Today we saw Chaffinch, Linnet, Tree Sparrows, Reed Bunting and Bullfinch. Our final stop was at the home of Willie Holmes of Burt, who had invited us to view the location of his sighting of a Barn Owl. As a result he now hopes to put up a box to entice the bird to live near him. It was a pleasure to meet a like-minded enthusiast.
As expected we had no botanical surprises. The usual suspects such as Herb Robert, Ragwort, Hogweed, Knapweed and Meadowsweet,Yarrow, and a good crop of Haws, Rosehips and Snowberriesand Red Clover are still visible. The pessimistic forecast did not materialse and despite the odd shower, we had a very pleasant outing.  
The Artistry of Winter.
Saturday 27th. november 2021. We knew that the weather was not going to be in our favour as we gathered at Glentogher. Heading east there was little to note by way of wildlife apart from the flocks of Rooks, Jackdaws, Starlings and Gulls. A few Magpies noisily surrounded a feeding trough and a lone Raven revelled in the windy conditions. Stops at Lough Fad and Lough Inn revealed a few feeding Swans. A sepia landscape of decaying Bog Asphodel, Willowherb and Heather stretched for miles, broken by vibrant green and yellow Mosses. With an icy wind coming off the water we were happy to descend towards Lough Foyle. The jetty at Redcastle provided our first interesting sightings, a Seal  watching the Cormorants and Lesser Blackbacked Gulls, while a group of Mergansers fed on their journey north. A Great Crested Grebe and lone Brent and Barnacle Geese were spotted. Fortified by a much needed lunch we journeyed north and stopped off at the picturesque wood just before the Pier near the Costguard Station. With the owner's permission we strolled through the riot of colour presented to us, Bare trees contrasted with the yellow and brown leaf-strewn paths, while the ditches presented a carpet of various shades of green mosses and liverworts. A brief visit to the pier revealed Brent Geese on the water with the ubiquitous Oystercatchers keeping to the shelter of the shore. On our way home we spotted a male Sparrowhawk on the lookout for a meal on this bleak winter day. We could sympathise with him.
A Cold Dark December Day Birding At Myroe.
Saturday 4th. December 2021. Fortune favours the brave. A stalwart band of nature lovers faced the north-west wind aided and abetted by hail, sleet and rain, combined with temperatures in low digits, as they made their way to the south eastern shore of Lough Foyle. But how lucky they were!
Nature in all its demented glory, in the form of dark clouds, rivers in spate and flooded fields, interspersed with shafts of piercing light and rainbows, awaited them at Ballykelly. Brent braved the conditions too and fed along the shore, while Egret huddled at the river banks or gamely attempted flight in the gusting winds. 
At Myroe, Whooper were feeding on the remains of the harvest in different locations. One flock was joined by a flock of about sixty Shelduck, and Egret were spotted in every direction. Brent were present again, joined by Greylag. While flocks of Golden Plover braved the windy conditions above, in the relative shelter of the embankments we watched Redshank and Greenshank  along the canal. Inland, Oystercatchers, Curlew, Lapwing and  Golden Plover were spotted with two Curlew Sandpiper in their midst. 
A visit to Balls Point and later to Shore Road proved disappointing but a Sparrowhawk made a fleeting pass on the road in front of us and three Buzzard were seen battling the challenging conditions.
A most rewarding day. The tea, sandwiches and fairy cakes tasted better than ever. We returned home with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
The Impending Gloom of the Approaching Winter Solstice.
Saturday 11th. December 2021. Today was our Count Day on behalf of Birdwatch Ireland. Our count was very much affected by the dull showery day, the above average tide and the light as we approach the Solstice. Any waders that would normally be feeding on the mudflats of Lough Swilly were forced inland to look for food. As a result those great scavengers, Gulls of various species - Lesser Black- backed, Black-headed, Common and Herring - were very much in evidence at every stop. At Buncrana, Oystercatchers and Dunllin were seen in numbers as well as Cormorant and Ringed Plover. On Inch Island, Wigeon and Shelduck hugged the coastline for shelter. Others to make an appearance were Great Northern Diver, Merganser, Grey Heron, Redshank and Greenshank, Brent Goose, Greylag Goose, Curlew. and Sanderling.
