Inishowen Wildlife Club - Views & News

Inishowen Wildlife Club

Views and News.




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A random selection of images from past club outings.
Today we welcomed the New Year with its warm and bright sunshine, even if a little on the windy side.
Saturday 1st. January 2022. The phrase "wild goose chase" suggests a senseless quest, pursuing the unattainable or in other words a waste of time. But today it was certainly not the case. Our first outing of 2022 took us from the southern shore of Trawbreaga Bay to Malin Head, With temperatures in the mid-teens, benign skies and a gusty southwest wind we set off from Carndonagh. The low tide meant that our stops along the south of Trawbreaga produced nothing out of the ordinary,, a scattering of Brent Geese, a few Curlew and Mallard. Things got better when we reached Malin Town. Within view of the hide at the entrance to the village we spied our first flock of Barnacle Geese, feeding contentedly in a field near the hide. On the mudflats near the bridge, Egret, Curlew, Mallard, Oystercatcher and Wigeon were visible. Going out the Malin Head road, one of our members spotted a Merlin on the hunt. At the second hide we came across two more flocks of Barnacle in the fields near the shore. Along the Gourey Road, Brent, Wigeon, Oystercatcher and Curlew were present. The stormy heights of Knockamenny showed little life apart from a pair of Alpacas grazing contentently at the top. 
Stopping at Gortnamullan, a mixed flock of Gulls was taking advantage of the shelter. In the distance we could see further flocks of Barnacle and this was verified as we passed two flocks near the Radio Station. On our way to The Tower, near Ineuran Bay, we spied some Chough and again three more flocks of Barnacle awaited us in the fields below Banba's Crown. At sea we could see the majestic flight of Gannets while some Eider and a great Northern Diver took advantage of the bay below The Raised Beaches.  Eskey Bay was the meeting point for a large mixed congregation of Gulls along with Oystercatchers, Eider, Mallard and feeding among the wrack thrown up on the doirlings of the beach was a flock of about twenty Turnstones. The pier at Portmore yielded only a few Shag feeding near the pier wall.
At this juncture we went our separate ways, two members going for a swim at Culdaff.
while the rest of us spotted a Buzzard as we left Malin Head. In total we estimated our Barnacle count at just under three thouasand. A very satisfactory beginning to 2022.." A willd goose chase"? Not likely.
A Winter Wonderland.
Another unfavourable forecast and we decided to head to Co. Derry to more sheltered conditions. Our first stop at Culmore Park revealed a large congregation of Wigeon and a small number of Mallard at the northern end of the park. In the distance a small flock of Curlew wheeled in the sky looking for a favourable feeding ground and Greylag Geese flew past in formation. The sheltered bay near Culmore Point yielded some Mute Swans and a Great Crested Grebe.
The maze, that is the roadworks on the Glenshane Road ensured that we did not reach Ness Park, our next intended destination. So back to Gransha Park. No sooner parked and entering the ancient woodland than we came across a party of Grey Squirrells foraging in the leaf litter. A  Great Tit joined in the activity. High in the trees a Goldcrest flitted restlessly.
Our path through this ancient woodland with its gnarled boughs, abundant fallen leaves and sodden footways, took us to the lake, where only the rare plop of the anglers' bait disturbed its tranquil existence. There among the reeds Coot and Moorhen sheltered. A small flock of Goldeneye made an appearance along with Mallard and Dabchick. After a stop back  at basecamp for a snack, we were off again. Blackbird, Song Thrush, Magpie, Robin, Fieldfare and a number of Goldcrest  were spotted, and, revealed by its great chatter a flock of Jay. Stopping at an open field on the edge of the woods we watched two rabbits take advantage of the sunshine while two Meadow Pipits were feeding nearby.
In the fading light we made our way back to the carpark, minds replenished by the russet colours, the starkness of the tree skeletons, the sunlit groves and the stillness broken only by birdsong. Another pleasant day to banish the winter blues. ............ Pictures by Martin.
A Floral Hint of Spring on this January Bird Count.
Saturday 15th. January 2022. Our regular count on behalf of Birdwatch Ireland took place today. We were joined by  two visitors on a chilly but calm day. The tide along the Swilly was well out, which made the counting more difficult. A greater than usual number of birds without the assistance of a strong incoming tide to herd them into countable groups, meant that our counters had to concentrate on the business in hand. Birds wandered over the sands, hid behind rocks, fed among the debris and wrack and moved about at will. Despite the difficulties we had a very successful count with, as mentioned, numbers well above the average. 
At Buncrana Pier we found a large flock of Turnstones. There was little in the way of birds of the feathered variety at the White Strand due to the large numbers of that newly increasing species, Year-Round Sea Swimmers.The car park there was reminiscent of of a good day in summer. Gull numbers were high with Common, Blackheaded, Herring and Greater Blackbacked well represented. Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank and Brent Geese were visible with Egret, Great Crested Grebe also evident. We also counted Merganser, Sanderling, Great Northern Diver, Ringed Plover and Greenshank. Beore we made our way home we investigated the report of a Brambling at the Farland Bank. And we were in luck. There using the feeders provided by some wildlife lover, among the Great Tits, Blue Tits, Chaffinches, Blackbirds, Sparrows, Greenfinches, Dunnocks, Wagtails, Siskins, Goldcrest and Longtailed Tits was a pair of Bramblings. A lone Goldeneye dived in the lake. A day marked by a job welldone and enjoyable sightings among agreable company... 
The Seasons Arrivals and Departures.
Saturday 22nd January 2022. There is no doubt that the effects of climate change on the seasons is having an equally unpredictable effect on wildlife. Even here in the far northwest in recent years regular sightings of Little Egret,, the occassional Cattle Egret and Glossy Ibis have brought this development to our native patch.
Today we decided to visit the southeastern shores of Lough Swilly, an area noted for its winter visitors. On our arrival at Blanket Nook we were met by a high tide which meant that most of the birds would be forced to the fields to feed. Apart from a few Oystercatchers and Mallard the main activity was behiind the embankment. There we found the usual suspects, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal,  Redshank, Oystercatchers, Lapwing, a raft of Little Grebe and  flocks of Dunlin and Golden Plover. In the distance we could see a flock of Brent Geese grazing in the fields. We decided to take a closer look at. these. A mixed flock of Linnet, Redpoll and Siskin flitted among the trees. Before we left, a flock of Canada Geese, followed by Greylag flew overhead. A male Buzzard crossed our path.
On our arrival at the southern end of the embankment we got a closer look at the Brent Geese which had been joined by a small flock of Black-tailed Godwit. While we tucked into our lunch we watched the Brent take off and move to the seashore with the retreating tide in the hope of finding a more varied diet. Six Grey Herons stood on sentry duty on the bank of the lake,.while in the sorrounding fields small flocks of Whoopers grazed. A visit to The Big Isle was postponed to another day as time had caught up with us. 
While we could not boast of an exciting day, we can be grateful for the clement weather and the variety of birds spotted in agreable surroundings. 

The Wonders of Nature on this Cold Bright January Day.
Saturday 29th. January 2022. Forewarned that today's high winds and passing showers would not be conducive to successful birdwatching, we set off nevertheless from the village to explore the coastal area of Clonmany. Spurring us on was the faint hope that we might witness the return of the Golden Eagles we had spotted  in previous years. "Hope springs eternal in the human breast". 
Heading southwest over Pinch our first stop was at Hillside near Dunree. Our first  sighting was a flock of Chaffinch Greenfinch and a number of Bullfinch. Hopes were raised when we spotted a large bird cross the skies. It turned out to be a Buzzard. Today was to be a day for the Corvids. Pairs and lone Ravens along with flocks of Rooks and Jackdaws seemed to delight in the challenging conditions. Their acrobatic manoeuvres and hovering worthy of a Kestrel were a pleasure to behold. Travelling the length of Hillside we turned left to pass over Mamore Gap. Birdwatching went to the back burner as we took in the magnificent views presented to us as we crossed into Urris. The dramatic changes of light on the mouth of Lough Swilly, with Fanad Lighthouse in the distance, were a fitting backdrop to the drama on the shore. Huge Atlantic rollers crashed onto the rugged cliffs, seastacks and rocks as the wind spun the sea into feathers of spume. A delight for the photographers among us.
In contrast the seclusion of Roxtown harbour provided us with sightings of Curlew, Merganser, Black-tailed Godwit  and myriads of Gulls. After a most welcome lunchbreak at Glenevin Waterfall our final leg took us to Binnion Bridge. In the relative calm of the riverbed a small flock of Brent Geese was joined by a contingent of Mallard. Nearby we witnessed the arrival of a pair of Grey Herons in their preparation for the new breeding season. 
Although as birdwatchers we might not rate the day among the most memorable, Nature more than delighted us with her "Son et Lumiere", featuring panorama, chiarascuro, contrast and energy. Not even Turner could capture that.
The Impact of a Cold, Wet, and Windy Winters Day.
Saturday 5th. February 2022. Gusty southwest winds with gales along the northwest coast accompanied by rain and drizzle.  A day for strong bodies and feeble minds. The birds had more sense. They chose to stay under cover. 
