Inishowen Wildlife Club

Views and News.

           
To view the Butterfly Ireland web site Click http://www.butterflyireland.com
Click on thumbnails for larger picture
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".
 
An Effort in Solving the Disappearance of Our Curlew.
Friday 29th. May 2020. We received from our member Daniel Moloney, who is also the local Breeding Wader Bird Officer for BirdWatch Ireland. A man with amazing initiative and achievement, as was evident with the successful conclusion to the program that involved the ringing and tagging of a number of Gulls on Inishtrahull Island last July 2020 some of which spent the winter in warmer climes, and then returned to the Island in March 2020. .......... On this occasion he organised funding from the Donegal County Council to ring and tag the very few Curlew in Inishowen, Nationally their numbers are on a very serious decline.What follows is Daniel's account of the operation.
 
BirdWatch Ireland received funding from Donegal County Council to undertake a ringing and tagging project of Curlew in Donegal. This is a first for the Republic of Ireland.

The cannon netting contractors Kerrie Mackie and Kendrew Colhoun came up to Donegal on Sunday past. A half sized cannon net on Monday at a Curlew site in Inishowen. A decoy Curlew was placed in front of the net and a caller used to lure in the territorial birds. 2 adult males responded in seconds and were both caught within a few minutes. Birds were steel ringed, engraved darvic placed above the left knee and blue and white plastic rings to make them identifiable. 5g glue mounted (thus temporary) Pathtrack satellite tags were fitted which should stay on for the bulk of the breeding season giving a position every 40 minutes 24/7. Both birds were released and flew several hundred metres before landing and preening.

 A third male was caught the same day at another site in Donegal.

 
Some of Today's Joys.
Saturday 13th June 2020. A day of special significance. A day when the shackles that imprisoned our members and the many others on a global scale, imposed as a result of the rampant Covid-19 Pandemic were cast off. What a pleasure to meet and greet our friends after an absence of fourteen weeks. .................. Our outing commenced with a cool, grey, dry morning, but that didn't impinge on the sense of elation as we assembled at the Isle of Doagh Road. Here a short time was spent in the pursuit of Butterflies, but with the absence of warm sunshine, the only species recorded was Tortoiseshell, to compensate for their nonappearance we enjoyed checking and enjoying the great arrays of the many wildflowers, some of which are posted above. Near the Castles area, many families of Ringed Plover enjoyed the fruits of the season, as did the Oystercatchers, Raven and Gulls, while in the gray sky Sandwich Terns ploughed their furrow, and a Buzzard drifted in the gentle breeze to spot something for its late lunch. ......... Now with early evening approaching it was a word of appreciations from everyone for this memorable Club Outing.
 
Back To Where They Once Were.
Monday 15th. June 2020. Today when two of our members Paddy and Daniel, were out checking on the number of breeding pairs of Lapwing in the Clonmany district, made an amazing discovery when they observed a few of the very rare Marsh Fritillary Butterfly in a site near Ballyliffin, where they were recorded many years ago. What a find !
 
When Dreams Come True.
Sat. 20th. June 2020. This was an occasion when dreams were realised. Dreams that were our source of comfort and hope during the long period of "Lockdown" but today what we conjured up far surpassed our imagination, when in bright warm sunshine we all met at the Stone Jug, situated at the mouth of the Crana River, from where we enjoyed a leisurely dander through the beautiful Swan Park, now being refurbished after the ravages of the severe flooding of August of 2017. But with its serenity still intact, and it's Flora and Fauna decorating the river banks and pathways. ..........Next, it was off to a different but equally beautiful landscape, through roads lined with magnificent leaf-encrusted trees, casting their intricate shadows on to the sun-baked road that took us to the sandy Stragill Beach, on the shore of Lough Swilly. ............. After a short wander around here it was on to the great rocky Bastion of Dunree Fort built to guard the entrance to Lough Swilly in times long passed. Now Fulmar enjoyed the peace and warmth while they preened and attended to their young. It was here that we decided to break for lunch, and while doing so, the ever-thoughtful Anne arranged a birthday celebration for Daniel, who is not in the age category of some of our male members. ............. After this joyful event, it was away to the area known as Hillside, where we drove through an avenue bedecked with great continuous lines of Foxgloves, swaying in the breeze as if to honour the beautiful day that was in it. ............. Next it was up and over the Mamore Gap, and then down to the Plain below that is Urris. Here we watched a young Buzzard Chick as it peered over the edge of its nest, in anticipation of a parent arriving with a snack. ......... Our final stop of this wonderful day when temperatures reached twenty-two degrees, was to the Binnion Road and Beach, then home.
 
