Inishowen Wildlife Club

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A Random Selection of Pictures from Last Years Outings.
Our First Outing for 2018.
Saturday 6th. January 2018. Out first club outing for 2018 was an exceptional event, greatly appreciated by all members, with it's continuous bright sunshine that alleviated the effect of a cool north-easterly breeze. The overall atmosphere suggested the the great festival of Spring was preparing it's entrance in the not too distant future. ..... This lovely day of excesses began in the area known as the Big Isle, near Manorcunningham, where the underfoot conditions were to say the least a bit on the sodden side due to the heavy rains of the past while, and the low draining and flat layout of the region. But the display's of the massive flocks of birds soon overcame the underfoot problem. ........... With an estimate of over one thousand White Fronted Geese recorded, and the many hundreds of Greylag and Brent, and flocks of Lapwing displayed their shimmering flight in the bright morning light, while great numbers of Golden Plover added to the enjoyment. ...... On the heavily berry laden hedges and bushes Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbird gorged on the bonanza of ripe fruits, among the smaller birds were the prominent colours of the male bullfinch. Also spotted was a peregrine, feasting on what appeared to be it's kill of a Golden Plover. ...... It was our intention to explore more of this amazing place, bur someone suggested we should have a look at the Glossy Ibis discovered a few days ago by our member Brian in the Lifford area, which we duly did, and to our delight, like any celebrity it presented itself for a photo shoot. ..... After our fortifying tea and the usual tit-bits, we made a few more stops along the banks of the Foyle. A highlight at the last stop before setting off home was to note twenty Goldeneye, and record the sixteen Buzzard seen through our most enjoyable day.
First Lough Swilly Bird Count for 2018.
Saturday 13th. January. 2018. Our task today was to participate in the first Bird Count on Lough Swilly for the 2018 season. A day painted in monochromatic tones of dismal grey, that was introduced early in the morning by an overture of raindrops as they beat their staccato rhythms on the windscreens of our cars, but fortunately on arrival at our starting point of Buncrana it ceased. That allowed the count to get off to a great start. ....As the day progressed a very cold South-easterly wind injected its venom that had a slight paralyzing effect, but undeterred we continued with great diligence and concluded with a very satisfactory count in the numbers and species of Birds recorded, after which the vision of a roaring fire and a hot meal was now foremost in our minds.
A preview of Spring.
Sat 20th. January. 2018. As Birdwatchers our club outing today was the beneficiary of the glorious miracles of Mother Nature, with her preview of the tantalizing riches of Spring, which today had bright sunshine that banished the frost and snow of the past week with the intensity of it's warm breath, and added that special glow of beauty and tranquility over the countryside that was reflected off the silent stillness of a slow seeping tide at Straths near Carndonagh. ..... Across the water on the adjacent Isle of Doagh a large flock of Barnacle Geese grazed contentedly in a field of rich fresh grass with their relations the Brent pilfering the shallows near the shore. In the air, Lapwing in considerable numbers sparkled, and Golden Plover in perfect v formation patrolled continuously, while many Goldeneye, Mallard and Wigeon drifted slowly with the tide. Near the shore numbers of Redshank and few Greenshank foraged, while Little Egrets in good numbers flopped from one place to another. A considerable time was spent here enjoying the joys of the morning. ........ Next it was on to Glasha where the previous scenario was repeated . ....... Now it was to Malin Town with a stop at the bridge, and along the estuary near the Parochial Hall, where more Wigeon, Mallard, Redshank, Herring and Black-backed Gull and the now ubiquitous Little Egrets toiled in the pleasant conditions. .......... With the day rapidly changing from forenoon to afternoon it was off to Malin Head to enjoy the hospitality of our Dutch Member Wil and her husband Martin in their beautiful and comfortable house that overlooks the wide Atlantic with the Island of Inishtrahull and the Garvan Isles gracing the horizon while to the East the snow capped peaks of the Inner Hebrides "The Paps of Jura"glistened in the evening light. Our normal lunch was substituted by mouthwatering cakes and pastry served with mugs of hot coffee. ... From the comfort of the dinning room, we were entertained by a pod of Dolphins as they frolicked near the shore below our vantage point. Also from this position more Barnacle were recorded. After overstaying our visit we concluded our glorious day with a drive around "The Head" as it is referred to locally and recorded more Barnacle and an Iceland Gull.
A Grey Windy January Day.
