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Inishowen Wildlife Club

News 2023

             
           


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A random selection of pictures from club outings in the past.
 
Videos.
Our Wanderings Through a World of Nature, Beauty and Joy.
 
Saturday 7th. January 2023. No club outing due to other commitments on this cold bright sunny day, a day with hints of spring in the offing. Next Saturday we resume the winter bird count on the Swilly, with assembly as usual near the Stone Jug, Buncrana.
 
Pictures From a Gray January Day.
Saturday 14th. January 2023. After a long Christmas/New Year break, we began our activity for 2023. Are some of our Nature loving members copying its ways, either by migrating to warmer climes or simply hibernating? In any case, today only three veterans faced the conditions to carry out our monthly Count. 
Although conditions slightly improved by early afternoon, in the main they were challenging and weather conditions coupled with a high tide meant that there were few birds feeding along the shore and most had sought whatever shelter they could find. Gulls, especially the Greater Black-backed seemed to enjoy the conditions but the fact that we saw only one Red Shank gives an idea of how unusual the results of this Count were. On the other hand we counted almost three hundred Dunlin at one spot. There were Curlew, Shelduck, a few Wigeon and Mallard and more than usual Great Crested Grebe but no Geese were seen.
Crossing The Causeway onto Inch we spotted an Otter hunting in The Lake and after several dives saw it emerge with a large Eel and torpedo off to the safety of the reeds to enjoy its meal minic.We in turn lunched Chez Boyd where we were entertained by the sight of a Yellowhammer and a Treecreeper on a nearby tree. With Met Eireann's promise of deteriorating conditions we followed our feathered friends' example and sought the comfort of our own homes.
 
Friday 20th. January 2023. Due to the very severe weather over the the past week, and consideration for the safety of our members, tomorrow's club outing has been called off. We look forward to a more Spring-like input for next Saturday.
 
The Beauty of a Sun-drenched January Day.
Saturday 28th. January 2023. After a spell of unfavourable weather, Nature pulled out all the right stops and welcomed us back with a show to delight the senses. All is forgiven.
We set out to visit the area around Trawbreaga Bay. The tide was well in at our first stop on the southern shore. The high tide meant few waders feeding along the shore. A few Curlew and Oystercatchers were noted. In the distance we could see a flock of more than 200 Barnacle Geese grazing contentedly. We had to content ourselves with the spectacular views as we drove through Tornabratilly. Below us lay The Isle of Doagh, picturesque in the sunshine, its features reflected in the still waters. This route, usually a splash of colour in summertime, presented a tweed of browns and russets, a silent sepia to calm the spirit. 
The same atmosphere pervaded The Isle of Doagh. A few Curlew, Redshank, and a Phalarope performed it's characteristic routine, while Wigeon and Mallard sifted through the still waters bathed by a warm sun. Turning north on The Isle we got a close up of our Barnacle geese, they too enjoying the conditions and still grazing contentedly in a field. The waters stretching from McSheffreys Bridge to The Bar Mouth was like a mirror broken here and there by individual Cormorants, Mergansers, a Great Northern Diver and a lone seal. Small flock of waders, chiefly Curlew and Redshank moved along the shore.
The contrast was noticeable when we reached The Castles at Carrickabraghy. Some force originating far out in the Atlantic sent waves crashing against the shore, resulting in spectacular eruptions of white spume and foam, teasing our photographers to capture the action at its epitome. Against this background we lunched and basked in this bright sunlit  ambiance. By our usual standards we did not spot wildlife in great quantity or diversity. But Nature reveals its bounty in different ways. Today it was directed at the spirit, several moments of restorative mindfulness.

 
 
29th. January 2023. Our member Brian Hegerty submitted this picture of an Egyptian Goose he recorded a few days past at the new lake Dunfanaghey.
 
A Winter Visit to the Roe Valley Country Park.
Saturday 4th. February 2023. Today, hoping that we might escape the worst of the forecast rain and in any case that we would have some shelter, we crossed the border to visit the tree-lined River Roe near Limavady. 
Setting out from the Visitor Centre we remarked on the welcome sound of birdsong. Chaffinch, Tits and Goldfinch played solos backed by the melodious babbling of the river. On the river we spotted an inaptly named Grey Wagtail and further on a pair of Dippers was feeding, bobbing on the rocks before going underwater in search of food. On the trees that border the river, Grey Squirrels were visible making their way through the undergrowth, climbing trees and nonchalantly ignoring human intruders. There were signs of spring with Snowdrops in abundance and we recorded our first Lesser Celandine of the new year
Back at the Centre as we began our lunch the first drops of rain began to fall and despite our best intentions, as it got heavier, we were forced to call it a day. 

 
The season of flora and fauna's arrivals and departures.
Saturday 11th. February 2023. With definite touches of spring in the air and the prospect of birds soon heading north to breed, we met up at the Stone Jug in Buncrana to begin our penultimate Count of the season. With a very high tide, conditions were not  completely favourable, but the light was reasonable and the weather held well.
Numbers were average with high counts of Redshank, Dunlin, Osytercatcher and Wigeon. Shelduck and Mallard  were noticeable with more than usual sightings of Merganser. Brent were recorded including a lone darked-bellied individual. Another rare sighting was that of a Red-throated Diver. Most of our usual birds were represented, but we will have to wait for the final numbers after our next count in March before we can draw conclusions on the state of our waders. At our teabreak we watched Bullfinch, and Yellowhammer and later a flock of Shovelers and a Little Egret at Inch Lake.
While Winter Heliotrope were still evident it was the generous displays of Snowdrops that really stole our attention. We also spotted Traveller's-joy, a plant more common in the south of Ireland. We are inching our way towards the seasons of warmth and colour.

 
A most rewarding outing in the Inch Lake area with members of the South Donegal Birders Club.
Saturday 17th. February 2023. When we look back on today, it had all the ingredients of a satisfactory day; not perfect, because we always want more, more birds more excitement, more sun etc. This is what we experieced.
We met at Inch Causeway on a dull morning but with Met Eireann promising improving conditions. Despite the increasing human interference, Inch Lake still continues to attract  the wildlife enthusiast. While standing swapping news of the week past, one of our members caught a glimpse of the White-tailed Eagle that has made Inishowen its homeland during the past year. Later we spied two Peregrines leave their observation perch to hunt down a duck, unsuccessfully to the relief of their prey. At the end of the day we spotted  a Sparrowhawk hunt, again in vain, a kingfisher at Blanket Nook. 
Overall we saw a great variety of birds among which Buzzard, Cormorant, Little Egret, Goldeneye, Goldcrest, Great Crested Grebe, Greenshank, Greylag Goose, Knot, Lapwing, Linnet, Mallard, Merganser, Oystercatcher, Redpoll, Redshank, Shelduck, Shoveler, Teal, and Yellowhammer, a veritable cornucopia.
The final ingredient, good company, was supplied by members of the South Donegal Club, whom we had not seen since pre-covid days and who were visiting the Inch area on their outing.
All in all, a day to remember. Those who remember the English homework composition  "A day out at........" would have been delighted ..........  Pictures by Sinead.

 
Saturday 25th. February 2023. No club outing today due to other commitments.
 
