Inishowen Wildlife Club

Views and News.

           
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A random selection of Fora and Faune pictures taken over the past year.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nature Prepairing for Spring on this January Day.
Saturday 4th. January 2020. With the joys and traditional biblical stories of the festival of Christmas still reverberating in our minds, we decided for our first Club Outing of 2020. to reverse one of these stories. The one that revealed the Magi journeying from the East bearing gifts seamed appropriate, so we set off to the Moville region, on the eastern boundary of our Inishowen Peninsula, bearing cameras and other optical accoutrements, with no guiding star, but the glowing brightness of the morning sun. ........ Our journey commenced under cloudless skies and pleasant temperatures with a stop at the Culdaff River Estuary, where we were surprised and disappointed, as it was devoid of all the usual birds that frequent this popular area, with the exception of a few Gulls, mostly Greater-black Backed. This absence of birds seemed to set the pattern for the remainder of the outing. ........... On our arrival at our destination of Moville, we spent a considerable time, (with the generous permission of the owner) to wander through their beautiful Woodland, to a symphony of perfect silence, and where Nature had the many plants awaiting the arrival of Spring already displaying their young buds,and little coloured flowers into this playground of Nature. ........... After lunch, we went to Inishowen Head, where by now the sky had morphed into a grey mess, with the breeze strengthening and light rain falling. we decided to head back to Base.
 
 
Saturday 10th. January 2020. No Field Outing today due to a severe weather warning for our northern region, hopefully conditions will be replaced by the more placid kind for next Saturday.
 
The January Bird Count 2020.
Saturday 18th. January 2020. What a wonderful day today was, after the meteorological disturbances of the past week, when we were subjected to storm force gales, often laced with heavy rainfall, while at higher altitudes frost and snow decorated the mountains and farmlands. ......... On this occasion it was a day of sunshine wrapped in the merest whisper of a breeze that had the still waters of Lough Swilly reflecting a perfect upside-down image of the surrounding hills and countryside. ........... All of this made our most enjoyable task of starting off the 20-20 Season of our contribution to the Bird Count on the Lough and it's shoreline a lot easier. ............ After the completion of our count to the usual high standard, a short time was enjoyed noting the amazing flocks of Geese, mostly Greylag , but interspersed amongst them were White-fronted, Pink-feet, and a very small number of Barnacle. This display had a bountiful background of Whopper Swans, all enjoying the rich large acreage of verdant grass.. .......... This was the scene available from the length of the Slob Road and to the main car park at the Lake.
 
A Few Pictures From Outing to Malin Head.
Saturday 25th. Januray 2020. Despite early overcast skies and a cool wind  today's outing to Malin Head proved to be a very enjoyable experience. At Malin Town we spotted four egrets feeding on the receding tide. Moving along Trawbreaga Bay A Kestrel and Sparrowhawk passed overhead while a sizeable flock of Barnacle Geese grazed on the fields along the shore. At Lagg, Mergansers, Brent Geese, Godwit and Widgeon fed contently.Travelling via Knockamany two of our members spotted Buzzards and a Merlin. and as we neared Malin Head we came across more flocks of Barnacle with a large flock quite content to ignore us as they grazed at Ballyhillion. Gannet, Eider, Mallard, Shellduck, Shag, Cormorant, Raven were found as we journeyed around The Head. Our Dutch member, Wil and her husband Martin graciously invited us to lunch at their house with its panoramic views of Inishtrahull, The Garbh Isles and faraway Islay. A quick visit to Portaleen Pier ended the day before we made our way home............ Thanks to Jim Toland for today's report in the absence of our regular scribe. Pictures by Martin Moloney.

 
An Enjoyable February Day in the Clonmany Area.
Sat. 1st. Feb. 2020. Through a maze of heavy showers and the depressing murkiness of the morning, members for our Saturday field outing from various compass points converged on the village of Clonmany, nestling in the shelter of the surrounding towering mountains where the Golden Eagle has been recorded over the last number of years. ........ From here after the usual salutations we headed up the steep gradient of Pinch Mountain, from the top of which we detected numbers of Ravens, Crows and gulls, actively circling what we discovered was a carcase of a dead sheep, which might also attract an Eagle, but no such luck on this occasion. ........... Now it was on to the old Military Fort at Dunree that houses an interesting Museum with it's collection of militaria, there are also many other facilities available here. On this great rocky bastion, Fulmar have already laid claim to their nesting places, while their partners perform their hypnotic aerobatics manoeuvres on the steep exposed headland. Off shore a number of Great-northern Divers bobbed on a wind-tossed sea. ........ Then it was up through Hillside, a place of beauty and tranquility with areas of woodlands where Silver Birch, their bark glistened in the just arrived sunlight, while further up the brae there is somewhat of a time warp, that transports one back to times long past, where people worked and played, laughed and cried, with the memorials of the ancient crumbling ruined dwellings to their existence and achievements. ............ Now back in the present it was onward and upwards to the wonderful Mamore Gap, with its rock-strewn steep sides that just accommodates the passage of cars in single file. A little further down the other side of the amazing place, a narrow lay by is adorned with a number of religious grottos that gives a sense of an Alpine Pass. ...... Far below the flat landscape of Urris is exposed with Dunaff Head and the great Atlantic fading into infinity. ........ With a short stop at Lenan we recorded a couple of Buzzards and a Kestrel high above the Urris Hills. ..........Now it was on to our penultimate stop of the outing with a bit of a dander to Rockstown Harbor where great thundering waves crashed and fragmented, then shimmering like stars in a sky of dark Atlantic blue over the red granite rocks that guard the little Bay, where flocks of Mergansers, Shags and Eider found shelter from the turbulent Ocean. ....... Last call was a short visit to Binnion where a flock of Brent Geese occupied their usual place on the curve of the river before it enters the welcoming embrace of the Sea.
 