Our Trip to the Eastern Side of Our Peninsula.
Sat. 27th. June 2020. There was somewhat of a change expected for today's outing, due to a forecast of wet, stormy conditions with the possibility of sparks flying and the rumble and grumble of predicted thunder and lightning. This was the prospect facing members from various compass points as they converged on the meeting point of the Cloghan, Glentogher. With the rain and mist shrouding the countryside we set off through Cabry, Crehenan, and Ballyargus, on roads bedecked with Wild Roses, Meadowsweet, the royal blue of the new Tufted Vetch, the yellow petals and deep gold stamens of the St Johns Wort. The many swaying Grasses embellished with jewel-like droplets of rain suspended from their arching stems, all helped to lift the gloom of the damp outlook. But a short time later a miraculous transformation was starting to take place, with the rain and mist drifting into oblivion, while on the distant eastern shoreline and hills of lough Foyle were now aglow in the late morning when the Sun put on its smiley face........... Here at Ballyargus, we watched the many small birds that included Siskin, Whitethroat, Yellowhammer, Linnet, Crossbill, and a Blackcap that enraptured us with its wonderful tuneful melody. Considerable time was also spent enjoying and photographing the Botanic species found in this wonderland of Wildflowers, with our Botanist Anne helping with identifications when so requested. ............ Eventually, we made our way down to the main Moville-Derry Road, and from there preceded to the little Pier at Redcastle for our lunch break. And would you believe it? Anne had again arranged another birthday celebration for Martin, father of last weeks recipient. ........... After this, it was a short stop at the upper Pier at Moville, where many Guillemots sat on the back wall observing our intrusion into their peaceful afternoon. .......... Soon we were off to our last stop at Inishowen Head where we watched families of Chough fly to and fro to their nests that they had created on the sheer cliff-face. Out at sea, Gannets with young birds, plunged spear-like into the still Ocean waters. ........... Now it was homeward bound for all after our day with the wonders of Nature.
 
Nature-watching in the Culdaff and Redford Areas.
Sat. 4th. July 2020. Our day began in a countryside painted from a palette of pale silver light, with the threat of a little rain, but fortunately, this didn't materialize. All of which added to the enjoyment of our outing to the beautiful Culdaff and Redford region. ........... It began with a brief stop at MalinTown Bridge, and from there to the peaceful roadway through the little village of Cracknagh, and up to the most scenic of places, Dunmore Hill, with its ditches, old fields and hillsides, emblazoned with an extravagance of floral beauty that included a prominence of bright crimson Heather, countered with the beautiful Tufted Vetch,, followed by Meadow Vetchling, wild Roses, Yellow Loosestrife, carpets of Spotted and Marsh Orchids, Corn Marigold to name just a few, while a few Ringlet Butterflies drifted over this wonderland. A common Lizard heating up in the warmth of late morning slithered to the safety of the undergrowth after disturbance by the human presence. From this special vantage point, a wonderful vista presented us with the amazing picture of Culdaff Bay with its golden beaches. Beyond, the outline of Dunmore Head, and in the far distance Inishowen Head and its hinterland. .......... A little later at Bunagee Pier, it was time for lunch. ...... Then followed a stop at the Culdaff River Estuary, where a lonely Greylag Goose rested on a little grass islet near midstream, while a number of Curlew fed in the adjoining pastures. .......... Next, it was off to the shore at Redford. Here we dandered down through this tree-lined path and in some places with their branches arching, that adds to the loveliness of this place, where a gurgling stream echoes from far below on the right-hand side of the ravine. In the deeply wooded area near the shore, a White Throat was observed as was a Buzzard soaring high in the silvered sky. The other find in the area was a Sparrow hawk's nest with its young chicks looking out on to their new world. The final trophy of the outing was to see a Red Squirrel in the Falmore area. Surely a first for there.
 
