Inishowen Wildlife Club

Views and News 2023


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A random selection of pictures from club outings in the past.
Our Wanderings Through a World of Nature, Beauty and Joy.
Saturday 7th. January 2023. No club outing due to other commitments on this cold bright sunny day, a day with hints of spring in the offing. Next Saturday we resume the winter bird count on the Swilly, with assembly as usual near the Stone Jug, Buncrana.
Pictures From a Gray January Day.
Saturday 14th. January 2023. After a long Christmas/New Year break, we began our activity for 2023. Are some of our Nature loving members copying its ways, either by migrating to warmer climes or simply hibernating? In any case, today only three veterans faced the conditions to carry out our monthly Count. 
Although conditions slightly improved by early afternoon, in the main they were challenging and weather conditions coupled with a high tide meant that there were few birds feeding along the shore and most had sought whatever shelter they could find. Gulls, especially the Greater Black-backed seemed to enjoy the conditions but the fact that we saw only one Red Shank gives an idea of how unusual the results of this Count were. On the other hand we counted almost three hundred Dunlin at one spot. There were Curlew, Shelduck, a few Wigeon and Mallard and more than usual Great Crested Grebe but no Geese were seen.
Crossing The Causeway onto Inch we spotted an Otter hunting in The Lake and after several dives saw it emerge with a large Eel and torpedo off to the safety of the reeds to enjoy its meal minic.We in turn lunched Chez Boyd where we were entertained by the sight of a Yellowhammer and a Treecreeper on a nearby tree. With Met Eireann's promise of deteriorating conditions we followed our feathered friends' example and sought the comfort of our own homes.
Friday 20th. January 2023. Due to the very severe weather over the the past week, and consideration for the safety of our members, tomorrow's club outing has been called off. We look forward to a more Spring-like input for next Saturday.
The Beauty of a Sun-drenched January Day.
Saturday 28th. January 2023. After a spell of unfavourable weather, Nature pulled out all the right stops and welcomed us back with a show to delight the senses. All is forgiven.
We set out to visit the area around Trawbreaga Bay. The tide was well in at our first stop on the southern shore. The high tide meant few waders feeding along the shore. A few Curlew and Oystercatchers were noted. In the distance we could see a flock of more than 200 Barnacle Geese grazing contentedly. We had to content ourselves with the spectacular views as we drove through Tornabratilly. Below us lay The Isle of Doagh, picturesque in the sunshine, its features reflected in the still waters. This route, usually a splash of colour in summertime, presented a tweed of browns and russets, a silent sepia to calm the spirit. 
The same atmosphere pervaded The Isle of Doagh. A few Curlew, Redshank, and a Phalarope performed it's characteristic routine, while Wigeon and Mallard sifted through the still waters bathed by a warm sun. Turning north on The Isle we got a close up of our Barnacle geese, they too enjoying the conditions and still grazing contentedly in a field. The waters stretching from McSheffreys Bridge to The Bar Mouth was like a mirror broken here and there by individual Cormorants, Mergansers, a Great Northern Diver and a lone seal. Small flock of waders, chiefly Curlew and Redshank moved along the shore.
The contrast was noticeable when we reached The Castles at Carrickabraghy. Some force originating far out in the Atlantic sent waves crashing against the shore, resulting in spectacular eruptions of white spume and foam, teasing our photographers to capture the action at its epitome. Against this background we lunched and basked in this bright sunlit  ambiance. By our usual standards we did not spot wildlife in great quantity or diversity. But Nature reveals its bounty in different ways. Today it was directed at the spirit, several moments of restorative mindfulness.

29th. January 2023. Our member Brian Hegerty submitted this picture of an Egyptian Goose he recorded a few days past at the new lake Dunfanaghey.
A Winter Visit to the Roe Valley Country Park.
Saturday 4th. February 2023. Today, hoping that we might escape the worst of the forecast rain and in any case that we would have some shelter, we crossed the border to visit the tree-lined River Roe near Limavady. 
