Inishowen Wildlife Club
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A Random Selection of Pictures from Last Years Outings, by Club Members.
Tints of Winter in Glentogher. Saturday, 5th January 2019. You could be forgiven for describing today's outing as lacklustre. The dull grey lifeless sky, the lack of spectacular wildlife and the plant-life that has yet to show its splendour did not bode well for the new season. But such an atmosphere inclines us to look for other aspects of nature. The silence only highlighted those aspects that we tend to ignore. As we moved through the wooded slopes of Glentogher our attention was drawn to the startling cries of the Wren, the squelch of our boots on the sodden mossy paths. Our eyes were drawn to the colourful buds of the common Alder, springing up like alternative Christmas trees, the colours and hues of the mosses and lichens and the ancient trees with their decorations of Ramalina. A buzzard gliding swiftly below us in search of prey caught our attention. Taking our refreshments in the open air in January lent to the special flavour of the day. As we moved through Creehennan, we stopped to watch a male Buzzard atop a conifer, surveying the sombre landscape. Birdlife was slightly more abundant as we descended towards the Foyle with a large raft of Eider on the opaque surface of the lough. Grey Heron, Black Guillemot, Curlew, Great Northern Diver and Great Crested Grebe also dotted the water. And so ended our first foray into the Natural World of Inishowen. We look forward to many more........... Thanks to Jim Toland for today's report.
Sunday 6th. January 2019. Above are pictures of a large flock of Barnacle Geese, taken late this afternoon at Mc Sheffreys Bridge near Malin Town by one of our members.
The January Bird Count. Sat. 12th. January 2019. Our assembly point on this grey storm tossed day for the purpose of doing the monthly winter count of the resident and winter visiting birds that frequent this place, where on a day more summer like than today's it's referred to as "The Lake of Shadows" But today with the grey demented waters of the Lake squirming like hosts of angry sea monsters, conjured up from some Chinese mythological story, flashing their white foamy teeth as they contemptuously bit into the sandy shore with such intensity that the little waders like Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover and even the larger Oystercatcher were to be found huddled in groups on the rocks at the Buncrana Pier to avoid it's scolding outbursts. The larger species such as the variety of Gulls, that at times seamed to enjoy the windy conditions, or on other times they sat very close to Mother Earth to avoid the buffeting of the gale. ............ This was the case as we worked our way to the Fahan Creek area, and then to the the Island of Inch where our task was completed . ........ Although the day was stormy, the temperature was at most times in double figures, rather exceptional for mid January.
Winter on the Eastern Shores of the Foyle. Sat. 19th Jan. 2019. A calm midwinter day devoid of any traces of the colours from the departed Autumn, now just a fading memory. In its stead a somber picture painted from a palette of mono toned misty grey, scumbled over the landscape on the eastern shore of Lough Foyle, where with a reasonable temperature of between eight and nine degrees we enjoyed our first stop at the shoreline of Myroe, where on previous visits we recorded Short-eared-Owl, and Spotted Redshank among the many other species. On this visit a very large flock of Brent Geese was noted as it grazed contentedly on a many acre carpet of specially cultivated lush green turf. Earlier a Peregrine Falcon was only interested in securing it's prey, a Redshank that may have escaped its demise by a bit of nifty aerobatic maneuvers. ........ Further along the coast at Ball Point another Peregrine was spotted on a rock out on the tide-deserted shore as it awaited it's lunch to fly past. On the menu here were Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Redshank, Greenshank and a variety of Gulls. ....... After our tea break at the Swan Bridge picnic area it was off to the lookout at the shore near Ballykelly, here a buzzard was spotted which brought to five our number recorded for the day. Also here the now ubiquitous Little Egret foraged in the adjacent long grasses and shallow shoreline. Our botanist Anne, ably assisted by Daniel was delighted to find the rather rare plant Corn Marigold surviving the cold of the season........ The highlight of the day was our visit to the Roe Valley Country Park where colourful beds of Hellebores offered a welcoming invitation to this peaceful retreat where we wandered leisurely, amazed at the beauty of this arboreal treasure house which had the thundering river supplying a suitable musical background. ......... What a finish to our enjoyable outing. Saturday 26th January 2019. No Club outing today due to a weather forecast predicting very heavy rain, low temperatures and gale force winds, the latter didn't matererlise untill much later this evening.