A worthwhile day in the Malin Area amongst our feathered friends.
Saturday 4th. March 2023. On a crisp calm morning a full attendance of members gathered in Carn for our outing. At our first stop on the southeastern shore of Trawbreaga Bay we soon realised that with the tide at its lowest we would have to search closely for birds especially waders. Malin Town proved equally fruitless apart from a few Mallard, Curlew and Gulls. 
Heading north,  matters improved dramatically. In the fields just beyond the birdhide a large flock of Barnacle, spread over three fields, continued to feed contentedly as we watched from the road. In their midst were three Pink-footed Geese. A short detour inland to Ballagh revealed the appearance of Lesser Celandine with a Buzzard hovering overhead.
Stopping at Goorey for lunch we watched substantial numbers of Brent along with Merganser, Wigeon, Curlew, a lone Little Egret and the drama of a Gull trying to relieve a Great Northern Diver of the crab he had just caught. Hoping to spy some Chough we ascended Knockamany but only  saw a herd of Alpaca. Descending to Malin Head via  Port Caman, Culoort, Gortnamullan, Crossroads, Ineuran Bay, Banba's Crown, Eskey and finally Portmore we had recorded Eider, Shelduck, Shag, Raven, Black Guillemot and Stonechat.
Apart from Barnacle and Brent, birds were small in numbers but the variety in such scenic surrounding made it a worthwhile day.
 
 
Saturday 11th. March 2023. No club outing today due to the forecast of Arctic conditions. On the brighter side, our member Brian Hegarty early last Saturday morning heard, then saw and photographed a Greatspotted Woodpecker in Lisnagrath Woods.
 
 
Some of Natures jewels observed during the final bird count of part one of the 2022/23 season.
Saturday18th March. 2023. The hardy souls who survived the St. Patrick's Day celebrations gathered at the mouth of the Crana River to begin the final count of the 2022/3 season. Faced by a cold blustery wind, reinforced at times by driving rain, even the birds did not seem to relish the day ahead to judge by their low numbers. Redshank, which we usually count in hundreds, seem to have begun their northern migration. There were birds; Oystercatchers, Curlew, Mallard, Merganser, Shelduck, Brent etc. but nothing to get excited about. We look forward to their return in the autumn.
Following reports of a Bean Goose in the Inch area we searched the flocks in the Slob fields for a sighting. But we could find nothing unusual among the Greylag, White-fronted or Canada Geese. After a cuppa in the shelter of the hide at the Carpark overlooking the swollen Inch Lake, we were off again on another mission. Earlier in the week ,one of our members took delivery of a badly injured Barn Owl found in the Newtown area. A search of the area gave no evidence of Owl activity.
At this juncture, with the prospect of an Irish Grand Slam in the offing, we decided to call it a day. A job well done.
 
Another peep into Natures jewelry box.
Saturday 25th. March 2023. During the past few weeks we had reports of Barn Owls in various parts of Inishowen, including an injured Owl delivered to one of our members, which despite the best veterinary care subsequently died. Inishowen Wildlife Club has over the years placed boxes in various parts of The Peninsula to encourage nesting. So today's outing had two goals: first of all to inspect the boxes we had placed and secondly to look at sites (old buildings and trees) where Owls might be found and boxes sited in the future. Setting off from our meeting point at Burt in dismal conditions we worked our way south, Despite calling at farms and derelict buildings on our journey and receiving much support and encouragement from those we met on the way we found no concrete evidence of Owl activity. However we did not ignore the other birds we encountered on the way especially as we approached Blanket Nook. Yellowhammers were spotted in  the rising temperatures, sunshine and light. At Grange Embankment, a sustantial flock of Knot was noted among the Godwit, Shelduck, two Little Egrets, Wigeon, and  a lone Long-tailed Duck while at the southern end of the Lake we saw Goldeneye and Merganser.  Our botanists reported abundant Lesser Celandine and Primrose and emerging Golden Saxifrage, Violets, Red Deadnettle and Navelwort. An early Peacock butterfly was spotted. Spring has truly sprung and summer is on the horizon.
 
Pictures from Near and Far.
Saturday 1st. April 2023. Today some members of the club decided to avail of an opportunity to visit the Inner Hebridean Island of Islay, while others with dark misty clouds covering Bulba gathered at the carpark in Clonmany. Conditions dictated that we would be travelling in hope rather than expectation that we might even catch a glimpse of a Golden Eagle proved to be more than optimistic.
Travelling over Pinch to Dunree with nothing to report on the way. At Dunree Fort the Fulmars were beginning to nest on the cliffs as a Raven patrolled in the mist. 
The sun made a brief appearance as we moved along Hillside, stopping at one of our favorite viewing points. We could not but admire the scene with mist drifting along the hills above, the rush of the mountain stream, the glistening droplets on the vivid blossom of the Whins and the soft warm breeze. Much of our time was spent in friendly conversation with locals we met on the way, all adding to the pleasant atmosphere of the day.
A Stonechat saluted us after our descent of Mamore Gap and we moved on to Roxtown. A flock of Brent was feeding in the quiet of Roxtown Harbour. Into Clonmany and down to Binnion where wildflowers were beginning to appear; stretches of Lesser Celandine interspersed with Wood Anemone and Primrose, and Marsh Marigold lining the stream. The roadside was full of Wild Garlic and flowering Blackthorn. Grey Heron had already begun to set up a colony near the river. Not a day for the birdwatcher but Nature has different ways of expressing its beauty and kindling the promise of a bountiful summer.......... Meanwhile on Islay, we set off this morning from Ballycastle on an outing to the island of Islay in the Scottish Hebrides in torrential rain, we expected similar weather conditions on the island.  We were pleasantly surprised however to experience a bright warm day on our arrival in Port Ellen.  From here we were taken by minibus to the nature Reserve where there was an abundance of birds.  We saw (to name a few):  Chough, Wheatear, Willow Warbler, Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Buzzard, White Tailed Sea Eagle, Barnacle, White Fronted, Pink Footed and Greylag Geese, Wigeon, Teal, Golden Plover, Shoveler and the exquisite Pintail.  Red Deer silhouettes painted a majestic picture against the heather clad hills with a blue sky background.  Small passerines observed were:  Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Stonechat, linnet, Bullfinch and Goldfinch.    Pairs of Curlew called loudly as they displayed in anticipation of the coming breeding season. On our way to the island we saw a Harbour Porpoise,  Common Scooter, Manx Shearwater, Guillemot, Razorbill and Gannet. All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our day. ..........Thanks to Martin for his report on their short visit to the Island.
 
Welcomed visitors to Inch Lake.
Monday 3rd. April 2023. Today our sharp-eyed birder Martin, photographed and watched, for a considerable time a Marsh Harrier, a seasonal short term visitor to the reed beds at Inch Lake Also present in the region was a Great Egret. Well spotted Martin.
 
A dander through Muff Glen.
Saturday 8th. April 2023. Temperatures in the teens and dry conditions greeted us as we gathered at Gransha, Derry to explore the eastern side of Lough Foyle. After the usual catching up on the news, mainly about wildlife, -  who saw what and where - we set off for Muff Glen. 
It was a magical start. Trees were coming into bud and some were decorated in a profusion of flowers. The floor of the glen was a carpet of Celandine, Wood Anemone and the paths lined with Dandelion and Daisy. The soundtrack was provided by the gurgling stream and the birdsong. Pigeons flapped through the trees, while Goldcrest, Meadow Pippit, Blackbird and Song Thrush looked for advantageous locations to announce their presence. A Buzzard dropped from a tree before us and showed us the way as it followed the path before us. We were delighted to meet fellow wildlife enthusiasts in the form of Eglinton Red Squirrel Club as they pursued their goal of nurturing and protecting the Red Squirrels in the glen. Well done to them.
Further stops were made at Faughanvale, Limavady and Myroe. A variety of birds, particularly Waders, were recorded: Redshank, Merganser, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Godwit, Grey Heron, Pied Wagtail and Grey Wagtail, Sand Martin, Little Egret, Curlew and Skylark. Curlew Sandpiper and Pintail were  the finds of the day. The changing of the guard or summer migration is in full swing.
 