Setting out from the Visitor Centre we remarked on the welcome sound of birdsong. Chaffinch, Tits and Goldfinch played solos backed by the melodious babbling of the river. On the river we spotted an inaptly named Grey Wagtail and further on a pair of Dippers was feeding, bobbing on the rocks before going underwater in search of food. On the trees that border the river, Grey Squirrels were visible making their way through the undergrowth, climbing trees and nonchalantly ignoring human intruders. There were signs of spring with Snowdrops in abundance and we recorded our first Lesser Celandine of the new year
Back at the Centre as we began our lunch the first drops of rain began to fall and despite our best intentions, as it got heavier, we were forced to call it a day. 

The season of flora and fauna's arrivals and departures.
Saturday 11th. February 2023. With definite touches of spring in the air and the prospect of birds soon heading north to breed, we met up at the Stone Jug in Buncrana to begin our penultimate Count of the season. With a very high tide, conditions were not  completely favourable, but the light was reasonable and the weather held well.
Numbers were average with high counts of Redshank, Dunlin, Osytercatcher and Wigeon. Shelduck and Mallard  were noticeable with more than usual sightings of Merganser. Brent were recorded including a lone darked-bellied individual. Another rare sighting was that of a Red-throated Diver. Most of our usual birds were represented, but we will have to wait for the final numbers after our next count in March before we can draw conclusions on the state of our waders. At our teabreak we watched Bullfinch, and Yellowhammer and later a flock of Shovelers and a Little Egret at Inch Lake.
While Winter Heliotrope were still evident it was the generous displays of Snowdrops that really stole our attention. We also spotted Traveller's-joy, a plant more common in the south of Ireland. We are inching our way towards the seasons of warmth and colour.

A most rewarding outing in the Inch Lake area with members of the South Donegal Birders Club.
Saturday 17th. February 2023. When we look back on today, it had all the ingredients of a satisfactory day; not perfect, because we always want more, more birds more excitement, more sun etc. This is what we experieced.
We met at Inch Causeway on a dull morning but with Met Eireann promising improving conditions. Despite the increasing human interference, Inch Lake still continues to attract  the wildlife enthusiast. While standing swapping news of the week past, one of our members caught a glimpse of the White-tailed Eagle that has made Inishowen its homeland during the past year. Later we spied two Peregrines leave their observation perch to hunt down a duck, unsuccessfully to the relief of their prey. At the end of the day we spotted  a Sparrowhawk hunt, again in vain, a kingfisher at Blanket Nook. 
Overall we saw a great variety of birds among which Buzzard, Cormorant, Little Egret, Goldeneye, Goldcrest, Great Crested Grebe, Greenshank, Greylag Goose, Knot, Lapwing, Linnet, Mallard, Merganser, Oystercatcher, Redpoll, Redshank, Shelduck, Shoveler, Teal, and Yellowhammer, a veritable cornucopia.
The final ingredient, good company, was supplied by members of the South Donegal Club, whom we had not seen since pre-covid days and who were visiting the Inch area on their outing.
All in all, a day to remember. Those who remember the English homework composition  "A day out at........" would have been delighted ..........  Pictures by Sinead.

Saturday 25th. February 2023. No club outing today due to other commitments.
A worthwhile day in the Malin Area amongst our feathered friends.
Saturday 4th. March 2023. On a crisp calm morning a full attendance of members gathered in Carn for our outing. At our first stop on the southeastern shore of Trawbreaga Bay we soon realised that with the tide at its lowest we would have to search closely for birds especially waders. Malin Town proved equally fruitless apart from a few Mallard, Curlew and Gulls. 
Heading north,  matters improved dramatically. In the fields just beyond the birdhide a large flock of Barnacle, spread over three fields, continued to feed contentedly as we watched from the road. In their midst were three Pink-footed Geese. A short detour inland to Ballagh revealed the appearance of Lesser Celandine with a Buzzard hovering overhead.
