Inishowen Wildlife Club

Views and News 2024

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A random selection of pictures from different club outings in the past.
Our Wonderings Through a World of Nature, Embelished with Beauty and Joy.
The joys of the first outing of 2024.
Saturday 6th. January 2024. It was invigorating to begin The New Year after a few weeks' absence due to the unfavourable weather. We finally achieved our goal of visiting Inch Levels and Blanket Nook on the third attempt. The water was still very high which again deterred the presence of many waders.
From the vantage point of The Disabled Platform near The Pumphouse, we counted Mutes, Whoopers, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Coot, Cormorant and an unusually high number of Goldeneye. Because of the chilly weather many small birds were fearlessly feeding. Great and Blue Tits, Blackbird and Song Thrush approached us boldly, no doubt hoping for a handout. In fact we spotted many small birds, now deprived of cover at this time of year, Wren, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Siskin,  Bullfinch, Redpoll and Chaffinch lined the path as we made our way to the hide on The Tready Bank.
At The Farland Bank we added  Greenfinch and Yellowhammer to our list. Greylag, Curlew and Lapwing fed in the waterlogged fields. A lone Little Egret patrolled the shore. A few Buzzard were spotted, including one that carried its prey to a nearby tree to satisfy its hunger. A Merlin was also recorded.
Blanket Nook suffered from the high level of water with little to report there. Back on Inch Island we stopped at Millbay on our way home, where, on the calmer than usual water a sizeable flock of Common Scoter, two Red-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver, a Great Crested Grebe, and a Slavonian Grebe were observed, while Curlew, Oystercatcher and a Sparrowhawk were seen on land.  
A satisfying start to a new year of birdwatching..... .....
A pleasant January day at Malin Head.
Saturday 13th, January 2024. Despite the low temperatures and the intermittent threat of rain, this was a most pleasant day of birdwatching. Our first and last stops at McSheffrey's Bridge bookended a day that only improved as we travelled to Malin Head, with a short detour to Culdaff Bay.
A good size flock of Barnacle awaited us at McSheffrey's, at the end of Trawbreaga Bay. From then on the variety of birds observed was impressive. Two more flocks of Barnacle marked our path, one below The Tower at Malin Head of similar size to the first, and at our last stop at McSheffrey's Bridge the flock had increased threefold to almost 1.000 birds.We also counted various small groups of Brent on the way.
Wigeon, Mallard, Merganser, Shelduck, Eider and Great Northern Diver were feeding in bays and estuaries on an ebbing tide. Curlew, Redshank, Godwit, Oystercatcher, Gull, Grey Heron, Little Egret and Turnstone took advantage of the expanding feeding ground, 
Hoping to take advantage  of the plentiful prey, Buzzard, Raven, Chough, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Merlin were out and about. Small birds too were evident, Stonechat, Sparrow, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Rock Pipit, Starling, Robin and Wagtail were present. 
We hope that Our Count along the shores of Lough Swilly next week will be as pleasant and as  bountiful..
Our first bird count for the 2024 season.
Saturday 20th. 2024. A break in the weather after the icy chill and before the rain and storm gave us an opportunity to complete the first Count 0f 2024. While the rain held off, our stops at Buncrana Pier and Fahan Marina brought back chill reminders of the previous week. Those pursuing their New Year's resolutions to get out and about, especially when accompanied by man's best friend, were inclined to disturb any birdlife on the beaches. With a full tide birds tended to huddle in sheltered  places and in the fields. Nevertheless numbers were acceptable with a few interesting items to report.
Fahan Marina produced a sizeable number of Little Ringed Plover and 2 Merganser. Greater Black-backed Gull were noticeable all along our beat, but  apart from a flock ofS 40 Mallard at Lamberton's, duck numbers were low, as were Redshank. We counted107 Greylag geese feeding in the fields near Lamberton's and a flock of Brent swam in the shelter of Fahan Marina. A flock of 17 Great Crested Grebe swam in the sheltered waters near The Cottages in Inch as 2 Snipe huddled on the shore.