A Bright and Cheery Connection with Nature on a Gray Day.
Sat.11th. July 2020. Another outing cast in a steely grayness of high cloud that covered the whole of the Inishowen Peninsula, with the added discomfort of a breeze, its edge honed to produce sharpness of cold Steel. ..... Although the Sun never made its personal appearance, undeterred we sallied forth to Balleehaghan, near Malin Town, then through Glacknabrade, and Dreenagh. .......To substitute for the cloud-cast dullness, the roadways in our Inishowen paradise were beaming with cornucopian displays of floral delight from a paint box with the many variations of blue, purple, yellow, gold, green and brown. ........ In places when stopped, or on the move, hosts of Swallows swooped in intricate patterns to feast on the plentiful supply of flies, also on the wing. While briefly checking what we might find of a floral or fauna nature high up in the Malin Glen area, the raucous call of Ravens could be heard as they objected of their other feathered relatives entering their territory. ............... Now it was down to sea level when we stopped at Portaleen Pier for our lunch break, which we enjoyed, and while doing so, watched Rock Doves cavorting near the rocky cliff face, and large flocks of Starlings hurriedly flying overhead. On the crest of Portaleen Bray, we watched a Kestrel hovering over what would be its next intended meal. ........... From here it was on through Culdaff, then along the coastal road to Termone Bay, where more floral gems like Bog Pimpernel and Field Bindweed were recorded. This was followed by our last stop of the day at the breathtakingly beautiful Kinnagoe Bay, with it's "La Trinidad Valecera" historical connection. Due to the large number of visitors enjoying its golden sands, and the snugness of the place, we decided to finish off our adventure.
 
A July Day Outing to Inch Lake, Bogay and Blanket Nook.
Sat. 18th. July 2020. A day of slight temperature fluctuations, with the morning mostly in the fourteen degree categories, but as the day progressed with the sun casting its magical rays of joy and warmth nudged it to near nineteen with only a slight interference at times from a cool breeze when in more exposed locations. ......... This was our experience when we arrived at the car park close to the pump-house at Inch Lake. .......... After observing the birdlife, with the Mute Swans, Mallard Duck, Canada Geese, Black-headed Gulls roughing it as expected with the Terns on the higher than usual water level of the Lake, we set off at a leisurely ramble along the tree lined, old railway banking to the area of the lower bird hide on the northern end of the Lake. ....... Along this sun-soaked and sheltered pathway with its edges smothered in the deep lush grasses of many kinds, that in some places were hiding some of the displays of outstanding beauty, like the fragrant Meadowsweet, Tutson, Rosebay Willowherb, and other members of that family, then Field and Hedge Bindweed, Wild Carrot, Wild Parsley, drifts of the blue Selfheal and Herb Robert in its bright orange blossoms. ........... Fluttering from bush to bush were families of Long-tailed Tits, Yellow Wagtails, and Chaffinch. While overhead large numbers of Swifts graced the midday sky. Also enjoying the glories of the morning, busily fluttering were Green-veined-White and Meadow Brown Butterflies........... The next move of the day was to set off to the wonderful amphitheatre that is Bogay, which is about a twenty minute drive from Bridgend. On arrival we parked our cars near Bogay House, where more examples of Bindweed were recorded together with immense blankets of Enchanters Nightshade, displays of Stitchwort sprinkled with more Herb Robert and Germander Speedwell. ............... Now it was on to Blanket Nook, where we admired more of the local Flora and Fauna, that had the Mute Swans gliding gracefully on the still waters, with the many Ducks moving to and fro, with a few Lapwing checking in the area near the shore. Here at this quiet retreat, we recorded Water Forget-me-Not and Brookline in the slow moving water of a little stream. Also Greater Knapweed, Marsh Woundwort, Yarrow, and as we were departing for home we registered a stunning display of Hemp Deadnettle.
 
