Views and News
     

 

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    Above is a small random selection of some of the many pictures taken by members during 2016.
     
    To view the Butterfly Ireland web site Click http://www.butterflyireland.com/
     
    The Clubs First Outing for 2017.
    Saturday 7th January 2017. Our first outing for the year 2017 was enjoyed in a day of mists, light drizzle and fog with intermissions of blazing sunshine and unbelievable temperatures that reached thirteen degrees at one point. ...... A full compliment of members including Wil Buis, representing our Dutch membership set off to the St Johnston area where we were invited to install a Barn Owl nesting box in what was described as a site of great potential and with a history of the species in recent times. ...... This labour of love continued at another site with an equally great potential, but none of these projects could have been achieved without the skilled craftsmanship of our own Brian Hegerty who constructed the boxes.......... After all this work, lunch time had passed it's customary time, but this was compensated for when we partook of our repast in the historic and royal surrounds of the ancient fort of Grian-an Aileach, that overlooks the magnificent vista of Lough Swilly silently flowing through a landscape of mountains, planes and valley's to its journey's end in the great Atlantic Ocean. ........, Later a more relaxed afternoon was enjoyed with a visit to the Bird Hide at Tready Point on the shore of InchLake, where Shoveler, Pintail, Mallard and Tufted Duck were conveniently sited near our position, in the distance Buzzard were resting on fence posts, while the smooth water of the lake had the appearance of a busy airport with Whopper Swans and Greylag Geese continuously landing and taking off...... ....... We received news of a unconfirmed report from a reliable source that a Crane has been seen in the Derry Area, to see such a bird would have been some start to the Birding year..
     
    Some Pictures From Todays Visit to the Eastern Side of Inishowen.
    Sat.14th. Jan. 2017. In a morning of greyness, exacerbated by at times persistent light rain that might have had the effect of dampening our ardour for the venture to the eastern boundaries of the Peninsula, but not so, for when at Priestown not far from Carndonagh, the sight of an exceptionally large flock of Barnacle Geese estimated at an excess of eight hundred that carpeted a couple of fields with an area of about seven acres gave us the fillip to enjoy the day's outing. ...... Next stop was at Malin Town Bridge where homage was paid to the statuesque form of the Little Egrets attired in their plumage of sparkling white standing forlornly on the banks of the Estuary waiting the high tide to dissipate and enable them to forage for their breakfast. Near the Parochial Hall many Wigeon, Teal, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Mallard, Grey Heron and a few Greenshank enjoyed the early morning siesta. ............. from the little bird hide at the Culdaff Estuary the same species as at Malin Town were recorded, the one exception was the presence of that long term tourist namely the American Wigeon. ...... After this stop it was off in an easterly direction, with a little time spent at Tirahork, where we hoped to perhaps see a Hen Harrier drift across this great heathered moorland, and roadsides festooned with the occasional Whin bushes, flaunting their stunningly beautiful fresh yellow blossoms, on our journey to this spot four Buzzard were recorded. ... Another change of direction saw us veer in a south eastern direction that took us to the crest of Crucknanoneen Hill, from where we were treated to an outstanding panoramic view of the north coast, extending from Inishowen Head to the faint outline of Malin Head, and where the middle distance landscape was pockmarked with slow swivelling shafts of sunlight. ......... This was followed by a short visit to the adjacent Lough Fad, located in a snug heather clad recession, the lake is renowned for the Char Trout to be found there, but to land one require special angling skills. ... Later a short stop was made at the shore line near the Redcastle Golf Club. This was followed by the final stop of the outing and to have an amble through the leaf strewn beautiful Woodlands near Moville, where unfortunately a grey Squirrel was spotted to cast a shadow on our visit to this sylvan retreat.
     
    A Summer's Day in January.
    Sat. 21st.Jan. 2017. What an wonderful day we had to participate in the monthly Winter Bird Count of Lough Swilly. With the countryside aglow in the warm smiling face of the beaming Sun, that had the effect of coaxing Snowdrops and the occasional Daffodil to respond in kind from their snug abodes to herald the return of the miracle of spring. ...... Another difference on this occasion was that instead of starting the count at Buncrana as is the usual routine we commenced at Inch Island, where we were invited by our good friends and members, Boyd and Bridie Bryce, to see the very large flocks of small birds comprised mostly of Linnets, with many Chaffinch, and Dunnock added for good measure. Collectively these flocks were conservatively estimated at an excess of one thousand. This phenomenon would not be possible without the wisdom and generosity of Boyd and Bridie who leave many special verges and areas on their well maintained farm suitably planted to provide an abundance of food for our feathered friends. ........... Now it was time to start the bird count on the Lough, which progressed favorably due to the perfect conditions as we moved to the finishing line.. ...... The rising tide was generous in it's contribution by encouraging the birds to come closer to the shore before this self service store closed down. ...... On reaching our last stop at Buncrana a sense of satisfaction was achieved on the results of this exceptional outing.
     
    The Day of the Buzzards and Peregrine Falcons.
    Sat.28th. Jan. 2017. The club outing to he eastern shore line of Lough Foyle was designated the "Day of the Buzzards and Peregrine Falcons" After members from difference compass points assembled in the stillness of the sylvan wonderland of Lisnagrath, Muff, where an exciting welcome was extended to us by throngs of Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Robin, like hosts of angles descending from heaven to our outstretched hands for the crumbs from the table of mere mortals, how humbling!. .......... Our next move was to pay a brief visit to the recently constructed Park at Culmore from where great flocks of waders, Ducks, Geese, Gulls and a couple of Little Egrets frolicked in the bright morning sunlight. A few bonus points were awarded with the sighting of a flock of Twite as they flitted from the green carpeted grass to the branches of the newly planted trees. ......... Now it was off to the foreshore of Ballykelly, where many species of Wildfowl, Gulls and Egrets were noted, and from where we recorded our eighth Buzzard of fifteen seen, and the third of the five Peregrine sighted today. .......... After this enjoyable sojourn it was off to the shore at Myroe. ........Then to the bird hide at the Barmouth of the river Bann. Here among the eclectic collection of birds was another of our recordings of a Peregrine Falcon. ......Our day was topped off with a drive on the elevated roadway of the great iconic rocky bastion of Benevenagh. What a day enjoyed in continuous sunshine.
     
    Our Outing to the Fanad Peninsula.
    Sat. 4th. Feb. 2017. A early start saw us set off for a rendezvous with the members from many parts of Donegal and beyond to an outing organised by the county branch of BirdWatch Ireland under the leadership of Liz and Ralf Sheppard. The large number of enthusiasts set off from the quay in Ramelton with the welcomed sunshine adding it's charm on the gently lapping water of the estuary. On it's open expanse Red-breasted Merganser and Golden Eye plundered it's depth, while near the shore and on it's banks Redshank, Greenshank and Teal, enjoyed what was available in the shallows, while a flotilla of Mallard plied their trade as they moved from near the shore, with the brilliant green head feathers glittering in the morning light, and overhead that great predator the Peregrine Falcon etched it presence against the cloudless sky ......After checking other favorite nooks and crannies we set off for the seaside town of Rathmullen, where flocks of Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Dunlin raced mouse-like, hither and tithe to the rhythm of of the little waves on the sandy beach at the rear of the pier. Out in mid channel Great Northern Divers and Mergansers appeared to then disappear beneath the cobalt surface of Lough Swilly. ......With the completion of the BirdWatch Ireland outing and the pangs of hunger expecting retribution, it was off to that most spectacular scenic roadway of knockallagh, from where the beauty of our own Inishowen was fully appreciated. Soon a suitable sheltered spot was found from the now rather cold wind, where we enjoyed our lunch. then it was next stop Fanad Head and it's towering Lighthouse, after the enjoyment of this area it was homeward bound along the shore line of Mulroy Bay, Carrickeel, Letterkenny and Inishowen.
     
    Sat.11th. Feb. 2017. What a most extraordinary day that was our pleasure to experience when we visited the Clonmany region in pursuit of of the Golden Eagles that are known to reign supreme here. While parked at the Square in the town to await a few more members, we were amazed to see serenely soaring the object of our desires as it drifted on the up draughts of the beautiful surrounding mountains, at times the tags attached to the bird could be seen flashing in the bright morning sunlight. ......... After regaining our composure from this treat it was off to the road's end at Binnion where a flock of about twelve or more Grey Heron were gathered perhaps discussing the weather or maybe the availability of frogs in their damp rushey field. Not far away a lone Canada Goose seamed to be just whiling away the morning. Then the shout went up that the Eagle was in the air again, on this occasion in the company of its mate, then as if things couldn't get better, a Peregrine Falcon made it's entrance to the joy of everyone. .......... Now with lunch time pending we headed to Craigaleen on the western side of Tullagh Bay, where an angry sea, with great plumes of pristine white spray vented it's displeasure on the rock lined shore that were frustrating its intention of entering the more tranquil Bay. During our short visit here a Merlin was observed as it flew low in an eastern direction. ........ A little later after being fortified by mugs of hot tea to dispel the effects of the low temperature it was off to Lenankeel where a Buzzard and a sparrowhawk were added to the list. Next it was up the spectacularly steep winding road of the Gap of Mamore, and back to the town of Clonmany, then home to recount the pleasures encountered on this day of Raptors..
     
    Sat. 18th. Feb. 2017. Our day began in somewhat grey, but relatively mild conditions when we participated in the penultimate winter count of the Birds of Lough Swilly, that included those that reside here throughout the year and those that come here to enjoy the benefits of our temperate winters. Their arrival begin in September and October, and depart again from March to April. ...... The early part of our count produced very low numbers, but as the day progressed there was a marked improvement, this was mostly due to the high tidal waters that soon started to ebb, that allowed more birds to start feeding on the exposed sand and deposits of deep mud. .......Little did we realise the surprise that awaited us after concluding our task of counting, we usually stop for a break at the new car park near Mc Grath's on Inch Island, where after having a look through the large number of birds on view a couple of our sharp eyed members got the shock of their lives when they spotted a Laner Falcon on the ground near the watery road. After watching the bird for some considerable time it took off in pursuit of a Redshank, that avoided the assassin by diving into the waters of the Lake. The falcon continued on it's way to the Farland Bank area where we lost sight of it. ....... Earlier at the Mill Bay Beach a number of Common Scoter and a few Scaup were spotted but they were rather far removed from the shore. Also noted today were Yellowhammer, Buzzard, Kestrel and Little Egrets. ..... What a day !
     
    Outing to Straths, Malin, Culdaff and Drumnagasson Region
    Sat.25th. Feb. 2017. "To go or not to go"? that was the question circulating in the minds of our members last night, as there was a real threat of more severe weather hanging like the "Sword of Damocles" over today's outing. But good fortune prevailed and we set off to the Straths area near Carndonagh, where a very small number of Barnacle Geese were recorded, instead of the expected flocks of hundreds usually found here. That disappointment was dispensed with and well compensated for as we watched a Peregrine Falcon labour for a considerable time in procuring it's breakfast of an unfortunate Teal, that dived below the waters of Trawbreaga Bay a number of times to avoid the efforts of it's adversary that didn't relish the thoughts of getting its feathers saturated. The drama continued for about twenty minutes with the Peregrine the victor as expected. .......... In the adjoining fields reasonable numbers of Curlew and Oystercatcher foraged in a more peaceful way, as did the flotilla of Shelduck, following their example were Mallard, Wigeon and Teal. ...... Making it's appearance near here was a beautiful melanotic Pheasant proudly strutting it's iridescent beauty for all to see. ........... Now it was to the Malin Town Bridge where Little Egrets, Mallards, Wigeon, Teal, Grey Heron, Redshank and a variety of Gulls were noted, but one of these was more outstanding than the rest as it was an Iceland Gull. In some of the more sheltered local habitat a beautiful clump of the Three-cornered Garlic was recorded, as was those other harbingers of spring namely Primrose, Dandelion and Daffodil that stirred the thoughts of the warm sunny days ahead. .......... At the little hide at the Culdaff Estuary, our old friend the American Wigeon. seams to have taken up a permanent winter residence here and was displaying its pale cream head colour that suggested a similarity to it's Country's President. The remainder of of our outing was in the Drumnagasson region where we had hoped to see a Hen Harrier but without success. Today ten Buzzard and a Kestrel were noted, and so concluded our rain free day.,
     
    Pictures from todays visit to Muff Glen and Ballykelly.
    Sat. 4th. March 2017. Our proposed activity for today's outing was to be an assault on the upper regions of Aught Hill situated between Muff and Quigleys Point on the eastern boundary of our Peninsula. On a previous visit to the area a male Hen Harrier was sighted, perhaps on this occasion a further sighting could be recorded. So with the arranged assembly point at the magnificent Lisnagrath Wood our members from their different areas on arrival at the iconic woodland, were greeted as usual by those little angelic feathered creations, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Coal Tit, and Robin, masterpieces of grace and beauty that descended from the dark bare branches of the great lofty sentinels standing silently in the stillness of the morning. After a short stay absorbing the peace and beauty of the place it was decided that due to the dark curtain of mist suspended over the local hills put paid to our original plans, so a quick change was made that saw us pay a brief call at the new Country Park at Culmore, where large flocks of Mallard, Wigeon, Teal and a smaller number of Shelduck, Great-crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Grey Heron and the usual mix of Common, Herring and Blacked-headed Gulls were in attendance. ........ Our next activity was to amble through another haven of tranquility and beauty, namely the Muff Glen near Eglinton where mighty sylvan giants reach into the midday sky and where the Dipper flitted from rock to rock in the fast flowing stream, while Wagtails wobble on the walkways and that miniature marvel the Goldcrest seems to to be relishing the warm sunlight filtering through the tangle of low bushes. After a relaxing break for the usual intake of tea and sandwich it was on to the shore of Lough Foyle at Ballykelly where six little Egrets puddled through the mud deposits of a little stream while others checked what was on offer in the water saturated fields. The best sighting of the day was the number of Tree Sparrows and the rare Brambling intermingled with Chaffinch, Dunnock and Great Tits. While overhead large flocks of Golden Plover and Oystercatcher performed their well rehearsed flying skills against a background of sky blue. Now with the sands of time slipping through the narrow aperture of life's hourglass it was time for home.
     
    " Oh Joy, Oh 'Raptors' unforseen
    The clouded sky is now serene
    The god of day - the orb of love
    Has hung his ensign high above.
    ( With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan. )
    Saturday 11th. March 2017. Today will remain in the memory, not only for the weather, a bright warm day reminding us that the Sun is about to return to the Northern Hemisphere; not only for the messengers of Spring in the form of Crocus, Snowdrop, Daffodil, Lesser Celendine, Coltsfoot, Wood Anemone and leafy signs of Wild Garlic; not only for the sightings of Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Kestrel, Peregrine and Buzzard; but primarily for the sightings and magical ariel displays of a pair of Golden Eagles. We marveled as they navigated the thermals around the Urris Hills, stood in awe as they avoided the mobbing of a number of Buzzards, applauded their courtship display as they dived and soared in the clear sunlight. We finally left the majestic female - sixteen years old as calculated from its tags - perched on a crag overlooking the village of Clonmany, mistress of all she surveyed. This was not a day for twitchers, but for those who marvel at the manifestations of Nature. ...... Thanks to Jim Toland for today's report in the absence of our regular scribe.
     
    A Couple of Spring's Floral Emissaries during our Bird Count today.
    Sat. 18th. Mar. 2017. Today's outing saw the conclusion of the Winter Bird Count on Lough Swilly for the 2016/2017 season and to our involvement in the exercise, a task we very much enjoy being involved in and together with the other counters on their different sections of the Lake adding to the data base being accumulated by BirdWatch Ireland for their National Survey. ......... As is usual our starting point was at Buncrana Pier where a very full tide didn't allow for many birds on the shore line or the water, but refuge was found on the large acreage of well maintained shore front grass areas that would have many worms coming to the surface due to the heavy rainfall of yesterday and last night, or perched on the rocks projecting above the water of the Lough. We then worked our way along Lisfannon to The Marina at Fahan where a noticeable drop in the tide saw some birds checking out their larder....... Next it was on to the eastern shore of the Fahan Creek and then to Inch Island, where by this time the fast retreating tide had large numbers of birds enjoying the wholesome offerings in the now revealed great meadow of the estuary.......... Among the birds of note today was the Ring-billed Gull, Iceland Gull and Ruddy Shelduck, and of course a few Buzzard and Sparrowhawk, and those twenty four carat treasures, the Yellowhammers. In conclusion it was a great pleasure to have Michael Savage a knowledgeable birder join us for today's adventure.
     
    A special day in the Malin Head Area.
    Sat. 25th. March 2017. Our Saturday Outings are always considered special, but today's was classified as an extra special occasion, with Mother Nature dispensing many gifts from her great treasure trove. These included a presentation of what a glorious Summers day should be like, with temperatures fluctuating between seventeen and eighteen degrees wafting over a spring-rich countryside aided by a gentle zephyr, and roadside verges displaying wonderful drifts of nodding Daffodils casting their golden glow for all to see, while from their cozy nooks Primroses smiled their acknowledgment to the Sun. ....That was what set the scene for our visit to the Malin Head area. .... As we drove out the Lagg road from Malin Town where earlier we recorded a pair of Buzzards, a small flock of Barnacle Geese caught our attention. A little further on near the Presbyterian Church, Shag, Cormorant, Common, Black-headed and Herring Gull, Brent Geese, Wigeon, Merganser, cast their reflections on the mirrored surface of Trawbreaga Bay. ... At the stunningly beautiful Knockamanny Bens the unmistakable call of Chough could be heard as they floated high in a cloudless sky on the rising thermals of mid day, and not far from here a Peregrine Falcon and Sparrow Hawk were noted. At White Strand Bay those most welcome of visitors the Whearers, flitted among the stones deposited on the roadside by the Winter storms, and from their observation station on fence posts Stonechats observed the human intrusion of their domain, further on Reed Bunting, Linnet and Twite were recorded, and in the now calm adjacent Ocean, Mallard, Shelduck and Merganser checked their underwater food supplies. ....... As the day progressed a number of those other harbinger's of summer, namely Butterflies in the form of Tortoiseshell fluttered by, as did a few Bumble Bees. ... To fully compliment our day was the sighting of a flock of eight hundred Barnacle Geese near Bambas Crown, and in their company a small number of Greylag and one Pink-footed Goose. .... Now with time pressing it was with regrets that we had to call a halt to a very special day.
     