Otherwise we watched a Peregrine cause havoc among a flock of Oystercatcher and Dunlin. Small birds tended to keep to the recesses of the undergrowth, while we watched a flock of Redwing feed openly. Lunch was warmly welcomed after The Count. A quick visit to Millbay was fruitless, while at McGrath's Little Egret seemed to be in abundance. A very enjoyable day and it helps to remember that every subsequent Count brings us nearer to warmer times......Thanks to Jim and Martin. .

The Bleakness of a Winters Outing.
Saturday 27th, January 2024. Today we had in mind to visit some of our favourite woodlands, hoping to see some of the smaller birds during this erratic weather. We selected Ness Park in County Derry, which we hadn't visited in many years and Muff Glen to the north of it.. Birds were scarce but it gave us a chance to see Nature as a terrible beauty. 
Ness Park showed all the signs of the visits of Isha and Jocelyn, branch and twig strewn paths, trees shattered and maimed, and giants of many years uprooted and felled. Were it not for the danger, it would have been spectacular to have been present as the forces of Nature were unleashed. The river was a torrent and produced waterfalls of spectacular beauty and strength. Muff Glen seemed to have suffered the most, with many trees blocking paths and spanning the river. Despite this scene of Armageddon we did see some birds, Ravens passing overhead, a Buzzard on a hunting mission, the  flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing feeding as they travelled on, a group of Colourful Bullfinch, Song Thrush attempting to usher in the spring, Treecreeper and Goldcrest darting through this new landscape, Grey Wagtail rejoicing in the flow of fresh water and a variety of Tits taking advantage of the nuts left at a feeder station for Red Squirrel.
We welcomed the chance to see this other side of Nature and look forward to a return trip in summer to witness its equally spectacular powers of recovery and rejuvenation.
A gray windy February day, with some birds availing of the shelter of hedges.
Saturday 3rd. February 2024. With rain forecast for the afternoon, we decided to stay local and visit the shores of Trawbreaga Bay. The high tide and gusty breeze were not favourable for spotting waders, but we were compensated by the number of geese that took to the shelter of the hedged fields around the bay. 
At our first stop at McSheffry's Bridge we were pleased to see that the Barnacle seemed to be returning to a nearby field that they had abandoned after its renovation and tidyup. We were also delighted to observe a few other flocks in adjacent fields, mainly Barnacle mixed with a small number of Brent. A few Little Egret were spotted. Heading south along the water's edge we came across further flocks of Geese and spotted a few ringed members among them.  
As we entered the Isle of Doagh the rain clouds were ominous and the wind was rising. As the tide began to ebb. we spotted Great Northern Diver, Merganser and Cormorant while a Seal loitered near the shore. We also saw a number of Curlew along the shore and a small flock of Brent. At Carrickabraghy the rising wind produced spectacular rollers crashing against the rocky shore in front of The Castle and producing geyserlike effects in the blowhole, No wonder only a small flock of Oystercatcher, a solitary Rock Pippit, and two Rock Dove were recorded.
Returning to Carn we stopped off at Glasha where we once again came across a flock of Barnacle and had a chat with a local farmer who bemoaned the gradual destruction of what was once an ecological paradise. It is informative to meet those who appreciate first hand what a rich environment we have and can contribute firsthand information. But equally they are witnessing the effects of the destructive influence of mankind on that same precious environment. 

Wildlife pictures from today's Outing, with two colourful harbingers of Spring.
Saturday 10th. February 2024. What are the ingredients of a good day out in Nature? With overcast skies and a chilly wind we braved the elements not expecting to report too much. Maybe when we have experienced some fabulous days we come to expect nothing less afterwards; lots of sightings of birds, rare visitors, spectacular incidents and unusual plants. Do these constitute a worthwhile outing?