Our first stop at the southern shore of Trawbreaga gave grounds for optimism. Two flocks of Barnacle Geese grazed in the shelter of the hedgerows while five Egrets sought shelter in the corner of a field. Further east a lone Barnacle reminded us that this species is under attack from the avian flu. This was confirmed by laboratory tests when more than twenty carcasses were collected in that area a few days previously. Epidemics are not confined to the human race.
High tides, driven by the above mentioned gales resulted in deserted shores where birds would normally feed. Outside Malin Town a flock of Brent Geese fed contentedly in a field. Two more Egrets were spotted. Our disappointment was somewhat dissipated by the appearance of clusters of Snowdrops promising better days ahead. We moved further east via Culdaff with little more than Oystercatchers, a lone Gannet, a small raft of Eider and some Cormorants to report.  Sightings of a Hen Harrier in the area could not be confirmed. 
We ended our day atop Inishowen Head, where we were buffetted by gale force winds, watched by amused Gulls and Corvids, showing use how to enjoy Nature and that it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.
A Stormy Penultimate Winter Bird Count on Lough Swilly.
Saturday 12th. Februaty 2022. After a wet and windy night we met at the mouth of the Crana River to begin our penultimate count of the season. As expected in the conditions, the smaller waders were not as plentiful as usual, with many birds opting for the shelter of the fields. Oystercatcher and Curlew numbers were good and on the north side of Inch Causeway, Shelduck were plentiful. At the causeway we spotted a small flock of Knot, rare visitors to Lough Swilly. On Inch one of our members had the good fortune to spot a Curlew that he had ringed back in December 2019. Our next count in March will see most of these birds heading north for the breeding season. Indeed after our count today we paid a visit to The Farland Bank, where we witnessed a large number of birds preparing for that Journey.. Geese, Including Greylag, White-fronted, Barnacle, and Brent were gathering Also present were large flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover.
While winter is far from over, the appearance of Primrose heralds warmer times ahead..
A Day in the Lap of the Gods.
Saturday 19th. February 2022. As Storm Eunice ravaged the countryside on Friday we were left wondering whether an outing would be possible today and would there be much to see. Again as often happens "ni mar a shiltear a bhitear" (things don't turn out as you thought they would).
Meeting at Gransha we saw that some of the older trees had succumbed to the fury of Eunice, Here a Goldcrest and a Treecreeper were spotted in the woods and a few Goldeneye on the Lake. A  Grey Squirrel added to our tally.
At Ballykelly we were met by a veritable ornithological  abundance. On an ebbing tide birds were making up for lost time. Last week we spotted a few Knot. Today on a spit at the mouth of the river sat a flock of about two hundred along with Oystercatcher,  Lapwing, Curlew, Sanderling, Godwit, Redshank, Greenshank, Dunlin, Shelduck, Grey Heron, Egret, Brent  and Greylag Goose, Wigeon and Mallard. As the sun broke through, thoughts of a storm were far from our minds.
On the way to Myroe three Buzzard circled overhead and on our arrival at the embankment, a bonanza. A flock of Golden Plover, that was calculated to number at least five and a half thousand carpeted a ploughed field before our eyes. With binoculars and scopes we were able to admire in closeup the beautiful markings of this bird even in its winter plumage. Greylag and Brent goose, Shelduck, and Lapwing were also present in numbers, feeding before the challenge of the breeding season. And during all our time at Myroe we were watched by a magnificent female Peregrine Falcon perched on a treestump left by the ebbing tide. Only the cold chill of evening and fading light prompted us to return home. The song of the Skylark reminded us that warmer days were on the way..
Another Day of Storm and Beauty, Emblazoned With Continuous Sunshine..
Saturday26th. February 2022. Our outing today took us to Malin Head where in gusty winds we got a flavour of the conditions there over the past weeks.Uprooted trees, fallen branches, roads awash with seaweed and rolling waves provided a backdrop to our birdwatching.
At our first stop at Malin Town we saw a few Egret, Oystercatcher and a lone Curlew. Gull and Cormorant were visible along our journey. A diversion to The Foreside and Ballagh proved fruitless. Back at Goorey, Brent, Wigeon, a few Curlew and the ubiquitous Oystercatcher fed along the shore, while a few pair of Merganser fished in the bay.
Onwards and upwards to Knockamany, We were disappointed not to see Chough on a day like this. However, no one could be disappointed at the panoramic view stretching from the Hills of Inishowen and West Donegal out to Tory Island. More spectacular views awaited us as we made our descent to Malin Head, jutting out into the wild and energetic North Atlantic, with Inishtrahull sitting like a jewel and washed by crashing waves.
A visit to Port Caman produced a pair of Stonechat. We hope they escaped the notice of a Sparrowhawk perched on a stoney outcrop, before it continued its hunt.. Ineurin Bay shelted a few pair of Eider. During lunch at Portaronan another pair of Stonechat provided the entertainment.The Tower welcomed an unusually high number of visitors, eager to sample Ireland's most northerly point on a bracing day such as it was. Below The Tower we spotted a flock of Barnacle, feeding before their arduous journey north. We wonder how many we will see next October, given the effect of the avian flu on their numbers. Eskey Bay was awash with Gull, interspersed with a few pair of Eider and a lone Shag. Our last stop at Portmore Pier gave rise to another pair of Eider and four Great Northern Diver. If birdnumbers were not spectacular, we were more than compensated by the atmosphere provided by wind, water and light,- all things bright and beautiful. ..Thanks to sinead for her photografic contribution.
March 1st. 2022. Nature offered a floral tribute with some of the many blossoms to be seen wallowing in their snug abodes with the warm rays of a benevolent Sun, to this most beautiful first day of Spring.
March 1st. 2022. To herald the arrival of Spring are these three pictures picture submitted by Martin Moloney, recorded today while birding in the local countryside.
A Few Pictures from Todays Sun-kissed Outimg.
Saturday 5th. March 2o22. The great American naturalist, John Muir, who was responsible for the founding of  Yosemite National Park and involved in the success of The Grand Canyon, remarked about Nature:
"In every walk with Nature, one receives more than he seeks"
Usually we start our outing in the hope of seeing something beyond the usual: an unexpected bird, an unusual plant, the first of the year etc. Perhaps the bright clear sunny day helped give rise to that thought today, assisted by the fact that this was our first outing of Spring. Spotting Lesser Celandine and the first flowers of False Salmonberry raised our expectations.
Leaving the Carn to Quigley's Point road at Lemacrossan we climbed slowly towards Lough Inn. The crisp morning air and the heat of the sun seemed to lull us. We saw little on our way there. Convivial conversation took precedence. As we dropped down towards the expanse of Lough Foyle, birdlife  was more noticeable. Brent Geese broke the calm surface of the water. A lone Merganser kept his distance. At Redcastle jetty where we stopped for lunch, Black Guillemot, two Redthroated Diver. a pair of Great Crested Grebe and a Great Northern Diver caught our attention. In the trees beside us, our photographers tried to outwit a Goldcrest who refused to sit still for a photo. However a Long-tailed Tit was slightly more obliging. At The Old Pier near Moville we were disappointed to see that the holes on the pier wall had been filled it thus robbing Black Guillemot of nesting spaces. It was there we noticed our first Buzzard pass overhead.
At the  pier in Moville, we recorded two Greenshank, a Turnstone, a Great Northern Diver, Oystercatcher and a mix of Gull. Our day ended on Inishowen Head as we enjoyed the vista stretching from the towns along the coast of Derry and Antrim, Rathlin Island, The Mull of Kintyre, Islay and the Paps of Jura to the the Isle of Mull. "Is glas iad na cnoic i bhfad uainn", ach "nil aon tintean mar do thintean fein".

The culmination of the21/22 Bird Count Season.
Saturday 12th. March 2022. A chilly but bright morning greeted us as we gathered at The Stone Jug in Buncrana to begin the last count of the season for Birdwatch Ireland.. Apart from Shelduck, numbers were noticeably low. Many of our winter visitors have already gone to their breeding grounds and our summer visitors have not yet arrived. 
Gulls were plentiful but although Redshank, Greenshank, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Ringed Plover and Sanderling were present, the numbers were low. Brent, Wigeon, Mallard and Teal were also present. Our counting activity was pleasantly interrupted by sightings of Buzzard, Stonechat, Skylark, Goldcrest and a flock of Yellowhammer,  Accompanied by Chaffinch, these now scarce Buntings delighted the eye in the bright sunshine, as did the glistening bloosoms of the Lesser Celendine. Anois teacht an earraigh beidh an la ag dul chun sineadh. Looking forward to warmer days and summer visitors.
A Few of Natures Masterful Creations from Today's Outing.
Saturday 19th. March 2022.
Spring whispers:
Crocuses stir
and meet the sun   (Japanese Haiku)
The signs of spring are a universal topic among writers, each having their own significant images. For the loyal band of Nature lovers who met at Burt today, there were a number of such images that will be remembered.
Leaving the heights of The Grianan of Aileach, we stopped to watch a magnificent display of aerial acrobatics by a number of Buzzards. Circling in the thermals, diving and displaying, they kept us enthralled for a full 30 minutes. 