    The Magic of Spring.
    Sat. 1st. April 2017. The magic of Spring was very evident today with nature's great magician casting her spell of beauty on the countryside with all the emerging floral tributes appearing for our admiration. All of these riches were on display as we set off to the hilly region beyond Glennagannen a favorite breeding site for Golden Plover. Due to the altitude and occasional mist, visibility was restricted, so we returned to lower ground at Effishmore, and from there down through the beautiful Carrowmore Glen where our first reward was to see the lovely flowers and variegated foliage of the Yellow Archangel plant set in it's sheltered habitat. .... Further down the glen to our delight were extravagant displays of Primroses set against a background of Opposite-leaved Saxifrage, with the occasional posy of the Blue flowered Dog Violet offering the perfect foil. ..... From here it was on through Tirraboy to Cambry, where we stopped for our lunch break. ..... Now fully fortified we were entertained by the vocal utterances of Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit and the recently arrived Chiffchaff, the efforts of a few Jackdaw and Pigeon were dismissed as being not of the required vocal standard. A little later Buzzards were seen soaring effortlessly in a near cloudless sky .............. At any time of the year it's almost mandatory to take a dander down the quiet roadway to Redford Beach, but during Spring it's not to be missed. On one side of the road that is perched precariously on the edge of a deep enchanting chasm where below and on the other roadside, deep, rich, carpets of the ubiquitous Opposite-leafed Golden Saxifrage have been laden with a random abundance of Wild Strawberry, Wood Anemone, Wood Sorrel, Greater Stitchwort, Wood Rush, Primroses and splashes of Lesser Celandine. On the sheltered bay at the shore a flotilla of Wigeon slowely move out to sea on our arrival. .......... Later at the great rocky Bastion of Dunmore near Culdaff we watched many families of Fulmer, some ensconced on nests while partners perform their hypnotic flying routine close by. ................Finaly when on our way home, at Mc Sheffrey's Bridge a flock of approximately three hundred Barnacle Geese plundered the fresh growth of new grass that will help to sustain them on their long journey to their breeding grounds in Greenland.
     
    A Spring Day Transformed Into Summer.
    Sat. 8th. April 2017. The sensation of being transported from our typical Spring weather with all it's beauty and advantages to a third dimension of bright burning sunshine focused from a pristine sky of blue; Choirs of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, celebrating the return to their place of birth with heavenly music, augmented by our resident songsters that included Robin, Chaffinch, Sparrow, Blue and Great Tit. This was the felling of joy that abounded among our members this morning when we set off from the Cloghan Glentogher, with the heady fragrence of the golden Whin bushes and hedges wafting across the whole area as we went to Cabry near Quigleys Point, where a check on the rather rare Marsh Violet, found here a few years past was carried out with a positive result. Then we sallied forth to Ballyargus where a search was made for the beautiful iridescent jewel, the Green Hairstreak Butterfly, but none were found, we may have been a tad early, but shortly after, the sighting of the wonderful Peacock compensated for our earlier disappointment. ......... At the little pier below the Redcastle Post Office we were the recipients of a great surprise when a Red Kite passed overhead pursued by a very unfriendly Hooded Crow. Here also Anne with the eye for things botanical pointed out the lovely Alexanders plants very contently thriving in their dapple shaded abode, also the brillant golden glow of the rampant Lesser Celendine ......... Next it was on to Moville to be entertained by a few Brent Geese enjoying the serene waters of the Foyle and by large numbers of Black Guillemots preparing for family life at the rear of the upper pier. It was here that a few Orange-tip Butterflies fluttered through the flowers and grasses that were hosting a large blanket of the stunningly beautiful Slender Speedwell and Ladies Smock ....... At this stage we had recorded the Red Kite and Ten Buzzards, one Peregrine Falcon, and a Sparrow Hawk. ........ Our final stop of the outing was at Inishowen Head where two more Buzzards were recorded to complete our day in the heaven that is Inishowen..
     
    Pictures from our Easter Outing
    Sat.15th. April 2017. From the bright warm sunshine of last Saturday, to the equally bright sunshine of today but with a piercingly cold wind of Arctic proportions, one more associated with the month of March was what we were presented with when the clubs activities involved a trip to the extreme western boundary of the Peninsula. ..... The first stop was at Straths Carndonagh, to establish if the Barnacle Geese that frequent this area had finally left for their breeding grounds on the lofty cliff ledges of Greenland, the conclusion was that they had. ......, Next we set off on the wonderful scenic road that skirts the steep mountain slopes of the majestic Coolcross Hill and Crockaughrim, where Golden Eagles are known to fly. From the other side of the road a spectacular vista stretches across the Isle of Doagh and the towering Knockamany Bens, all sparkling in the bright morning light, while Malin Head fades into the haze filled background of the great Atlantic Ocean. ......... This was followed by a visit to the snug little glade at the Ballyliffin Beach where sparkling water cascades from a high ledge to then flow and spread it's energy to the many emerging jewels of wildflowers and grasses that offer their welcome to all, with a prominence of Primroses, Butterburr, Celandine, Dog Violets and Water Mint. ...... Next it was another scenic treat as we drove up over Ardagh to the Gleneven Park, Clonmany, for our lunch, which on this occasion was a bit special, as we celebrated the birthday of our member Mary O'mahoney, with a rather nifty birthday cake provided by the ever mindful Anne Toland, to add to the occasion a few special guests in the form of Orangr-tiped Butterflies flutter nearby. Rumour has it that Mary may be now over Twenty-one again !!! ....... Now fully revived it was away to the Urris region where we watched graceful Gannets glide through the strong wind and then plunge spear like into the the rather disturbed but beautiful multi colourd blue sea. The birds in the area seemed to be keeping a low profile but near Lenan Pier a number Razorbill and Guillemot bobbed on the more sheltered water. Overhead a Kestrel with its russet plumage flashing in the sunlight flew in the direction of the old ruined army fort. .......Now after this sojourn it was up the steep and winding road of Mamore gap and then to the town of Clonmany, from where we went down the tree lined road to Binnion. On our way there a stop was made to admire the displays of Marsh Marigolds and the extensive stretches of Wild Garlic also known as Ramsons, nearby busy Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Meadow Pipit flew from branch to branch, as those numeras songsters Willow Warblers sang from their favourite bushes. Further down the road a pair of Buzzards circled high in the sky, and a Grey Herron was in her nest with two little fluffy chicks, how appropriate during the Easter period, a time of rebirth.
     
    A Game of Two Halves.
    Sat 22nd. April 2017. To use the old football parlance "It was Game of Two Halves" would describes today's outing, as the morning began with a cool greyness imposed by a deep blanket of mist and drizzle that obliterated the effort of the Sun to add any sparkle to the occasion, and also put paid to the intended visit to that favourite haunt of ours, the lovely snug haven of pastoral serenity that is Bogay, situated a few miles south of Bridgend. ....... A quick reshuffle saw us head instead to the old reliable Inch Lake areas that included the Farland Bank and Blanket Nook. ....... From the Farland Bank we had a good view of the specially prepared little islet nesting site for the Terns, that once again was being overrun by those thuggish Black-headed Gulls that have banished the Terns from their intended safe sites to narrow shore lines where a rise in the Lake water can have devastating consequences. On the seaward side of the bank a sizable flock of Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank fed on the exposed food rich mud, while overhead a large squadron of Golden Plover paraded their skilled flight against the grey sky. Next it was off to Blanket Nook, along roads with their verges glistening with continuous veins of Gold from the abundance of Dandelion flowers and a kaleidoscope of the blues, reds, yellows, whites and greens of emerging Spring flowers, all to the wonderful songs from the Yellowhammer, Blackcap, Linnet, Redpoll, Greenfinch, Willow Warbler and Chaffinch..... At the Nook we had a good view of a pair of Gadwall Duck while a few pair of Great-crested Grebes, sat patiently on their nests. ............... With the consumption of our favourite beverage it seemed to have the effect of having the Sun make it's welcomed appearance as we set off for the vernal freshness of spring at Lisnagrath Woodland, that retained it's rich russet carpet of copper leaves. While there we had the pleasure of meeting up with our good friend Dessie Mc Callion, the local historian and nature lover who told us about a Long-eared Owl nesting in the locality. Now with the bright sunshine and the increase in temperature a considerable time was enjoyed here before going to the Birdstown region where large numbers of Sand Martins were busily renovating their nesting abodes in preparation for their expected new families. With the Sun beaming down on us and with Six Buzzards circling high in the blue sky it was time for home.
     
    Bat Walk and Talk, at Malin Town. We have been requested by Noel Foley, Chairperson of the Donegal Association of An Taisce to display the details of their exciting subject of Bats on the 9th. May. An event not to be missed 
    We meet in the Malin Parish Hall 8 p.m. on Tuesday May 9th where we have an illustrated presentation on bats, their distribution world wide and in Ireland, their behaviour and their value in nature. We then go for a short twilight walk to bat habitats in the locality. Sonic Bat Detectors will be used to identify different species of bats on the wing.
    Our guide is Aengus Kennedy, a frequent guest on the Sean Doherty Show on Highland Radio and a well-known and entertaining nature guide. 
    This event is organised by the Donegal Association of An Taisce in association with Malin Tidy Towns. It is supported by Donegal Co. Council under its Local Agenda 21 Wildlife Awareness Initiative.
    Everyone Welcome. Suitable for all age groups. It is free. No need to book
     
    Last Club Outing for Spring 2017.
    Sat. 29th April 2017. To celebrate the joys and pleasures realised through the magical season of Spring, with the earth reacting in a manner to produce the soul inspiring colours and textures of the many wildflowers, bushes, trees and insects that decorate and inhabit the greening hedges and pastures of our blossoming countryside, We did so with a very leisurely meander through areas of Culdaff, Glengad, and Malin Head. Our first stop though was at Cuil near Carndonagh, where a check was made on sites here that in the past had the presence of Long-eared Owls. It was also here that we experienced the first flurry of Orange-tip and Green-veined White Butterflies, and where the tuneful twittering of the many Willow Warblers floated on the fresh morning breeze. ........ Then it was on through Clonca where a Kestrel was spotted hovering over a nearby ridge. This was followed with a saunter through a heavenly kingdom of peace and beauty, a sylvan wonderland of mighty leafy creations reaching high into a sunlit sky. Then to view a work in progress on a masterpiece in blue when completed at the local Bluebell Wood will be another object of great beauty in the weeks to come. ...... Next it was an amble along the western bank of the Culdaff River Estuary where a small number of Brent Geese, and Wigeon feasted in preparation for their imminent departure to their breeding grounds, while on the water of the high tide a Red-breasted Merganser fed near a large flotilla of Black-headed Gulls. .......... Before setting off through Glengad and the Malin Glen to Malin Head, a short stop off was made at Bonagee Pier where a buzzard was recorded drifting effortlessly in the strengthening wind. ......Then at our final destination a most pleasant time was enjoyed in the sunny sheltered area of " The Wee House of Malin", and the equally famous " Malin Well."
     
    Our Delightful Ramble to Stragill Beach and through Swan Park Buncrana.
    Sat. 6th. May 2017. Saved deep in the memory bank of the mind will be the appreciation of a most wonderful day of Summer's extravagance, with the Eye of Heaven looking down from a cloudless sky to focus its warmth and light on the bonanza of precious gifts of flora and fauna strewn in the most appropriate places on the sun saturated pathway from the place known as the Stone Jug, Buncrana, along the shore line, past Father Hegerty's Rock and then to near Stragill Beach. .... Scattered through the trees and along the path great drifts of the beautiful and aromatic Wild Garlic were flaunting their brilliant white flower head's, with a buffer zone of the stunning blue notes of the Bugle plants between the other pristine white forms of Stitchwort, all with a dense sprinkling of Yellow Pimpernel, Pignut, Herb Robert, Tufted and Bitter Vetch and splashes of Bluebells ringing the changes from their secluded abodes. At one particular part of the way it was referred to as the Alexanders Avenue, as both sides of the path was decorated by great orderly exhibits of the relatively unknown plant. ...... On our return walk many clumps of the colourful Sea Thrift were admired as it glowed from it's rocky habitat near the shore. ........ Now after our welcomed tea break, it was off to the adjacent world of tranquility and beauty that is Swan Park, where the Crana River welcomed everyone present with it's soft musical tones as it floated its way through a guard of honour of mostly sturdy Beech Trees in their garbs of the most pleasing shades of new foliage. Throughout the park Butterflies fluttered with the numerical leaders being Orange tip, followed by Green-veined White, then Large White, Speckled Wood and a single Peacock. ....... Birds were relatively quiet today with the exception of a few Black-headed Gulls, Magpie, Robin, Grey Wagtail and few Mallard. The reason my be that the others may have been up all night practicing for the International Dawn Chorus being held tomorrow morning. ...... The temperature in the Park as we prepared for home had reached twenty one degrees. What a memorable day.
     
    Tuesday 9th. May 2017. On a most beautiful evening awash with brilliant sunshine, and a full tide of gleaming silver, gently caressing the shore line of the tranquil Trawbreaga Bay and walkway at the Parochial Hall in the picturesque Village of Malin. This was the venue where an amazing gathering of wildlife enthusiasts of all ages that numbered eighty one had the privilege of enjoying an illustrated talk on Bats by the very knowledgeable naturalist Aengus Kennedy, and on it's conclusion, he like the Pied Piper led his bewitched audience to various corners of the Village, some were armed with bat detectors that issued signals when the Bats made their exits from their roosts into the now cool gloaming. An event very much enjoyed by all.
     
    The Blossoms of Summer.
    Sat.13th. May 2017. Our much awaited visit to the beautiful and snug farming countryside of Bogay, a setting loved by our members, did not commence in the most perfect of conditions, especially when viewed from high up on the lip of this great arena, but on arrival at a lower level near Bogay House things started to improve, and slowly the mist and light rain eased to reveal a pleasant time admiring the roadsides draped in their most intricate and exquisite forms of crochet, crafted by the masses of the beautiful Cow Parsley in it's full complexity, and further augmented by, though not required, the Hawthorn hedges and bushes with their branches clad in ermine-like displays of dense blossoms diffusing their exotic perfume into the silliness of the morning air, while in the background hosts of the choral society of feathered angels added to the joy. How privileged to be presented with such an experience. ...... After some time here studying the many other avian and floral delights we set off to another of our favorite places, the Inch Lake, where our tea break was enjoyed in the comfort of the hide at Tready Point. Here a large number of birds were recorded on or near the low water level of the Lake. among them were Shoveler, Gadwall, Merganser and Shelduck, Lapwing, Redshank and Dunlin. It was in this area that a Peregrine was added to our list as was Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Goldfinch, Gold crest, Blackbird, Swallow, House Martin, and Swift. ... Our outing continued at the Country Park at Culmore before concluding our great day of nature watching at the Fullerton Dam in the Illies, where Buzzards circled serenely in a darkening sky and where a check was had on the numbers of Curlew that might be present in the locality.
     
    Pictures from Inishbofin Island.

    Saturday 20th. May 2017. No club outing today due to member's other commitments, but normal activity will be resumed next Saturday the 27th. But late this evening a report was received from Daniel and Martin Moloney who were on an official visit to the lovely Island of Inishbofin to check on the population of Corncrakes that have been known to breed there. So thanks to Martin for the following report and pictures...........

    Club members Daniel and Martin Moloney paid a visit to the "Island of the White Cow" better known as Inishbofin off the coast of Donegal, to ascertain the Corncrake population there. Our journey began from Magheroarty Pier in brilliant sunshine, and when we arrived on the Island it was as if we were cast back hundreds of years in time. What greeted us was a serene idyllic paradise echoing to the sounds of calling Corncrakes. We counted eight calling males but Daniel pointed out that this number would rise as more birds arrive from their wintering grounds in darkest Africa. It was clear to see why Inishbofin is Ireland's Corncrake Capital as the vegetation there is perfect for them. The abundant nettle patches are enhanced with an array of flowers and other plants such as bird's foot trefoil, ribwort plantain, silverweed, cuckoo flower and self heal to name a few. Other birds seen and heard were: Snipe, swallow, stonechat. linnet, wheatear, starling, jackdaw, meadow pipit, wren, hooded crow, shag, sandwich tern, eider duck and lapwing. Countless droppings revealed that barnacle geese must have spent the cold winter days on the Island stocking up on fat reserves for their journey north in Spring. After a refreshing cup of tea, we departed the Island hoping to return with our other Club members at some time.

     
    Sat. 27th. May 2017. Contrary to what was stated last week that today's outing would continue as usual. Now due to unforeseen circumstances it has also been cancelled, but our proposed visit to the Western Scottish Islands on friday next for a few days with the help of some fine weather should proceed as expected.
     
    Four Days In June.
    Friday 2nd. to Monday 5th. June 2017. During one of those cold, wet, dark, midwinter Saturday outings it was suggested that a trip sometime in the Summer to the Western Isles of Scotland that have an abundance of wildlife especially Raptors might be a pleasant experience. A certain amount of enquiring was carried out, and the Island of Mull was decided on.......So this morning after a very early start our great Hebridean Odyssey began when we drove to the port of Larne where we got the Ferry to Cairnryan, here we hired cars and drove to Oban. This part of the trip with the scenic countryside of mountains and the glistening waters of the beautiful Lough Lomand awash in glorious warm sunshine was in itself soul uplifting. ......... From Oban another Ferry took us to our destination of the Island of Mull. On our rather late arrival due to a few hitches we were met at Craignure by our host, guide and almost instantly our pal Nigel Shannon, who whisked us off to see a few Golden Eagles, a pair of Short-eared Owls, and a White-tailed Eagle, before driving this motley crew to his beautiful home where we met his charming wife Fiona, the other half of his wildlife business, who had a meal prepared for the group, after which we were taken to see more birds and point out Eagles nests in distant locations. .........After a very sound night's sleep followed by breakfast we were transported on a surprise packet begining with a short voyage to the "Island of Staffa" to see the Puffins that come here to breed in Spring and Summer, and while there a visit to the enchanting iconic Fingal's Cave, where the thundering waves crash against the rear of this great natural structure which had inspired the German musician Mendelssohn after his visit here to compose the "The Hebrideas Overture". ...... This adventure was then followed by a trip to the other famous Island "Iona" that has strong connections with Ireland, and St. Colomba. After a visit to the the old ruined Abbey, and the adjacent ruined Nunnery, a little time was spent relaxing in the warm sunshine and mingling with the number of visitors from many parts of the world that come here to see and enjoy these famous places, then it was back on the Ferry to Mull, where we enjoyed our picnic with the usual beverages, sandwiches and mouthwatering homemade cakes, dispensed by Nigel. ......... Next that amazing man drove us to another location where he promised that we would see another Golden Eagle, and being as good as his word, there it was perched on a structure, probably the remains of a triangulation structure used in the mapping process. We think that he has a special relationship with the Eagles and the other wildlife that perform to his wishes. On the way back to base we watched a couple of male Hen Harriers hunting low over meadow type of habitat. .......... After dinner and and a little period of relaxation some members set off again to see Owls and other creatures of the night as a peaceful crepuscular light descended on this magical land. ........ Again after breakfast we set off with all our optics and a large hamper of the customary goodies in the back of the bus. This sortie took us to many special locations where we watched White-tailed Sea Eagles, Golden Eagles, more Hen Harriers, Buzzards, Peregrine Falcon and kestral, and of course our man had arranged with a few Otters to make an appearance which they duly did. ............. The Botanists in the group were always busy checking on the plant life, with the girls in their colourful garbs adding to the colours of nature. ............. After the most glorious day's spent in this Hebridean paradise. we awoke to the patter of raindrops on the window panes. With breakfast over and saying our goodbye's to Fiona, Nigel packed our luggage in the bus and we set off to Craignure to board the ferry to Oban, then Cairnryan, Larne and finally home. Everyone agreed that the adventure with the perfect weather and the perfect gentleman and wildlife expert Nigel had been a great success.
     