The first Outing of Spring. Sat. 2nd Feb 2019. After the climatic severity of the of the past few Saturdays, today's outing was approached with some trepidation, but on this occasion the gods were in a very benevolent mood and lavished on us the gifts of bright warm sunshine delivered in a silent stillness that had the skeletal remains of last summers wild flowers, the tall umbels and grasses motionless as if transfixed by the wonder of the beautiful countryside. ...... These conditions were much appreciated at our first stop at the Malin Town Bridge, then at the Bathing box Lane Hide, where large numbers of Ducks mostly Wigeon, Teal and Mallard, congregated on the edge of a low tide, the later with their iridescent green head plumage switching on and off as they moved in the intense brightness of the morning sunlight. Also in their pristine garb Little Egrets stepped erratically as if they were treading on hot coals. After our sojourn here it was on to the Culdaff river Estuary where more Wigeon, Teal and Mallard seemed to be enjoying the warmth, then a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers raced over the surface of the calm river water with great speed and panache, while Greenshank, Redshank, Common and Black-heade Gull and Grey Heron looked on disapprovingly. Further along towards Carrowtraw Beach a male Buzzard surveyed it's domain from it's high perch on top of a tall lamp post at the Sports field. Up a little pathway on the other side of the road on a tree stump was this profile of Jim, now just a shadow of himself......... After a short stop at Bunagee we set off to Malin Head through scenic Glengad. .... On arrival at the Head, two large flocks of Barnacle Geese were spotted in the Muckla area. ........ Following our lunch, once again courtesy of Anne and Jim, we discovered the two flocks had moved from Muckla, and were grazing contentedly on the great grassy acreage at Ballyhillin where it was noticed that a number of the birds had leg rings attached. Near here the roadside was decorated with the magnificent display of the blue blossoms of Veronica hedging, this and earlier the rows of Daffodil near Malin Town all added to the beauty of the day. Now with the Sun descending towards the horizon. A short stop at Port Ronan revealed a Great Northern Diver as it drifted on the shimmering sea. We then concluded this special day with the final stop at the White Strand Bay.
Squirrels at Lisnagrath Wood. Monday 4th. February 2019. One of our members recorded the Red Squirrels enjoying the afternoon Sunshine in the company of a very large numbers of Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Chaffinch, Robin and many Jays that could be seen and heard.
Our Day at Meenyanly, Cloghada Hill and Lisnagrath. Sat. 9th. Feb. 2019. We were set to engage with what a chaotic Winter had in mind for us, with the last few days of its cyclonic rage that had instilled a sense of panic and fear as it scythed it's sward of destruction through the country. Even early this morning it was issuing it's threats, but fortunately before we set off to our first stop in the scenic countryside of Meenyanly south east of Buncrana, the gale assumed a more courteous manner to the point that it nearly disappeared completely, the rain, not to be outdone by the wind behaved in an impeccable way also by staying far off. ............ From Meenyanly we walked to the top of Cloghadod Hill from where we gazed down on a beautiful sun swept countryside with the sparkling blue water of the Fullerton Dam, and it's overflow waters cascading down over the overflow wall. ............. On our long trek back down to the cars it was great to record colourful Jays toing and froing from tree branches to feed on perhaps insects or worms on the ground. Also noticed in the area were Crossbills, utilizing the plentiful supply of fir tree cones suspended from their branches like baubles on a Christmas Tree. After our lunch break near the lofty Grainnes Gap, it was down to the rustic and tranquil setting of Lisnagrath Wood, where we relaxed in the company of those cheeky little Red Squirrels while they plyed their task of checking through the deep copper coloured litter to find a hidden treasured nut, while great hosts of little feathered angels flitted to and fro in the hope of receiving perhaps a handout from their human admirers. ....... on the southern end of the region three Woodcock did a very prompt exit from cover to find another hiding place. With some more time enjoyed in this heavenly place it was time for our merry band to make our exit.