Saturday 8th. February 2020. No club activity due to the approaching severe storm " Ciara." with its venomous intent. Roll on next Saturday, hopefully with a return to more Spring-like conditions..
 
The Friday Bird Count of Storm Dennis.
Friday 14th. February 2020. After last Saturday's debacle caused by the storm "Ciara," It was with some expectancy that we looked forward to conditions more akin to Spring for this weekend, added to by the fact that it would be our penultimate winter bird count on Lough Swilly until next September. But again on this occasion, tomorrow and Sunday are threatened with another disruptive storm, this one aptly named "Dennis" no doubt he of the menacing type. ....... Because of this disruption, the luminaries in Birdwatch Ireland suggested that if possible some members might do their count today, while others might manage their's on Sunday forenoon, and avoid the threat in store for tomorrow. ............ After encountering a few heavy showers this morning on our way to our starting point at Buncrana, the sun nudged a few clouds apart, that allowed its rays to beam light and warmth on the countryside, and changed our attitude to the task in hand. On completion of the count, managed despite the buffeting effect of the wind on the Lough's high tide, it looked as if it was trying to escape its boundaries. ........ Our work now done, we became aware of the reawakening of Spring, with its emissaries putting their smiling faces on show, such as sprinklings of Snowdrops in sheltered wooded areas, the pendulous Catkins of willow trees swaying in the afternoon breeze, the occasional Daffodil nodding their approval, the blue flower heads of the Periwinkle and the elaborately patterned foliage of Lords-and-Ladies, to name just a few. What a miracle, the Season of Spring is?.
 
Shelter from the storm in the peace of Muff Glen.
Saturday 22nd. Feb. 2020. Yet again, another weekend of chaotic weather, comprising strong gale force winds, almost continuous rainfall that has caused serious flooding in many places, and as of this morning at higher altitudes visibility was restricted with blizzard conditions that fortunately prevailed for only a short time. ....... Due to these threats, we decided to abort our intended program, and in its stead to visit Muff Glen, an idyll near the village of Eglinton. ....... Here in this wonderful deep sheltered valley of interesting walkways, tall majestic trees, with a predominance of heaven reaching Firs, Splashing waterfalls, one in particular in full spate, while a more peaceful stream meandered along the flat valley floor. A Red Squirrel was observed as it clambered with great skill and dexterity from the ground up the trunk one of the great mammoths, then to employ its branches to investigate the next arboreal refuge. ............. This place of tranquility where the only sounds were the thunder of the waterfalls and the demented growls of the gale through the bushes and trees high up on the lip of this hidden world, a firm reminder of what was happening in that outside version. ............. After our pleasurable amble, glorified by our hot cup of tea and sandwich we concluded our outing with a quick visit on our homeward journey to Enagh Lough.
 
Saturday 29th. February 2020. The departure of this month of February, with it's unrivaled number of severe storms and its farewell gift of storm "Jorge" that has today's field outing cancelled in the interest of safety, will not be regretted by many. Let's hope that March has a more benign mind-set.
 