A Glorious Outing Along the Shore From Buncrana to Beyond Dunree.
Sat. 25th. July 2020. Good fortune smiled on our outing today, despite the doom and gloom predicted. In its stead the occasion was enjoyed in rain free conditions with the occasional shafts of sunlight beamed from a mostly sky of blue. ......... We set off from the Stone Jug in Buncrana, over the Castle Bridge, on to the pathway that leads to Fr. Hegarty's Rock. The sides of this walkway laden with great arrays of Wildflowers that had in their midst displays of hedge and Marsh Woundwort, Hedge Parsley, Wild Angelica, Wild Carrot, Woody Nightshade, Orange Hawk-weed, also known as Fox and Cubs, The Golden glow of Sow-thistle, Willow-herb, and Birds-foot -trefoil. The call of young Buzzards emanated from the adjacent woodland, close by young Goldfinch, Redpoll and Greenfinch. Robin and Sparrow flitted restlessly in their secure environment ......After returning to our cars we drove through Linsfort to the rocky shore at Meenaloobin, where we recorded a couple of Whitethroat, as they busily flew from bush to bush. Near by a few Curlew foraged close to the shore. In the sky were numbers of Sandwich Terns, Gannets from a great height sliced their way into the sea in pursuit of what was on the menu for today. .......... While stopped here another Birthday party was organized for a senior member. In this case the term "Senior Member"really fits the bill. This celebration was the work of one of our group endowed with Angelic capabilities, but no blame can be attached to her for the vocal rendition of "Happy Birthday" from the rest of the motley crew. .............. After this, the day took a rather incredible turn when we discovered a new wonderland near Desertagney, of deep caves, wonderful Water falls with the local river in full spate, thundering over the outcrops of great chunks of rock as it raced down to the waiting Atlantic from this leafy paradise. A glorious ending to a glorious day
 
 
 
 
Our club man Daniel Moloney forwarded the following report in which he was deeply involved in the ringing of Barnacle Geese at Malin Head in April 2018. ............. Not often do we get field observations from North East Greenland. Thanks to Kim Wiggers Ursin and J-Mikkel Lausten for pictures from observations of 2 coloured ringed Barnacle Geese: OP3 and 6LB both as part of separate groups at Danmarkshavn NE Greenland. These birds were ringed in April 2018 in Malin Head and both observed on Islay and now NE Greenland circa 2600 kilometres north - northwest.
 
A Wonderful August Day.
Saturday. 1st. August. 2020. There is considerable support for the enrolment of another female into our club in the personage of "Lady Luck" who has shown her benevolent traits over the past number of outings since our release from the manacles of the lockdown. This and her connection with Mother Nature would also be an advantage. These two wonderful friends have continuously contrived between themselves, during periods of bad weather on our Saturday outings, which applied to most of those days, to avoid the metrological threats either before we ventured out, or as we just finished and enjoyed our wildlife activities. .......... So with this in mind, it was with a smile on our faces that we set off along the spine of of our beautiful Peninsula with the morning sun reflecting off the silken waters of Lough Foyle far below. .......... Our first stop was near Tullyard where the call of young Sparrowhawks echoed in the still air from an adjacent woodland. Then it was on through the townlands of Mullenroe, Roosky, Ballyargus, on to Tullyally where a considerable time was enjoyed in laneways, their verges immersed in dense vegetation with many species of wildflowers making their presence conspicuous, like the golden glow of Meadow Vetchling, Tufted Vetch, both species of Woundwort, Carpets of the delicate pink sun-drenched flowers of the petite Centaury, and Rosebay Willowherb. Earlier on our arrival here, a Cuckoo flew in a rather erratic fashion from trees to posts before disappearing from sight, while a Buzzard drifted lazily on the soft breeze high in the sky, on terra firma a fox nonchalantly trotted by with devious intent in mind............. Our day concluded with a visit to the beauty spot of Falmore where with the sun's outpouring of warmth we were treated to amazing displays of floral colour combinations. Many birds appeared, to then disappear again into the security of the great expanse of broad-leafed and Fir trees, these included Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Redpoll, Linnet and Crossbill. ....... One exceptional item recorded was the tallest of Marsh Thistle, that was in excess of six Feet. So ended our outing for August first. 2020 .
 