After our official duties we took a trip round Inch Lake, where we  recorded Mute and Whooper Swan, Lapwing, Snipe. and Egret. On the nearby farmland Whoopers in large numbers were feeding on the remains of a potato field, while we also spotted Greylag and Pink-footed Goose, Curlew and Lapwing. 
At McGrath's carpark we admired the work on the fence being constructed by Birdwatch Ireland to provide protection for breeding birds, especially Lapwing. Work was halted because of the saturation of the ground, but hopefully will be resumed in Spring and completed in time for the new breeding season.
Despite the inclement weather and low numbers of birds ,we took satisfaction in a job well done. 
A Cold, Misty, December Outing to the Eastern Domain of our Peninsula.
Faced by large swathes of fog and mist we decided to stick to the coast for today. Meeting at Carndonagh our first stop was at the end of Trawbreaga Bay, where our first sighting was a small flock of Barnacle grazing near McSheffrey's Bridge. On the water were four Egret, - their numbers seem to be rising in the peninsula - along with Wigeon, Curlew, Teal and Greenshank,.On to Malin Town where we added four more Egret to our list. At the Birdhide on the Gourey Road there was a good variety of birds - Brent, Wigeon, Merganser, Sanderling and a Reed Bunting. Further along the bay there were more Brent, Godwit, Merganser, Oystercatcher, Great Northern Diver, Wigeon and Cormorant. 
We spotted a ringed Brent Goose and if our eyes and scope were working efficently, records show that it was ringed in Eastern Canada at least ten years ago. Of course before we could photograph it for confirmation, it flew off. 
At Culdaff Estuary, Redshank, Lapwing and Mallard were feeding as were Curlew and Godwit in the nearby field. At Kinnego Bay were several Great Northern Diver and a seal enjoying the tepid sunshine. At our last stop near Inishowen Head, as we watched the graceful flight and powerful dive of the Gannet, yet another Egret passed on its way to the shores of Lough Foyle.
All in all, despite the low temperatures it was an ideal day for birdwatching. We enjoyed the birthday celebrations for one of our senior members, with cake accompanied by hot tea or coffee and plenty of banter...... Thanks to Martin for todays pictures in difficult conditions.  

The  final event of our 2021 program will be on Monday 27th. December, when our traditional Christmas Outing will assemble on the Causeway Road, Inch. at 10.0 am. Every one welcomed including non members..... Suitable footwear, clothing and a snack are recommended ........Happy Christmas to All.
A December Outing, A Day Of Beauty Beyond Words.
Monday 27th. December 2021. The annual Christmas outing took us as is customary to Inch. On a calm peaceful morning with the sun polishing the waters with a light glistening sheen, we gathered at Inch Causeway. Apart from the resident Black Swans there was little more than the peaceful ambience to detain us. On to McGraths Carpark, where among the Gulls, Cormorants and Mute and Whooper Swans, we spied an Otter feediing busily on the water. Our next stop was at Millbay, where the usually turbulent water, now calm and restful, allowed us to see two Slavonian Grebe and a Red-throated Diver. The Pier at Inch yielded a Buzzard perched on the mast of a boat at anchor. From the hide at Tooban Junction we could make out a large congregation of birds near The Pumphouse. We were not the only ones enjoying this beautiful morning. The carpark near The Pumphouse was packed to capacity. After some parking difficulties and fortified by our lunch we took up position at the nearby hide. What a rich panoramic view. Among the usual suspects of Mallard, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Lapwing and Egret, we noticed a few groups of Shoveler and quite a number of Golden Eye. And then making their way playfully across the still waters was a family of Otters. We watched them dive and rise gracefully before our eyes. Also watching was a Buzzard on a nearby tree. A quick stop in the fading light at The Farland Bank produced a Greenshank and a Great Crested Grebe. 
Today was a jewel among our birdwatching outings, a beaufiful day, almost perfect conditions, a few suprise sightings and convivial, knowledgeable company..
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