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.
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