Today we had none of these, except for a short glimpse of a Golden Eagle as it passed among The Urris Hills, We saw a few Buzzard, a small flock of Curlew, three Chough, a great Northern Diver, a Merganser, a few Brent, a few Eider, a single Godwit, a Black Guillemot, a few pairs of Mallard, a small raft of Eider a Rock Pippit and a few more common natives.  Apart from a few Whins no plants caught our eye. A very modest return for an outing.
But we rated it as a very enjoyable day. Seeing the Eagle put us on high alert. We wanted more. The expansive view from the top of Pinch Hill stretching down towards Mamore, Dunree and Lough Swilly seemed to have the effect of expanding the soul. The sudden appearance through Mamore Gap of Leenan, Urris, Dunaff Head, Fanad Head, marked by its lighthouse, replicated by Malin Head and its Admiralty Tower and the vastness of The Atlantic stretching to infinity, all seemed not just to fill the imagination but to flood it. 
Lunching in a suntrap on Leenan Pier on the treats shared out among the group, swapping news, stories and jokes, produced a feeling of bonhomie and contentment. So we finished the day with the sentiment that this is what a good day out in Nature should feel like. So what about the rare sightings, unusual incidents etc.? They are all yet to come. Spring is near and Summer is not far behind. Live in the moment!.
Our February contribution to the Birdwatch Ireland's Wader Survey.
Saturday 17th. February 2024. Time again to make our contribution to Birdwatch Ireland's Wader Survey. A misty dull warm morning greeted us at The Stone Jug in Buncrana, our starting point. Here Gull and Oystercatcher opened our count. The Pier at Buncrana, a cold inclement spot at the best of times yielded more Gull but surprisingly few Cormorant. The White Strand, now a favourite haunt of swimmers and dog walkers, reveals only birds, who tend to keep well offshore, such as Gull, Great Northern Diver and on this occasion a Red-throated Diver. At The Marina in Fahan, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Sanderling were found along the shore while a large flock of Great Crested Grebe swam in the vicinity of Inch Island.
At the entrance to Fahan Creek, the shelter of the bay gave refuge to a large variety of Wader and Duck, especially Oystercatcher and Mallard and in the nearby fields we counted 60 Greylag and 40 Curlew.  On the Inch Island side of the Creek, Redshank began to dominate along with a good number of  Greenshank.
After lunch with the count now complete, having been entertained by a flock of Yellowhammer and a pair of Buzzard, we explored Millbay, where we spotted a number of Common Scoter.  Leaving Inch Island for the Hide at The Pumphouse Carpark we spent a delightful  time spotting Knot, Wigeon, Little Egret, Snipe, Jack Snipe, large flocks of Lapwing, Shoveler, and a flurry of Tit feeding near The Hide.
Counting can be a tedious job in less than favourable conditions, but today our spirits were lifted by the number and variety of birds observed .......Thanks to Jim for today's report, and to Sinead and Martin for the pictures.
Wednesday21st. February 2024. Our member Martin Maloney, while on a project in the Aught area, situated between Quigley's Point and Muff, repoWrted sighting a small flock of Crossbills high on the top branches of conifer trees. These visitors start nesting as early as this month.
The early morning shadows spawned the activities of the many frogs.
Sturday 24th. Feruary 2024. Despite the sensation of the first warm sun of 2024 on our backs and looking forward to summer excursions or our minds antaicipating Ireland's continuing progress towards The Grand Slam (pride before the fall?),  today turned out to be a  fairly non-eventful day in our birdwatching calendar. 
Things looked promising at our first stop at Culmore Park. Still in its early stages of development, the centrepoint of this park is the inlet on its northern side. Here we witnessed Dunlin, Greenshank, Redshank, Godwit, Knot, Little Egret and Grey Heron. To add to our expectation of the year to come we watched a Skylark sing and display before our eyes. 