Arriving in Bogay we were greeted not only by the sound but also the sight of that herald of spring, the Chiffchaff. And as if to emphasise that spring had arrived we spotted a Tortoiseshell and a rather bedraggled Peacock as they emerged from winter hibernation.
Blanket Nook did not disappoint with the appearance of a flock of Godwit in their breeding plumage, side by side with a flock of Knot. A lone Long-tailed Duck swam among Wigeon, Goldeneye, and Mallard.
Wildflowers were also making an appearance. Lesser Celendine was now in abundance and Golden Saxifrage carpeted the damp ditches, We also noticed the appearance of Speedwell.
Off to the Farland Bank at Inch where, after watching a mixed flock of Geese (Greylag, White-fronted, Canada, Brent and a lone Barnacle), a streak of electric blue sent us in search of the Kingfisher. Glimpses among the bushes, lightning dives in search of food and its shrill whistling call as it preened above the water left us searching for that elusive picturebook sighting. Only the thought of missing a historic encounter at The Aviva finally persuaded us to head home.

Images from a Bright Sunny Spring Day.
Saturday 26th. March 2022. La brea earraigh a bhi ann. Bhi an ghrian ag soilsiu sa speir. Arriving in Clonmany this morning with foglights ablaze and the mercury registering 7 degrees, who could have predicted another wonderful outing. As we shall see, it was not only the sightings of birds that made our day, but meeting some of the locals on the way who regaled us with stories of the locality..
The first stage from Clonmany to Dunree, via Pinch did not augur well apart from the improvement in the weather. At Dunree Fort nesting by the Fulmars was well under way. Turning back northwards we took the road along Hillside. There we had our first sighting of Buzzards making use of the thermals produced by the rising temperature. We also met William McLaughlin who filled us in on the history of the area. An hour's exchange of conversation during which "Seed and Breed"  were thoroughly investigated had us convinced that we were all related in some way. Even our Dutch, friend, Wil, was enthralled by the  dscourse. William also told us about Big Eagle Rock, a remarkable revelation in that at our next stop further along Hillside we spotted a Golden Eagle, also Buzzard, Kestral and Raven.We believe that the male is a regular visitor but failed to produce any offspring. Now with what we believe is a new mate we are hoping for a more fruitful future. Again we were joined by another local, Paul Mc Conalogue who regaled us with more local news and added to our genealogical lore. With time marching on and the rising temperatures taking their toll, we had our welcome cuppa and goodies.
A brief  stop at Mamore revealed a Buzzard below us near Lenan Fort, our next port of call. Some small birds, Linnet, Redpoll and Meadow Pippet were recorded. And outlined in the now blue sky above the majesty of Reachtain Mhor our Golden Eagle accompanied by his new mate, displayed for us (or more likely for his new partner) Below us in Lenan Bay a few Black Guillemot were feeding, while among the ruins of the old fort we spotted our first Wheatears of the season, and emerging clumps of pristine Scurvy Grass.  
The temperature was now reading 20 degrees and time was marching on, so we decided to call it a day. La alainn sasuil ar Shli an Atlantaigh Fhiain! 
Thanks to Our Top Photographer Sinead, for Today's Pictures.
Saturday 2nd. April 2022. If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise.
With most of the Swans, Geese and Waders gone north for the breeding season, we decided to turn our attention inland. The return of the cold weather had a detrimental effect, not only on the bird life but also perhaps on the number of members available today.
Our first destination was Culmore Park. With the tide well in, apart from a flock of Waders, probably Godwit, a few Heron, Mallard and Shelduck were all that were visible. Onward to Gransha Woods, where on our arrival we could hear the busy commotion of nest building in progress, especially among the Rooks, Pigeons and Magpies. Tits, Chaffinches, Blackbirds and Thrushes were evidently busy also  as they darted among the emerging foliage. High up in the canopy we spotted a number of Grey Squirrels, one in particular enjoying the strengthening heat of the sun. There was little on the lake apart from a pair of Mallard and a lone Coot. Quite a number of the older and more fragile trees had succumbed to the stormy weather earlier in the year. However the new season's growth was evident in the form of Alexanders (very proliferous around Culmore), False Salmonberry, Three-cornered Leek/Garlic and Lesser Celandine.
Our last call at Muff Glen proved to be a feast for the soul and the senses. Tall sentinels of conifer lined the heights above the glen, while below in the valley deciduous trees with their emerging foliage provided a guard of honour for the Muff River as it moved through the Glen. Again there was ample evidence of the destructive force of the stormy winter weather. But it was to the ground that our eyes were continually drawn. Bordering the babbling flow of glistening water was a carpet of colour applied by the impressionistic brush of Nature. The palette ranged from the dark green of Ivy, through  Navelwort and Woodrush to the yellow of Golden Saxifrage, Coltsfoot and Lesser Celandine, interspersed with strokes of Wood Anemone and Wood Sorrel. and spotted by our keen-eyed botanist, a lone Bluebell, a herald of things to come.
Tuesday 5th. April 2022. Nature pays homage to Spring with this bouquet of spectacularly beautiful wildflowers, composed of Daisies, Dandelion, Speedwell and Celandine. Usually referred to as weeds.
Friday 8th. April 2022. No club outing tomorrow Sat. 9th. due to the death of Dermot Mc Laughlin, one of the founder members of the Inishowen Wildlife Club many years ago. Dermot was the local Wildlife Ranger for most of his life before becoming an important member of the staff at the Glenveagh National Park. A man who was always on the side of Wildlife in all of its forms.
A Floral Insight to the Beauty of Summer.
Saturday 16th April 2022. Our original plan to visit the Ballyliffin area had to be changed as a result of the 2022 Coastal Challenge event. Turning off the Carndonagh to Ballyliffin road at Glassalts, we climbed to the high ground of Altashane and Coolcross. The vast panorama yielded distant sightings of Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk while in the scrubland we heard the constant chorus of Willow Warblers.
We made our descent towards Clonmany via Tornabratilly. Skylark, Redpoll, Chaffinch and Meadow Pippit were spotted. Sure signs of approaching summer in the form of Swallow, Sandmartin and a few darting Butterflies were witnessed.
Leaving Clonmany we headed via Pinch for Hillside where again we spotted a pair of Golden Eagles. Despite our excitement at the sight, the fact that both were in the air and not in an eyrie, led us to fear that this year there would be no offspring to look forward to.
Over Mamore, stopping for our cuppa at the car park, we reached Roxtown Harbour where little was visible except the Gannets feeding out at sea. More Redpolls and Stonechat were visible by the roadside,
Our last port of call was the colourful Binion Road near Clonmany. where more Swallow and Redpoll were spotted. We watched a Heron feeding her growing chick in the nest. But it was the proliferation of Marsh Marigold,, Golden Saxifrage, Stitchwort and Wild Garlic that caught our eye. Bluebell, Dog Violet, Speedwell, Wood Anenome and Wood Sorrel were also recorded today. Despite the welcome bursts of sunshine, it was the chilling gusts of wind that finally decided us to call it a day.
Treasures From a Sun-kissed Day.
Saturday 23rd. April 2022. Today we decided to complete the itinerary we set out to do last week. Meeting at Clonmany, we set off to Binnion for our first stop. Despite almost clear blue skies and bright sunshine, the northeast wind kept temperatues low. Our Herons from last week had fledged and gone. A saunter along the river and back along the beach yielded a few Oystercatchers and a selection of Gulls. In fact we saw little of note among the bird population. No sign of the Golden Eagles from the previous week. A few fledgings testing their newly found prowess was our only return. 
However the emerging plant life  was at its best. Primrose and Celandine carpeted the fields and roadsides. Wild Garlic and Marsh Marigold populated the drainways. The common Dandelion was notable for its abundance. The  drive over Ardagh provided superb vistas. A walk down a deserted pathway yielded more Celandine and Primrose, Blackthorn in bloom and Dog Violet. In the shelter of the hedges we spotted Orange Tip and Speckled Wood. A lone Swallow was carrying sustenance to her brood in a deserted byre. Cue for us to enjoy our tea and sandwiches.
A trip across the sands of Pollan Bay brought us to the sheltered ravine looking out to Glashedy Island. Primrose, Celandine and Butterbur lined the path as we made our way to the viewpoint at the top. Here we rested in the sunshine, watched the Larks, Pippits, and Gulls and Gannets at sea. Some days it is the number of birds sighted that makes our day. Today watching the development of spring and enjoying the thoughts of what is to come provided the pleasure. 
Enjoying Nature on a Day of Rain and Mists.
Saturday 30th. April 2022. A miserable day to be out. Constant rain resulted in poor visibility and dampened spirits. In the hope of spotting some wildlife we headed to Inch Island. At The Causway, in the low water resulting from the recent dry weather, there were no great flocks of birds. We did spot  Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Mallard and the usual Mute Swan. It was here also that we saw our first Sandwich Tern of the season   At McGrath's Carpark we were greeted by a pair of Stonechat, a Sparrow and a Meadow Pipit. On our way to Millbay a Red Squirel crossed the road. Visits to the southern end of the island yielded little to report.