Sat. 27th. January. 2018. Our weather can be fickle at times but must never be ignored, and today's outing was no exception, when the Weather Gods cast down a day of winter greyness, augmented by a gale of force eight intensity that made standing still especially when looking through binoculars a very difficult task, but they also displayed their generosity by alloying a temperature of eleven degrees without the addition of any rain, both of the latter are rather exceptional for the month of January...... So it was as we set off to the eastern side of the Peninsula through the windswept landscapes of of Gortyern, Effishmore and Baskil, with very little to report on the avian front at this point, with the exception of a Sparrowhawk as it maneuvered low over the hedges to avoid the elements and to ambush it's prey. But with regards to the flora at this time of year, as we passed through the Carrowmore Glen now denuded of all of it's spring and summer floral displays, the only exception was the reappearance of that wonderful member of the mint family Yellow Archangel, just awakening from it's slumbers through the cold of winter. ...... Next it was on to the Culdaff Estuary where large numbers of birds were to be seen, with flotillas of Teal Mallard, Wigeon, Curlew, Redshank, Grey Heron, Common, Black-headed, Herring and Great-black- Gulls were noted. That Presidential styled rarity the American Wigeon with his entourage, as expected was seeking the limelight as it sallied to and fro on the more sheltered water of the Estuary. ......... After this it was all haste to Redford where we walked down through the beautiful pathway with it's many moss cocooned trees and stone walls to soften the harshness of this canvas of winter, added to with the musical gurgling of the little stream on the left side of the road that accompanied us to the shore. It was here that we recorded the first Lesser Celandine flower emerging in the company of a Dandelion, and a few clumps of Opposite-leaved Saxifrage. ........ With the afternoon well established it was on to the peaceful and sheltered cove at Kinnagoe Bay where a late tea break was had. ........ Our day concluded with a stop at Tirahork and Cambry with the hope of perhaps seeing a Buzzard or a Hen harrier. But it was not to be today, however we did record another Sparrowhawk near here. ..... Earlier at Falmore we recorded flocks of Goldfinch, Linnet and Reed Bunting feeding in fields specially planted to help maintain little birds through the winter months. .... Finally when homeward bound near Malin Town a sizable flock of Barnacle and a couple of Little Egrets were added to our list.
A Cold Winter's Day in February.

Sat. 3rd. Feb. 2018. On Saturday 20th. January our travels took us in a northerly direction. Then last week's adventure was to an easterly compass setting, but for today's outing it was thought that a westerly direction would be appropriate. So on this the coldest day of winter to date, we had our first stop at Straths where we were rewarded by the sight of a large flock of Barnacle Geese estimated at five hundred plus, A number of them had the bonus of having white leg rings attached with the letters ZUL, ZFX and ZXU clearly visible on them. Intermingling with the Geese and also well dispersed were many Curlew, while near the shore line were a couple of Little Egrets and Oystercatchers. ......... Then in an effort to avoid the very cold wind it was back to the cars and on to Tullynabratilly where we took the high road that leads near to the base of Coolcross Hill and Crockaughrim from where we could see the dark ominous colours of rain showers lining up from their arctic base to distribute their downpours on our position, but they were out maneuvered when we took to the cars again and set off for the beach at Binnion. Hear at the corner of the river before it entered the angry wave encrusted Atlantic a small flock of Brent Geese shared an islet of green with a couple of Great-black-Backed Gulls and a bulky Glaucous Gull. ........ Some time later on our way to Urris a Peregrine Falcon was noted. It was inspiring to see a few Primroses smiling from their snug sheltered abode, while in a more exposed position a single Daffodils braved the cold and storm from it's position on a roadside verge....... By now our priority was to find some place of shelter for the tea break, which was duly achieved. So fully fortified we proceeded along the cold windswept road near Dunaff Head to Lenan, then up the magnificent Mamore Gap where at the top for a very brief few seconds before disappearing was what appeared to be a Golden Eagle. Another cold day of bird watching was coming to a close with a drive down through the Hillside to Tunduff, from there over Pinch Hill then Clonmany, Ballyliffin to dispersal at base camp.

Our Penultimate Winter Count of the Wetland Birds on Lough Swilly.
Sat. 10th. Feb. 2018. Our penultimate winter count of the wetland birds of the extensive Lough Swilly was undertaken in conditions well beyond expectations, which at times had occasional shafts of sunlight filtering through the light veils of high clouds that were not offering any threat of their dispensing rain on our activity. That was reserved for later in the evening after our task was satisfactorily completed, and we were ensconced at home to muse on the pleasures of the day. ........ What was deemed as being exceptional with our count was the very high number of birds recorded at this time of the year, as usually their numbers have peaked during December and January. ......... While traveling from one viewing point to another there were signs of that welcome visitor "Spring" with the emergence of some little blossoms and foliage of early plants, and also flitting to and fro were large flocks of Wagtails, Chaffinch, Sparrows and a few Yellow Hammer. ........ The day concluded with a sighting of three Little Egrets and the silken glide of a Buzzard as it surveyed it's domain from the now changing sky.
Outing to Straths, Binnion, and Urris.