But apart from a few Buzzard in the distance, a few Raven announcing their presence and the frantic activity of Tit and Finch, the day will be remembered  for the experience of witnessing the effects of Nature on the awakening countryside: the chattering of small birds, the babbling of brooks draining the sodden earth, the vast vistas revealing sights that had remained hidden during darker days. A pleasant soporific day. Wildflowers were appearing: Alexanders and Celandine taking over from the more cultivated Snowdrop, Crocus and Daffodil and replacing The Winter Heliotrope as Nature's representative.
Our final stop at Lisnagrath provided a more sombre note. Once one of our favourite haunts, this ancient wood used to delight us with the sight of Red Squirrel, not only in the canopy, but also feeding on the ground. Recent visits have led us to believe that, as in many other places, these delightful creatures seem to no longer inhabit this wood, driven off by their bigger bolder American cousins. ...... Thanks to Jim and Sinead
Our first Spring Outing for 2024.
Saturday 2nd. March 2024. We headed north into a bitterly cold wind with a view to exploring the northeast corner of Inishowen. At our first stop at Malin Town we realised that, not only would the weather be against us but also the tide. As a result the birds would be driven into sheltered havens close to the shore,
The estuary at Malin Town opening onto Trawbreaga Bay produced its usual display of Little Egret along with Redshank, Greenshank, Snipe, Curlew, Mallard, Wigeon and Teal, while further on at Goorey,  Merganser, Eider, Godwit, Oystercatcher and a lone Knot were added to the count.
The estuary at Culdaff gave shelter to Redshank, Greenshank, a large flock of Common Gull, Wigeon Teal and Mallard, The choppy waters of the bay made it impossible to spot anything. 
Moving inland we had hoped to spot a Hen Harrier that has been wintering around Drumnagassan but had to be content with a flock of Fieldfare. We stopped to watch a lone Buzzard perched among a plantation of conifers and as we approached Carndonagh we watched five Buzzard engage in a dispute with a Raven. 
During our travels we counted Redwing, Chaffinch, Coaltit, and Wren and for the first time we noted Primrose and Speedwell and the flower of European Gorse was joined by newly emerging Hawthorn. 
Despite the cold inclement weather the signs of emerging spring are in the air and on the ground. ....... Thanks to Sinead and Jim.
Thursday 8th. March 2024. A picture of the beautiful Phragmites Australis, at the end of its winter cycle. In days long past this member of the grass family, found near the shore of lakes and rivers was used as a substitute for flax as a thatching material. Thanks to the discerning eye of our photographer Sinead for her picture.
" Beware the piercing winds of March."
Saturday 9th, March 2024. There is no such thing as a bad day for Nature appreciation. Despite the bitterly cold east wind we wrapped up and headed for the exposed expanses of Myroe on the eastern bank of Lough Foyle. On arrival we could see that the tide was ebbing and reckoned that whatever birds were present would be moving away from us.
Our first stop was at Ballykelly. The notice board at the end of Station Road afforded us some shelter from the elements. Little Egrets dotted the river and the shoreline. A few pairs of Merganser fed on the edge of the water. Godwit mixed with Oystercatcher,  Redshank, Greenshank, Curlew, Dunlin, Turnstone and Grey Heron. Mallard and Shelduck were also present.
On to Myroe. There was little water in the canal along the embankment and so we watched Redshank, Greenshank and Oystercatcher feed in the shallows. We spent some time watching a large flock of Brent Geese feed on the green sward of Myroe. Judging by the number of rings we saw, we reckoned that it must be the flock that had been netted and ringed here yesterday. A flock of Golden Plover passed overhead but did not land. There was little on the shore due to the ebbing tide but we spied a lone Buzzard in the distance. Before we left we spied a Long-tailed Duck. We counted large flocks of small birds: Linnet, Greenfinch and Goldfinch in the course of the day.
The wind had dropped and a faint glow filled the sky as we headed west.