The Realisation of a Summer's Day
Sat. 8th. Aug. 2020. The realisation of what a Summers day should be like was fully achieved when with the Sun leaving its gifts of twenty-two degrees of carat gold sunshine, as a special illumination of the most perfect venue, which on this occasion was the wonderful deep-sided gorge and flat valley floor that is the beautiful Ness Country Park, Co Derry. Today the river Ness in full spate from the heavy rains of the past number of days came crashing thunderously over its rock-strewn path from where it entered the fray from high on the lip of the valley, until it rowdily thundered under the metallic stairways and bridges, to then regain its composure, and more peacefully slither through a heavenly setting of tall broad-leafed trees of many varieties, through which winding pathways are strewn. Then it dropped the pace a little more as it sleepily moves into a large well maintained wildflower meadow, where Butterflies drifted with a little more haste and from the tall trees of the adjacent forest the mewing of Buzzards could be heard from the dense foliage. Here also Tree Creeper was recorded as were Chaffinch and at the pond near the car park what looked like a Sedge Warbler was noted.......... Among the many beautiful forms of Flora, Butterflies fluttered. All of this opulence was served with a very gentle zephyr.
 
A Voyage To A Time Long Gone By.
Monday 10th August 2020. We set off this morning from Malin Head Pier on a turbulent sea of blue to the time capsule that is Inishtrahull, an island twelve miles off on the distant horizon. A place where its magic and charm can transport you from the frenzied world of today to one many hundreds of years past. ................ The process starts on arrival when you stop to look at the crumbled remains of dwellings that once provided shelter and warmth for the number of families, that eked out their existence from the dangers of fishing in a treacherous ocean, and no doubt by growing a few potatoes and vegetables to support their wives and children, a life unimaginable today. I imagine that they had their good times in this beautiful place, which must have lost it's sheen to the austere storms of winter.............. On this visit with the sun beaming down, the place was aglow with carpets of Sea Campion, Mayweed, the stunning flower and construction of the Spear Thistle, Centaury, Sea Thrift, and in sheltered sunny nooks Scarlet Pimpernel embraced the light with is open flowers. One of the tallest plants here was the Angelica, with perhaps the Burdock a little taller. The two remaining Red Deer made a brief appearance before dissolving their presence against the rock-strewn background. .......... Now with August nearing its second week, most of the birds have gone into silent mode, with the exception of just a few Gulls. On the sea Eider Duck floated near the shore, Shags and Cormorant lined up like soldiers on rocks a little distance off-shore in the company of Seals, lying out enjoying the suns rays. The specious of Butterflies recorded today was confined to the Red Admiral variety. ........... We were joined on the cruise by Brian Mc Gonagle who came all the way from Portnoo near Ardara to visit the Island where his ancestors came from a couple of hundred years ago. Brian in his quest for knowledge of his connection with the place was aided by our member Jim Toland who has a fascinating knowledge of Inishtrahul's history, together with his wife Anne, whose Grandfather was appointed by Lloyds of London to report on the passage of their ships off the Island, spent part of his life here. ........... On our homeward cruise at evenings close, on a placid silvered sea we were entertained by large pods of Dolphins that displayed their power and speed close to our boat. What a way to finish our day on the Island of Inishtrahul.
 