Some of the gems seen today through Sinead's lens.
Saturday 15th. April 2023. A favourable forecast of benign temperatures and clear skies prompted us to extend our horizons from Inishowen and head south for the secluded sylvan surrounds of Lough Eske. 
Once we turned off the N15 we found ourselves in an enchanted land. Parking at Ardnamona Woods we wandered through a wonderland of biodiversity. Paths were bordered by Spring's Sunday best; Lesser Celandine, Primrose and Dandelion, while among the ancient Oaks, Holly, Birch, Alder and Hazel were strewn carpets of Mosses, Wood Sorrel, and Wood Anenome, interspersed with bouquets of Primrose, clumps of Greater Tussock Sedge, sprinklings of Cuckoo Flower,and lone Dog Violets. Clinging to some of the trees were Ramalina and Birch Bracket Fungus amid Ferns such as Hard Fern, Hart's Tongue and Polypody. 
Against the background of babbling brooks, small birds announced their presence; the Song Thrush and Great Tit, while we spied a Treecreeper in search of insects. Buzzards called overhead and a few were spotted. For many the highlight of the day was spotting a Golden Eagle doing its skydance, followed by a White-tailed Eagle, so far off in the distance that only the younger keen-eyed members could appreciate them. The Great Spotted Woodpecker, permitted us to hear his call but afforded us only fleeting glimpses.
A good turnout of members was on hand to wish one of our numbers, Mary, a Happy Birthday, with greetings and cake  supplied and among the company we came across was a group from Singapore, full of praise and appreciation for the wonderful setting. And so say all of us.
 
The Joys of a Beautiful Spring Day.
Saturday 22rd. April 2023.We made our way in glorious sunshine today on a quest to try to find the the roosting place of a barn Owl which had been spotted near Carndonagh recently.  Club members searched old buildings such as barns and disused houses but unfortunately to no avail. We were rewarded however, with beautiful rustic scenery, flora and wildlife.  Birdsong filled the air as if welcoming spring.  Swallows flew like miniature falcons in search of flying insects.  A pair of Buzzards soared together in a clear blue sky probably over their intended nesting area.  A Sparrowhawk flew high over a forest carrying prey in it's needle sharp talons.  Other birds observed today were:  Willow Warbler, Siskin, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Raven and Mistle Thrush. Our search for the owl will continue throughout the summer. Todays report was submitted by Martin.
 
Nature at its best in a sun-soaked Culdaff region.
Saturday 29th. April 2023. Today was a foretaste of those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer that we all look forward to. Temperatures were on the rise as we gathered in Carn even though threatening clouds lined the horizon. 
Our first stop at Malin Town revealed a small flock of Whimbrel far out in the estuary and four Little Egret. The river itself was devoid of activity. Heading east towards Culdaff we diverted and took the narrow country roads above Aughaclay, and what a vision! Vast expanses of vibrant yellow Whins greeted us at every turn, The roadsides were dotted with Primrose, Violet, Stitchwort and Dandelion and in the damper areas of the fields  Cuckooflower and Lesser Celandine provided the colour. And where flowers bloom there are butterflies. Today we counted Peacock, Tortoiseshell, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood.
Small birds sang in the bushes, especially Chiffchaff. We also noted Wheatear, Stonechat, Redpoll, Linnet, Skylark, Greenfinch, Siskin, Swallow and Blackcap. And hoping to benefit from their productivity were Buzzard, Pergrine and Sparrowhawk. We also had a close encounter with a Raven perched on the mast of a berthed boat at Bunagee Pier. Fresh clumps of Sea Pinks graced the rocks near the pier. 
We made our final stop at Redford making our way down the leafy lane to the sea. Marsh Marigold and Wood Anemone lined the banks of the little stream alongside the path while Bluebells caught the light in the clearings in the woods. Herb Robert, Bush Vetch, Lousewort, Milkwort and Early Purple Orchid  were starting to appear.
Just as we decided to call it a day the threatened rain materialised, depositing widespread heavy showers, whose waters will feed the emerging plants. Happy with our day we made our way home to the beat of windscreen wipers.
 
Our outing to the Clonmany area in the glorious month of May.
Saturday 6th. May 2023. As we gathered under the damp misty hills in Clonmany, little did we think how wonderful a day lay before us. Even before we set off, we spotted two Buzzard circling overhead. Who was watching whom?
We crossed Pinch to the call of the Cuckoo, a sound that we heard a few times today, along with the song of the Sedge Warbler and the sight of a passing family of Long-tailed Tits.
The Fulmars had not yet begun to nest at Dunree, but we spotted a few Black Guillemot searching for a nest site. Hillside was quiet as we continued on our way to Mamore Gap. Crossing The Gap brought us into a new land of warm sunshine and panoramic views. We were now in the habitat of Wheatear which we saw in numbers. A Buzzard, perched near a nest we had discovered last year, led us to hope that it would be occupied again this year. 
The sound of Willow Warbler punctuated our journey along the shore as did the sighting of Stonechat. We watched a Buzzard, with its prey dangling from its talons, evade the attention of a few annoying Rook. At sea we spotted a pod of Common Dolphin breach while a lone Shelduck  was spotted near the shore. Temperatures were rising as we approached Roxtown Harbour at low tide. Whimbrel and Oystercatcher fed in the lagoon as a sole Sparrow sang on the quay.
Our final stop at Binnion gifted us with a platter from Nature. The roadside was adorned with Wild Garlic, Bluebell,  Marsh Marigold, Pignut and Hawthorn. A heronry yielded a view of three adults and in the air a Buzzard passed overhead. The strengthening sunshine produced Orange Tip, Speckled Wood and Ringlet. Just the jewels to crown a wonderful day.
 
A beautiful day in May.
Saturday 13th. May 2023. We set off today with a depleted crew in the direction of Culdaff in beautiful sunny, warm conditions which warranted the use of sun protection.  As we made our way along, a pair of Bullfinches foraged in golden yellow gorse bushes by the roadside as the sound of those ubiquitous summer visitors to our shores, Willow Warblers resounded in the surrounding countryside.  As our expert botanist Anne Toland was  not with us today, we depended on Daniel to identify the abundant flora with the plant identifying app on his phone.  The bluebells were resplendent in the aptly named woods of Bluebell Hill near Culdaff.  Another familiar sound of summer the repeating tones of Chiffchaffs echoed through the woods. For a change of scenery and habitat, we made our way to Tremone Bay where we were pleasantly surprised to see a family of Ringed Plovers with two newly hatched chicks scurrying along the shore.  Gannets were present in good numbers out on the sea some of them resting on the waves while others dived into the water in search of breakfast.  Our next stop was Falmore House where we were treated to a feast of floral excellence on the pathway to the house and the surrounding decidious woods.  Other birds noted today were:  Siskin, Goldfinch, Buzzard, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Swallow, Wren, House Martin, Sand Martin and Whitethroat.  All in all a very enjoyable and relaxing day was spent in very pleasant conditions. 