We travelled to The Tready Bank in the hope of finding some shelter. In the relative comfort of the hide there during a working lunch we saw a pair of Shoveler, a Gadwall and a Little Egret. At The Farland Bank a small flock of Goldfinch were joined by Greenfinch, Chaffinch, a Dunnock and a Coal Tit.
With time in hand we decided to head to North Inishowen to investigate reports of two White-tailed Eagles at the Fullerton Dam and a Crane near Trawbreaga Bay. But in both cases we failed to report success.. Turas in aisce. 
With the weather showing no signs of improvement we decided to call it a day. Despite the inclement weather a day out in Nature is food for the soul and spotting the birds in their colourful breeding plumage is a bonus. In addition the appearance of widespread Alexanders, Cow Parsley, Wild Bluebell, Dog Violet, Lady's Smock and Fumitory added to the colour and delighted the botanists among us.
Monday 2nd May 2022. A White Tailed Eagle has been reported in the Inishowen area for a considerable number of month, then last week two birds were reported by Martin Maloney. Early today, Martin and two other members, Paddy and Daniel recorded three Birds in the Fullerton Dam area. Above are pictures of the Eagles taken by Martin.
A Sample of the Trophies From Today's Outing.
Saturday 7th. May 2022. As the temperature rose we began our day with a visit to the Fullerton Dam to check out reports of White-tailed Eagles in the vicinity. Leaving the main road at Glentogher we crossed the path of a Buzzard. A little further on near Craigtown, a male Peregrine stood guard as his mate sat on their nest under a nearby crag. Arriving at the Fullerton Dam it took a while but our expert ornithologist soon spotted a young female White-tailed Eagle as she sought the cover of the lakeshore trees. In this idyllic setting we watched her as we listened to the sounds of the Cuckoo and the Curlew. Meanwhile behind us a male White-tailed Eagle made a brief appearance before moving over the brow of  a hill. 
A leisurely lunch and we retraced our steps to Glentogher and on to Ballyargus. Our goal was the diminutive Green Hairstreak butterfly which we found darting among the Whin and Bilberry and accompanied by Green-veined, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood. In a grove of alder and birch our talented ornithologist counted the songs of thirteen different species of small birds including Whitethroat. During the day we also encountered Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell. Our botanist reported the appearance of Pignut, Lousewort and a field carpeted with Cuckooflower.
A final conference was held in the warm sunshine at Redcastle Pier to finish the contents of our flasks. A pair of Eider swam before us and in the distance Sandwich Terns were feeding on Lough Foyle.  Ta an samhradh ag teacht.
Saturday 14th. May 2022. No Club Outing today due to other commitments by the majority of members. So roll on next Saturday.
Natures Defiance on a Cold Blustery Grey May Day.
Saturday 21st. May 2022. Today we finally carried out our visit to the Isle of Doagh, that compact jewel astride Trawbreaga Bay. A chilly breeze and threatening clouds kept us on the move but it was all worthwhile. Our preliminary route to the wide open hill country above Tornabratilly proved disappointing. On our descent we stopped at Tornabratilly. Here we listened to the sounds of the Cuckoo (Cloisim, gi nach bhfeicim a ghne, guth an ein darbh ainm Cuach), and looked down on the expanse of The Isle of Doagh below us, 
The Isle of Doagh delighted our botanical inclinations. Wild Iris was coming into bloom to accompany the earlier arrival Marsh Marigold. Cuckoo Flower was widespread but could not match the patterned meadows of Daisy, Meadow, Bulbous and Creeping Buttercup. On the machair Early Marsh Orchid and Early Purple Orchid were on show, sprinkled among Birds-foot-trefoil, Ribwort and Greater Plantain and Speedwell.
On the shore we found Sea Milkwort, Sea Campion, Sea Sandwort and a profusion of Thrift. The rare Oysterplant was beginning to display its blue flower. On the verges a few False Salmonberry were found among the displays of Cow Parsley.
And there were birds. Swallows are now common. A pair of Choughs was disturbed. Pied Wagtail flitted about and Skylarks put on a musical display. At sea,Terns were feeding among the rafts of male Eider, Black Guillemots and Shelduck. On the shore Ringed Plover, Curlew, Whimbrel and Oystercatcher were spotted. A quick detour on our way home to Glassagh produced seven Little Egret. Surely they must now be breeding along Trawbreaga.
The Joys of a Summers Day.
Saturday 28th May 2022. This morning we set off on our odyssey in the direction from which the sun had arisen many hours earlier, and by now had pushed its luminosity and warmth through the thin ceiling of cloud obliterating part of the background of blue, with the prospects of an enjoyable outing. ............ Our first stop was at Cambry, near Tirahork where we were surprised to find that the forest on the right-hand side of the road had been cleared since our last visit, but was compensated somewhat by the appearance of many Spring flowers there in its stead, while on the other side of the road lined with Hawthorn, adorned in their pristine blossoms, and exuding their delicate fragrance into the late morning air, while great numbers of birds that included Blackcap, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, Linnet, were busy toing and froing as they attended to their families. At one particular spot we watched as a Treecreeper entered a crack in an old disused building with food for its chick, that sometimes waited at the entrance for the delivery, this setup of nesting in a building we consider as rather unusual for a Treecreeper. ..... Next it was on to Tirahork where we spent some time hoping to see perhaps a Hen Harrier, but we had to be satisfied with a Buzzard performing its aerobatics. ........ Now with some members suffering the pangs of hunger after their early breakfast, it was full haste to the bridge on the Drumnagassan road where lunch was enjoyed, after which we walked along the old cart track, well-marked in places by the hoof marks of Deer. Here in the bogland, strewn with the occasional small tree and bushes Sedge warblers, Skylarks, and Willow Warblers, were seen and heard. In the wet areas near the path, Tadpoles could be seen swimming. .............Now it was on to the highlight of the outing when we entered a heaven of cornucopian splendor where the roadsides were regaled in majestic displays of breathtaking beauty, covered with blankets of late vernal wildflowers, such as drifts of Bluebells, Bugle, Buttercup, Wild Strawberries, Clumps of White Clover, Stitchwort, Mous-ear, Marsh Orchids, and Butterwort, set in a theater of Birdcall, buzzing of Bees, and the fluttering of Orange Tip, Speckled wood, Peacock, Tortoiseshell, and large White Butterflies, all in harmony with the little stream that can be heard gurgling its way to the Atlantic Ocean on the shore at this special place near Culdaff known as Redford. ........ Due to Jim being on a short break Paddy was called on for today's report.
A wonderful Day in County Tyrone.
Saturday 4th. June 2022Today The Inishowen Wildlife Club headed southeast to visit the land of their ancestral cousins, Tyrone. The experience of an inland  environment proved every bit as enjoyable as the wilds of Inishowen, especially in the warm sunshine.The main attraction was the report of a Great-spotted Woodpecker near Newtonstewart and it proved right. We watched a female forage from a feeder to feed her brood. Alas no sign of the male or the chicks but with reports and confirmations becoming more numerous it cannot be long until this bird becomes a regular feature in the northwest.  In the same area we recorded a Pheasant, Sparrow and Chaffinch. At our next stop near the river Derg we spotted a Grey Wagtail and nearby in a old sand quarry a colony of Sandmartin, a Reed Bunting and a Buzzard overhead.
We had the advantage of the experience of our member Brian Hegarty who took us on a walk along the Mourne near his homeplace of Sion Mills. To the backdrop of rushing water, shady paths and picturesque vistas, we saw Grey Heron, Sandpiper and Flycatcher. We caught a glimpse of a Grey Squirrel crossing our path.
With temperatures rising, Flora is abundant. Cow Parsley adorns the roadsides as does Oxeye Daisy.  We recorded Corn Spurrey, Red Dead-nettle, Fumitory, Sheep's Sorrel, Cut-leaved Crane'sbill, and Common Vetch. 
Ta an Samhradh linn anois agus taimid ag suil le saibhreas an Dulra.
Monday 6th. June 2022. Martin Moloney reported an Osprey flying in the Fullerton Dam region of Buncrana on passage to the most northern areas of Scotland, after their breeding season in North Africa.
Saturday 11th. July 2022. No club outing today due to members commitments elsewhere, but it's back to usual next Saturday.
Natures Floral Tribute to the Approaching Summer Solstice.
Saturday 18th. June 2022. While most of Europe tolerated a heatwave, we in Inishowen enjoyed an envigorating day of threatening cloud, bracing wind and intermittent sunshine. 
Our first stop in The Illies did not produce the hoped for Eagle so we contented ourselves watching young Curlew chicks experience their new surroundings under the watchful eyes of their mother. Unfortunately sights such as this are becoming a rarity due to lack of habitat and predation.
A quick descent from the foothills of Sliabh Sneacht to the sea level of Lough Swilly brought us to Dunree where, to the background cacophony of the Motor Rally across in Fanad, we watched Fulmars nesting on the cliffs. 