The February Bird Count on Lough Swilly. Sat. 16th. Feb. 2019. It's that time of year again when we focus our attention on the penultimate Bird Count on the waters and shores of the great Lough Swilly. ......... We commenced our task in near perfect conditions with a temperature variation of between eight and ten degrees, with the occasional shaft of sunlight adding to our enjoyment, not what you expect for the month of February, and these ingredients remained constant throughout our exercise, during which we were rather surprised by the high number of birds and species being recorded. Figures we had expected in December and last month that were not achived, but on this occasion we were delighted to have them for today's records.. ...... Apart from the birds it was stimulating to see a few harbingers of Spring with the light cobalt blue of the Periwinkle peeping from the shelter of roadside hedges and ditches, Primroses, Crocus, hosts of Golden Daffodils the yellow blossom of the Lesser Celandine and the the bright glistening glow of the common Dandelion in the company of the deep crimson shade of wintered Ivy Leaves dangling over a stone wall on Inch Island. These treats are all part of the joys of the great outdoors.
Outing to the Culdaff and Malin Areas. Sat. 23rd. Feb. 2019. In a morning that at first Glance seemed rather colourless, but as we set off for our first stop at Malin Town Bridge our outlook was invigorated when our eyes were opened to the beautiful blossoming Forsythia, and the cup like red flowers of Camellia shrubs, the beds of Daffodils, Primroses, and multi coloured Crocuses offering from roadside gardens their cheerful message of Spring's return. ........ At the Bridge the very high tide was observed as it spilled it's excesses on to the bay side fields. Some distance out in the deep waters Goldeneye plumbed the deep, while Teal, Wigeon and Mallard enjoyed the shallows near the shore, all being observed from their lofty stances by Little Egret and Grey Heron. Out the Lagg road a very large flock of Barnacle Geese grazed nervously. ......... Past the Malin Town Parochial Hall on our way to Culdaff, a Blackthorn Bush was illuminating the pathway with it's pristine white flowers, while in the background more Teal were visible in the welcomed sunshine made possible by the parting of the cloud cover, this event gave a whole new outlook to our day. ......... At the Culdaff River Estuary, the Red-breasted Mergansers observed there a few weeks past were still present, as were good numbers of Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Wigeon and Common, Black-headed, and Black-backed Gull. .......... After passing the Sports field we took a short meander up a grass covered path where we were delighted to record and photograph a mixed flock of Brambeling, Chaffinch, Linnet, Greenfinch, Dunock and Reed Bunting, and in secluded nooks little clumps of heather and fully opened Lesser Celandine gleamed.......... After a late lunch that crowned off the most enjoyable visit to this area it was on to Malin Head via the beautiful village of Glengad. At the Head, the highlight of the afternoon was the recording of another large flock of Barnacle Geese that were occupying great areas below Bamba's Crown. But now with the afternoon on the wane it was time for us to disperse and relive the wonders of today's outing. Sat. 2nd. March 2019. The realities of the month of March were very much to the fore on this occasion when it cast it's unpleasantness of heavy continuous rain accelerated by an ever increasing gale force wind. What a change from the pleasantries endowed on the country by the extremely warn, dry, sunny weather of last month. ......... The early part of the morning started off in relatively calm, dry conditions as we planed our proposed visits to the Clonmany and Urris regions, and on our way there we made a stop at the Glasha and Straths areas of Carndonagh, where we recorded a very large flock of Barnacle Geese foraging out on the tide-empty Trawbreaga Bay. .......... On arrival at the Isle of Doagh the heavy rain started, accompanied by the promised gale force wind, but we did manage to add to our list, two Great Northern Divers, Great-blacked Gulls, a long line of Cormorants patiently awaiting the now distant tide to return, also in the area were Dunlin and Redshank. A little later a number of Ringed Plover were keeping a low profile on the grassy area near the Castles. ........ Now with visibility being greatly impeded it was time to find shelter, a hot cup of tea, and put the feet up at home for the rest of the day. All of which were duly accomplished. Sat. 9th. March. Despite our experience with the weather last week and the forebodings of the forecasters, we nevertheless spent an enjoyable day in the vicinity of Inch Island. Meeting at the Causeway we noticed how high the water was. Only a few Grebe and Tufted Duck were visible. At McGraths we watched a few pairs of Lapwing displaying in acrobatic fashion. Wigeon, Teal and Mallard hugged the shoreline. As we watched a Buzzard approach, our eyes were drawn to a Short-eared Owl as it climbed high into the sky to escape the attention of some crows. At Millbay we spotted Redshank, Greenshank and Dunlin. A climb through the trees at Lacken revealed the music of Bullfinch and Goldcrest and as we descended towards the shore we were given a noisy welcome by a flock of eighty Brent Geese. We were glad to see that the Yellowhammers were still in area and we paused for lunch. Next on to Inch Levels where the heavy rains of the last few days had created a series of new lakes in the fields around the Carpark. A Buzzard feasted on a carcass as we drove by. Large flocks of GreyLag and Pink-footed Geese along with a few stray Barnacle had taken advantage of this new environment along with Redshank and Curlew. Out on the permanent lake there were large numbers of Cormorant. At our final destination of Blanket Nook the high water yielded only a few Mallard and Goldeneye with Redshank and Oystercatchers on the seaside of the embankment. Despite the wintry showers the bursts of sunlight gave us excellent conditions to enjoy nature in Springtime. ......... . Thanks to the ever reliable Jim Toland for today's report in the absence of our regular scribe.
A Storm Tossed Ultimate Bird Count for the Past Winter. Sat. 16th. March 2019. Late last night we were faced with the prospects of an adverse weather warning, that had in it's armory, frost, heavy rain, wind and then snow for today's final Lough Swilly's Bird Count for this season. So it was decided to wait till morning to see what things might then look like. ....... Yes, there had been snow falling during the night, but by early morning it had turned to rain, and generally things had improved considerably. Now it was "all systems go" from our start at Buncrana to our conclusion on Inch Island in the late afternoon. During the whole exercise visibility was somewhat impeded by a heavy mist suspended over the Peninsula like the "Sword of Damocles" but in spite of this we prevailed in our task, and with the weather eventually improving managed to deliver a substantial result. ........ But through all the doom and gloom a light shone through with the sparkle of the blossoms on the Hawthorn, the Blackthorn bushes, and the many other wild flowers awakening from their Winter retreats to be serenaded by the vocal practices of those brave little feathered warriors, The Robin, Chaffinch, Yellowhammer, Pied Wagtail, Bullfinch and many others, all now sensing the approaching long bright days of Summer.
A Golden Outing in March. Sat. 23rd. March. 2019. Spring has laid down it's marker with some authority by the intensity of the morning light, and the rows of Hawthorn hedges flaunting their new soft green foliage, an early appearance of the beautiful Stitchwort and in the many nooks and crannies the newly awakened Dog Violets seemed to be smiling back at that great giver of life, "The Sun". Set against this background of peace and order was the clamouring hosts of Jackdaws and Rooks as they set about constructing their homes high in the branches of broad leafed Trees and chimney pots where they will rear their families during the early Summer months. ........... Our first stop of the day was at Glasha near Carndonagh where the only sound was the gentle lapping of the blue waters of a high tide on to the shore line of the placid Trawbreaga Bay. Nearby three Grey Heron were keeping their feet dry by perching with great aplomb in conveniently placed Fir Trees, while on a low bank near the shore a few Little Egrets preened their pure white plumage. ................Now it was on to the nearby Straths where a considerable flock of Barnacle Geese were contentedly grazing. Some of these birds had leg rings attached, many fitted at this location last year. During the period spent here, four Buzzards were also noted as were a sizable flock of Brent.. ............ A short time later on the Isle of Doagh an early lunch break was enjoyed, and during this most enjoyable of events a flock of Whooper Swans arrived to refuel before departing our shores until next winter. Before leaving for Clonmany, four Chuff uttered their salutations as they circled overhead. ........... Now through the town of Clonmany then down the Binnion Road, the local equivalent of the famous "Dark Hedges" where our first Spring sighting of Marsh Marigolds were recorded. ................. We had not long arrived at Binnion when the shout "The Eagle" went up. It was with great excitement that we watched for a considerable period as it soared and cavorted along and above the Clonmany Hills. We had no reports of the Golden Eagles in the area for the past two years, so this sighting was especially rewarding. ............. This special golden outing finished with a check through the Urris area, over the spectacular Mamore Gap, then home through Clonmany and Ballyliffin.