 
Saturday 20th. May 2023. No club outing today due to members having commitments in other fields. We look forward to next Saturday when we will resume our normal activity.
 
Our meandering through the arboreal paradise of Lisnagrath.
Saturday 27th. May 2023. Our first stop today was at the beautiful Lis Na Gra woods near Muff, where we went in anticipation of seeing the Great Spotted Woodpecker which had been spotted there by club member Brian Hegarty a few weeks ago.  Our search was in vain as we did not see or hear the woodpecker.  We were not disappointed however as we saw and heard a variety of other birds including Buzzard, Chaffinch, Raven, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Willow Warbler, Siskin and Chiffchaff.  After an enjoyable ramble through the sun clad decidious woods, we set off to a contrasting coniferous sitka spruce forest in the Illies passing hedgerows adorned with Cow Parsley, Bluebells and Buttercups. As we walked the forest path we noted Milkwort, Tormental and Lousewort while nearby a Cuckoo welcomed us with it's distinctive call from the treetops. The gentle breeze forced pollen to emerge like great puffs of smoke from the sitka saplings as we made our way along the forest glade.  Our final stop took us to observe one of the few breeding pairs of curlew remaining in Donegal and we felt privileged to see them in their breeding habitat.  All in all a very enjoyable day was had by everyone. ..... Thanks to Martin for todays report.
 
A few of the jewels lavishly strewn about in the beautiful Ards Forest Park today.
Saturday 3rd. June 2023. Readers of this column will know that the main activity on our outings is birdwatching. But today that was not the case. Our destination was Ards Forest Park near Creeslough. On previous visits we remarked on the lack of bird activity. Today our aim was to identify flora and spot butterflies.
We did see and hear birds. A Jay made and early appearance near the carpark and Wren, Rock Pipit and Black-headed Gull were recorded. But it was the flora now coming into season that dominated our attention.
Among those identified were  Wood Anemone, Wood Avens, Bird's-foot-trefoil, Bramble, Broomrape, Bugle, Burnet Rose, Sea Campion, Meadow Buttercup, Cat's-ear, Pink and White Clover, Cut-leaved Crane's-bill, Cuckoo Flower, Oxeye Daisy, Dog Violet, Cat's Paw, Germander Speedwell, Yellow Flag Iris, Smooth Hawk's-beard, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Basal -leaved Hawkweed, Northern Marsh-orchid, Common Spotted-orchid, Milkwort,  Knotted Pearlwort, Pignut, Yellow Pimpernel, Primrose, Sea Radish, Sanicle, Tutsan, Lesser Stichwort, Twayblade, Bush Vetch, Kidney Vetch and Woodruff. What a bouquet!
And taking advantage of these blooms were Speckled Wood, Ringlet, Marsh Fritillary, Small Blue, Meadow Brown, Small Heath and Wood White.
Add to that, splendid weather, breathtaking views and good company including our friends from The Netherlands and you will understand why this park is on our agenda every year.
 
The Rewards of a Summers Day.
Saturday 10th. June. "Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer"
With forecasts of an imminent ending to the warm sunshine, we decided to head to The Isle of Doagh, whose rolling landscape of heathland and marsh is contained by the gentle sandy borders of Trawbreaga Bay. Like our trip of the previous week we are usually guaranteed  a bounty of colourful flora and the fauna. which it sustains.
We took our usual preliminary drive, by way of an appetiser, up Tornabratilly, from where there is a a panoramic view of our sought destination below. These grassy hedgerows revealed their own bounty of Foxglove, Bush Vetch, Dog Rose, Bramble and Cow Parsley. Swallows, using the many abandoned buildings along the road glided in search of food.
Our next stop, at Cragawannia, proved a bit of a disappointment, in that not too friendly looking cattle roamed the field where we would normally find butterfly life. Discretion being the better part of valour, we contented ourselves with a survey of the flora, noting  Water Forget-me-not, Water Cress and Mouse- ear Hawkweed. Heading east we ended up on the shores of Trawbreaga bay which yielded its maritime crop of Sea Aster, Sea Campion, Sea Plantain. Sea Radish and Sea Samphire.
Descending to Lagacurry, with apologies to Wordsworth, all at once we saw a crowd, a host of Yellow Flags and on the machair, protected by fencing, was a magnificent display of Northern Marsh-orchid and the brick-red Early Marsh-orchid.
At our final stop at Carrickabraghy, Sea Campion, Sea Milkwort, clusters of Sea Pink, Water Speedwell, Wild Thyme, Meadow Vetchling, Tufted Vetch and Kidney Vetch were recorded.
Birdlife was quiet except for the lazy flight of a hunting Gannet, a pair of Choughs foraging on the dunes, a raft of Eider out at sea, Rock Pipits, Starlings and Wagtails. We ate lunch in the shadow of The Castles but the cream was missing on the cake when we listened to the Corncrake, but alas no sighting. We were however happy to see that The Oyster Plant is still holding its own on the Isle.
La brea samhraidh a bhi ann.
 
A Few photographic snippets from today's visit to Swan Park .
Saturday 17th. June 2023. Prospects were not looking good as we gathered at the Stone Jug in Buncrana. Heavy rain and a grey misty sky awaited us. A lone Grey Heron stalked the river. Taking advantage of an improving situation, we decided to take a stroll through Swan Park. This is really a tremendous addition to the town, especially after its post-deluge makeover. And in keeping with the setting we came across an exhibition manned by some of the volunteers who are putting Buncrana on the ecological map, especially in the area of polination. They deserve the appreciation not only of Buncrana but of all those with a love of Nature. 
After a pause for lunch, which included a birthday celebration for our youngest member, we set off for Stragill Strand. We spent time watching Sand Martins foraging and returning to their burrow-nests to feed the first of the two broods they are likely to produce this year. Our observations were interrupted first of all by a Meadow Pipit and then a Rock Pipit as they were on a similar quest. A Linnet was also spotted.
Our next stop was at Dunree Fort which offers a great view of the Fulmars on the cliffs. Most seemed to be sitting on eggs while we watched one pair renewing their bonds with a courtship display.
Apart from the magnificent display of wildflowers in Swan Park we also noted Purple Loosestrife, Common Valerian, Hemlock Water-dropwort, Lady's Bedstraw while Knapweed, Rosebay Willowherb and Meadowsweet were beginning to make an appearance.
We had another cause for celebration today as one of our members Brian Hegarty had yet another of his wildlife photos publishedin the Irish Times.
 
Saturday 24th. June 2023. Being ensnared in this season of holidays, augmented by days of bright sunshine and temperatures of twenty five degrees, the demand of families has to be observed. so, no club outing today, or next Saturday 1st. July.
 