    A few pictures from today.
    Saturday 10th June 2017 After our adventures on the Island of Mull last week we were back in home territory in the good company of Wil, Beb & Anneke, our good friends from the Netherlands. Early downpours soon eased off as we made our first stop in the enchanting woods of Lisnagrath. This ancient landscape with its natural sculptures, shadowy groves and surprising sunlit glades has an atmosphere all of its own. We caught only glimpses of Chaffinch, Blackbird, Thrush, and Blue Tit while a  Treecreeper made a brief appearance before being lost in the higher reaches of the luxurious foliage. Speckled Wood took advantage of the sunlit openings. Foxglove  added to the primeval ambiance of the location. On our way to our next stop a Red Squirrel was spotted darting across the road and we made a brief stop to watch the Sandmartins doing their aeriel displays. On our arrival at the Tready Bank we were greeted by further displays of Martins and Swifts. On the Lake we spotted Mute and Black Swans, Shoveler, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Coot and Lapwing, aptly named by their distinctive flight. After an overdue lunch-break, we moved on to the Farland Bank where we were again entertained by the agility of both Artic and Sandwich Tern. Our Flora count included Bush, Tufted and Bitter Vetch, Germander and Heath Speedwell, Smooth Hawk's-beard, Cat's-ear, Water For-get-me-not, Wild Carrot, Comfrey and Common Spotted Orchid. As threatening clouds again moved towards us we called it a day. La brea amuigh faoin speir! .................. Thanks to Jim Toland for today's report.
     
    A Day in the Past and Present.
    Sat.17th. June 2017. Our penchant for island hopping was very much in evidence when this morning we set sail from Malin Head with that local master mariner Dennis Glackin, for a place of peace and beauty that has the ability to exude a sense of a distant past, stirred along by the presence of the number of long since deserted crumbling homesteads, where families laughed and cried, and children played, but all toiled in the small patches of productive soil to grow potatoes and vegetables, while others fished the bounty of an often unforgiving sea. The only place with such an interesting history has to be The Island of Inishtrahull, situated twelve miles north of Malin Head, where today the angry ocean was crashing it's pristine surf on to the islands rocky defences, while the air was filled with the excited calls of the many birds that included Great Skua, Greater and Lesser-black Backed Gull, Fulmar, Oystercatcher, Eider Duck, Arctic Tern, Shag, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Wheatear, Chough, Starling, and Pipit. ....... On our arrival we were welcomed by lots of curious Grey Seals some in the sea and others having a bit of a siesta on the rocks, a short time later a pair of Red Deer were spotted, followed by the surprise sighting of seven Greylag geese and in their company one Canada goose. ... As is usual, time flies when having a good time, so it was back into the boat for the homeward voyage after a great day exploring the past and the present.
     
    A few Pictures From Today's Outing.
    Sat.24th. June 2017. The renowned Scottish poet Robert Burns who wrote the line " The best laid plans o' mice an' men going oft a Glee" had a certain significance for today's club outing, which we hoped would be a day of warm sunshine and a pampering breeze to aid us in our search for the expected myriad of those special creations, Butterflies, with the colodiscope of their many colours fluttering over the meadows and hedgerows of our imagination. But reality intervened before we even set off, when exposed to a cold strong north westerly wind, blended with a murky sky that threatened rain. But all was not lost, with roadside verges, forest clearings and fields aglow with their bounty of wildflowers, casually strewn with an emphasis on the reds and purples of Digitalis, Wild Roses, Wild Thyme, and the many species of Orchids to name just a few, then the yellow's of Bog-Myrtle, Lady's Bedstraw, Birds-foot Trefoil, and Cat's Ear, added to by the artistry and geometry displayed on the flower heads of the great many members of the Umbel family. ..... The other aspect of the outing was the recording in their expected habitat of Buzzard and Peregrine Falcon, with Blackbird, Magpie, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Redpoll, Sedge Warbler, Swallow, House Martin, Wren, Robin and Sparrow adding to the list. ......... We did record a very small number of Speckled Wood Butterflies and a few Burnet Moths. .... As the afternoon passed towards evening the temperature rose a little, but still not what we expected at the end of June.
     
    We have been invited by Richard Donaghy of the Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust to participate in their Bio Blitz on Saturday 29th. July, and to inform anyone from our side of that narrow stretch of the Foyle that would be interested that they will be most welcome

    Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust (CCGHT) are teaming up with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council to hold a 24 hour long BioBlitz to record the coastal wildlife from Downhill to Magilligan.  Over the 24 hour period scientists, naturalists and members of the public, working together, race against the clock to find as many species as possible within the selected area.

    Everyone is welcome to come and find some species by themselves or join the experts on organised activities

     

     

    Date/Time:  The event will run for 24 hours between Saturday 29th. of July to Sunday 30th of July, 11am to 11am (some events extended into Sunday afternoon)

    Hub Location:  Benone Tourist Complex, 53 Benone Ave, Limavady BT49 0LQ

    Contact:  Richard Donaghey - email Richard@ccght.org or call 028 2075 2100

     

    The Site:  The BioBlitz area encompasses almost the entire Magilligan SAC/ASSI which is one of the largest calcareous dune systems in the UK, with a well-developed and largely undisturbed system of ridges and slacks.  The boundary stretches from Magilligan Point in the west to the cliffs below Mussenden Temple in the east and includes the Ulster Wildlife’s Umbra Nature Reserve, Benone Beach and Downhill Beach. 

    The main habitat is the complex dune system with a network of other smaller habitats including scrub (mainly Blackthorn with some Gorse and Sea Buckthorn), small plantations, freshwater ditches and two streams (one of which I believe has some freshwater sponges), small marshy areas dominated by rushes, fen areas, the beaches themselves, the marine environment (including some rocky shore at either end), mudflats on the Lough Foyle shore of the point, sea cliffs, improved grassland and human amenity land. 

     

     

     

     

    A Botanist's Dream.
    Sat. 1st. July 2017. The expectancy of the sun saturated balmy day's of summer has not as yet been realised, rather the reverse is the case, during the past few weeks on some occasions the temperature struggled to reach double figures due to a persistent cold north wind that at times intensified, reaching near gale force. So today we had again to abandon our quest for Butterflies. But as the old saying goes "It's good to have more than one string to your bow" So with our Botanist Anne who uttered those magical words"Open Sesame" that under her guidance allowed us to enter and explore the Aladdin's Cave of botanical riches to be found on the Isle of Doagh, the special little glen at Ballyliffin Beach, and then on that floral retreat, the road to Binnnion Strand. The count of the different species recorded in these areas reached fifty plus, too many to mention in this short report, but they included Hemp Agrimony, the fragrant Honeysuckle and Meadowsweet, the not so common Storks Bill and Glasswort, the Common Spotted, the pyramidal and Northern Marsh Orchid. Blankets of the aromatic Wild Thyme mixed on natures palette with the yellow golden glow of Lady's Bedstraw, illuminated the greyness of the afternoon, while the beautiful red of the diminutive Centaury, just making it's appearance to please us for many weeks to come as will the strong purple/blue tint of the wonderful Tufted Vetch. ...... There was a definite sigh of delight when Sinead discovered the one and only Butterfly of today, a Common Blue seeking shelter in tall wet grass at Ballyliffin, while on the turbulent Ocean a family of Eider Duck sailed into the shelter of the rocks, and overhead Gannet and Herring gulls patrolled, and Rock Pipit and Ringed Plover scurried to and fro along the wet beach. ..... With the rain and mist intensifying a halt to our enjoyable outing was called.
     
    A Day Enjoyed in Paradise.
    Sat. 8th. July 2017. The Gods and their Cohort Mother Nature, were in very benevolent mood when today we were awarded a privileged insight of what Paradise might look like, when in warm bright morning sunlight glorifying the scenic countryside on the eastern shores of Lough Foyle, with roadsides and ditches clad in their wonderful arrays of wonderful wild flowers of many colours with great clumps of Rosebay Willowherb, miles of Buttercup, sprinkled with creamy florets of Yarrow, great tangles of the stunningly beautiful blue flowers of Tufted Vetch, and the soft fluffy flowers of the sweet scented Meadow Sweet, to name just a very few. .... Our first stop of the morning was on a lay by on a main road near Limavaddy where a pair of Hen Harriers were sighted as they disputed the presence of a Buzzard in their area. Some members used the high powered optics to view the distant combatants while others did a bit of Botanising, where more floral jewels were recorded.. Later a visit was paid to a shore area in the Magilligan Point direction, but with the tide very far out it was decided to go instead to the beautiful Roe Valley Park, where after our lunch we set off on a relaxing meander on the majestic leafy, tree lined walkway, beside the dark waters of the gurgling river flowing swiftly and sometimes slowly to it's exit into Lough Foyle some miles further on. .... Other gifts laid on for our benefit by the heavenly hosts were the fluttering of many Red Admiral, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Large White and Green-veined White Butterflies, While up in their great leafy edifices, Jays hid from spying eyes as did little Gold Crests with their twenty four carat comb of their headgear glistening in the flashing sunlight. Down on the stone strewn edges of the river many Grey Wagtails wobbled precariously as they picked flies from the plentiful numbers floating on the gentle afternoon breeze. Now with the day borrowing into the evening it was time to pay homage to our hosts as we headed for home.
     
    Botanising on a Damp July Day .
    Sat. 15th. July 2017. What a difference a week can make. After the most perfect conditions enjoyed last Saturday when we paid a visit to the Roe Valley Country Park, compared to the circumstances that confronted our outing today, that dawned to a grey, damp blanket of low mist suspended over the hills that cast it's air of gloom over the whole area. ... But undaunted by this, and the absence of some fellow members due to holidays and other family commitments, we had the pleasure of having a biblical moment that had Lazarus spring to mind when old members Mary Mc Laughlin and Donna Marie Mc Faul appeared from the past to augment our group. So now we all set off through Gortnacool, Carndonagh, where the quiet country road had the hedges and verged decorated with dense and lush vegetation and resplendent with a cornucopia of colourful wildflowers, while a little further on at Coill, Malin, an unending wall of Wild Woodbine wafted it's heady fragrance on to the damp but warm morning air. .. After Malin Town with the mist and drizzle easing a little we took the high road through Ballagh and Killin, where Buzzards circled leisurely over the beautiful bucolic landscape far below. ..... Our next stop was at the Lagg Sand Dunes that were carpeted with a great array of Wild Thyme, Lady's Bedstraw, multitudes of Pyramidal, Common Spotted and Marsh Orchids, laced with Red Bartsia and Hare Bell, and a few Meadow Brown, Green-veined White Butterflies and Burnet Moths fluttering reluctionly over the wet grasses. .Now it was over the mist enshrouded Knockamany Bens to Malin Head. On the way our list included Kestrel, Eider Duck, Royal Fern, Golden Rod, Wood Sage, Red Campion and Bog Asphodel. Our outing concluded later with our lunch enjoyed in the comfort of good friends Jim and Anne's Malin residence.
     
    A Day of Enjoyment, Satisfaction, Pleasure and Well-being.
    Sat. 22nd. July 2017. The feeling of enjoyment, satisfaction, pleasure and well-being derived from the pursuit of Nature's many and varied riches, is what we experience on our Saturday outings, and today's trip was no exception. After assembly at the "Stone Jug" Buncrana we set off through a countryside saturated with a lush extravagance of Summer vegetation, that brought us to our first stop at the beautiful Stragill Beach where the early morning mist draped on some of the distant hills was fading to infinity that allowed the warming beams of sunlight to silently add to the serenity of the occasion. ......Here our botanist Anne introduced us to some of the more unusual species such as Brookweed, White Campion, Goose Foot, Hedge Parsley and Yellow Bartsia. With these and the large number of small birds that had White Throat, Linnet, Goldfinch, and Stonechat fluttering over the seed laden wilflowers there was a temptation to linger here for a longer period, but that had to be curtailed. So without further ado it was off to Dunree Fort, and while on the way a number of Buzzards were recorded, one of which had a Swallow clasped in it's talons but it managed to escape to freedom from the clutches of its assassin. On arrival at the Fort it seemed to have been invaded by a large army of tourists composed of many nationalities enjoying the Sun's intensity and the stunning scenery from this historic site. It was suggested that while here we should have our lunch break which turned out to be a bit special for one of our over Twenty One! members. This was further added to when Martin and Jim spotted a Peregrine Falcon heading out on patrol, while near the far shore a pod of Porpoises frolicked energetically on the silvered waters of the Lough. ....... Now fully fortified it was off again this time up the tree lined road at Hillside, then on to the Steep climb to the top of the alpine-like Mamore Gap, where from the summit one could understand the feeling of relief Moses must have felt when he looked upon the Promised Land. In our case it was the region of Urris with Dunaff Head interupting the view of the great Atlantic Ocean that we looked down on. After our arrival at the old abandoned Army Fort below more floral species were recorded, such as the Black Bog Rush, Hedge Parsley, Water Speedwell, Fools watercress, Bog Pimpernel, Fleabane and Branched Bur-reed. Also recorded in the area was a Peregrine Falcon acompined by a young bird. ....... The Butterfly numbers this year again are rather restricted with the Tortoiseshell, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Peacock and Green-veined White making rare appearances. ....... Now after our great day it was back to base through roads lined with the colourful Rosebay Willow Herb, Purple Loose Strife and the occasional clump of Hare Bell.
     
    Our Outing to the West Coast.
    Sat. 29th. July 2017. Today Old Mother Nature was displaying her fickle sense of fun, with very pleasant weather conditions early this morning when we set off for the enchantingly beautiful setting of the Glenveagh National Park, where we had plans at the ready to enjoy the abundant Flora and Fauna that exists there. As we approached our objective dark grey clouds and mists decided to weep their contents down on us, that resulted in the abandoning of our intended plans due to the partial obliteration of the surrounding Derryveagh Mountains and the Park . So after a quickly reached discussion it was decided that we should move on to other locations. The first one being at the base of that great conical mountain of Errigal where to our surprise athletic figures appeared from out of the mist while others set off from base camp into the unknown reaches of the mountain. ... From the other side of the main road we enjoyed the amazing vista of the Poison Glen, and the still waters of the lake that blended easily with the greyness of the morning. ...... After enduring the dampness of the last stop it was on to Gweedore and Falcarragh, where our benevolent Mother Nature displayed her agility with the introduction of blue sky's and bright sunshine, especially at the golden sands of the beach near Falcarragh, where a treasure trove of rare botanic species were recorded that had among them the beautiful Sea Holly in full bloom, and the rarer, Lesser Meadow-Rue. ... But you know who had us on the move again with a heavy shower that she conjured up literally from out of the blue. ...... This time it was on through Dunfanaghy to the awe inspiring Horn Head where again the rain was switched off for our benefit that allowed views of the scenic Sheep Haven Bay, and beyond the equally beautiful Mulroy Bay. While out on the northern horizon the great rocky bastion of Tory Island faded into the mist. Our magical day concluded with a stop at the very elevated long, narrow, fault line that forms Lough Salt ....... from here to our home base Mother Nature with a smile on her face displayed her usual benevolence with sunshine all the way and that continued for the remainder of the day.
     
    Sunday 31st July. One of our Club members has reported the return of the Little Egrets to the Trawbreaga Bay area near Malin Town after an absence of a number of months. At least ten birds were recorded at 4.30. p.m.
     
    A Wonderful Day enjoyed in Nature's Embrace.
    Sat. 5th. Aug. 2017. The expression "Valor Favors The Brave" was exemplified when last night against a background of the cold wet and windy weather experienced during the past week, and with the expectancy of it continuing over the weekend, the brave decision was taken to pay a club visit to Ards Forest Park near the Tidy town of Creeslough, with the great monolith of Muckish in the background, and the shoreline embellished by the pristine white sandy beaches caressed by the shimmering blue waters of Sheephaven Bay. .... On arrival at this sylvan paradise we were welcomed by a bright morning sun, and a soft breeze that instilled a desire to drool over the host of the many wildflowers to be viewed at arms length from the very well maintained Boardwalk, and where Butterflies fluttered over these treasures, these included Green and Silver Washed Fritillary, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Tortoiseshell and Small Heath, but not in the numbers that we encountered on previous visits, while high above in the clear blue sky Buzzards could be seen and heard. In the grassy areas near the beach large numbers of Orchids displayed their beauty, with a predominance of the slender scented variety, but the overall colour here was the blue of the myriad of lovely Hare Bells, that nodded their approval to this beautiful day. Also present were small patches of the very unusual White Thyme that blended beautifully with the yellow of Lady's Bedstraw, Knapweed, Stone Bramble, with clumps of Lesser Stitchwort, Sedge Creeping Cinquefoil playing a more subdued role. .......... The return meander to the car park was through the great Cathedral-like archways of the massive heaven-reaching sylvan pillars that allowed shafts of sunlight to penetrate to the floor of the forest. What a wonderful day enjoyed in nature's embrace.
     
    A Summer Bonus.
    Sat. 12th. Aug. 2017. The general consensus is that Summer has passed it's zenith without delivering too many exceptionally hot, dry days, but on this occasion it presented a bonus of what dreams are made of, when our outing that started with a call to the area of Creehennan near Quigleys Point that was awash in the most glorious sunshine, and from where the distant hazy blue mountains in the Illies sparkled with their adornment of purple heather, while to the eastern side a silver-washed Lough Foyle glistened in the morning light. As we sauntered along the road someone whispered "Look at the Hare" Just a short distance from where we were standing the beautiful brown hare showed little regard for our intrusion into it's domain and continued to enjoy the warmth and relative solitude of this lovely day. ....... Next it was on to Drung and through a Fuchsia lined roadway to Lough Inn, the waters of which were in perfect synchronization with the tones of the Foyle set far below. In this area a choir of Ravens welcomed our arrival with their discordant raucous choral rendition that had a Kestrel stopped in it's tracks, hovered for a short while before getting out of earshot. After this it was down to the main road to Moville, and from here to the little Pier below the Redcastle Post Office, where we partook of our tea break while being entertained by a large Dog Otter as it frolicked with fish that it caught and consumed for it's midday sustenance. ....... At the upper Pier Moville, a small number of Black Guillemot fished in the calm sea, while overhead in an ultramarine sky Kittiwakes and Fulmars circled leisurely, further along the beach large flocks of Common and Black-headed Gulls awaited the tidal retreat. Our final act of the outing was setting off for Inishowen Head where members meandered along the road to Balbane Head, where there was a Buzzard being annoyed by the aerial antics of another Raven. It was a great day made more enjoyable by the presents of our Dutch friends Wil and Cornelia.
     