We whisked along Hillside where even the wildlife sheltered from the chilly north wind. Our only sighting was a Grey Squirrel who crossed our path. Teabreak was a celebratory affair as we toasted the birthday of one of our younger members.
Descending Mamore gap we spotted our first raptor, a Buzzard soaring over The Urris Hills. A high-pitched call below us drew our attention to another Buzzard circling over what turned out to be her nest, and inside, one well fed chick, ready to fledge. At Leenan we watched a pair of Kestrel make their way to the cliffs above Leenan Bay and spotted a number of Wheatear on the trail. Our botanists reported a profusion of the striking Butterwort wildflower, along with Northern Marsh-orchid and Heath Bedstraw. 
We headed home realising that our next outing would be post Solstice and wondering what the second half of summer would bring.
The Pimpernel of the Newtownstewart Woodlands.
Monday 20th. June 2022. Our member Brian Hegarty and son Jarlath, returned to the site we visited on the 4th. of June, when we were unable to get a proper picture of the elusive Woodpecker on that occasion, but that has been rectified with these taken yesterday by the Hegarty duo.
Even the wildflowers were hunkering down to avoid the blustery conditions.
Saturday 25th, June 2022A cool blustery day with heavy downpours forecast, persuaded us to stay local for today's outing. So we set off on our usual trail for Malin Head. This is an area that yields more in the way of sightings in winter with Waders, Geese and Seabirds in numbers. Today however sighting were scarce. Six Egrets were spotted at Malin Town but after that, Mallard, Shelduck, Eider, Ringed Plover, Pied Wagtail, Stonechat, Wheatear, House Martin, Skylark, Gannet and a variety of Gull, - all in single figures - were spotted on the way to Malin Head. 
Our botanists had more luck. On the way to The Head they recorded Foxglove, Red Campion, Honeysuckle, Tufted Vetch, Long-stalked Crane's-bill, Goldenrod, Yellow Iris, Sheep's-bit, Wild Thyme and Bog Asphodel.  And at Malin Head they saw a wonderful display of Orchid, including Nothern Marsh, Heath Spotted and the relatively uncommon Lesser Butterfly,
The words of Shakespeare came to mind as I stood in the blustery wind above The Five Fingers Strand taking in the vista that stretched from Sliabh Sneacht via The King and Queen of The Mintiaghs, Bulba, Rachtain Mor, Dunaff, and Fanad  to Horn Head:
"I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it".
(As You Like It)
Just a few of the treats from today's outing to the eastern shores of the Foyle.
Saturday 2nd. July 2022. Our outing today took us to the eastern shore of Lough Foyle. We welcomed our Dutch friends, some of whom we last saw in pre-Covid days. Early showers did not bode well but the day improved as time went on. Our first stop at Ballykelly revealed a full tide and as a result the birds were forced to retreat to land. Nevertheless we spotted Godwit, Curlew, Oystercatcher, a variety of Gulls, Cormorant and a group of seven Grey Heron awaiting the retreat of the tide before being able to feed.
Travelling along Myroe Levels we recorded Little Egret, Shelduck, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting, Ringed Plover and Lark. 
After lunchbreak at Swanns Bridge, which included the celebration of the birthday of one of our senior members, we travelled to The Barmouth where the River Bann enters the sea. Green Shank, Red Shank, Shelduck, Curlew, Godwit and an Arctic Skua were observed. 
Our final stop at Umbra Nature Reserve revealed Linnet, Great Tit and Lark. Two Ringlet butterflies were found among the varied plant life. Here we noted Fragrant Orchid, Yellow Rattle, Kidney Vetch, St, John's Wort, Self-heal and Burnet Rose. Previously we recorded White Stonecrop, Corn Marigold, Woody Nightshade, Tufted Vetch, Rosebay Willowherb, Meadowsweet, Honeysuckle, Orange Hawkweed and the perfumed Pink and White Rosa Rugosa. Nature in all its forms is now showing its best: summer migrants and their offspring, winter migrants beginning to return and the final flourish of summer plants. Our only disappointment is the scarcity of butterflies. Perhaps the long-awaited heatwave will entice them into view.
Sunday 3rd. July 2022. One of our enthusiastic members Brian Hegarty aided by son Jarlath, sighted and photographed a rare visitor to our shores from Eastern Europe, namely a Black Tern at Blanket Nook this morning.
A snippet from Summers exhibition of creativity and beauty.
Saturday 9th. July 2022. There was no sign of a heatwave as we assembled in Carndonagh this morning. Heading to the  misty heights of Tornabratilly only the colourful roadside flora and the panoramic view of the Isle of Doagh attracted our interest. Down to Pollan Beach to the secluded picnic area on the southern side. Cormorant, Eider and a lone Sandwich Tern at sea and Ringed Plover, Rock Pipit and Pied Wagtail on the beach were recorded. On the height above the beach Linnet and Starling were added to our list.
We arrived at the Isle of Doagh in time for lunch. There we experienced the highlight of our outing. Dark Green Fritillary Butterflies in numbers covered the dunes, accompanied by Common Blues, Meadow Browns, Tortoiseshells and Ringlets. Overhead a Buzzard hovered and displayed. At Carrickabraghey a small flock of Twite appeared along with Ringed Plover, Linnet and Starling. Our highest count of the day was of Flora with over seventy species being indentified including Marsh Woundwort, Hemp Agrimony, Pyramidal Orchid, Wild Thyme, Water Speedwell, Eyebright and Navelwort.
Some of Nature's Gifts on this Warm Summers Day.
Saturday 16th. July 2022. With reports of White-tailed Eagles in The Illies our rendez-vous location was above The Fullerton Dam. And the omens looked good when as some members waited at Glentogher School, they spied a Kestrel and then a White-tailed Eagle on the hill to the west. Although mobbed by crows the largest bird in Ireland was not to be fazed. 
On the way to The Dam, a Merlin crossed our path. The vicinity of The Dam provided a number of Ringlet Butterflies, but no Eagles. Meeting up with our Buncrana members below Crockahenny, they pointed to a family of five Merlin. We spent a half hour watching the young fly and frolic before our eyes. Our photographers were busy. A quick trip to the top of the windfarm revealed the vast panorama of central Inishowen from Lough Swilly to Lough Foyle
Our afternoon was a quiet affair. After lunch at the mouth of The Crana River, we explored the newly restored Swan Park, then on to Stragill, ending our day at the waterfall in Desertegney. During this time we spotted Willow Warbler, a flock of Linnet, Redpoll, Stonechat, House Martin, Sand Martin and a Wren on her way to feed her young. A number of Ringlets and Meadow Browns made appearances.
With the majority of wildflowers now in bloom, new additions to our count for the year were Sheep's-bit, Hedge Mustard, White Campion, Monkey Flower, Himalayan Balsam, Enchanter's Nightshade, Sea Mayweed, Common Daisies, Meadowsweet, Orange Hawkweed, Marsh Ragwort, Spear-leaved Orache and Roseroot. With the summer season now at its peak, we look forward to many more bountiful days of exploration.
A Pleasant day in the Roe Valley.
With the forecast of a warm murky day and the possibility of showers we were drawn to the sylvan banks of the River Roe near Limavady. 
We were immediately struck by the low water in the river and the abundance of foliage and vegetation. The gentle gurgle of the river set the tone for the day. A leisurely pace enabled us to examine the rich display of flora, while at the same time allowing us to track down the birds hidden in the dense foliage. Walking upriver we spotted Bullfinch, Treecreeper, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Dunnock and Goldcrest. At various points on the walk we were joined by a family of Long-tailed Tit on a foraging expedition. Down on the water we watched a Grey Heron on patrol, but what struck us most was the number of Grey Wagtail, bobbing on the many rocks, no doubt attracted by the plentiful insects on the wing. The usual suspects of Wren, Robin, Blackbird and Thrush made intermittent appearances. At the end of our stroll we recorded a lone Dipper near the Visitor Centre. A splatter of droppings alerted us to the presence of a Sparrowhawk, which duly made two appearances in the sky avove.
It would be impossible if not tedious to mention all the Flora recorded. but Monkeyflower, Stream Water-crowfoot, White-stripped Pink Hedge Bindweed and Marsh Woundwort deserve a mention.
A short stop at Gransha Woods on the return journey yielded little of note mainly because of the dense overgrown foliage, but looking down on the lake, strewn with White and Yellow Lily we noted the presence of Common Tern. The only other record of the day was the number of Rabbit nibbling in the grass enjoying the sunshine.
A small sample of the jewels found on Inch Island today.
Saturday 30th. July 2022. Some outings start slowly and gain momentum as the day progresses with rare birds spotted and unusual plants observed. Today was not like that. As the threat of rain disappeared and the sun appeared, a soporific cloud descended on the group, who seemed content to bask in Nature's bounty.
Under a foreboding grey sky and a light drizzle we assembled at Inch Causeway. The main interest here was the proliferation of fledglings of Swan and Duck, in particular a Tufted Duck and her troop following behind. Leaving the cars at McGraths Carpark we headed in the direction of The Farland Bank. On the way, which included a short saunter down The Watery Road, we recorded Stonechat, Wren, Wagtail and Robin while the shore of the lake was alive with Greylag Geese, Mute Swan, Lapwing and Mallard. Yellow Bartsia, Water Mint and Wild Pansy were in view.