First March Outing of 2020.
Sat. 7th. March 2020. With our members afflicted with that most serious condition known as "Cabin Fever" that affects those that crave the pleasure of the great outdoors and the wonders of wildlife in its many forms. In this particular occasion it was caused by the atrocious weather imposed on our outings over the last number of weeks, especially on Saturdays. ...... So today, with a certain foreboding we decided that " Enough was Enough," so we set off to the Malin Head region where perhaps we would be absolved of our malady. ....... The birdlife was rather restricted due to the low cloud and the light rain-bearing mist, and what right-minded bird would want to fly in these prevailing conditions? but as the day progressed a strengthening breeze moved some of these impediments to allow the Sun to occasionally peep down on us.. ......... At Lagg, several Mergansers drifted on the grey waters of Trawbreaga, as a Great-northern Diver plumbed the depth of the rising tide. .......... On the far shore of the Bay, many Cormorants lined up as if on parade, while flotillas of Wigeon, and Brent were on patrol. ....... The effects of the remaining cloud and mist restricted somewhat, the scenic vista usually available from the wonderful Knocmanny Bens. .........After this, it was then on to Malin Head, with a stop at the iconic Bamba's Crown, where flocks of Chough were enjoying the stiff breese. After securing a sheltered site, lunch was consumed, watched by another small group of Chough. Then it was down to Ballyhillin where a sizable flock of Barnacle Geese, grazed contentedly accompanied by a large flock of Starlings. ........... A little further on rafts of Eider drifted on the great Atlantic Swell, while on shore the nearby dwellings had the reminder of Spring's return with their gardens adorned with the beautiful, salt resistant flowers of Veronica. ........ Then to conclude and now fully absolved of our condition we stopped for a little time at Malin Well, to check the stony beach for the possible sightings of perhaps Snow Buntings, but none were seen. But that disappointment was countered with the beautiful gem-like little pebbles, strewn on the wet beach. How wonderful to be out and about irrespective of weather?
 
Friday13th. March 2020. After a discussion this evening with club members, it was decided to withhold club activities for an extended period, not just because of the continuing disappointing predictions for more unsettled weather, but much more importantly the impact of the pestilence "Covid 19". So in solidarity with the national directives and the advice from BirdWatch Ireland with which we have close association we reached our decision. For any other future changes check the website.
 
 
Wednesday 18th. March 2020. Another chapter has begun in the amazing travels of the birds ringed and tagged last July 24th, 2019, on Inishtrahull Island, especially the Lesser-black-Backed Gulls. This amazing program was undertaken by Birdwatch Ireland led by Daniel Moloney who is their Breeding Wader Bird Advisory Officer, and more importantly from our point of view a club member. ......... The following is the latest of his reports on these Birds. ...........
 
Saturday 21st. March 2020. With the final bird Count on Lough Swilly until next September, due to take place today, BirdWatch Ireland asked for help in completing the task and suggested that due to the disruption caused by Covid 19, that one person might undertake the task. So one of our stalwart members Daniel, readily volunteered his services and completed the count that commenced last September. A big "Thank You" is due to Daniel.
 
Wednesday 22nd. March 2020. In "Chapter Two" of the great odyssey by the Lesser--black-Back Gull as referred to in the 18th March article above, Then the pilgrim had reached Dungiven Co Derry on its backward trek. Today it has just reached its home base on Inishtrahull Island, after having a short respite on the Saddle Rock at Malin Head .
 
Picture by Brian, of Little Egrets at Malin Town Bridge Today 26th. March.
 
 
Rays of Sunlight.
Friday 27th. March 2020. Amid these times of ever increasing gloom and doom, with all of the necessary restrictions imposed on us. How welcome was the rays of warm sunshine enjoyed over the last number of days, these rays of the literal and the metaphorical kind, of which, the latter came to brighten our outlook with pictures and reports from members such as Brian, when having his lunch break at Lagg, reported seeing three Wheaters, just having arrived from Africa to enjoy our Summer, and to welcome them was a Tortoiseshell Butterfly that broke it's hibernation to greet the visitors, also in the area a Kestrel was recorded. From others was a sighting of a Blue Tit checking the availability of a fashionable maternity home......... Another member reported on the unrestrained delight of Nature with the emerging colours and translucency of the leaf on a Rose Bush.. Then the opulence of a beautiful Camellia blossom, followed by the fluttering and dancing of Daffodils, and among many others, the Primroses, the Lesser Celandine and the awakening of Clematises buds to further enhance the days ahead. .......... To top it all we had a confirmed report of a Golden Eagle in the Clonmany region. Dos'nt everything appear a little better now!
 
Photographic Manna.
Saturday 5th. April 2020. Manna from Heaven, and from Brian Hegarty, to sustain us as we journey to that promised land of normality some unknown distance in the future. Brian offered his sustenance in the form of a few of his photographic images, recorded on his own patch while he and young son Jarlath were enjoying a stroll along the river bank near their home
 
White Storks Nesting, as seen by Member Wil Buis.
Monday 6th. April 2020. The above pictures of White Storks nesting on special platforms, received today from our Dutch member Wil Buis. The residents of the Netherlands are under similar lock-down restrictions as we are here in Ireland, but Wil and her husband Martin, are able to observe these birds close to their home.
 
The Homecoming.
Monday 6th. April 2020. It was said that "One Swallow never made a Summer" But one of these birds was seen in the Carndonagh area today. That will be the precursor of the many thousands of these birds returning to their native places of birth, bearing gifts of joy and artistry as they skim gracefully across the blue backgrounds of Summer skies.
 