Stopping at Goorey for lunch we watched substantial numbers of Brent along with Merganser, Wigeon, Curlew, a lone Little Egret and the drama of a Gull trying to relieve a Great Northern Diver of the crab he had just caught. Hoping to spy some Chough we ascended Knockamany but only  saw a herd of Alpaca. Descending to Malin Head via  Port Caman, Culoort, Gortnamullan, Crossroads, Ineuran Bay, Banba's Crown, Eskey and finally Portmore we had recorded Eider, Shelduck, Shag, Raven, Black Guillemot and Stonechat.
Apart from Barnacle and Brent, birds were small in numbers but the variety in such scenic surrounding made it a worthwhile day.
Saturday 11th. March 2023. No club outing today due to the forecast of Arctic conditions. On the brighter side, our member Brian Hegarty early last Saturday morning heard, then saw and photographed a Greatspotted Woodpecker in Lisnagrath Woods.
Some of Natures jewels observed during the final bird count of part one of the 2022/23 season.
Saturday18th March. 2023. The hardy souls who survived the St. Patrick's Day celebrations gathered at the mouth of the Crana River to begin the final count of the 2022/3 season. Faced by a cold blustery wind, reinforced at times by driving rain, even the birds did not seem to relish the day ahead to judge by their low numbers. Redshank, which we usually count in hundreds, seem to have begun their northern migration. There were birds; Oystercatchers, Curlew, Mallard, Merganser, Shelduck, Brent etc. but nothing to get excited about. We look forward to their return in the autumn.
Following reports of a Bean Goose in the Inch area we searched the flocks in the Slob fields for a sighting. But we could find nothing unusual among the Greylag, White-fronted or Canada Geese. After a cuppa in the shelter of the hide at the Carpark overlooking the swollen Inch Lake, we were off again on another mission. Earlier in the week ,one of our members took delivery of a badly injured Barn Owl found in the Newtown area. A search of the area gave no evidence of Owl activity.
At this juncture, with the prospect of an Irish Grand Slam in the offing, we decided to call it a day. A job well done.
Another peep into Natures jewelry box.
Saturday 25th. March 2023. During the past few weeks we had reports of Barn Owls in various parts of Inishowen, including an injured Owl delivered to one of our members, which despite the best veterinary care subsequently died. Inishowen Wildlife Club has over the years placed boxes in various parts of The Peninsula to encourage nesting. So today's outing had two goals: first of all to inspect the boxes we had placed and secondly to look at sites (old buildings and trees) where Owls might be found and boxes sited in the future. Setting off from our meeting point at Burt in dismal conditions we worked our way south, Despite calling at farms and derelict buildings on our journey and receiving much support and encouragement from those we met on the way we found no concrete evidence of Owl activity. However we did not ignore the other birds we encountered on the way especially as we approached Blanket Nook. Yellowhammers were spotted in  the rising temperatures, sunshine and light. At Grange Embankment, a sustantial flock of Knot was noted among the Godwit, Shelduck, two Little Egrets, Wigeon, and  a lone Long-tailed Duck while at the southern end of the Lake we saw Goldeneye and Merganser.  Our botanists reported abundant Lesser Celandine and Primrose and emerging Golden Saxifrage, Violets, Red Deadnettle and Navelwort. An early Peacock butterfly was spotted. Spring has truly sprung and summer is on the horizon.
Pictures from Near and Far.
Saturday 1st. April 2023. Today some members of the club decided to avail of an opportunity to visit the Inner Hebridean Island of Islay, while others with dark misty clouds covering Bulba gathered at the carpark in Clonmany. Conditions dictated that we would be travelling in hope rather than expectation that we might even catch a glimpse of a Golden Eagle proved to be more than optimistic.
Travelling over Pinch to Dunree with nothing to report on the way. At Dunree Fort the Fulmars were beginning to nest on the cliffs as a Raven patrolled in the mist. 