On to Millbay with its far-reaching views of southern Lough Swilly. The hedgerows were abloom with Meadowsweet, Great Willowherb, Hedge Bindweed, both white and pink forms and Field Bindweed.  A stroll along the beach revealed Sea Mayweed, Wild Carrot, Sea Campion, Thrift, Spear-leaved Orache and Corn/Perennial Sowthistle. Feverfew and Upright Hedge Parsley were also noted. We watched a Sparrowhawk patrol the cliffs above the beach and a few Pheasant in the fields. We must also mention the patch of colourful wildflowers, sewn by the residents here. It was buzzing with insect life, including various Bees and Butterflies.
There was a touch of fin de saison in the atmosphere as we made our final stop at The Pier. Wildflowers are at their most luxuriant now and apart from the later fledglings, birds seem to have completed the frantic activity of breeding. Berries are forming on the Brambles. The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is not far away.
The Opulence of an August Day.
Saturday 6th. August 2022. In birdwatching circles the word "twitching" can have negative connotations, in that it reduces the wonders of Nature to dry mathematics. It also creeps into other related disciplines as when botany is reduced to spotting the first orchid of the year etc. I have no quarrel with twitching, but there are days like today when numbers and individuals must give way to composition and pattern. Yes today we did see individuals and counted them but what really caught our eye and our imagination was the overall composition these items produced.
Arriving at Malin Town seven Little Egret outlined the course of the river as they fed. Winding our way towards Culdaff by way of Aghaclay our path was lined by borders of Meadowsweet and Angelica, sprinkled with touches of Ragwort and Montbretia. Arriving at Bonagee, Rosa Ragusa supplemented by garden varietes seduced our nostrils with their perfume. A guard of Cormorant near the pier was attended by a small flock of Sandwich Tern. Gannets and Black Guillemot were feeding against this background. Here we stopped for lunch as we fed body and spirit. On to Caratra and a mix of Charlock, Red Leg, Flax and Oats presented a palette worthy of any artist. This gallery continued as we headed towards Redford. Small neglected meadows presented colourful compositions of Meadowsweet, Ragwort, Angelica, Hogweed, Montbretia with corridors of Fuchsia and Honeysuckle. (Why are we so eager to clear such food for the eye with our hedgecutters?)
Our piece de resistence was our walk down Redford Glebe to the sea. Against the soothing babble of the stream we trod on a carpet of Plantain, Self-heal and Daisy, flanked by Purple Loosestriffe, Woundwort and Dock displaying colourful seedheads, set against Brambles and Hazel laden with berries and nuts,  This cornucopia now feeding the eye is available for the foraging wildlife as it prepares for winter. Arriving at the seashore we recorded Red Admiral, Lesser Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood and Six-spot Burnet Moth feeding on a generous platter of Ragwort, Common Knapweed and Red Bartsia. A lone Eider swam at sea.
We made our ascent of the path with a sense of satisfaction and contentment, knowing that today the richness of Nature had shown itself to us from a different perspective. Saturday
Saturday 13th. August 2022. With the prediction of the National Weather Service for exceptionally high temperature and continuous blazing sunshine over the weekend, it was decided to call off our Saturday outing to allow members with children or those without, to avail of the cool blue shimmering waters of the Atlantic Ocean, lapping onto the golden beaches of our peninsula, or perhaps seek a shaded nook in their garden and sip their G & T's with plenty of ice. However we expect things to go back to normal for next Saturday's Outing.
The halcyon days of Summer are not yet gone.
Saturday 20th. August 2022. If Spring is painted by the cheerful  light colours of Lesser Celandine, Primrose, Marsh Marigold and Colt's-foot, then strong deep hues of purple, red and orange are found on the platter of late Summer and Autumn. The landscape is marked by the confident strokes of Montbretia, Willowherb, Ragwort, Fuchsia Devil's-bit Scabious and Knapweed.
Our usual stop at Malin Town produced a number of Egret enjoying the rich pickings of the estuary. Heading west in the direction of Culdaff via Aghaclay and Bunagee the hedgerows and fields assaulted us with  splashes of colour. The sun was now making more frequent appearances and butterflies were revealed basking in warm suntraps. Peacocks were abundant and Red Admiral, Speckled Wood and Tortoiseshell were recorded, as were various species of White.  As the day progressed Buzzard began to appear encouraged by the increasing thermals. Sparrowhawk, Curlew, Turnstone, Linnet, Goldfinch and Bullfinch made appearances.
At Bunagee Pier we stopped for lunch and were beguiled by the sight and odour of Rosa Rugosa. As Cormorant dried off on the rocks, Gannet gave an aerial display culminating in spectacular plunges into the bay in search of food. 
The path to the bay at Redford was as usual never disappointing. Luxurious growth on either side of Rowan and Hazel displayed their Autumn fruits. Today I tasted my first succulent Blackberry. We completed our trip through The Mossy Glen, Kinnego Bay and Stroove, greeted by displays of Fuchsia and Montbretia and arrived at Inishowen Head where we lingered to join a group of enthusiasts watching patiently for sightings of Whale and Dolphin. The halcyon days of Summer are not yet gone.
A mild grey day with hints of the approaching Autumn.
Saturday 27th. August 2022. Today we witnessed Nature as she slowly moved from her lively summer garb to more sombre autumn hues. While there is still evidence of summer, it is now becoming more faded. Plants are swapping their colourful blooms for autumn fruits in the form of seedheads, nuts and berries. 
Under an overcast sky and scarcely a whisper of wind we skirted by The Grianan of Aileach. Despite the vast panorama our first stop revealed little. A flock of Chaffinch moved among the nearby trees. Arriving at Bogay, our main interest was captured by the changing flora. In the stillness we could hear birds, including Bullfinch and young Buzzard, but in general they remained hidden, A brief glimpse of a Buzzard, the flight of a raucous Raven, a pair of Pheasant, a small flock of Greenfinch and the everpresent Woodpigeon were our lot. Discovering the fruit of the plants, Haws, Honeysuckle Berries, Hazelnuts, Acorns, Sloes, Raspberies, Snowberries and Blackberries, where blooms were once the attraction was our main interest.
Descending west we arrived at Blanket Nook where an unexpected array of birds awaited us. As we lunched a flock of Canada Goose flew overhesd and landed on the lake, where Egret, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Redshank, Greenshank, Snipe, Turnstone, Curlew, Lapwing, Grey Heron, Oystercatcher and Great Crested Grebe were already feeding. The plentiful remains of Wild Carrot were reminiscent of of the birds' nests  that were our interest only months previously. With rain imminent we moved on to The Farland Bank  and then to The Pumphouse at Inch Lake. Here again despite the low water we added Godwit to our count. 
While the changing seasons bring our interest in botany and lepidoptery to a close, we look forward to the return of the avian immigrants from the north and the prospect of a novel sighting.
Saturday 3rd. September 2022. It was decided last night to cancel today's Club Outing, due to the forecast of severe rainfall overnight, with the possibility of flooding. Somewhat surprising after the warm sunny days of the past week. Lets hope that the weather will have settled for next Saturday.
The beauty of an Autumn day.
Saturday10th. September 2022. In this season of mellow fruitfulness, a benevolent Mother Nature bestowed on today's outing to the wonderland that is the Clonmany and Urris areas, a gift that had from early morning the countryside drenched in glorious sunshine, augmented by a gentle breeze that whispered it's way through the still, leaf-laden trees that transferred their intricate shadowed designs on to the roadways, most noticeable in that special place north of the great bastion of Dunree Fort, known as Hillside. ......... Earlier we stopped on the road that leads over Pinch Mountain to gaze in wonder at the scenic masterpiece that was spread out before our eyes, of the distant Fort, the calm waters of Lough Swilly and then the blue-gray mountains beyond. .......... Birdlife today was a little conspicuous by its absence, with the exception of Buzzard, Mistle Thrush, Linnet, Wheatear, Chough and Goldfinch ............ Some time was spent admiring the views from the amazing viewpoint of Mamore Gap. ........... Next it was on to the coastal road from Lenan to Rockstown. Here some roadsides a few weeks past were ablaze with the flaming displays of Mombritia, now with their season drawing to a close being reduced to mere smoldering embers. ......... In other places Fuchsia was showing its brilliance, as were the berry-laden branches of the Rowan Trees .......... We concluded this heavenly day with a dander up to the beautiful, thundering waterfall, at Butler's Glen, and where Speckled Wood Butterflies fluttered and Dragonflies speedily darted in this place of sylvan serenity. .......... Due to Jim, our now regular scribe being otherwise engaged, Paddy filled the breach for today's report.
A few of the Fruits of Autumn, observed during the first of the new season bird counts.
Saturday 17th. September 2022. Today produced further evidence of the change of season. It was back to the day job as we set out on our first count of our winter waders. In fact the figures did not present any overwhelming evidence. Apart from two concentrations of Oystercatchers and one of Curlew, plus two lone Brent the rest of the count was not outstanding. Perhaps the presence of the high tide kept the birds from their usual feeding spots. 