A few of Summers rewards from today.
Saturday 8th. July 2023. After a break of two weeks  the club got back on the road.  Our journey took us from Carndonagh along the northern side of Trawbreaga Bay and on to Malin Head. 
Our first stop at Malin Town produced seven Little Egrets feeding in the estuary. A short diversion brought us to Lower Ballagh and subsequently to Upper Ballagh and finally down to Goorey. The hedgerows were awash with colour as was the water of Trawbreaga below us. The golden sand contrasted with the turquoise, aquamarine and purple hues of the water. Meadowsweet, Rosebay Willowherb, Red Campion, Fuchsia, Angelica and Honeysuckle spilled onto the narrow roadways. 
The tide was ebbing when we parked at Lagg and headed towards the dunes. Behind us we watched a flock of Choughs perform their acrobatic aerial display. For a time they were joined by some Ravens and watched by a pair of Kestrels overhead. The machair was ablaze with Lady's Bedstraw, Thyme, Catsear, Selfheal, Burnet Rose, Red and White Clover, Bird's-foot-trefoil and sprinkled throughout were Pyramidal Orchids.
We were disappointed by the absence of Butterflies. We disturbed a few Meadow Browns and Tortoiseshells who immediately took flight, but becuase of the strong breeze they were not feeding.
We spotted a number of small birds, Redpoll, Linnet, Stonechat, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Starling en route to Malin Head via Gortnamullan and Ineurin Bay. Below The Tower, Heath spotted-orchid were discovered among the Bog Asphodel and Royal Fern. A final stop at Eskey Bay revealed a lone Eider with one of her offspring. 
Perhaps not as much wildlife as we had hoped to see on a day when colour predominated.
 
 
Saturday 15th. July 2023. No club outing today due to severe weather predicted from last evening, and for the remainder of the weekend.
 
 
Images from a special day.
Saturday 22nd. July. 2023. Expectation of rain in the afternoon curtailed our travels, so we contented ourselves with a visit to Inch Wildfowl Reserve. Meeting on Inch Causeway it was late when we finally got underway. Having missed a few outings recently, much time was spent catching up on the news of the past few weeks.
The lake itself was calm and peaceful with families of Mallard, Tufted Duck, Moorhen and Coot feeding, while in the distance Mute Swan swam contentedly. A few Grey Heron surveyed the landscape. At McGraths we were greeted by a Meadow Pipit. A flock of Canada Geese grazed near the lake.
With the threat of rain in the air we decided to head for Blanket Nook to check out a report of a rare Black-winged Pratincole and luck was on our side. No sooner arrived when our trusted spotter, Martin, had it on view on his fieldscope. The bird rested contentedly by the lakeside among Oystercatcher, Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit.  This swallow-like wader is normally found in south eastern Europe, North Africa  and Western Asia, especially Kazakhstan. Failte go hEireann!
Among the wildflowers we noted both pink and white forms of Great Willowherb, Evening Primrose, Water Forget-me-not  and a profusion of Meadowsweet. 
We made our final stop back at The Pumphouse Carpark, where we celebrated the birthdays of the club's founder,  Paddy, still going strong at ninety years of age and junior member, Brian, a mere 50+. As The promised rain arrived and, we concluded a special day with tea and cake before we headed home.
 
Outing to check on reported sighting of rare birds on the eastern shore of Lough Foyle.
Saturday 29th. July 2023. Undeterred by yellow warnings of rain, ten members assembled at Muff, determined to experience all that Nature could put on show. Our destination was Myroe along the eastern bank of Lough Foyle. This area had in the past produced some unusual migrants and the report of a Black-headed Yellow Wagtail and an American Golden Plover was enough to make it worthy of investigation. On our arrival we were greeted by a few fellow ornithologists on the same quest. Despite a concerted search among the Wagtails present, no individual fitted the bill.
Through the magic of WhatsApp a sighting of the American visitor was reported and verified as we  located and watched it foraging in the short grass.
Although our interest was focused on this rare visitor, we also noted Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Godwit, Meadow Pipit, and Linnet and our attention was drawn to a hare racing across the manicured field. Our excursion along the embankment at Ballymacran revealed little of note and after a calorie-laden lunch we headed north to The Barmouth of the River Bann. From the hide we counted Sandwich Tern, Godwit, a family of Shelduck, Oystercatcher and a variety of Gull. A variety of plants was noted, especially Sea Aster and Woody Nightshade. The emerging berries of Bramble and hips of Rosa Rugusa provided a colourful guard of honour on the path to the hide.
Our last stop was at Bull Point on the return journey south. On the ebb tide, as we counted Sanderling, Knot, Godwit and  Oystercatcher, the heavens opened and The Met Office's yellow warning materialised sending us scurrying to our vehicles. The home journey was done to the rythmic accompaniment of highspeed windscreen wipers.
 
A day of mixed fortunes
Saturday 5th. August 2023. With the promise of brighter weather arriving after the night deluge, we met in Buncrana with the intention of inspecting sites in the centre of Inishowen which had produced raptors in former years.
Our first stop high up in The Illies overlooking The Fullerton Dam, which in former years had yielded sightings of Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle and Hen Harrier. Today we spotted Buzzard and had a distant view of a White-tailed Eagle. The fishermen  on the lake probably had more luck than we had. A wide ranging search including Crockahenny, Lemacrossan and Ballyargus produced clear sightings of Buzzard, Raven and Merlin. We also sought out the Curlew reared in the newly fenced area near The Fullerton Dam but were reliably informed that they had now left the enclosure. Many smaller birds were noted particularly Meadow Pipit, Willow Warbler, House Sparrow and Stonechat. 
This year's flora had now reached its peak. Rosebay and Greater Willowherb, Knapweed, Woundwort, Devil's-bit Scabious, Meadowsweet and a host of other plants attractive to butterflies, played host to Peacock, Red Admiral, Tortoiseshell, Painted Lady, Meadow Brown and Speckled Wood. Heather was now in bloom.
A final cuppa was shared at Redcastle in the warm sunshine before departure home.
 
Awaiting Autumn.
Saturday 12. August 2023. In the past we have had days that stand out in the memory - a rare sighting, an unusual incident, an impressive view, etc There are days best forgotten- horrible weather, nothing of interest... The majority of the days are just days you were glad you made the effort and were amply rewarded.
Today was pleasant and worthwhile. First of all, the heavy rain did not materialise and we enjoyed views of near and faraway places in changing light and balmy sunshine.
We made our first stop at the river outside Culdaff. A few species were present: Gray Heron, Curlew, Little Egret, Gull and a lone Stonechat. From above the beach at Culdaff we saw one of the many Porpoises that have made the North Coast their home this summer. They too showed their appreciation of their surroundings by performing acrobatically in the bright sunshine.
Signs of the coming seasonal change were evident at our next stop down Redford Lane. The vegetation was lush and abundant but the rustic colours of autumn were visible and Blackberries were ripe for tasting. Lunch was taken at Tremone and on we went to Kinnego Bay, Pleasant views and warm sunshine greeted us but little by way of wildlife sightings. Our final stop at Inishowen Head gave us a panoramic view looking eastwards stretching to Fair Head and including the coast of Scotland with Jura and Islay and Rathlin. The lack of birds, apart from Gannet, Cormorant, Shag, and a flock of Lesser Black-backed Gull only emphasied the quiet vastness before us. Flora was bountiful today, especially at Redford. Against the noticeable presence of immigrant Fuchsia, and Montbretia, we also noted Woodsage, Goldenrod, Yarrow and Sea Plantain.
All the ingredients for a pleasant day, served with a rich helping of good company.
 

Tuesday 15th. August 2023. As part of the events of Heritage Week the Club and some guests were invited to visit the new bird observatory situated in the Lightkeepers' quarters on Inishtrahull Island. After a comfortable crossing we made the trek to the Lighthouse complex, where one of the staff explained to us the progress made since the setting up of the facility and the work  undertaken this summer.
No new species were recorded this year and the Skuas failed to breed - again due to human disturbance. Recording and ringing were the main activities this year.
With only a few breeding birds still on site the island was remarkably quiet, save for the moaning of the large seal populaton on The Skerries. Earlier we counted 20 of these inquisitive creatures in Portmore waiting to greet us. While some of us examined the rich cultural heritage of the Island, others investigated the now fading Flora, including the rare Scots Lovage and Rock Sea-spurrey.
Lunch was taken in the Lighthouse Quarters which is gradually being furnished and decorated to permit work to be carried out on a more regular basis. Full credit is due to those behind this initiative for the trojan work being undertaken.
We left this northern jewel as the rain began to appear and made the return crossing over Inishtrahull Sound to Malin Head, a crossing  often made in more dangerous conditions by the island's inhabitants prior to its desertion in the late 1920s.
 