The sun made a brief appearance as we moved along Hillside, stopping at one of our favorite viewing points. We could not but admire the scene with mist drifting along the hills above, the rush of the mountain stream, the glistening droplets on the vivid blossom of the Whins and the soft warm breeze. Much of our time was spent in friendly conversation with locals we met on the way, all adding to the pleasant atmosphere of the day.
A Stonechat saluted us after our descent of Mamore Gap and we moved on to Roxtown. A flock of Brent was feeding in the quiet of Roxtown Harbour. Into Clonmany and down to Binnion where wildflowers were beginning to appear; stretches of Lesser Celandine interspersed with Wood Anemone and Primrose, and Marsh Marigold lining the stream. The roadside was full of Wild Garlic and flowering Blackthorn. Grey Heron had already begun to set up a colony near the river. Not a day for the birdwatcher but Nature has different ways of expressing its beauty and kindling the promise of a bountiful summer.......... Meanwhile on Islay, we set off this morning from Ballycastle on an outing to the island of Islay in the Scottish Hebrides in torrential rain, we expected similar weather conditions on the island.  We were pleasantly surprised however to experience a bright warm day on our arrival in Port Ellen.  From here we were taken by minibus to the nature Reserve where there was an abundance of birds.  We saw (to name a few):  Chough, Wheatear, Willow Warbler, Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Buzzard, White Tailed Sea Eagle, Barnacle, White Fronted, Pink Footed and Greylag Geese, Wigeon, Teal, Golden Plover, Shoveler and the exquisite Pintail.  Red Deer silhouettes painted a majestic picture against the heather clad hills with a blue sky background.  Small passerines observed were:  Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Stonechat, linnet, Bullfinch and Goldfinch.    Pairs of Curlew called loudly as they displayed in anticipation of the coming breeding season. On our way to the island we saw a Harbour Porpoise,  Common Scooter, Manx Shearwater, Guillemot, Razorbill and Gannet. All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our day. ..........Thanks to Martin for his report on their short visit to the Island.
Welcomed visitors to Inch Lake.
Monday 3rd. April 2023. Today our sharp-eyed birder Martin, photographed and watched, for a considerable time a Marsh Harrier, a seasonal short term visitor to the reed beds at Inch Lake Also present in the region was a Great Egret. Well spotted Martin.
A dander through Muff Glen.
Saturday 8th. April 2023. Temperatures in the teens and dry conditions greeted us as we gathered at Gransha, Derry to explore the eastern side of Lough Foyle. After the usual catching up on the news, mainly about wildlife, -  who saw what and where - we set off for Muff Glen. 
It was a magical start. Trees were coming into bud and some were decorated in a profusion of flowers. The floor of the glen was a carpet of Celandine, Wood Anemone and the paths lined with Dandelion and Daisy. The soundtrack was provided by the gurgling stream and the birdsong. Pigeons flapped through the trees, while Goldcrest, Meadow Pippit, Blackbird and Song Thrush looked for advantageous locations to announce their presence. A Buzzard dropped from a tree before us and showed us the way as it followed the path before us. We were delighted to meet fellow wildlife enthusiasts in the form of Eglinton Red Squirrel Club as they pursued their goal of nurturing and protecting the Red Squirrels in the glen. Well done to them.
Further stops were made at Faughanvale, Limavady and Myroe. A variety of birds, particularly Waders, were recorded: Redshank, Merganser, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Godwit, Grey Heron, Pied Wagtail and Grey Wagtail, Sand Martin, Little Egret, Curlew and Skylark. Curlew Sandpiper and Pintail were  the finds of the day. The changing of the guard or summer migration is in full swing.
Some of the gems seen today through Sinead's lens.
Saturday 15th. April 2023. A favourable forecast of benign temperatures and clear skies prompted us to extend our horizons from Inishowen and head south for the secluded sylvan surrounds of Lough Eske. 