An August Outing to the Ards Forest Park.
Saturday 15th, August 2020. Out of the calm duskiness of a warm summers night, dawned a day with promises of a repeat of what had been the experience during the past week. After an early start to our outing, gradually the mists wafted into oblivion, which allowed the promised sunlight to wrap its warmth and brightness on the countryside with the hedges and roadside verges breathtakingly beautiful, with fantastically colourful displays of Purple Loosestrife, Willowherb, Knapweed, Meadowsweet and varieties of Umbels. ............ This was our pleasure as we drove for an hour and a half to the paradise of Ards Forest Park, where the shimmering blue waters of Sheephaven Bay lapped softly on to the silver sands of the Parks Beach. ......... With members assembled, the quest for natures gifts in all their forms began, with a particular interest in the Butterflies that are to be found here. Among those recorded today were Dark Green Fritillary, Silver Washed Fritillary, Common Blue, (both male and female) Small Blue, Speckled Wood, Large White and a report of a Painted Lady. Also fluttering about were a few day-flying Moths. We watched a Leaf-Cutter Bee as it sliced its leaf and then flew off with its prize. ....... With the temperature at twenty-five degrees there was a tendency to take things at a leisurely pace, which made admiring the beautiful blends of Harebells, hosting large numbers of common Blue Butterflies, while the flowering heads of the Knapweed were enticing many colourful Burnet Moths, and often entangled with a wide selection of grasses was Golden Rod, Lady's Bedstraw, Herb Robert and Fragrant Orchids. At one particular place, we recorded the very rare white Wild Thyme. As the day wore on we sat and admired the stunning scenery. .......... One of the last acts of this most pleasant of days was when a rather unusual ritual was activated by the Birthday Fairy that just materializes when required as on this occasion, when we celebrated our dutch member Wil Buis's' birthday in absentia, due to the lock-down in the Netherlands. We all wish Wil a very happy birthday, and look forward to having her back in our ranks soon.
 
A Sense of Autumn in the Air.
Saturday 22nd. August 2020. How fickle those weather gods can be, as exemplified by the comparison of last weeks visit to the Ards Forest Park when we were immersed in glorious sunshine that imparted an atmosphere of wellbeing, joy and pleasure. On today's outing which started on a similar note, while on our way to the Clonmany region a spectacle of floral beauty and perfection was recorded in a large meadow of Wildflower extravagance near Ballyliffin, but on our arrival in the town of Clonmany, and from where we drove up and over Pinch Mountain the sun withdrew its collaboration, to be replaced by scarves of mists being draped around the lofty local mountains. A brief stop was had at Dunree Fort to connect with one of our members, and have a quick look at an exhibition of paintings by local artists. ......... Next with the increasing mist and light rain, it was on to the Hillside Road, the sides of which in places seemed to be ablaze, with flame-like colours of very large and long swathes of Montbretia at its full glory. On our way through this idle, a Sparrowhawk was observed chasing Swallows without success. Next, it was up and over the wonderful Heather-clad Mamore Gap, but with the weather going downhill, and interfering with the stunning view that is available from this lofty pass, we followed suit, down to near sea level at Lenan, then on to the little Pier at Rockstown, where flocks of Linnet and Goldfinch gorged on the seed heads of defunct thistle. On the tide-deserted beach a Gray Heron spent some time trying to consume an over sized fish, but on this occasion it was success for perseverance. ......... Due to the conditions prevailing, we called a halt to our outing. As can often happen, a short time after we had gone back to our bases the rain stopped and the sun nudged the clouds to one side to smile on our world again.
 