Bright Days in Dark Times.
Tuesday 14th. April 2020. To dispel the prevalent sense of hopelessness and despair, inflicted on us all by this threatening virus sweeping the world. From the cloudless sky's of recent days, the Sun poured its gifts of energy, warmth, and a sense of well being to lift us to a higher place, added to this, while in our gardens or perhaps when enjoying a short walk in a peaceful countryside setting to be serenaded by a most heavenly musical treat. A "Humming Chorus" performed by choirs of Bumble Bees, Honey Bees and the occasional Wasp, as they plunder the golden blossoms of Dandelion, Daisies, Lesser Celandine and other wild and cultivated flowers, with complementary warbling's from Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit and Robins all busy preparing for the nesting season. .............With the shackles of the necessary "Stay Home" request firmly attached, it's pleasant and interesting to receive pictures and details from members, who have the good fortune to be able to record the Wildlife in their areas without bending the rules. ......... The pictures above were sent in by our photographers Brian and Sinead, who uses the pseudonym "Inch Eyeland Images" for her exhibition purposes. Paddy contributed a few also.
 
 
Friday 24th. April 2020. Today this beautiful masterpiece in gold from Nature's alchemists, with its artistic design and complex construction, glistering in the bright sunlight, to add perhaps a further little bit of lift to the precarious position we are all experiencing. This amazing flower often referred to with disdain for the common name of Dandelion, and referred to as a weed.! Look again.
 
Wednesday 29th. April 2020 .We have received from our club member Daniel Moloney a partial conclusion to the saga of those wonderful Lesser-black and Greater-black Gulls and Herring Gulls, ringed and tagged on Inishtrawhull Island on July 24th. last year. ........... The earlier reports can be seen on the Wednesday 18th. and 21st. March 2020 on this web page. .......... What follows is Daniel's report from this morning.
Of the 5 Lesser Black Backed Gulls, 3 successfully made their way home from their wintering grounds of Mauritania, Western Sahara and South Portugal and are all back on Inishtrahull. 1 is currently still in northwest Mauritania and 1 is making its way north and currently in the city of Huelva in southwest Spain. Of the two Herring Gulls, one is back on Inishtrawhull, after spending most of its time on the Scottish west coast, and the other is in a car park at Dunelm in Derry after hanging around Derry City and the north west Antrim coastfor the past few months. Daniel

Images of Spring.
Thursday 30th. April 2020. Today's pictures are images of Spring as captured by our member and photographer Sinead, all of which were observed in her own locality.
 
Busy Birds.
Friday 1st. May 2020. A few more images from Sinead, taken this morming while ambling along the banks of the beautiful sunlit Crana River near her home in Buncrana.
 
  Wednesday 6th.May 2020 . "A rising Moon of beauty and fragility in a floral sky of hidden treasure". As observed by one of our members.
 
Another "Darknes into Light" Moment.
Thursday 7th. May 2020. Today's contribution of photographic gems is the work of Martin. They include the stunningly attired Plover in it's glistening cloak of the purest gold..
 
Pictures from the Netherlands
Sunday 10th. May 2020. It's nice to know that our friends in the Netherlands are well. and a special thanks to Wil Buis for the recently taken pictures of some of the birds in her area, included are Spoonbill, Avocet, Arctic Tern and Bluethroat, All of which have been reordered in Ireland on very rare occasions, especially the Bluethroat that was recorded on Inch Island many years past by Boyd Bryce
 
Sinead. A Well Focused Photographer.
Monday 11th. May 2020. "Keeping the Show on the Road" with her pictures of nature, while we all plan our escape from this confinement. Thanks Sinead, and to all the other contributors.
 
A Few of the Jewls Found on Jim and Anne's Wildflower Trail.
Sunday 17th. May 2020. Like the Orange Tips and Green Veins two of our more senior members left the comfort of their cocoon to see what botanical delights were available on our hedgerows and pathways, all within the proscribed radius of their home.
Pioneers, such as Lesser Celandine and Primrose were still in abundance. Now they were joined by swathes of Stitchwort, Bush Vetch and Cow Parsley. That other more delicate umbel, Pignut  was making its appearance. In the damper locations, Watercress, Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage, Cuckoo Flower and even Wild Iris were visible. The scent of Hawthorn in flower was in the air. Wavy Bitter-cress, Yellow Pimpernel, Herb Bennet, Dog Violet, both Creeping and Meadow Buttercup, Germander and Thyme-leaved Speedwell, were in bloom. There is a lot to be appreciated without travelling too far in these restrictive days.
 
Saturday 23rd May 2020.--- Thanks Sinead For More of Your Magic. I Think The Expression These Days is "Keep Her Lit".
 
 
 
A Montage of Just Some of the Wonderful Butterflies seen on past Seasons Club Outings.
 
 
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