Once we turned off the N15 we found ourselves in an enchanted land. Parking at Ardnamona Woods we wandered through a wonderland of biodiversity. Paths were bordered by Spring's Sunday best; Lesser Celandine, Primrose and Dandelion, while among the ancient Oaks, Holly, Birch, Alder and Hazel were strewn carpets of Mosses, Wood Sorrel, and Wood Anenome, interspersed with bouquets of Primrose, clumps of Greater Tussock Sedge, sprinklings of Cuckoo Flower,and lone Dog Violets. Clinging to some of the trees were Ramalina and Birch Bracket Fungus amid Ferns such as Hard Fern, Hart's Tongue and Polypody. 
Against the background of babbling brooks, small birds announced their presence; the Song Thrush and Great Tit, while we spied a Treecreeper in search of insects. Buzzards called overhead and a few were spotted. For many the highlight of the day was spotting a Golden Eagle doing its skydance, followed by a White-tailed Eagle, so far off in the distance that only the younger keen-eyed members could appreciate them. The Great Spotted Woodpecker, permitted us to hear his call but afforded us only fleeting glimpses.
A good turnout of members was on hand to wish one of our numbers, Mary, a Happy Birthday, with greetings and cake  supplied and among the company we came across was a group from Singapore, full of praise and appreciation for the wonderful setting. And so say all of us.
The Joys of a Beautiful Spring Day.
Saturday 22rd. April 2023.We made our way in glorious sunshine today on a quest to try to find the the roosting place of a barn Owl which had been spotted near Carndonagh recently.  Club members searched old buildings such as barns and disused houses but unfortunately to no avail. We were rewarded however, with beautiful rustic scenery, flora and wildlife.  Birdsong filled the air as if welcoming spring.  Swallows flew like miniature falcons in search of flying insects.  A pair of Buzzards soared together in a clear blue sky probably over their intended nesting area.  A Sparrowhawk flew high over a forest carrying prey in it's needle sharp talons.  Other birds observed today were:  Willow Warbler, Siskin, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Raven and Mistle Thrush. Our search for the owl will continue throughout the summer. Todays report was submitted by Martin.
Nature at its best in a sun-soaked Culdaff region.
Saturday 29th. April 2023. Today was a foretaste of those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer that we all look forward to. Temperatures were on the rise as we gathered in Carn even though threatening clouds lined the horizon. 
Our first stop at Malin Town revealed a small flock of Whimbrel far out in the estuary and four Little Egret. The river itself was devoid of activity. Heading east towards Culdaff we diverted and took the narrow country roads above Aughaclay, and what a vision! Vast expanses of vibrant yellow Whins greeted us at every turn, The roadsides were dotted with Primrose, Violet, Stitchwort and Dandelion and in the damper areas of the fields  Cuckooflower and Lesser Celandine provided the colour. And where flowers bloom there are butterflies. Today we counted Peacock, Tortoiseshell, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood.
Small birds sang in the bushes, especially Chiffchaff. We also noted Wheatear, Stonechat, Redpoll, Linnet, Skylark, Greenfinch, Siskin, Swallow and Blackcap. And hoping to benefit from their productivity were Buzzard, Pergrine and Sparrowhawk. We also had a close encounter with a Raven perched on the mast of a berthed boat at Bunagee Pier. Fresh clumps of Sea Pinks graced the rocks near the pier. 
We made our final stop at Redford making our way down the leafy lane to the sea. Marsh Marigold and Wood Anemone lined the banks of the little stream alongside the path while Bluebells caught the light in the clearings in the woods. Herb Robert, Bush Vetch, Lousewort, Milkwort and Early Purple Orchid  were starting to appear.
Just as we decided to call it a day the threatened rain materialised, depositing widespread heavy showers, whose waters will feed the emerging plants. Happy with our day we made our way home to the beat of windscreen wipers.
Our outing to the Clonmany area in the glorious month of May.
Saturday 6th. May 2023. As we gathered under the damp misty hills in Clonmany, little did we think how wonderful a day lay before us. Even before we set off, we spotted two Buzzard circling overhead. Who was watching whom?