Saturday 19th. August 2023. due to the sever threat from "Storm Betty" it was decided to call off today's club outing
 
Our club outing to the northeast shores of Lough Foyle.
Saturday 26th. August 2023. With the migration season taking off and reports of unusual sightings we decided to head to the northeast of Lough Foyle, a location that had produced its fair share of unusual or rare sightings in the past.
We stopped off at Myroe to see if we could spot The Black-headed Yellow Wagtail before it heads to The African Plains. Although we had spotted it a few weeks ago, today only the Pied Wagtail was visible. We caught sight of a Swallow feeding its young in the air as they sped overhead. 
The mouth of the Bann, outside Colraine proved fruitful. Perched on a rock in the rising tide was an Osprey and from its rings we identified it as a bird first ringed in June 2012 at the nest in Dornoch Firth in the north of in Scotland and later spotted in The Gambia. With the rising tide it was forced to leave its perch and for the next 15 minutes we watched it soar, glide and hover over the water as it hunted its prey. We witnessed its talons grab a fish and it flew off to enjoy its catch. We wished it well on its trip south and hopefully it will be spotted again next year on its return.
Along the shore among the Oystercatchers, Little Egrets, Curlew, Ringed Plover and Sanderling, we saw a Little Stint and a few Ruffs. 
After lunch in the relative comfort of the birdhide we took the short trip to Downhill Wood and a walk through the quiet sylvan surroundings with babbling brooks, towering trees, sparkling ponds, with shafts of light piercing the canopy to reveal oncoming autumn colours and the carpet of fading Willowherb, Enchanter's Nightshade, the berries of Lords and Ladies, Blackberries and Wood Avens. Such a relaxing ambiance heralded the winding down of our excursion and with rain threatening  we called it a day. ........... Thanks to Sinead and Martin for today's pictures.

 
A day enjoying the wonders of Autumn.
Saturday 2nd. September 2023. Despite a foggy and misty start to the day, the gods were smiling on us by the time we reached The Roe Valley Park outside Limavady. The tone for the day was set as we wandered through the Purple Loosestrife, Water Forget-me-not, Bush Vetch, Field Scabious, Borage, Water Mint, Feverfew and Red Campion. Feeding on these remnants of summer was a number of Tortoiseshell butterflies. 
As we strolled along the banks of the River Roe, to the background of a river in spate, we noted Himalayan Balsam, Hedge Bindweed, Nipplewort, Wood Avens and Yarrow, Overhead we spotted a family of Long-tailed Tit, a family of Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and Goldfinch.  Many trees were winding down their activity to prepare for harder times as autumn colours were making an appearance. Speckled Wood butterflies were plentiful.
We watched the Grey Heron on the bank as he in turn watched out for his prey. Twice we spotted a grey Squirrel scamper through the foliage as he prepared for winter. As we approached the Visitor Centre two Dippers were seen feeding near an extravagent display of Stream Water-crowfoot.
Lunch was taken al fresco in the sunbathed carpark  and a few outstanding world problems were discussed and solved before we headed in the direction of Myroe Embankment.
A lone Buzzard was spotted en route.The tide on Lough Foyle  was at full ebb and little of note was seen. On the landward side we followed a Sparrowhawk as it crossed the level fields and made a kill before disappearing into the vegetation to enjoy its prey.  Linnet, Stonechat and Pied Wagtail made fleeting visits, while Little Egret and Little Grebe enjoyed the bounty of the drainage waterway.
With temperatures more suited to midsummer we enjoyed our visit to Eastern Lough Foyle, knowing that forthcoming expeditions later in the year and next spring will encounter more testing conditions.
 
Our outing today consisted of counting the birds of Lough Swilly for the 2023 winter season, and observing the hand of Autumn.
Saturday 9th. September 2023. First count of the season and what a mixed bag it turned out to be. Weatherwise we had prolonged drizzle, heavy rain, high humidity, blazing sunshine, heavy grey skies  and colourful rainbows. Some plants were still putting on a colourful show but the browns, oranges, and whites of autumn were very evident.
Despite the fact that the only Duck or Geese recorded were a few Shelduck and two Brent Geese - not even a Mallard - and not a Little Egret in sight, for a first outing numbers were respectable. In the midst of the recent high temperatures it would be no surprise if migrating birds got their departure dates  confused.
Gulls were plentiful with all the main species recorded. Redshank and Greenshank were also evident but the former not in large flocks. As expected Grey Heron, Cormorant, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Godwit and Curlew were common and an assortment of Ringed Plover, Knot and Ruff was spotted.
It felt good to be out working with a purpose and despite the fact that we would face more challenging conditions we look forward to increasing numbers of winter immigrants.
 
Autumnal Gems.
Saturday 16th. September 2023. Last week`s count reminded us that in the migration period, with summer visitors gone and the winter visitors not yet arrived, it is difficulrt to predict how the day will turn out.
The changing skies with threatening rain and intermittent bursts of sunlight produced a play of shadows, spotlights and rainbows that showed The Lake of ShaSdows at its best as we travelled through the Urris Hills to descend on Dunree Fort. The sharp north wind only emphasised the lack of birdsong on the deserted cliffs. 
Travelling along Hillside the abandoned buildings and sheep huddled beneath windblown trees added to the atmosphere of emptiness. The vivid red Rowanberries, the russet of Bracken and Bog Asphodel, the purples, pinks and blues of Bell Heather, Ling, Cross-leaved Heath and Devil's-bit Scabious added colour to the scene as did the bounty of fruits such as Blackberries, Bilberries, Haws and Rosehips. Lunch was taken at the Carpark on the northern side of Mamore Gap, overlooking the vast Panorama stretching from Fanad to Malin Head. Our stop included a celebration of a member's birthday.
Apart from Curlew, Oystercatcher, Grey Heron and a variety of Gulls, birds were not too plentiful. On our last stop at Binnion we were rewarded with a close-up view of a Great Northern Diver as it fed and preened in the river.
As we boarded our cars to head home there was a definite feeling that we had left summer behind and were headed for colder times.
 