    A Few Pictures from today's Outing.
    Sat. 19th. Aug. 2017. It's amazing how weather conditions can change from one Saturday to another, as was illustrated when looking back on last weeks outing that was enjoyed in a Mediterranean setting of warm bright sunshine, ultramarine blue sky and a silvered sea. But today we were threatened with the dying pangs of Hurricane Gert, equipped with it's armory of gray skies, cool gale force winds, Showers and murky visibility, but undaunted by these drawbacks, especially during this special occasion of Heritage Week. ...... Our quest commenced when we made our way through Craignahorna, Ballybeg and Altashane where there was evidence of Raptor roosts, and where the spectacular blue flowers of the flax plant flaunted its beauty through an overlay of barley. Then we drove on the road at Tullynabratley that skirts the base of the beautiful mountains of Coolcross and Crockaughrm where Golden Eagles fly. ..... Later near the Isle of Doagh a treasure trove that contained acres of Devil's Bit Scabious was observed. The Scabious is the food plant for the very rare Marsh Fritillary Butterfly. Close by a Buzzard dropped down on a source of prey that may have been in the possession of a numbers of its Nemesis, namely Ravens. In the Isle of Doagh at Maghernaul large numbers of Starling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Redpoll, and Linnet flitted to and fro from a wire fence to feed among the short grasses. Further on at Doaghmore, Redshank, Black-headed and Herring Gull, checked the sand laid bare by the tidal retreat while Gannets surveyed the scene from on high. Our outing concluded when at Malin Town with the recording of at least ten Little Egrets as they awaited the appropriate time to dine, nearby Mallard Duck floated easily in the shallow pools. One of today's highlight's was the recording of four Sparrowhawks.
     
    Saturday 26th. August 2017. Regrettably no club outing today due to unforeseen circumstances, but normal activity will resume next Saturday if not before.
     
    Summer's End.
    Sat. 2nd. Sept. 2017. With the great tapestry of Summer loosing some of its brilliantly coloured threads, soon to be replaced by it's Autumnal equivalent displaying the many tones of gold, rusts, and that special ingredient of mellow fruitfulness that will produce it's masterpiece to be admired by all. But now with the seasonal sands of time running out and the brilliance of this morning it was decided to give our search for the elusive Butterflies that have been missing from many of their favorite habitats a final throw of the dice. ..... So at Craigawhainna on the Isle of Doagh a considerable time was enjoyed in pursuit of these marvels of creation, but to no avail. ( Later in the day a few Peacock, Green-veined White and Meadow Brown were recorded in different locations) In their stead a family of three Buzzards was watched as they floated in a wide circular pattern against a pristine background of blue, while from its perch a Sparrowhawk watched with interest. ...... Near this location a search was undertaken on a multi-acre site of Devil's-bit Scabious in full flower to check if there was any evidence of the webs of the Marsh Fritillary Butterfly that is attached to the bottom of the Scabious plants to protect it's eggs, but unfortunately none were found. .... Later at the area known as the Castles our doyen of the botanical world, Anne, introduced us to more treasures with the unusual form of Greater Knapweed, White Stonecrop, Marsh Ragwort, the very unusual and beautiful Autumn Gentian, Lesser Sea Spurrey and Scots Lovage flaunting it's miniscule blue flowers. .... The usual displays of the more common Purple Loostrife, Centaury. Willow Herb, Woundwort and many more adding joy to this blissful Summers day that concluded with a stop on the top road at Tullynabratilly, where we surveyed with appreciation the wonderful vista below in this beautiful land.
     
    Sat. 9th. Sept. 2017. No Club outing today due to members on holiday and adverse local weather predictions. Normal activity will be resumed next week.
     
    Sat. 16th. Sept. 2017. That special time of year has arrived again, when we recommence our task together with the other groups, of counting the birds of Lough Swilly throughout the Winter months of 2016 -2017. on behalf of BirdWatch Ireland. ...... As is usual we start our count at Buncrana, and continue on through Lisfannon, Fahan Creek, and finish near the Pier on Inch Island. ....... The dark grey light of the morning coupled with the piercingly cold northerly wind foreboded the rain that was soon to ambush our efforts, but persistence was rewarded by the completion of our task to a high degree of satisfaction. ........ Today wasn't all doom and gloom, it had it's lighter moments also, one of which was during our lunch break when we celebrated the birthday of one of our "Over Twenty One" members, conducted with the usual pomp and joviality. ..... An enjoyable outing today was the agreed consensus among members despite the feeling of what Winter may have in store for us as the season of Autumnal mists moves on.
     
    Autumnal Changes at Inch Lake and Blanket Nook.
    Sat.23rd. Sept. 2017. Our activities today took us to an exhibition of extraordinary alchemy by the great master Mother Nature, that had worked her science on the prairies of endless acres of golden barley, that in turn was further enriches by the input of the many trees on whose bows the rust stained leaves are starting to flutter to earth, and that in due course will reinvigorate the natural cycle come next Spring. Not to be left out of her great plan, the hedgerows with their branches heavily laden with bright red haws, the fruits of Summer, will be a welcomed feast for the many birds soon to arrive here for our milder Winters and escape the extreme arctic conditions of their more northern latitudes. ........... This great treat to the eye and sole was in the area of Burt, Inch Lake and Blanket Nook, where flocks of Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Redshank and Greenshank, where Little Egret fraternized with their relatives the Grey Herons. Wigeon, recently arrived, floated and fed contentedly after their long and arduous journey from Iceland and other northern climes. It was pleasing to sea the Black Swans in their usual isolated location, while the Whooper and Mute have a more social connection, in the sky skeins of Canada Geese flew to and from the Lake. ..... There was the usual sighting of small birds flitting through the hedges and bushes with a predominance of Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Sparrow. The number of Raptors noted in the area was five, all of which were Buzzards............... On the floral front, with Summer now only a memory the colour of our beautiful wild flowers are on the wane, but near the Viewing Platform at the Inch Lake a little Dog Violet had emerged from a snug sheltered ditch into the world to enrich those fortunate to find it. Another example of enchanting engineering was the floral heads of the Wild Carrot especially at Blanket Nook, and also in this area we found a most unusual species of a jet black mushroom. ..... Our thanks to the weather gods who were in a benevolent mood with the absence of rain, and with the Sun making periodic appearances to add to our enjoyment.
     
    Autumn Sunshine on Final Outing for September. 2017.
    Sat. 30th. Sept. 2017. The deliverance of autumnal riches on our outing to the paradise that is the northern area of Malin was a great boost to the day. Among these gifts from it's treasure trove were the stillness of the morning, being pampered in bright warm sunlight and the ever changing colours of our beautiful countryside as seen through Nature's kaleidoscope. .... Our first stop as usual was at the Malin Town Bridge where eight of those beautiful, sparkling white Little Egrets plodded through the shallow tidal waters in search of a tasty tit-bit. Performing a similar activity were Mallard, Wigeon, Oystercatchers, Black-backed and common Gulls, all being surveyed by a small number of Greenshank and Grey Heron . ........ Out the Lagg road and close to the Presbyterian Church it was wonderful to see a sizable flock of Brent Geese, as they fed along the shore line. These Geese tolerate a human intrusion into their space and seem to utter a friendly bark if you get too close. Across on the Isle of Doagh shore a large numbers of Cormorants stood to attention in a long line patiently await a suitable tidal return. Here another Little Egret was added to our list for today to make a total of nine. ..... On the awe inspiring Knockamany Bens, a party of Chough foraged through the suitable short grass, while a little further on a stunning display by a host of Red Admirals Butterflies as they nectared on the flowers of the Veronica Bushes had the cameras clicking, and not far from here Anne discovered the unusual flowering "Corn Cockle" then "Love in a Mist" and the little flowers of the Flax plant, no doubt here by human assistance. ...... Then we were entertained by an aerial confrontation between a Sparrowhawk and a few concerned Crows, Also patrolling in the great blue yonder were a number of Buzzards. ........ After a very pleasant and relaxing tea break in the luxury of Anne and Jim Toland's holiday home at Malin Head it was off to complete our venture with a drive around the area known as the Back Lands to our last stop at the scenic Port Ronan, and then home.
     
    A Day of Mists in the Antrim Glens.
    Sat. 7th. Oct. 2017. Our outing today was to a land of exceptional beauty and mystery. A land where the Red Squirrel enjoys the freedom of its immense domain, where great towering giants of sylvan majesty reach from the floor of the deep ravines high into the veil of mist that also softened the outlines of the surrounding escarpment. A land of thundering waterfalls, cascading over dark outcrops of basalt to create a symphony of hypnotic sound. All of this enhanced by the overlay of the autumnal tints of yellow, lemon, gold and brown, that sing out in the grayness of this rather sunless day at the stunning Glenariffe Forest Park, in one of the renowned Glens of Antrim. ....... After some refreshments at the welcoming "Larage Lodge" Restaurant, we set off to the local coastal towns of Waterfoot, Cushendall and Cushendun, and from these scenic places to another popular location, Torr Head, where the Scottish Inner Hebrides appear very close even in today's conditions. ...... Next on our list was the iconic Fairhead, where a considerable time was engaged in enjoying the views from the great sheer cliff faces. ......among the birds recorded on our outing today included Grey and Pied Wagtail, Chough, Skylark, Thrush, Kestrel, Buzzard, Goldfinch and Meadow Pipit. ....... Now with the late evening light starting to fade it was on to Ballycastle and home to Inishowen.
     
    A Grey Misty October Day.
    Sat. 14th. Oct. 2017. The seeking of Natures gifts was carried out in a cocooned mesh of autumnal mist and leaden skies sprinkled with the occasional light drizzle of rain, that had the effect of the countryside having a rather bedraggled look with the colours of Summer now just a fading memory. But this meteorological interference did not dampen our ardeour for the joy's of observing nature in all of it's guises, and the experience was added to by the company of our members who have the ability to add that ingredient on a day like today of brightness dispensed with a sense of fun and enjoyment. ....... This was all ingested as we wondered here and there, starting at Culdaff, where at the estuary a sizable number of Wigeon have established the squatting rights on the river bend below the little bird hide, where Pampas Grass and other coloured flowers abound along the little walkway. In the field across the road a flock of Curlew were also settling in for the Winter. Redshank and Mallard busied themselves by feeding in the receding tide as did a large numbers of Great Black-backed and Common Gulls. .... On our way to Tirahork, one of the highlights of the day was to see a large female Buzzard dive with great venom from a tree to secure it's prey of a rodent in the grass verge just a few feet from the front of the cars, the Bird had a yellow wing tag with the number 75 emblazoned in black. ........... next it was on to Carrowmenagh, Ballymagaraghy, and to the beautiful beach at Kinnagoe Bay where the calm mirrored surface was fractured by Grey Seals and Porpoises as they surfaced, to disappear again beneath the smooth sea ...... When homeward bound a short stop at Malin Town revealed a flock of eleven Little Egrets as they stood on a grassy bank as if they had just clocked off for the day. Nearby, with the fast fading evening light the roadside was illuminated by the sparkling flowers of a beautiful Evening Primrose .... A lovely end to our day in the wild.
     
    Saturday 21st. October 2017. It was decided last night to cancel our usual Saturday Club Outing due to the threat of the approaching storm "Brian". Hopefully we will be back to our regular activity next week.
     
    This Winters first Sighting of Barnacle Geese.
    Monday 23rd. October 2017. Our very observant members Jim and Anne Toland reported the first sighting for the oncoming winter of a flock in excess of three hundred Barnacle Geese near Malin Town this afternoon.
     
    October's Bird Count.
    Sat. 28th. Oct. 2017. Another day of Autumnal grayness draped over a bleak landscape that a few weeks past had the beautiful mountains of Inishowen glowing with the red and purple of heather splashed against skies of blue, and fields of green and gold vibrant in sparkling sunlight but on this occasion they were smothered in impenetrable mists that were refusing to drift away in the gentle morning breeze. This was the scene when we commenced the October Bird Count on Lough Swilly. Here again the high tidal waters were not in our favor as they didn't allow for many of the waders to be observed. ...... As the day progressed things started to improve, with the tide silently dissipating that allowed many species to commence feeding in the food-rich sand and mud now being laid bare. With our count reaching it's satisfactory conclusion, the gentle breeze of the morning became rather agitated, to the point that the leaves of many colours that had survived the wrath of "Ophelia" and then "Brian" were being ruthlessly snatched from their parent bows to swirl relentlessly in the air and along the ground in search of shelter in hedges and any available snug corners, while in other suitable roadside habitat a number of wildflowers were holding on to their Summer's beauty. All of this is what makes our day's of Nature watching so wonderful.
     
    November Outing in Clonmany.
    Sat.4th. Nov. 2017. Our first Club Outing for the month of November was one tinged with the cold of winter, but had the advantage of sunshine and only the occasional threat of rain. Our avian adventure got off to a "flying start" when first at Glasha, a relatively small flock of Barnacle Geese were recorded, then at Straths a magnificent flock in excess of eleven hundred was noted. The "Flying Start" remark earlier was fortunately not accurate, as the Geese after a short time protesting with their fractious calls at our incursion into their area remained grounded, and continued to feast on the plentiful supply of fresh green grass. In the air Lapwing glistened in the morning light as they performed their aerobatic rituals. On the nearby Isle of Doagh a Buzzard soared serenely, while Curlew skulked in front and behind hedges. ...... A short time later we stopped on the high road that skirts the Coolcross Hills and Crockaughrim Mountain to admire the wonderful scenery. ...... Next, on our trip to the Binnion beach a Merlin was recorded as we passed through the tree-arched roadway with their discarded leaves of gold presenting beautiful frieze's on the roadside verges. .... As the Waterfall at the Glen House is out of commission due to the extensive flood damage caused by last months storm, lunch was consumed at Rockstown Pier. Further out, an angry Ocean vented it's fury by crashing mountainous waves of pristine surf on the great red granite monolith's that offers protection to the little inlet and the Pier where a number of Red-breasted Mergansers, and Oystercatchers enjoyed the tranquility but some Eider Duck had to run the gauntlet of thieving Gulls. Near here a Merlin was also recorded. .... after a short stop al Lenan Pier it was back to base by the amazing Mamore Pass then Clonmany, Ballyliffin and finally Carndonagh.
     
    Thursday 9th. November 2017. Thirteen Little Egrets recorded on Trawbreaga Bay near Malin Town this morning as they waited for the very high tide to ebb.
     
    A Few Pictures From Today's Enjoyable Outing.
    Sat. 11th. Nov. 2017. A reminder of how quickly a week passes was exemplified this morning when the Flock of Barnacle Geese seen grazing contently in fields out the Lagg Road near Malin Town was the same one recorded at Straths Carndonagh last week, just a short distance away across Trawbreag Bay, not only do Geese fly but also time that seems to have a greater velocity. A little later behind the Malin Parochial Hall a number of Snipe, totaling thirteen in all, were noted as they clustered near their cover of rushes and grass at the tide line. Also present were a few Little Egrets in the company of a number of Oystercatcher, Redshank, Mallard, Wigeon and a single Greenshank, all watched over by a Grey Heron from it's lofty stance. .......... Next we were off to the Culdaff River Estuary where a warm welcome was extended to our regular winter visitor the American Wiegon that seemed to be enjoying the company of his entourage. In an adjacent field an unknown number of Curlew were also enjoying the peace of the morning. At the nearby Bunnagee Pier a raft of Eider Duck bobbed up and down to the rhythm of the swell. ....... After a refreshing tea break here, it was off in an easterly direction, with a stop, and a stroll to the rocky shore at Redford, where among our ticks of the day was added a couple of Manx Sheerwaters as they drifted on a more exposed open sea. Further out a line of Gannets flew in a westerly direction. ....... Later near Ballycharry, in fields sown with Flax and Corn, clouds of small birds availed of the great banquet of seed at their disposal, these included Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Redpoll, Linnet, Reed Bunting and Siskin. With November approaching midway point, the hours of daylight have diminished considerably, so with a total of four Buzzards a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk recorded, that was that and then off home.
     
    Our Annual Meeting With The South-west Birders.
    Sat.18th. Nov.2017. A most pleasant day was the consequence of our meeting on this beautiful morning with our good friends from The South-west Birders Club. This our third annual get-together started with a mutual greeting at the silver sheened Inch Lake, where large numbers of birds of different species busied themselves as they fractured the smoothness of the water with their exuberance to feed, while others mostly the Swans in their stillness were like "Painted Ships on a Painted Ocean". ..... The one very disturbing observation was the complete absence of birds from the adjacent pastures, or on any of the acreage as seen from the Slob Road. Perhaps it may have been caused by the intensive draining being carried out in the area. ....... Our next destination was the Farland Bank, but on our way there we observed at the Inch Levels area, large flocks of Grey and Pied Wagtails foraging through recently deposited clay extracted by the draining excavations, while close by large numbers of Redwing, Song Thrush and Reed Bunting flitted to and from the hedges, to feast on the corn and grass seed heads made available by the friendly farmer. ...... At the Farland Bank a warm cup of tea and sandwich was enjoyed and was further enhanced with mouth-watering snacks distributed by the ladies from both clubs. while enjoying this break, skeins of Greylag and Canada Geese touched down with great precision on the silent surface of the lake, causing no disturbance to a few Goldeneye Duck and Merganser floating nearby, while in the the increasingly blue sky a flight of Lapwing glittered in the distance as they performed their mesmerizing actions. ..... Next it was on to Blanket Nook, where along the walkways many wild flowers were surviving the early winter cold and storms to brighten the visitor's day. ..... On the waters of the lake, well stocked with Birds, mostly Wigeon, Mallard, Redshank, Greenshank, Coot, Greylag Geese and Grey Heron, but what caused the most interest was the appearance of a large Dog Otter. Our Raptor score for the outing was three Buzzard and two Sparrowhawk.... Now it was time to say goodbye to our friends from the South-west Birders and wish them a safe journey back home.
     
     
     
    Above is a small random selection of some of the many pictures taken by members during 2016.
     
    To view the Butterfly Ireland web site Click http://www.butterflyireland.com/
     
    The Clubs First Outing for 2017.
    Saturday 7th January 2017. Our first outing for the year 2017 was enjoyed in a day of mists, light drizzle and fog with intermissions of blazing sunshine and unbelievable temperatures that reached thirteen degrees at one point. ...... A full compliment of members including Wil Buis, representing our Dutch membership set off to the St Johnston area where we were invited to install a Barn Owl nesting box in what was described as a site of great potential and with a history of the species in recent times. ...... This labour of love continued at another site with an equally great potential, but none of these projects could have been achieved without the skilled craftsmanship of our own Brian Hegerty who constructed the boxes.......... After all this work, lunch time had passed it's customary time, but this was compensated for when we partook of our repast in the historic and royal surrounds of the ancient fort of Grian-an Aileach, that overlooks the magnificent vista of Lough Swilly silently flowing through a landscape of mountains, planes and valley's to its journey's end in the great Atlantic Ocean. ........, Later a more relaxed afternoon was enjoyed with a visit to the Bird Hide at Tready Point on the shore of InchLake, where Shoveler, Pintail, Mallard and Tufted Duck were conveniently sited near our position, in the distance Buzzard were resting on fence posts, while the smooth water of the lake had the appearance of a busy airport with Whopper Swans and Greylag Geese continuously landing and taking off...... ....... We received news of a unconfirmed report from a reliable source that a Crane has been seen in the Derry Area, to see such a bird would have been some start to the Birding year..
     