When Summer is absorbed into Autumn.
Saturday 29th. August 2020. Summer, a time of verdant lushness, embroidered with multiple colours and patterns of natures creations is slowly but surely being absorbed into Autumn. " That Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" as observed by Keats. With the colour card of browns, yellows, crimsons, and variations of russet, that will be the fashion icons of the natural world for the already falling leaves as they are shed from their parent branches to silently float gently down to mother earth until Spring returns with its new vitality to restart the process. ........... This was the realization when on our visit to the oasis of beauty that is the Glenveagh National Park with its Castle, formal gardens and fruit and vegetable garden. The collection of exotic trees and shrubs in the large lawn with its pathways are somewhat of a contradiction, by surviving in this location beside the shore of the ultramarine blue waters of Lough Beagh. All of this set in the most amazing wilderness of the beautiful Derryveigh Mountains. ......... Our arrival was greeted by an outpouring of bright warm sunshine that had our party heading off on a hike in perfect conditions on the Derrylahan Nature Trail. On completion of this pleasurable task, an enjoyable lunch break was had in the car park, with a fluttering of Butterflies that had the Silver-washed Fritillary, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and earlier a Green-veined White drawing our attention. ......... Now feeling refreshed it was off to another garden and layout of great beauty, and the reflective waters of Lough Garten with more species of exotic trees and shrubs, a beautiful Wildflower garden where a Peacock Butterfly in the most pristine condition allowed close examination, but on this occasion, the wildflower display had passed it's best, as we were a few weeks too late for that show. ......... While here, we availed of the opportunity to view the paintings of the famous artist Derrick Hill, who left this beautiful estate to the Irish Nation. ....... Following this day of enjoyment, it was off for the long drive back to the equally beautiful Inishowen.
 
A Cool September Day on the Eastern Shore of Lough Foyle.
Saturday 5th. September 2020. Our pursuit of a reported sighting of a Spoonbill, a rare visitor to our shores, brought us to the eastern edges of Lough Foyle. and the flat Prairie-like lands that extend from the hills beyond Limavady to the coast of the Foyle, where golden fields of wheat and barley, glistened in the occasional flashes of sunlight as if touched by the hand of Midas. Today the Sun was showing a distinct lack of generosity, preferring to sulk behind a plentiful supply of clouds, added to which was a cool fresh breeze, but the complete absence of rain helped to make amends. ......... Our first stop of the day was at Longfield Point, which produced a negative result as regards birds or wildflowers. Soon our luck turned when we went to the Bird Observation Station near Ballykelly, with the vague sighting of our target the Spoonbill, but at a distance that made the features of the birds beak undistinguishable, but non-the-less a rewarding sighting, also here was a large flock of Brent Geese feeding in the mud of the tidal retreat. In one of the adjacent fields very great numbers of Goldfinch fed on the ripe seed heads of Thistle and Knapweed, while on the now lowering tide, many Gulls, mostly Common and Black-headed and Mallard Duck followed the tide away from the shore where large plots of Sea Aster were in full display. In a field behind the tall sturdy tidal barrier was a long carpet of glden Corn Marigold glistening in what was thought to be the suns indication of repentance. ............ After the lunch break it was away to the bird watchers favourite place, Myroe, where we spent the afternoon observing and recording large numbers of Golden Plover, good numbers of Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, who were enjoying the company of Ruff, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Linnet and Goldfinch. A little earlier a couple of Peregrine Falcons and a Buzzard were noted. Now with the afternoon morphing into early evening ended our enjoyable day with Mother Nature.
 
Some of the Flora Recorded During Todays Bird Count.
Saturday 12th. September 2020. The use of the football parlance " A Game of Two Halves" would apply to today's outing on behalf of the Birdwatch Ireland to resume the Winter counting of the birds of Lough Swilly that concludes on the 21st. of March next year, ......... The first part of the day was enjoyed in pleasant sunny conditions that contributed to the successful completion of our task by early afternoon when we enjoyed our cup of tea and sandwich. ........... Then out of nowhere, or was it a puff of smoke? the Birthday Fairy materialized with the appropriate components for the celebration in absentia of Terry Tedstone's birthday, Terry's absence was due to his involvement in the making of a film in County Wicklow. So from everyone here, it was "Happy Birthday Terry". ......Just as the celebration ended, part two of the day started with the heavens opening the flood gates to deposit its deluge that had us all heading for home, thankfully after the lovely day we had enjoyed.
 