Sunday17th. September 2023. On the right hand side is a picture of a very rare visitor to our shores a" LesserYellowlegs" recorded yesterday evening at Blanket Nook near Newtoncunningham by our keen-eyed birder Brian Hegarty.
The wonders of Autumn.
Saturday23rd. September 2023. With no sign of major migration activity, it was more in hope than expectation that we gathered at Burt Chapel for our weekly outing. Climbing the steep road past The Grianan of Aileach we descended into The Laggan Valley. There was little to be seen here but an informative chat with two walkers led us to a secluded wood in Bogay. 
This ancient woodland revealed a variety of nature's bounty. Sparrowhawk, Bullfinch, Raven and Jay broke the silence, On the ground amid patches of Kraus's Clubmoss and among the decaying wood, Fungi such as Hairy Curtain Crust, Turkey Tail and Horse's Hoof grew, while Witches' broom adorned the trees. Two Grey Squirrels scampered across the path before us. 
Lunch was enjoyed at Blanket Nook before we walked the embankment. Despite the very high water in the lake there was a great variety of birds. We counted Red Shank, Green Shank, Snipe, Curlew, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing, Dunlin, Ruff, Grey Heron, Greylag and Brent Goose.
On the seaward side Great Crested Grebe, Dabchick, Black Guillemot, Egret and Oystercatcher were spotted. An extended family of Long-tailed Tit flitted through the bushes. A Red Admiral and a couple of Tortoiseshell foraged before their winter hibernation, Back on the lake we watched an Otter porpoise through the water and catch an Eel before retiring to the bank to enjoy it.
The remnants of summer, Rosebay Willowherb, Bush Vetch, Tufted Vetch, Meadow Vetchling, Birdsfoot trefoil, Wild Carrot, Cat'sear and Mouse ear Hawkweed mixed with the fruits of autumn, Haws, Blackberries and Rosehips. 
A few Buzzard, which were a feature of the outing, appeared before we decided to call it a day. All in all, a very enjoyable outing in pleasant weather and excellent company........... Thanks to Sinead for today's pictures.

 
Staying local with a visit to the jewels that are the Isle of Doagh. and Trawbreaga Bay.
Saturday 30th, September 2023. With rain heading northward we decided to stay local and visit the jewel that is Trawbreaga Bay. Fed from the sea through the narrow inlet of The Bar Mouth it contains the Isle of Doagh now connected to the mainland.
The tide was well out when we made our first stop at Glasha. Although the winter migration was not yet evident - no Redshank or Greenshank - there were  Gull, some Curlew, Little Egret, Grey Heron and the first evidence of winter immigration represented by a small flock of Brent Geese. A diversion to Tornabratilly gave us a panoramic view of Trawbreaga and the first of many sightings of flocks of Goldfinch. 
Crossing to The Isle of Doagh, we stopped at the tidal flats on the right of the causeway. Little Egret have been increasing in Inishowen in recent years and today we recorded our biggest count ever, twenty-five in a single sighting. Along with Gulls, we also noted Curlew and Oystercatcher. Looking across at Goorey Rocks more than one hundred Cormorant occupied  the sandbanks exposed by the tide at full ebb. At Carrickabrahey Castle a Sparrowhawk caused consternation among another flock of Goldfinch. Stonechat, Meadow Pipit and Swallow were also present, Looking out at the North Atlantic we saw Gannet and Black Guillemot. 
Then the first drops of the long-awaited rain arrived just as we finished lunch. Leaving The Isle we stopped to watch a few Bottlenose Dolphin feed near Five Fingers Strand near the wreck of The Twilight while a lone Seal looked on.
A briefer than normal excursion but nevertheless pleasant and rewarding. 
 
Autumnal observation while engaged in the October Bird-count.
Saturday7th. October 2023. Although the temperature was in the high teens, sunshine did not feature in today's weather. As a result the mist and drizzle, cutting down the light, made the conditions for bird counting fairly difficult. 
However there were signs of the winter migration from the north. The usual suspects were there: Oystercatchers, Lapwing, Great Crested Grebe, Curlew, Greenshank, Knot, Cormorant, Bar-tailed Godwit, Little Egret and Grey Heron. Two Grey Plover turned up. The biggest increase was recorded among Redshank with a large flock being spotted on Inch Embankment. 
An increase in Duck numbers was remarked. As well as Mallard, there was a large flock of Wigeon. Brent Geese were arriving in larger numbers. No sign of Shelduck and Gulls were none too plentiful.
With the work of the count completed, we took a look at Inch Lake where high water disclosed a large flock of Tufted Duck, among which we found some Pochard, two Scaup and the entertaining spectacle of a Cormorant, catch and devour an Eel. 
With the mild weather Flora is still a feature. We counted Kidney Vetch, Wild Carrot, Sea Campion, Great Mullein and Long-stalked Crane'sbill. Shaggy Inkcap and Fairy Ring Champignon represented the Fungi.
We still await the return of the Whooper and Geese.
 

A few of the beautiful leaves that have fallen from natures book of "Winter Wonders".
Saturday 14th. October 2023. We set off from Clonmany today with a depleted squad and made our way up towards Pinch where were made our first stop and scanned the surrounding hills hoping to see Golden Eagles.  The cold biting wind was an unwelcome contrast to the unseasonal warm temperatures we had been having lately.  Bird life was scarce there with no Eagles in view and just 5 Ravens circling the peaks and displaying their flying prowess to one another.  A buzzard called unseen in the distance.  We then proceeded along the Hillside road and the weather improved with bright sunshine.  Here we had flocks of Fieldfares and Redwing as well as Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit and Jays.  Our next stop was on Mamore Gap and here we were treated to a display of 2 Kestrels hovering against the stiff breeze in search of prey on the heather clad hill below.  A Sparrowhawk cruised menacingly over the hill seeking it's lunch!  We made our way down the winding bends of the gap and descended into Urris where we made another stop overlooking the beautiful bay there.  The waves were strikingly beautiful as they crashed against the golden shoreline. Three birds possibly guillemots could be seen braving the white horses but their identification was virtually impossible with the high waves. Next port of stop was Rockstown where we observed a few flocks of Barnacle Geese....the first we have seen this year flying over the sea.  Here also we had Curlew, Oystercatcher, Grey Heron, Cormorant and Stonechat. Moving on along the coast we proceeded to the waterfall and after refreshments, had a pleasant walk along the pathway there where we spotted Goldfinches, Great and Blue Tits, and Meadow Pipits bathing in small puddles while others fed on the pathway.  Off we went then to Binion where we had another pleasant walk along the beach.  Here we had 2 Greenshank, 25 Mallard and a family of Stonechats and Linnets. Our final stop took us to Straths to check if the Barnacle geese had made their way there.  We saw no sign of them but had 5 Little Egrets, Oystercatchers and Curlew feeding nonchalantly on the mudflats.  All in all we had a very pleasant day in the great outdoors with great company. ........ Thanks to Martin for todays report.
 
 
 
Pictures of our rather unusual winter visitors.
Saturday 21st. October 2023. No club outing today due to the majority of members being engaged in other activities, but a few days ago Martin Maloney reported a flock of winter visitors at Inch, in the form of Waxwings . This was followed by a report and pictures, together with short video of a Hoopoe at Portnoo,
 
The October Outing to Malin Head.
Saturday 28th. October 2023. Our destination today took us to Malin Head in the hope of seeing migratory birds.  Our first stop was Malin Town where we observed Curlew, Little Egret, Mallard and an Oystercatcher which had been ringed in Iceland.  Our next stop was Lagg where birds observed were:  Brent Geese, Wigeon, Black Tailed Godwit, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Meadow Pipit and Long Tailed Tits.  As we set off northward again the sun emerged illuminating the rich autumnal colours of the trees by the roadsides.  We proceeded to Port Ronan that peaceful little inlet and were not disappointed with what we found there.  The banks of bushes and shrubs were alive with passerines namely:  Linnet, Redwing, Starling, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Great Tit, Stonechat, Wren, Dunnock, House Sparrow and Rock Pipit.  On the hill overlooking the inlet a beautiful male Kestrel was mobbed by the local Jackdaws and Ravens.  Our next surprise was the sound of Chough as a flock of 12 of theses beautiful Corvids 'danced acrobatically' in the sky over the hillside.  On we went to Malin Head and Bambas Crown where we proceeded to take a leisurely stroll along the rugged coastline.  Gannets patrolled the sea in search of food while a lone Snipe rose calling loudly from the hill near the coastal path.  A Peregrine made a brief appearance and a flock of approx 200 Barnacle Geese foraged in a nearby field.  Another two stops at Malin Pier and 'The Little House of Malin' rewarded us with Eider Duck, Common Sandpiper, Red Breasted Merganser, Buzzard and another 2 Kestrels.  All in all a great days birdwatching. Thanks to Martin for today's report and pictures.        
 