    Some Pictures From Todays Visit to the Eastern Side of Inishowen.
    Sat.14th. Jan. 2017. In a morning of greyness, exacerbated by at times persistent light rain that might have had the effect of dampening our ardour for the venture to the eastern boundaries of the Peninsula, but not so, for when at Priestown not far from Carndonagh, the sight of an exceptionally large flock of Barnacle Geese estimated at an excess of eight hundred that carpeted a couple of fields with an area of about seven acres gave us the fillip to enjoy the day's outing. ...... Next stop was at Malin Town Bridge where homage was paid to the statuesque form of the Little Egrets attired in their plumage of sparkling white standing forlornly on the banks of the Estuary waiting the high tide to dissipate and enable them to forage for their breakfast. Near the Parochial Hall many Wigeon, Teal, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Mallard, Grey Heron and a few Greenshank enjoyed the early morning siesta. ............. from the little bird hide at the Culdaff Estuary the same species as at Malin Town were recorded, the one exception was the presence of that long term tourist namely the American Wigeon. ...... After this stop it was off in an easterly direction, with a little time spent at Tirahork, where we hoped to perhaps see a Hen Harrier drift across this great heathered moorland, and roadsides festooned with the occasional Whin bushes, flaunting their stunningly beautiful fresh yellow blossoms, on our journey to this spot four Buzzard were recorded. ... Another change of direction saw us veer in a south eastern direction that took us to the crest of Crucknanoneen Hill, from where we were treated to an outstanding panoramic view of the north coast, extending from Inishowen Head to the faint outline of Malin Head, and where the middle distance landscape was pockmarked with slow swivelling shafts of sunlight. ......... This was followed by a short visit to the adjacent Lough Fad, located in a snug heather clad recession, the lake is renowned for the Char Trout to be found there, but to land one require special angling skills. ... Later a short stop was made at the shore line near the Redcastle Golf Club. This was followed by the final stop of the outing and to have an amble through the leaf strewn beautiful Woodlands near Moville, where unfortunately a grey Squirrel was spotted to cast a shadow on our visit to this sylvan retreat.
     
    A Summer's Day in January.
    Sat. 21st.Jan. 2017. What an wonderful day we had to participate in the monthly Winter Bird Count of Lough Swilly. With the countryside aglow in the warm smiling face of the beaming Sun, that had the effect of coaxing Snowdrops and the occasional Daffodil to respond in kind from their snug abodes to herald the return of the miracle of spring. ...... Another difference on this occasion was that instead of starting the count at Buncrana as is the usual routine we commenced at Inch Island, where we were invited by our good friends and members, Boyd and Bridie Bryce, to see the very large flocks of small birds comprised mostly of Linnets, with many Chaffinch, and Dunnock added for good measure. Collectively these flocks were conservatively estimated at an excess of one thousand. This phenomenon would not be possible without the wisdom and generosity of Boyd and Bridie who leave many special verges and areas on their well maintained farm suitably planted to provide an abundance of food for our feathered friends. ........... Now it was time to start the bird count on the Lough, which progressed favorably due to the perfect conditions as we moved to the finishing line.. ...... The rising tide was generous in it's contribution by encouraging the birds to come closer to the shore before this self service store closed down. ...... On reaching our last stop at Buncrana a sense of satisfaction was achieved on the results of this exceptional outing.
     
    The Day of the Buzzards and Peregrine Falcons.
    Sat.28th. Jan. 2017. The club outing to he eastern shore line of Lough Foyle was designated the "Day of the Buzzards and Peregrine Falcons" After members from difference compass points assembled in the stillness of the sylvan wonderland of Lisnagrath, Muff, where an exciting welcome was extended to us by throngs of Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Robin, like hosts of angles descending from heaven to our outstretched hands for the crumbs from the table of mere mortals, how humbling!. .......... Our next move was to pay a brief visit to the recently constructed Park at Culmore from where great flocks of waders, Ducks, Geese, Gulls and a couple of Little Egrets frolicked in the bright morning sunlight. A few bonus points were awarded with the sighting of a flock of Twite as they flitted from the green carpeted grass to the branches of the newly planted trees. ......... Now it was off to the foreshore of Ballykelly, where many species of Wildfowl, Gulls and Egrets were noted, and from where we recorded our eighth Buzzard of fifteen seen, and the third of the five Peregrine sighted today. .......... After this enjoyable sojourn it was off to the shore at Myroe. ........Then to the bird hide at the Barmouth of the river Bann. Here among the eclectic collection of birds was another of our recordings of a Peregrine Falcon. ......Our day was topped off with a drive on the elevated roadway of the great iconic rocky bastion of Benevenagh. What a day enjoyed in continuous sunshine.
     
    Our Outing to the Fanad Peninsula.
    Sat. 4th. Feb. 2017. A early start saw us set off for a rendezvous with the members from many parts of Donegal and beyond to an outing organised by the county branch of BirdWatch Ireland under the leadership of Liz and Ralf Sheppard. The large number of enthusiasts set off from the quay in Ramelton with the welcomed sunshine adding it's charm on the gently lapping water of the estuary. On it's open expanse Red-breasted Merganser and Golden Eye plundered it's depth, while near the shore and on it's banks Redshank, Greenshank and Teal, enjoyed what was available in the shallows, while a flotilla of Mallard plied their trade as they moved from near the shore, with the brilliant green head feathers glittering in the morning light, and overhead that great predator the Peregrine Falcon etched it presence against the cloudless sky ......After checking other favorite nooks and crannies we set off for the seaside town of Rathmullen, where flocks of Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Dunlin raced mouse-like, hither and tithe to the rhythm of of the little waves on the sandy beach at the rear of the pier. Out in mid channel Great Northern Divers and Mergansers appeared to then disappear beneath the cobalt surface of Lough Swilly. ......With the completion of the BirdWatch Ireland outing and the pangs of hunger expecting retribution, it was off to that most spectacular scenic roadway of knockallagh, from where the beauty of our own Inishowen was fully appreciated. Soon a suitable sheltered spot was found from the now rather cold wind, where we enjoyed our lunch. then it was next stop Fanad Head and it's towering Lighthouse, after the enjoyment of this area it was homeward bound along the shore line of Mulroy Bay, Carrickeel, Letterkenny and Inishowen.
     
    Sat.11th. Feb. 2017. What a most extraordinary day that was our pleasure to experience when we visited the Clonmany region in pursuit of of the Golden Eagles that are known to reign supreme here. While parked at the Square in the town to await a few more members, we were amazed to see serenely soaring the object of our desires as it drifted on the up draughts of the beautiful surrounding mountains, at times the tags attached to the bird could be seen flashing in the bright morning sunlight. ......... After regaining our composure from this treat it was off to the road's end at Binnion where a flock of about twelve or more Grey Heron were gathered perhaps discussing the weather or maybe the availability of frogs in their damp rushey field. Not far away a lone Canada Goose seamed to be just whiling away the morning. Then the shout went up that the Eagle was in the air again, on this occasion in the company of its mate, then as if things couldn't get better, a Peregrine Falcon made it's entrance to the joy of everyone. .......... Now with lunch time pending we headed to Craigaleen on the western side of Tullagh Bay, where an angry sea, with great plumes of pristine white spray vented it's displeasure on the rock lined shore that were frustrating its intention of entering the more tranquil Bay. During our short visit here a Merlin was observed as it flew low in an eastern direction. ........ A little later after being fortified by mugs of hot tea to dispel the effects of the low temperature it was off to Lenankeel where a Buzzard and a sparrowhawk were added to the list. Next it was up the spectacularly steep winding road of the Gap of Mamore, and back to the town of Clonmany, then home to recount the pleasures encountered on this day of Raptors..
     
    Sat. 18th. Feb. 2017. Our day began in somewhat grey, but relatively mild conditions when we participated in the penultimate winter count of the Birds of Lough Swilly, that included those that reside here throughout the year and those that come here to enjoy the benefits of our temperate winters. Their arrival begin in September and October, and depart again from March to April. ...... The early part of our count produced very low numbers, but as the day progressed there was a marked improvement, this was mostly due to the high tidal waters that soon started to ebb, that allowed more birds to start feeding on the exposed sand and deposits of deep mud. .......Little did we realise the surprise that awaited us after concluding our task of counting, we usually stop for a break at the new car park near Mc Grath's on Inch Island, where after having a look through the large number of birds on view a couple of our sharp eyed members got the shock of their lives when they spotted a Laner Falcon on the ground near the watery road. After watching the bird for some considerable time it took off in pursuit of a Redshank, that avoided the assassin by diving into the waters of the Lake. The falcon continued on it's way to the Farland Bank area where we lost sight of it. ....... Earlier at the Mill Bay Beach a number of Common Scoter and a few Scaup were spotted but they were rather far removed from the shore. Also noted today were Yellowhammer, Buzzard, Kestrel and Little Egrets. ..... What a day !
     
    Outing to Straths, Malin, Culdaff and Drumnagasson Region
    Sat.25th. Feb. 2017. "To go or not to go"? that was the question circulating in the minds of our members last night, as there was a real threat of more severe weather hanging like the "Sword of Damocles" over today's outing. But good fortune prevailed and we set off to the Straths area near Carndonagh, where a very small number of Barnacle Geese were recorded, instead of the expected flocks of hundreds usually found here. That disappointment was dispensed with and well compensated for as we watched a Peregrine Falcon labour for a considerable time in procuring it's breakfast of an unfortunate Teal, that dived below the waters of Trawbreaga Bay a number of times to avoid the efforts of it's adversary that didn't relish the thoughts of getting its feathers saturated. The drama continued for about twenty minutes with the Peregrine the victor as expected. .......... In the adjoining fields reasonable numbers of Curlew and Oystercatcher foraged in a more peaceful way, as did the flotilla of Shelduck, following their example were Mallard, Wigeon and Teal. ...... Making it's appearance near here was a beautiful melanotic Pheasant proudly strutting it's iridescent beauty for all to see. ........... Now it was to the Malin Town Bridge where Little Egrets, Mallards, Wigeon, Teal, Grey Heron, Redshank and a variety of Gulls were noted, but one of these was more outstanding than the rest as it was an Iceland Gull. In some of the more sheltered local habitat a beautiful clump of the Three-cornered Garlic was recorded, as was those other harbingers of spring namely Primrose, Dandelion and Daffodil that stirred the thoughts of the warm sunny days ahead. .......... At the little hide at the Culdaff Estuary, our old friend the American Wigeon. seams to have taken up a permanent winter residence here and was displaying its pale cream head colour that suggested a similarity to it's Country's President. The remainder of of our outing was in the Drumnagasson region where we had hoped to see a Hen Harrier but without success. Today ten Buzzard and a Kestrel were noted, and so concluded our rain free day.,
     
    Pictures from todays visit to Muff Glen and Ballykelly.
    Sat. 4th. March 2017. Our proposed activity for today's outing was to be an assault on the upper regions of Aught Hill situated between Muff and Quigleys Point on the eastern boundary of our Peninsula. On a previous visit to the area a male Hen Harrier was sighted, perhaps on this occasion a further sighting could be recorded. So with the arranged assembly point at the magnificent Lisnagrath Wood our members from their different areas on arrival at the iconic woodland, were greeted as usual by those little angelic feathered creations, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Coal Tit, and Robin, masterpieces of grace and beauty that descended from the dark bare branches of the great lofty sentinels standing silently in the stillness of the morning. After a short stay absorbing the peace and beauty of the place it was decided that due to the dark curtain of mist suspended over the local hills put paid to our original plans, so a quick change was made that saw us pay a brief call at the new Country Park at Culmore, where large flocks of Mallard, Wigeon, Teal and a smaller number of Shelduck, Great-crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Grey Heron and the usual mix of Common, Herring and Blacked-headed Gulls were in attendance. ........ Our next activity was to amble through another haven of tranquility and beauty, namely the Muff Glen near Eglinton where mighty sylvan giants reach into the midday sky and where the Dipper flitted from rock to rock in the fast flowing stream, while Wagtails wobble on the walkways and that miniature marvel the Goldcrest seems to to be relishing the warm sunlight filtering through the tangle of low bushes. After a relaxing break for the usual intake of tea and sandwich it was on to the shore of Lough Foyle at Ballykelly where six little Egrets puddled through the mud deposits of a little stream while others checked what was on offer in the water saturated fields. The best sighting of the day was the number of Tree Sparrows and the rare Brambling intermingled with Chaffinch, Dunnock and Great Tits. While overhead large flocks of Golden Plover and Oystercatcher performed their well rehearsed flying skills against a background of sky blue. Now with the sands of time slipping through the narrow aperture of life's hourglass it was time for home.
     
    " Oh Joy, Oh 'Raptors' unforseen
    The clouded sky is now serene
    The god of day - the orb of love
    Has hung his ensign high above.
    ( With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan. )
    Saturday 11th. March 2017. Today will remain in the memory, not only for the weather, a bright warm day reminding us that the Sun is about to return to the Northern Hemisphere; not only for the messengers of Spring in the form of Crocus, Snowdrop, Daffodil, Lesser Celendine, Coltsfoot, Wood Anemone and leafy signs of Wild Garlic; not only for the sightings of Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Kestrel, Peregrine and Buzzard; but primarily for the sightings and magical ariel displays of a pair of Golden Eagles. We marveled as they navigated the thermals around the Urris Hills, stood in awe as they avoided the mobbing of a number of Buzzards, applauded their courtship display as they dived and soared in the clear sunlight. We finally left the majestic female - sixteen years old as calculated from its tags - perched on a crag overlooking the village of Clonmany, mistress of all she surveyed. This was not a day for twitchers, but for those who marvel at the manifestations of Nature. ...... Thanks to Jim Toland for today's report in the absence of our regular scribe.
     
    A Couple of Spring's Floral Emissaries during our Bird Count today.
    Sat. 18th. Mar. 2017. Today's outing saw the conclusion of the Winter Bird Count on Lough Swilly for the 2016/2017 season and to our involvement in the exercise, a task we very much enjoy being involved in and together with the other counters on their different sections of the Lake adding to the data base being accumulated by BirdWatch Ireland for their National Survey. ......... As is usual our starting point was at Buncrana Pier where a very full tide didn't allow for many birds on the shore line or the water, but refuge was found on the large acreage of well maintained shore front grass areas that would have many worms coming to the surface due to the heavy rainfall of yesterday and last night, or perched on the rocks projecting above the water of the Lough. We then worked our way along Lisfannon to The Marina at Fahan where a noticeable drop in the tide saw some birds checking out their larder....... Next it was on to the eastern shore of the Fahan Creek and then to Inch Island, where by this time the fast retreating tide had large numbers of birds enjoying the wholesome offerings in the now revealed great meadow of the estuary.......... Among the birds of note today was the Ring-billed Gull, Iceland Gull and Ruddy Shelduck, and of course a few Buzzard and Sparrowhawk, and those twenty four carat treasures, the Yellowhammers. In conclusion it was a great pleasure to have Michael Savage a knowledgeable birder join us for today's adventure.
     
    A special day in the Malin Head Area.
    Sat. 25th. March 2017. Our Saturday Outings are always considered special, but today's was classified as an extra special occasion, with Mother Nature dispensing many gifts from her great treasure trove. These included a presentation of what a glorious Summers day should be like, with temperatures fluctuating between seventeen and eighteen degrees wafting over a spring-rich countryside aided by a gentle zephyr, and roadside verges displaying wonderful drifts of nodding Daffodils casting their golden glow for all to see, while from their cozy nooks Primroses smiled their acknowledgment to the Sun. ....That was what set the scene for our visit to the Malin Head area. .... As we drove out the Lagg road from Malin Town where earlier we recorded a pair of Buzzards, a small flock of Barnacle Geese caught our attention. A little further on near the Presbyterian Church, Shag, Cormorant, Common, Black-headed and Herring Gull, Brent Geese, Wigeon, Merganser, cast their reflections on the mirrored surface of Trawbreaga Bay. ... At the stunningly beautiful Knockamanny Bens the unmistakable call of Chough could be heard as they floated high in a cloudless sky on the rising thermals of mid day, and not far from here a Peregrine Falcon and Sparrow Hawk were noted. At White Strand Bay those most welcome of visitors the Whearers, flitted among the stones deposited on the roadside by the Winter storms, and from their observation station on fence posts Stonechats observed the human intrusion of their domain, further on Reed Bunting, Linnet and Twite were recorded, and in the now calm adjacent Ocean, Mallard, Shelduck and Merganser checked their underwater food supplies. ....... As the day progressed a number of those other harbinger's of summer, namely Butterflies in the form of Tortoiseshell fluttered by, as did a few Bumble Bees. ... To fully compliment our day was the sighting of a flock of eight hundred Barnacle Geese near Bambas Crown, and in their company a small number of Greylag and one Pink-footed Goose. .... Now with time pressing it was with regrets that we had to call a halt to a very special day.
     
    The Magic of Spring.
    Sat. 1st. April 2017. The magic of Spring was very evident today with nature's great magician casting her spell of beauty on the countryside with all the emerging floral tributes appearing for our admiration. All of these riches were on display as we set off to the hilly region beyond Glennagannen a favorite breeding site for Golden Plover. Due to the altitude and occasional mist, visibility was restricted, so we returned to lower ground at Effishmore, and from there down through the beautiful Carrowmore Glen where our first reward was to see the lovely flowers and variegated foliage of the Yellow Archangel plant set in it's sheltered habitat. .... Further down the glen to our delight were extravagant displays of Primroses set against a background of Opposite-leaved Saxifrage, with the occasional posy of the Blue flowered Dog Violet offering the perfect foil. ..... From here it was on through Tirraboy to Cambry, where we stopped for our lunch break. ..... Now fully fortified we were entertained by the vocal utterances of Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit and the recently arrived Chiffchaff, the efforts of a few Jackdaw and Pigeon were dismissed as being not of the required vocal standard. A little later Buzzards were seen soaring effortlessly in a near cloudless sky .............. At any time of the year it's almost mandatory to take a dander down the quiet roadway to Redford Beach, but during Spring it's not to be missed. On one side of the road that is perched precariously on the edge of a deep enchanting chasm where below and on the other roadside, deep, rich, carpets of the ubiquitous Opposite-leafed Golden Saxifrage have been laden with a random abundance of Wild Strawberry, Wood Anemone, Wood Sorrel, Greater Stitchwort, Wood Rush, Primroses and splashes of Lesser Celandine. On the sheltered bay at the shore a flotilla of Wigeon slowely move out to sea on our arrival. .......... Later at the great rocky Bastion of Dunmore near Culdaff we watched many families of Fulmer, some ensconced on nests while partners perform their hypnotic flying routine close by. ................Finaly when on our way home, at Mc Sheffrey's Bridge a flock of approximately three hundred Barnacle Geese plundered the fresh growth of new grass that will help to sustain them on their long journey to their breeding grounds in Greenland.
     