The chilly wind in Buncrana was not conducive to standing around for discussion and walkers and joggers on the beaches ensured that the birds followed suit. However by the time we reached Fahan the temperature had risen and the sun was encouraging us to shed our layers. We lunched and celebrated a birthday and basked in the sunshine on Inch after a job well done. Our fellow naturalist, Boyd Bryce reported two Great Egrets roosting in nearby trees during the week. We headed to Inch Lake in hope. Despite the low water and the large number of birds there, we failed to spot a Great Egret. 
The flora provided more compelling evidence of the changing season. Apart from the vestiges of Knapweed and Corn Sowthistle and colourful beads of the Blackberry there was little remaining of the vibrant colours of a few weeks ago. The ashen remains of Willowherb were evident and the ubiquitous bloom of the invasive Bindweed only reminded us that it's growth results in choking the life of any surrounding plantlife. But from the ashes of Summer 2022 there will come the hope of flocks of winter visitors, with perhaps a few unexpected newcomers. 
Many Avian visitors announce the approaching Winter .
Saturday 24th. September 2022. Due to a variety of circumstances it was a depleted crew that set out on today's trip. Our primary aim was a visit to Blanket Nook, where some members of the club had spotted one, if not two, Great White Egrets the week before. We were welcomed by two Buzzards on our approach. As we mounted the sea embankment a flash of blue announced the presence of a Kingfisher. In bygone days we would regularly spot a resident bird in the stream alongside the lake, so we were delighted to see the stream once again inhabited. During our walk along the embamkment, accompanied by a pair of Stonechat, we had three more sightings of the colourful new resident. Flocks of waders announced the approach of winter. We spotted Lapwing, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit. However there were no Egrets of any kind. Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Mallard and Little Grebe were plentiful. A Sparrowhawk passed us on his hunt. A Red Admiral and several Speckled Wood reminded us of sunnier days.
Our next stop in search of the elusive Egret was Inch Lake. Here again another suprise awaited us. Sitting by the edge of the water on the Inch side was a White-tailed Eagle, undisturbed by the noisy activity of the residents and visitors. Flocks of Canada and Greylag Geese arrived regularly to join Mute Swans, Mallard and various Waders. We lunched in one of the hides and enjoyed distant views of the Eagle. In order to get a better view we headed to McGrath's Carpark to discover that with a few effortless flaps of his majestic wings our Eagle had landed just below our previous dining spot. Not to be outdone we retraced our steps but our Eagle had once again flown. A final trip to the viewing platform revealed him feeding in the lake beside The Markings. A second Kingfisher was spotted in the canal beside the Carpark.  With no Egrets, Great nor Little in sight,  we decided to call it a day. An adventurous day with a few surprises, but alas no Egret of any size. ...... Thanks to Sinead for the pictures
Saturday 1st. October 2022. No club outing today due to other commitments, but normal activity will resume next Saturday.
Some of the rewards from an October outing to Malin Head.
Saturday 8th. October 2022. As our team set off with a depleted squad towards Malin Head this morning, we envisaged seeing barnacle geese in the fields outside Malin Town. This was not to be however as none of the geese had arrived just yet.  We did however encounter quite a few birds as we meandered our way along the road leading to Lagg and Five Fingers Strand.  We spotted a Seal as it rested peacefully on a rock oblivious to a man walking his dogs on the shoreline.  A Kestrel hovered against the clear blue sky above the hill and a Buzzard shrugged off the attentions of hooded crows as it made it's way over the sand dunes.  Our next treat was a flock of beautiful Chough feeding in the field near Lagg Church, their shiny black plumage and red bills and legs glowing in the morning sun.  Our next stop was at Port Ronan and as we took our warming beverages, a Peregrine Falcon flew overhead like a fighter jet as it made an attack on a flock of crows feeding in a field beside the coast.  A flock of Greylag flew over the sea on their way to winter quarters further south. 
Two Eider Duck floated gracefully in the little cove beside the pier.  Some of the other birds seen today were:  Stonechat, Dunnock, Greenshank, Goldfinch and Greenfinch. ............ Thanks to Martin for todays report, and pictures from Sinead.
Tints from the palette of Autumn.
The Emissaries of Winter.
Saturday 15th. October 2022. Temperatures had been dropping steadily over the past few weeks, but today we felt that the threshold into winter had been crossed. A mere six degrees and an overcast sky greeted us as we began the day at Inch Causeway. Overnight rain had raised the water levels. The usual suspects; Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Little Grebe and a lone Pochard were noted. On reaching McGrath's Carpark we could see that many birds had arrived overnight. The excited conversations of Whooper and Greylag filled the air. Lapwing were abundant. On a trip around the island we were entertained by the usual sight of Rooks mobbing a Buzzard while a pair of Jays added to the cacophany. Curlew were seen in numbers on the eastern shore. 
Arriving at the carpark below An Grianan we sought the shelter of the hide. As we refuelled on hot tea and sandwiches we had a magnificent view of the waters below. Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Ruff, Little Egret, Whooper, Greylag and Canada were represented. In the fields behind hundreds of Whooper and Greylag had arrived and we remarked on the number of juveniles among them. 
A quick trip to Blanket Nook paid dividends in the discovery of Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, a small flock of Snipe and the appearance side by side of a Great White Egret and a Little Egret. 
Corn Sowthistle, an abundance of blackberry, Ragwort, Meadowsweet  and the apperance of a few Red Admirals were the only reminders of warmer times. But who can tell what awaits us in the coming weeks?
Today would normally be a Count day but thanks to the dilligence of Daniel, who completed the count on his own, we were able to enjoy at leisure what was on offer. ..............Our now regular scribe Jim is back with his quill and ink bottle, while today on camera was Martin.
A grey October day on the east bank of Lough Foyle.
Saturday 21st. October 2022. Last Saturday's outing confirmed that the migration from the north had really begun and so today we headed to the eastern bank of the Foyle, a favourite stopping off point for birds on their way south.
At the northern end of Culmore Park we counted a considerable number of Brent, Mallard and Redshank, accompanied by Whooper, Curlew, Oystercatcher and Little Egret. In fact today was a redletter day for Little Egret, now becoming so common so far north. Before the day was out our count of these was in the forties.
At Ballykelly, Brent were there in numbers. And to our surprise there was also a flock of at least 50 Snipe feeding at the estuary. We spied a lone Grey Plover. along with Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank and the ubiquitous Little Egret. In the fields about thirty metres apart two Buzzards perched contentedly on a fence and in the same field adding colour to a rather monochrome landscape swathes of Corn Marigold blossomed.
Our next stop was Ballymacran Bank. As we made our way along the inner channel, patrolled by Little Egret, Redshank, Greenshank, Oystercatcher and Dunlin we caught a glimpse of a Kingfisher.The tide was well out on the Lough side of the embankment and even with our fieldscope it was difficult to identify many of the myriad of birds that lined the tideline in the distance. We did spot Godwit, and Cormorant and a flock of Golden Plover overhead.
Despite the overcast sky, the poor light and the occasional shower, today proved an auspicious start to the winter season.
The birthday girl amidst the other charms of Nature on this cold dark October day.
Saturday 29th. October 2022. Today was not the most suitable day for birdwatching. A dull misty morning with the promise of rain to follow from the south, coupled with a full tide that left no room for birds to feed, engendered more hope than expectation.
The day started well however with the appearance of a flock of about 150 Barnacle Geese near McSheffry's Bridge on the way to Malin. It was good to see them again after the disastrous effects of the avian flu on their numbers last year. This was followed by the sighting of a flock of Redwing crossing our path. Little Egret awaited us at Malin Town, accompanied by a few Mallard and Wigeon. At Goorey a small number of Oystercatcher waited on the ebb of the tide while in Trabreaga Bay a lone Great Northern Diver fed, watched by large numbers of Cormorant.
We retraced our steps and headed towards Glasha on the southern shores of the bay.. Curlew and a few Little Egret were spotted here. As we moved west Curlew were becoming more visible. 
A visit to The Isle of Doagh produced another Great Northern Diver, more Curlew, Grey Heron and a Shelduck. We lunched in the shelter of the carpark at Glenevin Waterfall and celebrated the birthday of our youngest female member, before tackling the heights of Tornabrattley. Here we had a short sighting of a Peregrine near Cnock Aughrim followed by a Kestrel  hovering over an adjacent hill.
Taking conditions into consideration it was a most enjoyable day spent in the company of good friends.
A brief visit to The Isle of Islay.
Friday 4th. November 2021. The following report from Martin Maloney, who together with three other members availed of an opportunity to take a short one day trip to the Inner Hebridean Island of Islay to see its spectacular wildlife ............ Today Daniel, Mark, Liam and I went on a day trip to Islay, and enjoyed some brilliant birdwatching.  We saw 4 Sea Eagles, 2 Golden Eagles, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Marsh harrier and 7 Hen Harriers.  We had excellent views of the female Marsh Harrier as it hunted low over the lakes and reedbeds.  There were thousands of Barnacle Geese (they seemed countless at times) on view as well as White Fronted Geese, Pink Feet Geese and Greylags.  We also had lots of graceful Pintail foraging in front of the hides as thousands of Golden Plover circled overhead with lapwing....Other birds seen were:  Goldfinch, Linnet, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting, Stonechat and huge flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing.  We also spotted Red and Roe deer as they foraged in the hills.