We crossed Pinch to the call of the Cuckoo, a sound that we heard a few times today, along with the song of the Sedge Warbler and the sight of a passing family of Long-tailed Tits.
The Fulmars had not yet begun to nest at Dunree, but we spotted a few Black Guillemot searching for a nest site. Hillside was quiet as we continued on our way to Mamore Gap. Crossing The Gap brought us into a new land of warm sunshine and panoramic views. We were now in the habitat of Wheatear which we saw in numbers. A Buzzard, perched near a nest we had discovered last year, led us to hope that it would be occupied again this year. 
The sound of Willow Warbler punctuated our journey along the shore as did the sighting of Stonechat. We watched a Buzzard, with its prey dangling from its talons, evade the attention of a few annoying Rook. At sea we spotted a pod of Common Dolphin breach while a lone Shelduck  was spotted near the shore. Temperatures were rising as we approached Roxtown Harbour at low tide. Whimbrel and Oystercatcher fed in the lagoon as a sole Sparrow sang on the quay.
Our final stop at Binnion gifted us with a platter from Nature. The roadside was adorned with Wild Garlic, Bluebell,  Marsh Marigold, Pignut and Hawthorn. A heronry yielded a view of three adults and in the air a Buzzard passed overhead. The strengthening sunshine produced Orange Tip, Speckled Wood and Ringlet. Just the jewels to crown a wonderful day.
A beautiful day in May.
Saturday 13th. May 2023. We set off today with a depleted crew in the direction of Culdaff in beautiful sunny, warm conditions which warranted the use of sun protection.  As we made our way along, a pair of Bullfinches foraged in golden yellow gorse bushes by the roadside as the sound of those ubiquitous summer visitors to our shores, Willow Warblers resounded in the surrounding countryside.  As our expert botanist Anne Toland was  not with us today, we depended on Daniel to identify the abundant flora with the plant identifying app on his phone.  The bluebells were resplendent in the aptly named woods of Bluebell Hill near Culdaff.  Another familiar sound of summer the repeating tones of Chiffchaffs echoed through the woods. For a change of scenery and habitat, we made our way to Tremone Bay where we were pleasantly surprised to see a family of Ringed Plovers with two newly hatched chicks scurrying along the shore.  Gannets were present in good numbers out on the sea some of them resting on the waves while others dived into the water in search of breakfast.  Our next stop was Falmore House where we were treated to a feast of floral excellence on the pathway to the house and the surrounding decidious woods.  Other birds noted today were:  Siskin, Goldfinch, Buzzard, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Swallow, Wren, House Martin, Sand Martin and Whitethroat.  All in all a very enjoyable and relaxing day was spent in very pleasant conditions. 

Saturday 20th. May 2023. No club outing today due to members having commitments in other fields. We look forward to next Saturday when we will resume our normal activity.
Our meandering through the arboreal paradise of Lisnagrath.
Saturday 27th. May 2023. Our first stop today was at the beautiful Lis Na Gra woods near Muff, where we went in anticipation of seeing the Great Spotted Woodpecker which had been spotted there by club member Brian Hegarty a few weeks ago.  Our search was in vain as we did not see or hear the woodpecker.  We were not disappointed however as we saw and heard a variety of other birds including Buzzard, Chaffinch, Raven, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Willow Warbler, Siskin and Chiffchaff.  After an enjoyable ramble through the sun clad decidious woods, we set off to a contrasting coniferous sitka spruce forest in the Illies passing hedgerows adorned with Cow Parsley, Bluebells and Buttercups. As we walked the forest path we noted Milkwort, Tormental and Lousewort while nearby a Cuckoo welcomed us with it's distinctive call from the treetops. The gentle breeze forced pollen to emerge like great puffs of smoke from the sitka saplings as we made our way along the forest glade.  Our final stop took us to observe one of the few breeding pairs of curlew remaining in Donegal and we felt privileged to see them in their breeding habitat.  All in all a very enjoyable day was had by everyone. ..... Thanks to Martin for todays report.
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