A Step Back in Time for Some.
Saturday 19th. September 2020. Today's outing was a step back in time for a couple of senior members, as the last time they visited this beautiful part of Malin was forty-plus years ago, but for others, it was a new experience and a pleasant one, when we drove to Malin Head and to the sunny setting of Duneygard and Meedanmore, with their hedges and ditches aglow with the colourful late floral survivors of summer, mingled with hosts of Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral and Peacock Butterflies. From the cusp of the road at Meedinmore, visible far below on a wrinkled sea of blue, the ivory tinted Lighthouse and ancillary buildings on Inishtrahull Island glistened in the bright Autumn sunshine, while in the far distance the Hebridean Islands of Jura and Islay are just visible in the blue haze of infinity.......... The stalwarts amongst us set off up the rough steep climb to the Lake and the navigational aids on top of Crockalough Mountain to enjoy a perfect three hundred and sixty-degree vista, and to look down hundreds of meters to the great Stookarudden and Reaghillen rocks off the base of the cliff. ............... . In places like this there is a sense of mystery and magic. so it was no great surprise when that unearthly being "The Birthday Fairy" arrived waving her wand to produce the niceties of a Birthday Cake, suitably illuminated with more than one or two candles. Rather risky in this period of very warm weather, and being surrounded by many hundred acres of dry heather, but the recipient, Birthday Boy Jim needn't have worried, as everything passed as expected. .......... As we all know time flies when having fun...... At the beginning of our story, it was a step back in time, but now it was a step back to the present as we set off for our last stop of the day at Bamba's Crown, with the hope of perhaps seeing a few of the Lapland Buntings seen by Brian a few days past, but no luck on this occasion at this overcrowded venue.
 
 
Friday 25th. September 2020. Due to the rapid and worrying increase in the Covid-19 virus over the past number of days in our County, we have in collaboration with governments recommendations, decided to cease our weekend outings for the next three weeks in the interest of our members wellbeing.
 
Wildflowers and Fauna, Reminders of the Summer Past.
 
Friday 16th October 2020. With the Virus increasing in it's velocity we are unable to set a date for our return to the Saturday Outings. Hopefully things will improve soon, and allow us to get back on track again.
 
A varied selection of pictures from Brian Hegerty showing Cattle Egrets, a Little Egret with a Redshank, a Fly Agaric Mushroom and Brent Geese, taken recently over a period of a few weeks in his own region.
 
"At Peace In Their World " The ever dependable member Sinead, submitted these pictures of the Black Swan family floating on the placid waters of Inch Lake
 
A few more seasonal reminders from Sinead.
 
20th October 2020. An Aladdin's Cave of Autumnal Riches in Lisnagrath this morning.
 
21st October 2020. Above shows pictures of small sections of the large flock of Barnacle Geese, in excess of five hundred near Malin Town in very wet, dark, misty, conditions this morning.
 
A few pigments from Autumn's Paintbox .
 
 
A series of picture-perfect images depicting Great and Coal Tits preparing for an oncoming cold night, as seen through the lens of our super photographer Sinead.
 
Saturday 14th. November 2020. It was with great pleasure, when today we were informed of the formation of the Inishtrahull Bird Observatory, made even more pleasurable by the fact of input from some of our club members. ..... The objective of the group is to record and protect the great diversity of Birdlife on the Island. So in the parlance of newspaper headlines. " Read All About It "
 
 
Thursday 19th. November 2020. Photographed today, this emissary of spring, the "Primrose" with it's promises of a return to that season of bucolic loveliness.
 
Wednesday 2nd. December 2020. With the stage five of the Covid restrictions being eased, we are looking forward to next Saturday, with our first club outing since the 19th September last. And to set the ball rolling, above we have pictures from Martin of a Glossy Ibus he saw yesterday in the Corvish area of Carndonagh.
 
 
 
 
A Montage of Just Some of the Wonderful Butterflies seen on past Seasons Club Outings.
 
 
 
To Top.