A few pictures from Today.
Saturday 16th. March 2024. Today marked our last Count for the 23/24 season and it was memorable for being so unremarkable. After a bright morning the rain appeared as we made our first stop at The Stone Jug in Buncrana. A high tide ensured that waders would have no place to feed and a strong breeze made spotting birds in the water fairly difficult. In all we saw only twenty-one different species and our highest count was sixty-three Curlew, followed by sixty-two Oystercatcher, forty-one Brent, thirty-five Herring Gulls and thirty-one Mallard. Only eighteen Redshank made an apearance and one Grey Heron. It was that kind of a day.
With the rain making regular appearances and a gusty wind making it uncomfortable to stand around, we decided to head for home as soon as we had completed our watch. In like a lion, out like a lamb. Here's hoping!
The pleasures of Nature bestowed on a cold stormy March day.
Saturday23rd. March 2024. Despite lining up the elements against us today, Nature compensated us with a varied and enjoyable outing. Meeting at the Pumphouse Carpark we sought shelter in the hide at The Disability Platform.  From there we could see the large flocks of Whooper and Greylag grazing in the nearby fields in preparation for their long journey northwards On The Lake more Mallard were joined by Wigeon, Teal, Shelduck and Merganser.
With the wind rising and driving the showers we headed inland hoping for calmer conditions. A brief stop on the way to Bogay yielded no birdlife, apart from a brief glimpse of a male Sparrowhawk crossing our path on the road. Bogay proved more fruitful, the wooded areas providing shelter from the elements both for ourselves and the birds. Immediately we spotted Buzzard, Raven above the trees and our first Chiffchaff of the season followed by Goldcrest and Treecreeper, In the shelter of the woods to the accompaniment of a melodious Mistle Thrush we noticed a Badger sett with evidence of recent earthworks. Lichen and Fungi covered the fallen trees  We recognised Hoof and Turkey Tail, which our Dutch member knew as Elf Benches. In a group of ivy-clad trees Goldfinch, Siskin, Greenfinch and Long-tailed Tit were feeding.
Our final stop at Blanket Nook yielded a large flock of Brent on the strand and on The Lake a flock of Black-tailed Godwit, some in their splendid breeding plumage accompanied by two Ruff, Redshank and a Greenshank.
So Nature giveth and Nature taketh away and today she was more than generous in our favour.
Saturday 30th. March 2024. There's always something, isn't there? A bright dry morning with the sun providing the heat and we were all set for a good day's birdwatching. But no sooner had we reached the eastern banks of Lough Foyle, when we saw the high tide covering the shore, which we knew would drive the birds inland.
Heading west off the Derry to Limavady Road, we arrived at Myroe, stopping on the way to watch a flock of Linnets move along the hedge. At Myroe, Little Egrets abounded while Redshank and Black-headed Gulls fed in the canal. In the polder fields of Myroe a large flock of Brent took off, circled and landed again, There were also flocks of Curlew, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit and Shelduck. We stopped to exchange information with a fellow birdwatcher before resuming our journey northwards.
We followed the Coastal Road, stopping on the way by the River Roe for a cuppa and spent some time watching Buzzards on the slopes of Benevenagh. On to The Barmouth near Colraine where from the shelter of the hide we watched Oystercatcher, Godwit, Redshank, Mallard and Wigeon  as the tide began to receed.
Ball's Point revealed an expanding shore with a large flock of Godwit among others and a pair of Stonechat on a nearby fence. My keen-eyed fellow birdwatcher, Brian spotted a number of Sandmartin and a Tortoiseshell Butterfly. On a day when we heard reports of Waxwings, these were a welcome sign of warmer times to come.
Saturday 6th. April 2024. No Club Outing today due to the threat of severe weather from storm" Kathleen " a lady of ill intent. Perhaps next week Spring will have sprung bearing it's many gifts of beauty and joy.
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