    A Spring Day Transformed Into Summer.
    Sat. 8th. April 2017. The sensation of being transported from our typical Spring weather with all it's beauty and advantages to a third dimension of bright burning sunshine focused from a pristine sky of blue; Choirs of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, celebrating the return to their place of birth with heavenly music, augmented by our resident songsters that included Robin, Chaffinch, Sparrow, Blue and Great Tit. This was the felling of joy that abounded among our members this morning when we set off from the Cloghan Glentogher, with the heady fragrence of the golden Whin bushes and hedges wafting across the whole area as we went to Cabry near Quigleys Point, where a check on the rather rare Marsh Violet, found here a few years past was carried out with a positive result. Then we sallied forth to Ballyargus where a search was made for the beautiful iridescent jewel, the Green Hairstreak Butterfly, but none were found, we may have been a tad early, but shortly after, the sighting of the wonderful Peacock compensated for our earlier disappointment. ......... At the little pier below the Redcastle Post Office we were the recipients of a great surprise when a Red Kite passed overhead pursued by a very unfriendly Hooded Crow. Here also Anne with the eye for things botanical pointed out the lovely Alexanders plants very contently thriving in their dapple shaded abode, also the brillant golden glow of the rampant Lesser Celendine ......... Next it was on to Moville to be entertained by a few Brent Geese enjoying the serene waters of the Foyle and by large numbers of Black Guillemots preparing for family life at the rear of the upper pier. It was here that a few Orange-tip Butterflies fluttered through the flowers and grasses that were hosting a large blanket of the stunningly beautiful Slender Speedwell and Ladies Smock ....... At this stage we had recorded the Red Kite and Ten Buzzards, one Peregrine Falcon, and a Sparrow Hawk. ........ Our final stop of the outing was at Inishowen Head where two more Buzzards were recorded to complete our day in the heaven that is Inishowen..
     
    Pictures from our Easter Outing
    Sat.15th. April 2017. From the bright warm sunshine of last Saturday, to the equally bright sunshine of today but with a piercingly cold wind of Arctic proportions, one more associated with the month of March was what we were presented with when the clubs activities involved a trip to the extreme western boundary of the Peninsula. ..... The first stop was at Straths Carndonagh, to establish if the Barnacle Geese that frequent this area had finally left for their breeding grounds on the lofty cliff ledges of Greenland, the conclusion was that they had. ......, Next we set off on the wonderful scenic road that skirts the steep mountain slopes of the majestic Coolcross Hill and Crockaughrim, where Golden Eagles are known to fly. From the other side of the road a spectacular vista stretches across the Isle of Doagh and the towering Knockamany Bens, all sparkling in the bright morning light, while Malin Head fades into the haze filled background of the great Atlantic Ocean. ......... This was followed by a visit to the snug little glade at the Ballyliffin Beach where sparkling water cascades from a high ledge to then flow and spread it's energy to the many emerging jewels of wildflowers and grasses that offer their welcome to all, with a prominence of Primroses, Butterburr, Celandine, Dog Violets and Water Mint. ...... Next it was another scenic treat as we drove up over Ardagh to the Gleneven Park, Clonmany, for our lunch, which on this occasion was a bit special, as we celebrated the birthday of our member Mary O'mahoney, with a rather nifty birthday cake provided by the ever mindful Anne Toland, to add to the occasion a few special guests in the form of Orangr-tiped Butterflies flutter nearby. Rumour has it that Mary may be now over Twenty-one again !!! ....... Now fully revived it was away to the Urris region where we watched graceful Gannets glide through the strong wind and then plunge spear like into the the rather disturbed but beautiful multi colourd blue sea. The birds in the area seemed to be keeping a low profile but near Lenan Pier a number Razorbill and Guillemot bobbed on the more sheltered water. Overhead a Kestrel with its russet plumage flashing in the sunlight flew in the direction of the old ruined army fort. .......Now after this sojourn it was up the steep and winding road of Mamore gap and then to the town of Clonmany, from where we went down the tree lined road to Binnion. On our way there a stop was made to admire the displays of Marsh Marigolds and the extensive stretches of Wild Garlic also known as Ramsons, nearby busy Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Meadow Pipit flew from branch to branch, as those numeras songsters Willow Warblers sang from their favourite bushes. Further down the road a pair of Buzzards circled high in the sky, and a Grey Herron was in her nest with two little fluffy chicks, how appropriate during the Easter period, a time of rebirth.
     
    A Game of Two Halves.
    Sat 22nd. April 2017. To use the old football parlance "It was Game of Two Halves" would describes today's outing, as the morning began with a cool greyness imposed by a deep blanket of mist and drizzle that obliterated the effort of the Sun to add any sparkle to the occasion, and also put paid to the intended visit to that favourite haunt of ours, the lovely snug haven of pastoral serenity that is Bogay, situated a few miles south of Bridgend. ....... A quick reshuffle saw us head instead to the old reliable Inch Lake areas that included the Farland Bank and Blanket Nook. ....... From the Farland Bank we had a good view of the specially prepared little islet nesting site for the Terns, that once again was being overrun by those thuggish Black-headed Gulls that have banished the Terns from their intended safe sites to narrow shore lines where a rise in the Lake water can have devastating consequences. On the seaward side of the bank a sizable flock of Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank fed on the exposed food rich mud, while overhead a large squadron of Golden Plover paraded their skilled flight against the grey sky. Next it was off to Blanket Nook, along roads with their verges glistening with continuous veins of Gold from the abundance of Dandelion flowers and a kaleidoscope of the blues, reds, yellows, whites and greens of emerging Spring flowers, all to the wonderful songs from the Yellowhammer, Blackcap, Linnet, Redpoll, Greenfinch, Willow Warbler and Chaffinch..... At the Nook we had a good view of a pair of Gadwall Duck while a few pair of Great-crested Grebes, sat patiently on their nests. ............... With the consumption of our favourite beverage it seemed to have the effect of having the Sun make it's welcomed appearance as we set off for the vernal freshness of spring at Lisnagrath Woodland, that retained it's rich russet carpet of copper leaves. While there we had the pleasure of meeting up with our good friend Dessie Mc Callion, the local historian and nature lover who told us about a Long-eared Owl nesting in the locality. Now with the bright sunshine and the increase in temperature a considerable time was enjoyed here before going to the Birdstown region where large numbers of Sand Martins were busily renovating their nesting abodes in preparation for their expected new families. With the Sun beaming down on us and with Six Buzzards circling high in the blue sky it was time for home.
     
    Bat Walk and Talk, at Malin Town. We have been requested by Noel Foley, Chairperson of the Donegal Association of An Taisce to display the details of their exciting subject of Bats on the 9th. May. An event not to be missed 
    We meet in the Malin Parish Hall 8 p.m. on Tuesday May 9th where we have an illustrated presentation on bats, their distribution world wide and in Ireland, their behaviour and their value in nature. We then go for a short twilight walk to bat habitats in the locality. Sonic Bat Detectors will be used to identify different species of bats on the wing.
    Our guide is Aengus Kennedy, a frequent guest on the Sean Doherty Show on Highland Radio and a well-known and entertaining nature guide. 
    This event is organised by the Donegal Association of An Taisce in association with Malin Tidy Towns. It is supported by Donegal Co. Council under its Local Agenda 21 Wildlife Awareness Initiative.
    Everyone Welcome. Suitable for all age groups. It is free. No need to book
     
    Last Club Outing for Spring 2017.
    Sat. 29th April 2017. To celebrate the joys and pleasures realised through the magical season of Spring, with the earth reacting in a manner to produce the soul inspiring colours and textures of the many wildflowers, bushes, trees and insects that decorate and inhabit the greening hedges and pastures of our blossoming countryside, We did so with a very leisurely meander through areas of Culdaff, Glengad, and Malin Head. Our first stop though was at Cuil near Carndonagh, where a check was made on sites here that in the past had the presence of Long-eared Owls. It was also here that we experienced the first flurry of Orange-tip and Green-veined White Butterflies, and where the tuneful twittering of the many Willow Warblers floated on the fresh morning breeze. ........ Then it was on through Clonca where a Kestrel was spotted hovering over a nearby ridge. This was followed with a saunter through a heavenly kingdom of peace and beauty, a sylvan wonderland of mighty leafy creations reaching high into a sunlit sky. Then to view a work in progress on a masterpiece in blue when completed at the local Bluebell Wood will be another object of great beauty in the weeks to come. ...... Next it was an amble along the western bank of the Culdaff River Estuary where a small number of Brent Geese, and Wigeon feasted in preparation for their imminent departure to their breeding grounds, while on the water of the high tide a Red-breasted Merganser fed near a large flotilla of Black-headed Gulls. .......... Before setting off through Glengad and the Malin Glen to Malin Head, a short stop off was made at Bonagee Pier where a buzzard was recorded drifting effortlessly in the strengthening wind. ......Then at our final destination a most pleasant time was enjoyed in the sunny sheltered area of " The Wee House of Malin", and the equally famous " Malin Well."
     
    Our Delightful Ramble to Stragill Beach and through Swan Park Buncrana.
    Sat. 6th. May 2017. Saved deep in the memory bank of the mind will be the appreciation of a most wonderful day of Summer's extravagance, with the Eye of Heaven looking down from a cloudless sky to focus its warmth and light on the bonanza of precious gifts of flora and fauna strewn in the most appropriate places on the sun saturated pathway from the place known as the Stone Jug, Buncrana, along the shore line, past Father Hegerty's Rock and then to near Stragill Beach. .... Scattered through the trees and along the path great drifts of the beautiful and aromatic Wild Garlic were flaunting their brilliant white flower head's, with a buffer zone of the stunning blue notes of the Bugle plants between the other pristine white forms of Stitchwort, all with a dense sprinkling of Yellow Pimpernel, Pignut, Herb Robert, Tufted and Bitter Vetch and splashes of Bluebells ringing the changes from their secluded abodes. At one particular part of the way it was referred to as the Alexanders Avenue, as both sides of the path was decorated by great orderly exhibits of the relatively unknown plant. ...... On our return walk many clumps of the colourful Sea Thrift were admired as it glowed from it's rocky habitat near the shore. ........ Now after our welcomed tea break, it was off to the adjacent world of tranquility and beauty that is Swan Park, where the Crana River welcomed everyone present with it's soft musical tones as it floated its way through a guard of honour of mostly sturdy Beech Trees in their garbs of the most pleasing shades of new foliage. Throughout the park Butterflies fluttered with the numerical leaders being Orange tip, followed by Green-veined White, then Large White, Speckled Wood and a single Peacock. ....... Birds were relatively quiet today with the exception of a few Black-headed Gulls, Magpie, Robin, Grey Wagtail and few Mallard. The reason my be that the others may have been up all night practicing for the International Dawn Chorus being held tomorrow morning. ...... The temperature in the Park as we prepared for home had reached twenty one degrees. What a memorable day.
     
    Tuesday 9th. May 2017. On a most beautiful evening awash with brilliant sunshine, and a full tide of gleaming silver, gently caressing the shore line of the tranquil Trawbreaga Bay and walkway at the Parochial Hall in the picturesque Village of Malin. This was the venue where an amazing gathering of wildlife enthusiasts of all ages that numbered eighty one had the privilege of enjoying an illustrated talk on Bats by the very knowledgeable naturalist Aengus Kennedy, and on it's conclusion, he like the Pied Piper led his bewitched audience to various corners of the Village, some were armed with bat detectors that issued signals when the Bats made their exits from their roosts into the now cool gloaming. An event very much enjoyed by all.
     
    The Blossoms of Summer.
    Sat.13th. May 2017. Our much awaited visit to the beautiful and snug farming countryside of Bogay, a setting loved by our members, did not commence in the most perfect of conditions, especially when viewed from high up on the lip of this great arena, but on arrival at a lower level near Bogay House things started to improve, and slowly the mist and light rain eased to reveal a pleasant time admiring the roadsides draped in their most intricate and exquisite forms of crochet, crafted by the masses of the beautiful Cow Parsley in it's full complexity, and further augmented by, though not required, the Hawthorn hedges and bushes with their branches clad in ermine-like displays of dense blossoms diffusing their exotic perfume into the silliness of the morning air, while in the background hosts of the choral society of feathered angels added to the joy. How privileged to be presented with such an experience. ...... After some time here studying the many other avian and floral delights we set off to another of our favorite places, the Inch Lake, where our tea break was enjoyed in the comfort of the hide at Tready Point. Here a large number of birds were recorded on or near the low water level of the Lake. among them were Shoveler, Gadwall, Merganser and Shelduck, Lapwing, Redshank and Dunlin. It was in this area that a Peregrine was added to our list as was Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Goldfinch, Gold crest, Blackbird, Swallow, House Martin, and Swift. ... Our outing continued at the Country Park at Culmore before concluding our great day of nature watching at the Fullerton Dam in the Illies, where Buzzards circled serenely in a darkening sky and where a check was had on the numbers of Curlew that might be present in the locality.
     
    Pictures from Inishbofin Island.

    Saturday 20th. May 2017. No club outing today due to member's other commitments, but normal activity will be resumed next Saturday the 27th. But late this evening a report was received from Daniel and Martin Moloney who were on an official visit to the lovely Island of Inishbofin to check on the population of Corncrakes that have been known to breed there. So thanks to Martin for the following report and pictures...........

    Club members Daniel and Martin Moloney paid a visit to the "Island of the White Cow" better known as Inishbofin off the coast of Donegal, to ascertain the Corncrake population there. Our journey began from Magheroarty Pier in brilliant sunshine, and when we arrived on the Island it was as if we were cast back hundreds of years in time. What greeted us was a serene idyllic paradise echoing to the sounds of calling Corncrakes. We counted eight calling males but Daniel pointed out that this number would rise as more birds arrive from their wintering grounds in darkest Africa. It was clear to see why Inishbofin is Ireland's Corncrake Capital as the vegetation there is perfect for them. The abundant nettle patches are enhanced with an array of flowers and other plants such as bird's foot trefoil, ribwort plantain, silverweed, cuckoo flower and self heal to name a few. Other birds seen and heard were: Snipe, swallow, stonechat. linnet, wheatear, starling, jackdaw, meadow pipit, wren, hooded crow, shag, sandwich tern, eider duck and lapwing. Countless droppings revealed that barnacle geese must have spent the cold winter days on the Island stocking up on fat reserves for their journey north in Spring. After a refreshing cup of tea, we departed the Island hoping to return with our other Club members at some time.

     
    Sat. 27th. May 2017. Contrary to what was stated last week that today's outing would continue as usual. Now due to unforeseen circumstances it has also been cancelled, but our proposed visit to the Western Scottish Islands on friday next for a few days with the help of some fine weather should proceed as expected.
     
    Four Days In June.
    Friday 2nd. to Monday 5th. June 2017. During one of those cold, wet, dark, midwinter Saturday outings it was suggested that a trip sometime in the Summer to the Western Isles of Scotland that have an abundance of wildlife especially Raptors might be a pleasant experience. A certain amount of enquiring was carried out, and the Island of Mull was decided on.......So this morning after a very early start our great Hebridean Odyssey began when we drove to the port of Larne where we got the Ferry to Cairnryan, here we hired cars and drove to Oban. This part of the trip with the scenic countryside of mountains and the glistening waters of the beautiful Lough Lomand awash in glorious warm sunshine was in itself soul uplifting. ......... From Oban another Ferry took us to our destination of the Island of Mull. On our rather late arrival due to a few hitches we were met at Craignure by our host, guide and almost instantly our pal Nigel Shannon, who whisked us off to see a few Golden Eagles, a pair of Short-eared Owls, and a White-tailed Eagle, before driving this motley crew to his beautiful home where we met his charming wife Fiona, the other half of his wildlife business, who had a meal prepared for the group, after which we were taken to see more birds and point out Eagles nests in distant locations. .........After a very sound night's sleep followed by breakfast we were transported on a surprise packet begining with a short voyage to the "Island of Staffa" to see the Puffins that come here to breed in Spring and Summer, and while there a visit to the enchanting iconic Fingal's Cave, where the thundering waves crash against the rear of this great natural structure which had inspired the German musician Mendelssohn after his visit here to compose the "The Hebrideas Overture". ...... This adventure was then followed by a trip to the other famous Island "Iona" that has strong connections with Ireland, and St. Colomba. After a visit to the the old ruined Abbey, and the adjacent ruined Nunnery, a little time was spent relaxing in the warm sunshine and mingling with the number of visitors from many parts of the world that come here to see and enjoy these famous places, then it was back on the Ferry to Mull, where we enjoyed our picnic with the usual beverages, sandwiches and mouthwatering homemade cakes, dispensed by Nigel. ......... Next that amazing man drove us to another location where he promised that we would see another Golden Eagle, and being as good as his word, there it was perched on a structure, probably the remains of a triangulation structure used in the mapping process. We think that he has a special relationship with the Eagles and the other wildlife that perform to his wishes. On the way back to base we watched a couple of male Hen Harriers hunting low over meadow type of habitat. .......... After dinner and and a little period of relaxation some members set off again to see Owls and other creatures of the night as a peaceful crepuscular light descended on this magical land. ........ Again after breakfast we set off with all our optics and a large hamper of the customary goodies in the back of the bus. This sortie took us to many special locations where we watched White-tailed Sea Eagles, Golden Eagles, more Hen Harriers, Buzzards, Peregrine Falcon and kestral, and of course our man had arranged with a few Otters to make an appearance which they duly did. ............. The Botanists in the group were always busy checking on the plant life, with the girls in their colourful garbs adding to the colours of nature. ............. After the most glorious day's spent in this Hebridean paradise. we awoke to the patter of raindrops on the window panes. With breakfast over and saying our goodbye's to Fiona, Nigel packed our luggage in the bus and we set off to Craignure to board the ferry to Oban, then Cairnryan, Larne and finally home. Everyone agreed that the adventure with the perfect weather and the perfect gentleman and wildlife expert Nigel had been a great success.
     
    A few pictures from today.
    Saturday 10th June 2017 After our adventures on the Island of Mull last week we were back in home territory in the good company of Wil, Beb & Anneke, our good friends from the Netherlands. Early downpours soon eased off as we made our first stop in the enchanting woods of Lisnagrath. This ancient landscape with its natural sculptures, shadowy groves and surprising sunlit glades has an atmosphere all of its own. We caught only glimpses of Chaffinch, Blackbird, Thrush, and Blue Tit while a  Treecreeper made a brief appearance before being lost in the higher reaches of the luxurious foliage. Speckled Wood took advantage of the sunlit openings. Foxglove  added to the primeval ambiance of the location. On our way to our next stop a Red Squirrel was spotted darting across the road and we made a brief stop to watch the Sandmartins doing their aeriel displays. On our arrival at the Tready Bank we were greeted by further displays of Martins and Swifts. On the Lake we spotted Mute and Black Swans, Shoveler, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Coot and Lapwing, aptly named by their distinctive flight. After an overdue lunch-break, we moved on to the Farland Bank where we were again entertained by the agility of both Artic and Sandwich Tern. Our Flora count included Bush, Tufted and Bitter Vetch, Germander and Heath Speedwell, Smooth Hawk's-beard, Cat's-ear, Water For-get-me-not, Wild Carrot, Comfrey and Common Spotted Orchid. As threatening clouds again moved towards us we called it a day. La brea amuigh faoin speir! .................. Thanks to Jim Toland for today's report.
     
    A Day in the Past and Present.
    Sat.17th. June 2017. Our penchant for island hopping was very much in evidence when this morning we set sail from Malin Head with that local master mariner Dennis Glackin, for a place of peace and beauty that has the ability to exude a sense of a distant past, stirred along by the presence of the number of long since deserted crumbling homesteads, where families laughed and cried, and children played, but all toiled in the small patches of productive soil to grow potatoes and vegetables, while others fished the bounty of an often unforgiving sea. The only place with such an interesting history has to be The Island of Inishtrahull, situated twelve miles north of Malin Head, where today the angry ocean was crashing it's pristine surf on to the islands rocky defences, while the air was filled with the excited calls of the many birds that included Great Skua, Greater and Lesser-black Backed Gull, Fulmar, Oystercatcher, Eider Duck, Arctic Tern, Shag, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Wheatear, Chough, Starling, and Pipit. ....... On our arrival we were welcomed by lots of curious Grey Seals some in the sea and others having a bit of a siesta on the rocks, a short time later a pair of Red Deer were spotted, followed by the surprise sighting of seven Greylag geese and in their company one Canada goose. ... As is usual, time flies when having a good time, so it was back into the boat for the homeward voyage after a great day exploring the past and the present.
     