Saturday 5th. November 2022. No Club Outing today due to other commitments, so its Roll on to next Saturday.
The wonders of a mid November day.
Saturday12th. November 2022. Followers of Nature are experiencing confusing times. First glance this morning presented a dull misty sky, but stepping outdoors it was hard to believe that it was mid-November, as the  temperatures crept towards the mid-teens. 
Gathering at Glentogher two of our members reported a Hen Harrier crossing their path in The Illies. As we talked about this sighting, a flock of Long-tailed Tits passed us foraging in the trees.
The hills of East Inishowen had changed aspect as tree felling during the summer and autumn had cleared a few of our favourite bird habitats. Nevertheless we spotted Mistle Thrush and Raven. Looking down on Lough Inn we spotted a few Whoopers on the water, while overhead a large flock of Golden Plover circled in the distance. Heading east we descended to Lough Foyle and lunched at Redcastle watching the Cormorants dry out on the rocks. At intervals on our trip we spotted a number of Buzzards, some of them displaying their Kestrel-like abilities hanging in the buffeting wind and a few Sparrowhawks darted furtively through the trees. A walk in the wood to help digest lunch produced a Grey Squirrel scampering through the trees. Small flocks of Chaffinch and Tits moved through the growth with plenty of shelter from the still abundant foliage. A quick stop at Moville resulted in the sighting of three Merganser and an Egret.
On the flora front the unusual weather conditions yielded Herb Robert, Nipplewort, yellow blossom on the Whins, Ragwort and Snowberry, 
Goodness knows what these conditions will produce this winter!
The November Count on the Swilly .
Saturday 19th. November 2022. Some days are more conducive to birdwatching than others when Nature pulls out all the stops to induce us to appreciate its charms. Today did not fit into that category. With the temperature registering 1 degree and a wind making it feel much colder, today was for work rather than pleasure. Today was a Count day, when we do our bit for Birdwatch Ireland to monitor the state of Ireland's seabirds and waders. The starting point at the Stone Jug in Buncrana saw six stalwarts, armed with binoculars and fieldscopes take up the challenge. Some locations were relatively pleasant but promentaries near the water tested our resolve
To be honest our self-pity took a knock when we witnessed the numbers of those who came to the seaside not just for a brisk walk but for a swim and the fact that most  were female was a blow to the morale of some of our more macho members. Lunch with cups of hot tea or coffee was a focal point of the day.
As for the birds, conditions were good, apart from the numerous dogs that take their owners for a stroll along the beach, The tide was favourable. Gulls were plentiful even if the low number of Common Gulls was noted. Cormorants were plentiful as were Wigeon. We also spotted 13 Mergansers, a higher than usual  number. Brent Geese, Mallard and Grey Heron (mostly tucked into sheltered spots) were recorded. Other large birds, Curlew and Shelduck were in evidence as was the ubiquitous Little Egret.
We recorded Oystercatcher, Redshank, Dunlin, Godwit, Great Crested Grebe, Greenshank, Ringed Plover and Dabchick but not in large numbers. Though not on our count list we also saw Buzzard, Raven,Sparrowhawk, Skylark and Sparrow. Some Flora, notably The Daisy Family, (Sea Mayweed, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sowthistle, Catsear, Ragwort and Pineappleweed) was still on show, while the hardy Winter Heliotrope was coming into bloom.
All in all it was a day's work well done but hopefully Nature will provide slightly better working condition. ........... Pictures by Sinead, Martin, and Wil.
A day of mists with stunning Winter colours and beauty.
Saturday 3rd. December 2022. Last Saturday's weather and lack of numbers resulted in the cancellation of our outing. Today's weather was an improvement but rolling mist and intermittent drizzle was not the most conduicive setting for birdwatching.
The area stretching from Clonmany to Dunree was our focus this week. There was little to be seen on the outward journey from Clonmany via Pinch. On the return via Hillside the changing scenery was striking with the mists hanging over the sepia- toned landscape of dying plants, especially Bracken. We did record small flocks of finches flitting through the now denuded trees and bushes. The trip over Mamore was spectacular as usual but not from the point of view of bird spotting. 
Our first notable recordings were at Leenan Bay where we spotted a Red-throated and Great Norther Diver. Meanwhile as a pair of Ravens played over the ruins of Leenan Fort we caught a glimpse of a Peregrine  causing consternation as it passed. Our next stop was Leenan Fort where we spent some time watching a Kestrel quartering the area in search of prey. Out at sea we watched a group of Whooper Swan move into Lough Swilly and move south towards Inch. Moving along the seashore while admiring the crashing waves a small flock of Snow Bunting was spotted. At Rockstown Harbour Merganser, Great Northern Diver and Cormorant were recorded. Our final stop was at Binnion. As Stonechat moved among the bushes  a Little Egret flew along the river in search of a suitable feeding spot. With little chance of the light improving we we called it a day and returned to Clonmany, where we said our goodbyes until next week.

Saturday 10th. December 2022. Due to adverse weather predictions, our club outing for today was cancelled. Hopefully conditions will have improved by next Saturday to facilitate the December bird count on the Swilly.
A few pictures from todays count.
Saturday 17th. December 1922. Before we turn to today's outing we must make reference to our annual Christmas dinner which was held on Friday night , 16th December in The Lake of Shadows Hotel in Buncrana, our first since Covid put an end to such events. We started the evening with Martin's audio-visual presentation of the past few years, followed by our founder Paddy's "Down through the Years". A lovely meal followed interspersed with hilarity, humour and general banter.
It seemed that some members more than enjoyed the night, if to judge by the roll call the next morning for a monthly Count. On a cold clear frosty morning only the most dedicated turned up. The question of gender balance will have to be adressed in our organisation soon!
The Count followed the usual route, although we had to omit our observations at Lamberton's Halt and Brown's Shore due to the treacherous road conditions. Because of the incoming tide which had reached its peak as we finished, many of the birds had sought the refuge of the nearby fields or had gathered in dense flocks to protect themselves against the cold. We saw lots of Redshank and Dunlin, followed by Teal and Wigeon, but Shelduck, which one expects now in this cold weather were noticeable by their absence. Numbers of Brent, Ringed Plover and Common Gull were also noted.
With the Count completed, we paid a visit to Inch Lake, much of which was frozen as a result of the low temperatures of the past weeks. However one unusual sighting was a Buzzard, feasting on carrion that had become trapped in the ice. At the observation platform above The Markings we watched a female Hen Harrier quarter the reeds in search of prey. It covered the reedbed with its artistic undulating flight before heading east where it found thermals to carry it over the hills out of sight. During this display we were distracted by the shenanigans of a Raven and Buzzard in the same area.
Despite our forebodings we had a great day,  The sun compensated for the icy conditions and the wonderful clear light made sightings more distinct, a feature much appreciated by the photographers among us. Our next outing, weather permitting, takes place on Tuesday 27th of December.

A few images from a day of mists and sombre light .
Tuesday 27th. December 2022. Two days after Christmas we held our special outing to mark the end of the year and invited all and sundry to join us, We always meet at Inch Causeway and explore the surrounding area. It has been held in rain, snow, sleet, wind and occasionally in sunshine.
Today was misty and cloudy with the odd bit of drizzle and fairly sombre light. Despite the unfavourable conditions we saw a great variety of birds.
Mute Swan, Black Swan, Greylag Geese and Brent were recorded, including a white Greylag on Inch Lake. Among the duck we numbered Shelduck, Shoveler, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Golden Eye and Merganser. At Millbay we watched a flock of Common Scoter accompanied by two Velvet Scoter. Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Great Northern Diver, a variety of Gulls, Grey Heron and Little Egret completed our tally by lunchtime. 
During the day we spied a number of raptors. A few Sparrowhawks crossed our path. Buzzards were spotted on various perches and overhead two juvenile  Peregrines harried a female. We disturbed a Merlin resting on a hedgerow and watched it speed across the fields. The call of the Raven was never far away.
With a full tide most waders had taken to the flooded fields. At The Platform near the main carpark we counted Curlew, Redshank, Lapwing, Dunlin, Knot, a Ruff and a number of waders that provoked much discussion as to their identity. At the lakeside sat a lone Kingfisher in all his splendour. On the denuded trees we were able to see Chaffinch, Goldfinch, a variety of Tits, Siskin and a Goldcrest. 
A light drizzle and fading light at Blanket Nook brought our outing to an end but the number and variety of birds sharpened our interest as we move towards 2023. To conclude, we wish all of our members and many friends A Happy New Year.

Saturday 31st. December 2022. Due to the festive season, there will be no club outing today. Looking forward to normality next Saturday.
Today our member Brian Hegerty while in the Moville Area was delighted to record a Black throated Diver on the Foyle. A first for Brian
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