The Last Outing of March 2019. Sat. 30th. March 2019. We set off through the townlands of Creehenan and Cabry near Quigleys Point in a morning of misty greyness. Gradually as the morning progressed it spawned a day of brilliant sunshine, but at exposed positions a cool northerly breeze was presented to remind one of the approaching feature from local folklore "The Borrowing Days". ....... With a stop at Ballyargus our attention was drawn to a bird that looked like a Peregrine Falcon as it flew in the direction of Croaghmore, so we set off in that direction and to our relief and surprise we not only saw the Peregrine but also it's mate, what luck? ........ How pleasant to drive along the roads in this elevated area with their verges bedecked by the amazing displays of Daffodils and in lots of places the beautiful but invasive False Salmonberry plant, thanks to nature and the local population......... Later we descended to the main Moville/Derry road at Black Point. Here a Whimbrel was noted as it flew low along the shore line, while further out a number of Eider Duck floated on the still lough water. ............ Next at the little pier below the Redcastle Post Office where lunch was welcomed. Some members led by Botanist Anne discovered the emerging Wood Anemones and very recently formed Bluebells in their typical environment of tall sturdy trees, while in slightly more exposed places, Alexanders, Speedwell and Primroses were on show and the often overlooked but stunning yellow glow of the common Whin. .............. Now suitably refreshed it was on to the Upper Pier at Moville where we recorded our first sighting of the season of a Sandwich Tern and on the silvered surface of the water a small number of Black Guillemot dithered in a relaxed fashion. ........ Then on our way to the final stop at Inishowen Head we hit the jackpot again when we recorded another pair of Peregrines ............ When we reached our destination we were rewarded with the sighting of a Kestrel as it hovered not far from our position after which against the blue Atlantic Ocean, lines of brilliantly white Gannets flew in a orderly fashion in a westerly direction while the swell of the Ocean crashed onto the rocky outcrops far below. .............. Indicative of the arrival of Spring was the large numbers we saw today of Bumble Bees as they searched in the golden flower heads of Dandylions and Coltsfoot for their supply of nectar.
A Glorious Day Nature Watching along the Northern Shore of Lough Swilly. Sat. 6th. April 2019. The day awoke with a bright smile on it's face that exemplified the beauty and serenity of of the Inishowen hills and Countryside, and when we reached Buncrana it had charmed the waters of the glorious Lough Swilly to a silky stillness, and all of this was reflected on the large numbers of locals and visitors, suitably attired for their encounter with this beautiful April morning. That was the atmosphere that we absorbed as we set off from that iconic building known as the "Stone Jug" to meander in the direction of Fr Hegerty's Rock through pathways adorned with the colours from natures perfectly blended palette with a predominance of gold's and yellows of the Dandelion, Marsh Marigold and Lesser Celandine, some of which were embellished with petals splashed with white streaks. A perfect foil to these was the ground cover provided by the great blankets of Wild Garlic leaves, while in pathway crevices large mounds of Scurvy Grass, whose bright white flowers added to the setting. .......... All of this balanced by the striking colours of the many boys and girls of all ages out for their morning walk, and for the more energetic to run or jog. ........... Out on the water six Great northern Divers dived for their sustenance. ............. Later on our way to Stragill Strand by car we stopped under the shade of sturdy tall trees near Clagan Bridge. Here we had our first sighting of the lovely little flowers of the Wood Sorell peeping from it's sunny abode with the light blue of new Dog Violets close by, from above the canopy the mewing call of a Buzzard echoed through the quiet of early mid day. ............ At Stragill we recorded more firsts for the season when when Jim, Mary and Sinead watched as Sand Martins flew to and fro checking suitable residences to rear their families. .......... Finally at Dunree Fort where Fulmars are already ensconced in safe ledges on the the great rocky monolith our final success was to record the fly past of a Orange Tip Butterfly.. After spending some time soaking up the warm rays of the Sun it was time to return to base and reflect on a most glorious day in the great outdoors.