    A few Pictures From Today's Outing.
    Sat.24th. June 2017. The renowned Scottish poet Robert Burns who wrote the line " The best laid plans o' mice an' men going oft a Glee" had a certain significance for today's club outing, which we hoped would be a day of warm sunshine and a pampering breeze to aid us in our search for the expected myriad of those special creations, Butterflies, with the colodiscope of their many colours fluttering over the meadows and hedgerows of our imagination. But reality intervened before we even set off, when exposed to a cold strong north westerly wind, blended with a murky sky that threatened rain. But all was not lost, with roadside verges, forest clearings and fields aglow with their bounty of wildflowers, casually strewn with an emphasis on the reds and purples of Digitalis, Wild Roses, Wild Thyme, and the many species of Orchids to name just a few, then the yellow's of Bog-Myrtle, Lady's Bedstraw, Birds-foot Trefoil, and Cat's Ear, added to by the artistry and geometry displayed on the flower heads of the great many members of the Umbel family. ..... The other aspect of the outing was the recording in their expected habitat of Buzzard and Peregrine Falcon, with Blackbird, Magpie, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Redpoll, Sedge Warbler, Swallow, House Martin, Wren, Robin and Sparrow adding to the list. ......... We did record a very small number of Speckled Wood Butterflies and a few Burnet Moths. .... As the afternoon passed towards evening the temperature rose a little, but still not what we expected at the end of June.
     
    We have been invited by Richard Donaghy of the Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust to participate in their Bio Blitz on Saturday 29th. July, and to inform anyone from our side of that narrow stretch of the Foyle that would be interested that they will be most welcome

    Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust (CCGHT) are teaming up with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council to hold a 24 hour long BioBlitz to record the coastal wildlife from Downhill to Magilligan.  Over the 24 hour period scientists, naturalists and members of the public, working together, race against the clock to find as many species as possible within the selected area.

    Everyone is welcome to come and find some species by themselves or join the experts on organised activities

     

     

    Date/Time:  The event will run for 24 hours between Saturday 29th. of July to Sunday 30th of July, 11am to 11am (some events extended into Sunday afternoon)

    Hub Location:  Benone Tourist Complex, 53 Benone Ave, Limavady BT49 0LQ

    Contact:  Richard Donaghey - email Richard@ccght.org or call 028 2075 2100

     

    The Site:  The BioBlitz area encompasses almost the entire Magilligan SAC/ASSI which is one of the largest calcareous dune systems in the UK, with a well-developed and largely undisturbed system of ridges and slacks.  The boundary stretches from Magilligan Point in the west to the cliffs below Mussenden Temple in the east and includes the Ulster Wildlife’s Umbra Nature Reserve, Benone Beach and Downhill Beach. 

    The main habitat is the complex dune system with a network of other smaller habitats including scrub (mainly Blackthorn with some Gorse and Sea Buckthorn), small plantations, freshwater ditches and two streams (one of which I believe has some freshwater sponges), small marshy areas dominated by rushes, fen areas, the beaches themselves, the marine environment (including some rocky shore at either end), mudflats on the Lough Foyle shore of the point, sea cliffs, improved grassland and human amenity land. 

     

     

     

     

    A Botanist's Dream.
    Sat. 1st. July 2017. The expectancy of the sun saturated balmy day's of summer has not as yet been realised, rather the reverse is the case, during the past few weeks on some occasions the temperature struggled to reach double figures due to a persistent cold north wind that at times intensified, reaching near gale force. So today we had again to abandon our quest for Butterflies. But as the old saying goes "It's good to have more than one string to your bow" So with our Botanist Anne who uttered those magical words"Open Sesame" that under her guidance allowed us to enter and explore the Aladdin's Cave of botanical riches to be found on the Isle of Doagh, the special little glen at Ballyliffin Beach, and then on that floral retreat, the road to Binnnion Strand. The count of the different species recorded in these areas reached fifty plus, too many to mention in this short report, but they included Hemp Agrimony, the fragrant Honeysuckle and Meadowsweet, the not so common Storks Bill and Glasswort, the Common Spotted, the pyramidal and Northern Marsh Orchid. Blankets of the aromatic Wild Thyme mixed on natures palette with the yellow golden glow of Lady's Bedstraw, illuminated the greyness of the afternoon, while the beautiful red of the diminutive Centaury, just making it's appearance to please us for many weeks to come as will the strong purple/blue tint of the wonderful Tufted Vetch. ...... There was a definite sigh of delight when Sinead discovered the one and only Butterfly of today, a Common Blue seeking shelter in tall wet grass at Ballyliffin, while on the turbulent Ocean a family of Eider Duck sailed into the shelter of the rocks, and overhead Gannet and Herring gulls patrolled, and Rock Pipit and Ringed Plover scurried to and fro along the wet beach. ..... With the rain and mist intensifying a halt to our enjoyable outing was called.
     
    A Day Enjoyed in Paradise.
    Sat. 8th. July 2017. The Gods and their Cohort Mother Nature, were in very benevolent mood when today we were awarded a privileged insight of what Paradise might look like, when in warm bright morning sunlight glorifying the scenic countryside on the eastern shores of Lough Foyle, with roadsides and ditches clad in their wonderful arrays of wonderful wild flowers of many colours with great clumps of Rosebay Willowherb, miles of Buttercup, sprinkled with creamy florets of Yarrow, great tangles of the stunningly beautiful blue flowers of Tufted Vetch, and the soft fluffy flowers of the sweet scented Meadow Sweet, to name just a very few. .... Our first stop of the morning was on a lay by on a main road near Limavaddy where a pair of Hen Harriers were sighted as they disputed the presence of a Buzzard in their area. Some members used the high powered optics to view the distant combatants while others did a bit of Botanising, where more floral jewels were recorded.. Later a visit was paid to a shore area in the Magilligan Point direction, but with the tide very far out it was decided to go instead to the beautiful Roe Valley Park, where after our lunch we set off on a relaxing meander on the majestic leafy, tree lined walkway, beside the dark waters of the gurgling river flowing swiftly and sometimes slowly to it's exit into Lough Foyle some miles further on. .... Other gifts laid on for our benefit by the heavenly hosts were the fluttering of many Red Admiral, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Large White and Green-veined White Butterflies, While up in their great leafy edifices, Jays hid from spying eyes as did little Gold Crests with their twenty four carat comb of their headgear glistening in the flashing sunlight. Down on the stone strewn edges of the river many Grey Wagtails wobbled precariously as they picked flies from the plentiful numbers floating on the gentle afternoon breeze. Now with the day borrowing into the evening it was time to pay homage to our hosts as we headed for home.
     
    Botanising on a Damp July Day .
    Sat. 15th. July 2017. What a difference a week can make. After the most perfect conditions enjoyed last Saturday when we paid a visit to the Roe Valley Country Park, compared to the circumstances that confronted our outing today, that dawned to a grey, damp blanket of low mist suspended over the hills that cast it's air of gloom over the whole area. ... But undaunted by this, and the absence of some fellow members due to holidays and other family commitments, we had the pleasure of having a biblical moment that had Lazarus spring to mind when old members Mary Mc Laughlin and Donna Marie Mc Faul appeared from the past to augment our group. So now we all set off through Gortnacool, Carndonagh, where the quiet country road had the hedges and verged decorated with dense and lush vegetation and resplendent with a cornucopia of colourful wildflowers, while a little further on at Coill, Malin, an unending wall of Wild Woodbine wafted it's heady fragrance on to the damp but warm morning air. .. After Malin Town with the mist and drizzle easing a little we took the high road through Ballagh and Killin, where Buzzards circled leisurely over the beautiful bucolic landscape far below. ..... Our next stop was at the Lagg Sand Dunes that were carpeted with a great array of Wild Thyme, Lady's Bedstraw, multitudes of Pyramidal, Common Spotted and Marsh Orchids, laced with Red Bartsia and Hare Bell, and a few Meadow Brown, Green-veined White Butterflies and Burnet Moths fluttering reluctionly over the wet grasses. .Now it was over the mist enshrouded Knockamany Bens to Malin Head. On the way our list included Kestrel, Eider Duck, Royal Fern, Golden Rod, Wood Sage, Red Campion and Bog Asphodel. Our outing concluded later with our lunch enjoyed in the comfort of good friends Jim and Anne's Malin residence.
     
    A Day of Enjoyment, Satisfaction, Pleasure and Well-being.
    Sat. 22nd. July 2017. The feeling of enjoyment, satisfaction, pleasure and well-being derived from the pursuit of Nature's many and varied riches, is what we experience on our Saturday outings, and today's trip was no exception. After assembly at the "Stone Jug" Buncrana we set off through a countryside saturated with a lush extravagance of Summer vegetation, that brought us to our first stop at the beautiful Stragill Beach where the early morning mist draped on some of the distant hills was fading to infinity that allowed the warming beams of sunlight to silently add to the serenity of the occasion. ......Here our botanist Anne introduced us to some of the more unusual species such as Brookweed, White Campion, Goose Foot, Hedge Parsley and Yellow Bartsia. With these and the large number of small birds that had White Throat, Linnet, Goldfinch, and Stonechat fluttering over the seed laden wilflowers there was a temptation to linger here for a longer period, but that had to be curtailed. So without further ado it was off to Dunree Fort, and while on the way a number of Buzzards were recorded, one of which had a Swallow clasped in it's talons but it managed to escape to freedom from the clutches of its assassin. On arrival at the Fort it seemed to have been invaded by a large army of tourists composed of many nationalities enjoying the Sun's intensity and the stunning scenery from this historic site. It was suggested that while here we should have our lunch break which turned out to be a bit special for one of our over Twenty One! members. This was further added to when Martin and Jim spotted a Peregrine Falcon heading out on patrol, while near the far shore a pod of Porpoises frolicked energetically on the silvered waters of the Lough. ....... Now fully fortified it was off again this time up the tree lined road at Hillside, then on to the Steep climb to the top of the alpine-like Mamore Gap, where from the summit one could understand the feeling of relief Moses must have felt when he looked upon the Promised Land. In our case it was the region of Urris with Dunaff Head interupting the view of the great Atlantic Ocean that we looked down on. After our arrival at the old abandoned Army Fort below more floral species were recorded, such as the Black Bog Rush, Hedge Parsley, Water Speedwell, Fools watercress, Bog Pimpernel, Fleabane and Branched Bur-reed. Also recorded in the area was a Peregrine Falcon acompined by a young bird. ....... The Butterfly numbers this year again are rather restricted with the Tortoiseshell, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Peacock and Green-veined White making rare appearances. ....... Now after our great day it was back to base through roads lined with the colourful Rosebay Willow Herb, Purple Loose Strife and the occasional clump of Hare Bell.
     
    Our Outing to the West Coast.
    Sat. 29th. July 2017. Today Old Mother Nature was displaying her fickle sense of fun, with very pleasant weather conditions early this morning when we set off for the enchantingly beautiful setting of the Glenveagh National Park, where we had plans at the ready to enjoy the abundant Flora and Fauna that exists there. As we approached our objective dark grey clouds and mists decided to weep their contents down on us, that resulted in the abandoning of our intended plans due to the partial obliteration of the surrounding Derryveagh Mountains and the Park . So after a quickly reached discussion it was decided that we should move on to other locations. The first one being at the base of that great conical mountain of Errigal where to our surprise athletic figures appeared from out of the mist while others set off from base camp into the unknown reaches of the mountain. ... From the other side of the main road we enjoyed the amazing vista of the Poison Glen, and the still waters of the lake that blended easily with the greyness of the morning. ...... After enduring the dampness of the last stop it was on to Gweedore and Falcarragh, where our benevolent Mother Nature displayed her agility with the introduction of blue sky's and bright sunshine, especially at the golden sands of the beach near Falcarragh, where a treasure trove of rare botanic species were recorded that had among them the beautiful Sea Holly in full bloom, and the rarer, Lesser Meadow-Rue. ... But you know who had us on the move again with a heavy shower that she conjured up literally from out of the blue. ...... This time it was on through Dunfanaghy to the awe inspiring Horn Head where again the rain was switched off for our benefit that allowed views of the scenic Sheep Haven Bay, and beyond the equally beautiful Mulroy Bay. While out on the northern horizon the great rocky bastion of Tory Island faded into the mist. Our magical day concluded with a stop at the very elevated long, narrow, fault line that forms Lough Salt ....... from here to our home base Mother Nature with a smile on her face displayed her usual benevolence with sunshine all the way and that continued for the remainder of the day.
     
    Sunday 31st July. One of our Club members has reported the return of the Little Egrets to the Trawbreaga Bay area near Malin Town after an absence of a number of months. At least ten birds were recorded at 4.30. p.m.
     
    A Wonderful Day enjoyed in Nature's Embrace.
    Sat. 5th. Aug. 2017. The expression "Valor Favors The Brave" was exemplified when last night against a background of the cold wet and windy weather experienced during the past week, and with the expectancy of it continuing over the weekend, the brave decision was taken to pay a club visit to Ards Forest Park near the Tidy town of Creeslough, with the great monolith of Muckish in the background, and the shoreline embellished by the pristine white sandy beaches caressed by the shimmering blue waters of Sheephaven Bay. .... On arrival at this sylvan paradise we were welcomed by a bright morning sun, and a soft breeze that instilled a desire to drool over the host of the many wildflowers to be viewed at arms length from the very well maintained Boardwalk, and where Butterflies fluttered over these treasures, these included Green and Silver Washed Fritillary, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Tortoiseshell and Small Heath, but not in the numbers that we encountered on previous visits, while high above in the clear blue sky Buzzards could be seen and heard. In the grassy areas near the beach large numbers of Orchids displayed their beauty, with a predominance of the slender scented variety, but the overall colour here was the blue of the myriad of lovely Hare Bells, that nodded their approval to this beautiful day. Also present were small patches of the very unusual White Thyme that blended beautifully with the yellow of Lady's Bedstraw, Knapweed, Stone Bramble, with clumps of Lesser Stitchwort, Sedge Creeping Cinquefoil playing a more subdued role. .......... The return meander to the car park was through the great Cathedral-like archways of the massive heaven-reaching sylvan pillars that allowed shafts of sunlight to penetrate to the floor of the forest. What a wonderful day enjoyed in nature's embrace.
     
    A Summer Bonus.
    Sat. 12th. Aug. 2017. The general consensus is that Summer has passed it's zenith without delivering too many exceptionally hot, dry days, but on this occasion it presented a bonus of what dreams are made of, when our outing that started with a call to the area of Creehennan near Quigleys Point that was awash in the most glorious sunshine, and from where the distant hazy blue mountains in the Illies sparkled with their adornment of purple heather, while to the eastern side a silver-washed Lough Foyle glistened in the morning light. As we sauntered along the road someone whispered "Look at the Hare" Just a short distance from where we were standing the beautiful brown hare showed little regard for our intrusion into it's domain and continued to enjoy the warmth and relative solitude of this lovely day. ....... Next it was on to Drung and through a Fuchsia lined roadway to Lough Inn, the waters of which were in perfect synchronization with the tones of the Foyle set far below. In this area a choir of Ravens welcomed our arrival with their discordant raucous choral rendition that had a Kestrel stopped in it's tracks, hovered for a short while before getting out of earshot. After this it was down to the main road to Moville, and from here to the little Pier below the Redcastle Post Office, where we partook of our tea break while being entertained by a large Dog Otter as it frolicked with fish that it caught and consumed for it's midday sustenance. ....... At the upper Pier Moville, a small number of Black Guillemot fished in the calm sea, while overhead in an ultramarine sky Kittiwakes and Fulmars circled leisurely, further along the beach large flocks of Common and Black-headed Gulls awaited the tidal retreat. Our final act of the outing was setting off for Inishowen Head where members meandered along the road to Balbane Head, where there was a Buzzard being annoyed by the aerial antics of another Raven. It was a great day made more enjoyable by the presents of our Dutch friends Wil and Cornelia.
     
    A Few Pictures from today's Outing.
    Sat. 19th. Aug. 2017. It's amazing how weather conditions can change from one Saturday to another, as was illustrated when looking back on last weeks outing that was enjoyed in a Mediterranean setting of warm bright sunshine, ultramarine blue sky and a silvered sea. But today we were threatened with the dying pangs of Hurricane Gert, equipped with it's armory of gray skies, cool gale force winds, Showers and murky visibility, but undaunted by these drawbacks, especially during this special occasion of Heritage Week. ...... Our quest commenced when we made our way through Craignahorna, Ballybeg and Altashane where there was evidence of Raptor roosts, and where the spectacular blue flowers of the flax plant flaunted its beauty through an overlay of barley. Then we drove on the road at Tullynabratley that skirts the base of the beautiful mountains of Coolcross and Crockaughrm where Golden Eagles fly. ..... Later near the Isle of Doagh a treasure trove that contained acres of Devil's Bit Scabious was observed. The Scabious is the food plant for the very rare Marsh Fritillary Butterfly. Close by a Buzzard dropped down on a source of prey that may have been in the possession of a numbers of its Nemesis, namely Ravens. In the Isle of Doagh at Maghernaul large numbers of Starling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Redpoll, and Linnet flitted to and fro from a wire fence to feed among the short grasses. Further on at Doaghmore, Redshank, Black-headed and Herring Gull, checked the sand laid bare by the tidal retreat while Gannets surveyed the scene from on high. Our outing concluded when at Malin Town with the recording of at least ten Little Egrets as they awaited the appropriate time to dine, nearby Mallard Duck floated easily in the shallow pools. One of today's highlight's was the recording of four Sparrowhawks.
     
    Saturday 26th. August 2017. Regrettably no club outing today due to unforeseen circumstances, but normal activity will resume next Saturday if not before.
     
    Summer's End.
    Sat. 2nd. Sept. 2017. With the great tapestry of Summer loosing some of its brilliantly coloured threads, soon to be replaced by it's Autumnal equivalent displaying the many tones of gold, rusts, and that special ingredient of mellow fruitfulness that will produce it's masterpiece to be admired by all. But now with the seasonal sands of time running out and the brilliance of this morning it was decided to give our search for the elusive Butterflies that have been missing from many of their favorite habitats a final throw of the dice. ..... So at Craigawhainna on the Isle of Doagh a considerable time was enjoyed in pursuit of these marvels of creation, but to no avail. ( Later in the day a few Peacock, Green-veined White and Meadow Brown were recorded in different locations) In their stead a family of three Buzzards was watched as they floated in a wide circular pattern against a pristine background of blue, while from its perch a Sparrowhawk watched with interest. ...... Near this location a search was undertaken on a multi-acre site of Devil's-bit Scabious in full flower to check if there was any evidence of the webs of the Marsh Fritillary Butterfly that is attached to the bottom of the Scabious plants to protect it's eggs, but unfortunately none were found. .... Later at the area known as the Castles our doyen of the botanical world, Anne, introduced us to more treasures with the unusual form of Greater Knapweed, White Stonecrop, Marsh Ragwort, the very unusual and beautiful Autumn Gentian, Lesser Sea Spurrey and Scots Lovage flaunting it's miniscule blue flowers. .... The usual displays of the more common Purple Loostrife, Centaury. Willow Herb, Woundwort and many more adding joy to this blissful Summers day that concluded with a stop on the top road at Tullynabratilly, where we surveyed with appreciation the wonderful vista below in this beautiful land.
     