 
Saturday 4th. November 2023. No club outing today due to unforeseen circumstances, which resulted in our being unable to participate in the November count of the birds on the waters, and shore-line of Lough Swilly. Our usual activity will resume next Saturday. ........... The wonderful colours of the departing season of Autumn is depicted by the picture on the right
 
 
A rare visitor from North America.
Friday 10th. November 2023. Two of our top birders, Martin and Daniel Moloney reported seeing a very unusual visitor from North America, a Bufflehead Duck at the Corbally Reservoir today. ........ Pictures by Martin.
 
Our November Outing to the Malin Head area. Offshore is Inishtrahull Island.

November 18th.2023. The weather dictated today's outing. A dark drizzly day with intermittent heavy showers sent us towards the coast of North Inishowen in the hope that the breeze would move the rain on  and give us some bright spells. In doing so we were further hampered by the high tide that drove the waders inland.
At our first stop at Malin Town a  flock of Oystercatchers, a few Wigeon and two Egrets huddled in the shelter. Heading towards Lagg we came across a few hundred Barnacle Geese interspersed with a small number of Brent. At The meeting House our first sighting was of a Great Northern Diver and further out in the bay Cormorant and Merganser were feeding. A few Curlew were spotted on the shore.
Our journey over Knockamanny proved fruitless and it was only when we reached Gortnamullan that we spotted  a few more Great Northern Diver, Merganser and Great Black-backed Gull. A few Rock Pippit fed among the seaweed. Apart from a lone Raven and a few Eider at Ineurin Bay another lean spell followed until we reached Banba's Crown, where from our vantage point we looked down on a large flock of Barnacle, sprinkled on the fields of the raised beaches of Ballyhillion. Esky Bay produced large numbers of Eider, a few Mallard and a lone Curlew. A few more Eider swam near The Fishermens' Co-Op. 
After lunch in the welcome shelter of the home of Wil and her husband Martin, we set off for home but not before we checked out reports of Hen Harrier roosting at Drumnagasson. On the way we spotted a few Egrets, Redshank and a lone Curlew near Malin Town. Alas, no Hen Harriers were spotted at Drumnagasson.
 
 
Saturday 25th. November 2023. Today was a quiet day in every sense of the word. As high pressure hovered over Inishowen, a cold stillness welcomed us this morning, not even a breeze to stir the remaining foliage or disturb the grey skies overhead.
Meeting at Lemacrossan we travelled northeast into East Inishowen, Our first sighting was a sizeable flock of Chaffinch, but this would be our biggest sighting today. Arriving at The Foyle at Drung we headed north. The same stillness pervaded over the waters here with little to note. We stopped at Clar and took a leisurely stroll down towards the Foyle. Our first view was that of a Goldcrest, feeding among the ivy. Balckbirds, Song Thrushes, Great Tits and Robins were spotted and at the water's edge, Grey Heron and Oystercatcher. At the Pier near Moville, Brent, Black Guillemot, Great Crested Grebe, Common Scoter, Eider, Cormorant and Curlew failed to disturb the hushed stillness of the bay. Later as we ate lunch on the pier in Moville we watched Greenshank, Grey Heron and Great Black-backed Gull. A few Tits, the ubiquitous Robin and Wren disturbed the walk along a short stretch of the Bredagh River in Moville. Even at this time of year the botanist could still record Bush Vetch, Meadowsweet, Smooth Sowthistle, Winter Heliotrope and Herb Robert.
The wild expanse of Inishowen Head only produced sightings of a Stonechat and a passing Gannet out at sea. However we were well compensated for our endeavours with  a magnificent clear panoramic view of the Mouth of The Foyle, Benevenagh, The Skerries off Portrush, Fair Head, The Mull of Kintyre, Rathlin, Islay, Jura and its peaks, Colonsay and The Isle of Mull.
On most days we long for excitement, but when Nature dons its cloak of stillness and peace and displays itself at rest, it has its compensations.
 
Saturday 2nd December 2023. No Club outing today due to very severe Arctic conditions prevailing .
 
Picks from the Party.
Saturday 9th December 2023. Inishowen Wildlife Club held its annual get together last night In The Lake of Shadows Hotel in not-so-sunny Buncrana last night. With the exception of our Dutch friend Wil, who for obvious reasons could not attend, there was a full attendance of members. We were graced by the presence of our Founder Member, Paddy, who interrupted his hibernation to be there. He is looking forward to joining in the activities again in the spring. 
Proceedings followed a well established pattern. We were first entertained by Paddy with his Dvd of past outings. Backed by the soothing tones of his choice of the classics, he presented a pictorial record of recent - and not so recent - outings, with the emphasis on the the beautiful and calming properties of Nature.
The next presentation by Martin was of a more scurrilous nature. Martin's slideshow concentrated on the behaviour  of members during the year's outings, adding his own  perspective and disparaging views and thereby ruining the reputation and integrity of all whom he captured on camera. Nevertheless it was all taken in good humour and thoroughly enjoyed by all.  We then retired to a scrumptious meal, where the banter and craic continued. 
Plans by a few  courageous members to carriy out the monthly count on Saturday did not materialise due to the unhelpful weather. We doubted that even a duck would venture out and any foolish enough to do so would not be seen. 
Hopefully we will have opportunities for more outings and counts in the months ahead.
 
 
Saturday 16th. December 2023. With the approaching festive season, and the requirements of member's families foremost on the list of priorities, there was no club outing today. The same applies to next Saturday the 23rd.
 
A dark gray day to end our outings for 2023.
Wednesday 27th. December 2023. Today was our Annual Outing to Inch Lake when a general invitation is issued to one and all to join us. Whether it was the unfavourable forecast or the overindulgence of the past few days that kept people indoors, we had an all male cohort present.
The water was extremely high and the light poor when we assembled on The Causeway. Birds tended to keep to the shelter of the reeds with little mixing among the various species. Whoopers, Mallard, Teal and Wigeon, were most evident on the water, while Redshank, Golden Plover and a few Little Egrets were spotted overhead.
At McGraths we added Greylag, Cormorant and a number of small birds including Blackbird, Song Thrush, Stonechat and Goldcrest. At Millbay we stood in the biting wind coming in off The Swilly and counted Northern Diver, Great Crested Grebe and Oystercatcher, while a Little Egret fed in the field behind us.
At the Viewing Platform at The Pumphouse Carpark with improved light we counted Mallard, Shoveler, Goldeneye,Teal and Greylag. While we lunched in the shelter of The Hide we were entertained by a Goldcrest, a Great Tit and a Blue Tit feeding on bushes in front of  The Hide. A quick walk south to The Hide beyond The Pump House revealed a family of Long-tailed Tits feeding on the move. 
A last stop at the Farland Bank revealed only a downpour of heavy rain which showed no sign of stopping, So on that damp note we headed for home.
Thanks to Jim for todays report and to Martin for the pictures.
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