A Cold Dry Breezy Day in April. Sat. 13th. April 2019. A strong piercingly cold easterly breeze vented it's anger on our outing to that wonderful arena of beauty and tranquility that is Bogay, nestling in the valley below Hollywell Hill. Even here the breeze was intent on impending on our pleasure. But undaunted by this meteorological interference we were treated to many gifts from natures basket of flora, with the beautiful opposite leaved Saxifrage adorned in it's varying tones of pale green, carpets of the miniature and beautiful Creeping Speedwell, great hosts of Lady's Smock, beds of Bluebells, and at one location a pink variation of the flower. The surrounding countryside was mostly aglow in the display of Blackthorn hedges, while many of the tall sturdy trees were flaunting their display of Wild Cherry blossoms. ....... In an old forgotten garden a weather-beaten door in the garden wall was surrounded by the clinging stems of Periwinkle, clad in masses of blue blossoms, it felt that the door if opened would lead back to times long gone by. ............ Our next move was to the old slate quarry near St. Johnston where a special occasion was celebrated when Mary was presented with a Birthday Cake by Anne, to a chorus of "Happy Birthday" by her well wishers. It was difficult to estimate the age of the recipient due to the close spacing of the flickering candle light, but the celebration and the cake went down well ! Today we reordered many birds through our travels, these included Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Chiffchaff, Goldfinch, Goldcrest, Willow Warbler, Redpoll, Blackbird, Shelduck, Mallard and Buzzard. ............ Homeward bound it was nice to see the emerging forms of the Cow Parsley, that in a few weeks time will transform the country roads to a paradise of white Lace.
An Easter Saturday's Nature Watching. Sat. 20th. April 2019. Today replicated the wonderful weather of the last few days of calm, rain free and bright warm sunshine embracing the northern half of the country. The only missing constituant of the formula on this occasion was the bright sunshine, but the Weather Gods substituted this with a light gray mist to enmesh the whole countryside, that in turn impaired our ability to report on what was visible beyond a kilometer. ........... This inconvenience didn't interfere with the enjoyment of our outing that began in the Malin Town area. Then followed Culdaff, where as at Malin Town, the river estuary here, was devoid of our winter visitors such as Teal, Wigeon and Barnacle Geese, that have by now departed from our shores. ........ At a little trodden pathway in the Culdaff region we were amazed to watch a Chaffinch weaving it's magical skill of nest building in an overhanging branch of a sturdy tree, employing large amounts of spiders web, wool, feathers and twigs. Further along the pathway was the unusual discovery of the beautiful flowers of London Pride Saxifrage. A little later we enjoyed a careful wander through the Bluebell Wood, and at another location we admired the beauty of the white variety of the plant........ Nearby the often overlooked and through familiarity was the stunningly beautiful Common Daisy. ........... Dandering through the heavenly sylvan woodland of Redford with immense areas immersed in a whiteout of Wood Sorell, Wood Anemones, Bluebells, Stitchwort. Down in the damp environment of the babbling stream clumps of Marsh Marigolds beamed their golden presents upwards. This is a special place worth a visit. ............ Our enjoyable day in the area had to be curtailed due to other commitments on this Easter Saturday.
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