    Sat. 9th. Sept. 2017. No Club outing today due to members on holiday and adverse local weather predictions. Normal activity will be resumed next week.
     
    Sat. 16th. Sept. 2017. That special time of year has arrived again, when we recommence our task together with the other groups, of counting the birds of Lough Swilly throughout the Winter months of 2016 -2017. on behalf of BirdWatch Ireland. ...... As is usual we start our count at Buncrana, and continue on through Lisfannon, Fahan Creek, and finish near the Pier on Inch Island. ....... The dark grey light of the morning coupled with the piercingly cold northerly wind foreboded the rain that was soon to ambush our efforts, but persistence was rewarded by the completion of our task to a high degree of satisfaction. ........ Today wasn't all doom and gloom, it had it's lighter moments also, one of which was during our lunch break when we celebrated the birthday of one of our "Over Twenty One" members, conducted with the usual pomp and joviality. ..... An enjoyable outing today was the agreed consensus among members despite the feeling of what Winter may have in store for us as the season of Autumnal mists moves on.
     
    Autumnal Changes at Inch Lake and Blanket Nook.
    Sat.23rd. Sept. 2017. Our activities today took us to an exhibition of extraordinary alchemy by the great master Mother Nature, that had worked her science on the prairies of endless acres of golden barley, that in turn was further enriches by the input of the many trees on whose bows the rust stained leaves are starting to flutter to earth, and that in due course will reinvigorate the natural cycle come next Spring. Not to be left out of her great plan, the hedgerows with their branches heavily laden with bright red haws, the fruits of Summer, will be a welcomed feast for the many birds soon to arrive here for our milder Winters and escape the extreme arctic conditions of their more northern latitudes. ........... This great treat to the eye and sole was in the area of Burt, Inch Lake and Blanket Nook, where flocks of Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Redshank and Greenshank, where Little Egret fraternized with their relatives the Grey Herons. Wigeon, recently arrived, floated and fed contentedly after their long and arduous journey from Iceland and other northern climes. It was pleasing to sea the Black Swans in their usual isolated location, while the Whooper and Mute have a more social connection, in the sky skeins of Canada Geese flew to and from the Lake. ..... There was the usual sighting of small birds flitting through the hedges and bushes with a predominance of Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Sparrow. The number of Raptors noted in the area was five, all of which were Buzzards............... On the floral front, with Summer now only a memory the colour of our beautiful wild flowers are on the wane, but near the Viewing Platform at the Inch Lake a little Dog Violet had emerged from a snug sheltered ditch into the world to enrich those fortunate to find it. Another example of enchanting engineering was the floral heads of the Wild Carrot especially at Blanket Nook, and also in this area we found a most unusual species of a jet black mushroom. ..... Our thanks to the weather gods who were in a benevolent mood with the absence of rain, and with the Sun making periodic appearances to add to our enjoyment.
     
    Autumn Sunshine on Final Outing for September. 2017.
    Sat. 30th. Sept. 2017. The deliverance of autumnal riches on our outing to the paradise that is the northern area of Malin was a great boost to the day. Among these gifts from it's treasure trove were the stillness of the morning, being pampered in bright warm sunlight and the ever changing colours of our beautiful countryside as seen through Nature's kaleidoscope. .... Our first stop as usual was at the Malin Town Bridge where eight of those beautiful, sparkling white Little Egrets plodded through the shallow tidal waters in search of a tasty tit-bit. Performing a similar activity were Mallard, Wigeon, Oystercatchers, Black-backed and common Gulls, all being surveyed by a small number of Greenshank and Grey Heron . ........ Out the Lagg road and close to the Presbyterian Church it was wonderful to see a sizable flock of Brent Geese, as they fed along the shore line. These Geese tolerate a human intrusion into their space and seem to utter a friendly bark if you get too close. Across on the Isle of Doagh shore a large numbers of Cormorants stood to attention in a long line patiently await a suitable tidal return. Here another Little Egret was added to our list for today to make a total of nine. ..... On the awe inspiring Knockamany Bens, a party of Chough foraged through the suitable short grass, while a little further on a stunning display by a host of Red Admirals Butterflies as they nectared on the flowers of the Veronica Bushes had the cameras clicking, and not far from here Anne discovered the unusual flowering "Corn Cockle" then "Love in a Mist" and the little flowers of the Flax plant, no doubt here by human assistance. ...... Then we were entertained by an aerial confrontation between a Sparrowhawk and a few concerned Crows, Also patrolling in the great blue yonder were a number of Buzzards. ........ After a very pleasant and relaxing tea break in the luxury of Anne and Jim Toland's holiday home at Malin Head it was off to complete our venture with a drive around the area known as the Back Lands to our last stop at the scenic Port Ronan, and then home.
     
    A Day of Mists in the Antrim Glens.
    Sat. 7th. Oct. 2017. Our outing today was to a land of exceptional beauty and mystery. A land where the Red Squirrel enjoys the freedom of its immense domain, where great towering giants of sylvan majesty reach from the floor of the deep ravines high into the veil of mist that also softened the outlines of the surrounding escarpment. A land of thundering waterfalls, cascading over dark outcrops of basalt to create a symphony of hypnotic sound. All of this enhanced by the overlay of the autumnal tints of yellow, lemon, gold and brown, that sing out in the grayness of this rather sunless day at the stunning Glenariffe Forest Park, in one of the renowned Glens of Antrim. ....... After some refreshments at the welcoming "Larage Lodge" Restaurant, we set off to the local coastal towns of Waterfoot, Cushendall and Cushendun, and from these scenic places to another popular location, Torr Head, where the Scottish Inner Hebrides appear very close even in today's conditions. ...... Next on our list was the iconic Fairhead, where a considerable time was engaged in enjoying the views from the great sheer cliff faces. ......among the birds recorded on our outing today included Grey and Pied Wagtail, Chough, Skylark, Thrush, Kestrel, Buzzard, Goldfinch and Meadow Pipit. ....... Now with the late evening light starting to fade it was on to Ballycastle and home to Inishowen.
     
    A Grey Misty October Day.
    Sat. 14th. Oct. 2017. The seeking of Natures gifts was carried out in a cocooned mesh of autumnal mist and leaden skies sprinkled with the occasional light drizzle of rain, that had the effect of the countryside having a rather bedraggled look with the colours of Summer now just a fading memory. But this meteorological interference did not dampen our ardeour for the joy's of observing nature in all of it's guises, and the experience was added to by the company of our members who have the ability to add that ingredient on a day like today of brightness dispensed with a sense of fun and enjoyment. ....... This was all ingested as we wondered here and there, starting at Culdaff, where at the estuary a sizable number of Wigeon have established the squatting rights on the river bend below the little bird hide, where Pampas Grass and other coloured flowers abound along the little walkway. In the field across the road a flock of Curlew were also settling in for the Winter. Redshank and Mallard busied themselves by feeding in the receding tide as did a large numbers of Great Black-backed and Common Gulls. .... On our way to Tirahork, one of the highlights of the day was to see a large female Buzzard dive with great venom from a tree to secure it's prey of a rodent in the grass verge just a few feet from the front of the cars, the Bird had a yellow wing tag with the number 75 emblazoned in black. ........... next it was on to Carrowmenagh, Ballymagaraghy, and to the beautiful beach at Kinnagoe Bay where the calm mirrored surface was fractured by Grey Seals and Porpoises as they surfaced, to disappear again beneath the smooth sea ...... When homeward bound a short stop at Malin Town revealed a flock of eleven Little Egrets as they stood on a grassy bank as if they had just clocked off for the day. Nearby, with the fast fading evening light the roadside was illuminated by the sparkling flowers of a beautiful Evening Primrose .... A lovely end to our day in the wild.
     
    Saturday 21st. October 2017. It was decided last night to cancel our usual Saturday Club Outing due to the threat of the approaching storm "Brian". Hopefully we will be back to our regular activity next week.
     
    This Winters first Sighting of Barnacle Geese.
    Monday 23rd. October 2017. Our very observant members Jim and Anne Toland reported the first sighting for the oncoming winter of a flock in excess of three hundred Barnacle Geese near Malin Town this afternoon.
     
    October's Bird Count.
    Sat. 28th. Oct. 2017. Another day of Autumnal grayness draped over a bleak landscape that a few weeks past had the beautiful mountains of Inishowen glowing with the red and purple of heather splashed against skies of blue, and fields of green and gold vibrant in sparkling sunlight but on this occasion they were smothered in impenetrable mists that were refusing to drift away in the gentle morning breeze. This was the scene when we commenced the October Bird Count on Lough Swilly. Here again the high tidal waters were not in our favor as they didn't allow for many of the waders to be observed. ...... As the day progressed things started to improve, with the tide silently dissipating that allowed many species to commence feeding in the food-rich sand and mud now being laid bare. With our count reaching it's satisfactory conclusion, the gentle breeze of the morning became rather agitated, to the point that the leaves of many colours that had survived the wrath of "Ophelia" and then "Brian" were being ruthlessly snatched from their parent bows to swirl relentlessly in the air and along the ground in search of shelter in hedges and any available snug corners, while in other suitable roadside habitat a number of wildflowers were holding on to their Summer's beauty. All of this is what makes our day's of Nature watching so wonderful.
     
    November Outing in Clonmany.
    Sat.4th. Nov. 2017. Our first Club Outing for the month of November was one tinged with the cold of winter, but had the advantage of sunshine and only the occasional threat of rain. Our avian adventure got off to a "flying start" when first at Glasha, a relatively small flock of Barnacle Geese were recorded, then at Straths a magnificent flock in excess of eleven hundred was noted. The "Flying Start" remark earlier was fortunately not accurate, as the Geese after a short time protesting with their fractious calls at our incursion into their area remained grounded, and continued to feast on the plentiful supply of fresh green grass. In the air Lapwing glistened in the morning light as they performed their aerobatic rituals. On the nearby Isle of Doagh a Buzzard soared serenely, while Curlew skulked in front and behind hedges. ...... A short time later we stopped on the high road that skirts the Coolcross Hills and Crockaughrim Mountain to admire the wonderful scenery. ...... Next, on our trip to the Binnion beach a Merlin was recorded as we passed through the tree-arched roadway with their discarded leaves of gold presenting beautiful frieze's on the roadside verges. .... As the Waterfall at the Glen House is out of commission due to the extensive flood damage caused by last months storm, lunch was consumed at Rockstown Pier. Further out, an angry Ocean vented it's fury by crashing mountainous waves of pristine surf on the great red granite monolith's that offers protection to the little inlet and the Pier where a number of Red-breasted Mergansers, and Oystercatchers enjoyed the tranquility but some Eider Duck had to run the gauntlet of thieving Gulls. Near here a Merlin was also recorded. .... after a short stop al Lenan Pier it was back to base by the amazing Mamore Pass then Clonmany, Ballyliffin and finally Carndonagh.
     
    Thursday 9th. November 2017. Thirteen Little Egrets recorded on Trawbreaga Bay near Malin Town this morning as they waited for the very high tide to ebb.
     
    A Few Pictures From Today's Enjoyable Outing.
    Sat. 11th. Nov. 2017. A reminder of how quickly a week passes was exemplified this morning when the Flock of Barnacle Geese seen grazing contently in fields out the Lagg Road near Malin Town was the same one recorded at Straths Carndonagh last week, just a short distance away across Trawbreag Bay, not only do Geese fly but also time that seems to have a greater velocity. A little later behind the Malin Parochial Hall a number of Snipe, totaling thirteen in all, were noted as they clustered near their cover of rushes and grass at the tide line. Also present were a few Little Egrets in the company of a number of Oystercatcher, Redshank, Mallard, Wigeon and a single Greenshank, all watched over by a Grey Heron from it's lofty stance. .......... Next we were off to the Culdaff River Estuary where a warm welcome was extended to our regular winter visitor the American Wiegon that seemed to be enjoying the company of his entourage. In an adjacent field an unknown number of Curlew were also enjoying the peace of the morning. At the nearby Bunnagee Pier a raft of Eider Duck bobbed up and down to the rhythm of the swell. ....... After a refreshing tea break here, it was off in an easterly direction, with a stop, and a stroll to the rocky shore at Redford, where among our ticks of the day was added a couple of Manx Sheerwaters as they drifted on a more exposed open sea. Further out a line of Gannets flew in a westerly direction. ....... Later near Ballycharry, in fields sown with Flax and Corn, clouds of small birds availed of the great banquet of seed at their disposal, these included Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Redpoll, Linnet, Reed Bunting and Siskin. With November approaching midway point, the hours of daylight have diminished considerably, so with a total of four Buzzards a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk recorded, that was that and then off home.
     
    Our Annual Meeting With The South-west Birders.
    Sat.18th. Nov.2017. A most pleasant day was the consequence of our meeting on this beautiful morning with our good friends from The South-west Birders Club. This our third annual get-together started with a mutual greeting at the silver sheened Inch Lake, where large numbers of birds of different species busied themselves as they fractured the smoothness of the water with their exuberance to feed, while others mostly the Swans in their stillness were like "Painted Ships on a Painted Ocean". ..... The one very disturbing observation was the complete absence of birds from the adjacent pastures, or on any of the acreage as seen from the Slob Road. Perhaps it may have been caused by the intensive draining being carried out in the area. ....... Our next destination was the Farland Bank, but on our way there we observed at the Inch Levels area, large flocks of Grey and Pied Wagtails foraging through recently deposited clay extracted by the draining excavations, while close by large numbers of Redwing, Song Thrush and Reed Bunting flitted to and from the hedges, to feast on the corn and grass seed heads made available by the friendly farmer. ...... At the Farland Bank a warm cup of tea and sandwich was enjoyed and was further enhanced with mouth-watering snacks distributed by the ladies from both clubs. while enjoying this break, skeins of Greylag and Canada Geese touched down with great precision on the silent surface of the lake, causing no disturbance to a few Goldeneye Duck and Merganser floating nearby, while in the the increasingly blue sky a flight of Lapwing glittered in the distance as they performed their mesmerizing actions. ..... Next it was on to Blanket Nook, where along the walkways many wild flowers were surviving the early winter cold and storms to brighten the visitor's day. ..... On the waters of the lake, well stocked with Birds, mostly Wigeon, Mallard, Redshank, Greenshank, Coot, Greylag Geese and Grey Heron, but what caused the most interest was the appearance of a large Dog Otter. Our Raptor score for the outing was three Buzzard and two Sparrowhawk.... Now it was time to say goodbye to our friends from the South-west Birders and wish them a safe journey back home.
     
    The November Swilly Bird Count
    Sat. 25th. Nov. 2017. With the morning in the ice cold hands of an early winter that slowly started to release it's deathlike grip a little, as a bleary eyed Sun dragged itself above the hills to the east of Buncrana, to divulge it's barely perceivable warmth to where we had gathered to commence the November Bird Count on the Swilly. ..... With a high tide crashing on to the fortress like structure of the Pier, driven by the North-easterly gale it was difficult to see what birds might be out on the turbulent waters, but on the lee side of the structure a good count was achieved. This was followed with a short stop at the Lisfannon Beach, but here the same difficulty was the outcome ....... Our next location was Fahan Creek where at the Marina, flocks of the perfectly camouflaged Ringed Plover and Dunlin were discovered hidden among the stony shore line. A few more observations were carried out from suitable locations in this area before driving to Inch Island where large numbers of birds of various specious were recorded and this was then followed by a very welcomed cup of hot tea and sandwich, which concluded our task with the background of the high snow encrusted Scalp Mountain resplendent in the late afternoon sunshine.
     
    December Outing to Linsfort and Stragill.
    Sat. 2nd. Dec. 2017. With the meteorological generosity of the past week that displayed it's bright, cool, and mostly rain free days, all encapsulated in a gentle breeze still very fresh in the memory we set off from Buncrana in a confident mood. Not as last Saturday when our heading was in a southern direction, but today it was the complete opposite with a northerly heading so we set our compass for a course along the shoreline of Lough Swilly, with our first stop at Ned's Point, where the early morning tide had retreated far out into the peaceful Lough. From here it was on to the beautiful Stragill Bay, through tree-lined roadway's with the sylvan giants flaunting their sturdy trunks and branches of gleaming silver and golden brown, some with the leaves of Autumn still suspended like decorations on Christmas Trees. At the wonderful sandy shore of Stragill a pleasant period was spent relaxing and admiring the amazing rock formation and the most unusual sand structures created on the usually submerged rocks. ....... Here also were a few wildflowers that had survived the ravages of winter's fury, Great clusters of Hawthorn Berries regaled in crystals of blue like raindrops or dew that reflected the colours of the sky. In a nearby potato field large numbers of Curlew were busy checking through the the now decaying foliage. Later at Scraggy Bay, Daniel and Jim recorded at least twelve Long-Tailed Duck cruising near rocks just off shore. ....... It was while here that we got from our Special Agent in Inch Island Boyd Bryce, a coded message reporting the possible sighting of a tagged Red Kite. So with this news it was off again in a southerly direction. But alas, as the expression goes "The Bird Had Flown" . But it all adds up to another enjoyable day's birding.
     
    A Winter's Outing in December.
    Sat. 9th. Dec. 2017. A day that dawned icy cold and grey, to reveal a countryside under a blanket of light snow, but by the time our members assembled at the wonderland of Lisnagrath Wood the scene was transformed into a Disney-like extravaganza as the sun sparkled on the crystallized snowflakes that looked as if the stars of a night sky had been cast on to the frozen forest floor, and the frost clad branches of the sylvan giants had hosts of little angels fluttering to the ground for the thoughtful gifts of suitable food scattered by Brian playing the role of one of the Magi. All performed in the perfect stillness of this place, even the colourful Jays made no comment as they flew from tree to tree, but we did regret the absence of our friends the Red Squirrels that may have been having a bit of a lye-in. ............... Next it was off to the nearby Culmore Country Park where from our elevated viewing position we recorded large flocks of Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, flocks of Twite, a few Red-breasted Merganser and Great-crested Grebe, Mallard, Wigeon, and Grey Heron all recorded against the waters of a calm high tide reflecting the colours of the golden foliage and tall grasses and the shimmering images of the distant Donegal Hills . ......... After lunch we walked through another place of great sylvan giants that surround Enagh Lough, an area adjacent to the Grancha Hospital on the Derry side of Lough Foyle, where a Sparrowhawk was recorded as it navigated through the dense woodland, while on the Lough, Goldeneye duck, Mute Swan and Dabchick floated on the still waters ......But now due to some members having other functions to attend and with the early evening light fading a little our enjoyable visit here concluded.