Sat. 17th. Feb. 2018. Today's Outing to the Straths and Glasha shorelines near Carndonagh, followed by a visit to the golden sand dunes of Binnion Beach, and then to the Urris region of Clonmany, with a special emphases on the heather mantled lofty mountains was somewhat of a double edged sword in it's purpose. ....... Our first stop of the morning in the Carndonagh area was to ascertain if there were any Barnacle Geese present, and if so in what numbers, and if any were bearing white leg rings. This was in conjunction with a proposed further scientific ringing operation of the local Barnacle population in the near future........At Glasha a small flock of Barnacle together with Brent were noted, but around the corner at Straths a large flock in excess of six hundred were recorded, among them were six birds with the appropriate leg tag attached and with the codes ZUL, ZUS, ZUJ, ZXF and ZXU inscribed in black. ........ This was followed by a brief stop at the scenic Craigaleen on the western end of Tullagh Bay. From here a couple of Great Northern Divers were added to our list. ...... Our special observance of the the hills from Ballyliffin, Clonmany to Urris was to check if there might be sightings of the great majestic Golden Eagles that should be soon performing their mating rituals. but unfortunately not on this occasion. ...... Our day in the great outdoors finished with a check in the Hillside area, then over Pinch to Clonmany, followed by home.
Outing to Lisnagrath and Eastern shores of Lough Foyle.
Sat. 24th. Feb. 2018. Our today's adventure commenced in the wonderland of Lisnagrath Wood, a place of special beauty and peacefulness, where the bright sunlight penetrated the maze of towering trunks and leafless branches, described by the great W.S. as the " Bare Ruined Choirs Where Last the Sweet Birds Sang." On these were hosts of small birds, all availing of the plentiful food left at their disposal by their admiring nature lovers. A few little Red Squirrels scampered over the russet carpet of Beech leaves to conceal their trophies of hazel nuts laid out by our own Brian Hegerty. But their nemesis, the dreaded Gray made a fleeting appearance to cast a cloud of gloomed over the joy of our visit. ........... On leaving the shelter of this heaven we became aware of the piercingly icy cold wind blowing all the way from freezing Siberia, that even with the influence of the bright sunshine could not diminish, but in the warmth and comfort of the cars on our journey to our next stop at Ball Point on the eastern shore of Lough Foyle was a chance to regain the heat lost. ...... At this destination a number of Buzzards were recorded as were Whooper Swans, Curlew, Grey Heron, Oystercatcher, Black-headed Gull and Redshank.. ..... Now with breakfast a distant memory it was back up to the Swan Bridge rest area where we refueled with hot tea and other types of energy replacements. ....... After this respite it was on to the Netherlands type of coastal fortification at Myroe, where we were alerted to the presence of a Spotted Redshank in the area, but good fortune did not smile on us with a sighting. ....... In it's stead we recorded a flock of approximately four hundred Brent geese that had a number of birds with blue and yellow leg bands attached. During the considerable time spent in the area we noted a pair of Carrion Crow, Common Redshank, Greenshank, Shelduck, Little Egret, and in the air flocks of Golden Plover and Curlew performed their flight pattern. ...... As we moved on a Peregrine Falcon caused a bit of a kerfuffle among the Brent by diving at great speed through the flock and actually knocked one goose to the ground, but it manager to escape it's near death experience to fly another day. ......... On our way home a very short stop was made at Ballykelly, but with the cold intensifying we soon moved on. Among the small birds today were Tree Creeper, Goldfinch, Linnet, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Sparrow. Our Day was added to as we drove home by the joy derived from listening to the commentary on Ireland's victory over Wales in the six Nations Cup.
A Few Pictures from today' Netting and Ringing Programe.
Sat. 3rd. Mar. 2018. The venom of winter dispensed by it's very enthusastic cohort, the Month of March, that injected it's extream frost and snow laden winds during the first few days of it's reign, and especially today when we joined with a member of the R.S..P.B. with a local connection, namely Kendrew Colhoun, leading the other birding enthusiasts from places as diverse as Australia, Iceland, Scotland and England. ...... The purpose of this assembly was a scientific exercise in gathering as much information on the numbers and behavior of Barnacle and Brent Geese in the area. This involves the difficult and arduous procedure of netting and ringing of as many of these wary geese as possable. ...... Unfortunately the birds weren't in a cooperative mood, so the cannon wasn't fired on this occasion, but it's hoped that success will be achieved tomorrow. The results of our endeavors will be reported as soon as they are achieved. ....... How wonderful still feeling the effects of today's cold, to get into a warm house and enjoy the resurgence of life engendered by a hot dinner, after an encounter with the Beast from the East. ...........P.S. Sunday 4th. An account of today's activity as promised in yesterdays report. Very large numbers of Barnacle, estimated at near three thousand recorded, but as yesterday, no birds netted or ringed.
Sat. 10th. March. 2018. A day entombed in a cool grey mist and intermitting light rain that encapsulated the beautiful Peninsula of Inishowen and beyond while clasped in it's dreary grip, but this gloom was swept away to allow a great swell of metaphorical light and joy to flood the morning with Song Thrush and Blackbird projecting their vocal musical renditions against the joyful sounds of Jackdaws and Rooks as they readied themselves for their nest building activities. ........ Such was the scene as we started our final count of the birds of Lough Swilly. At our stop to count at the Fahan Marina region, the approach of spring and the warm day's of summer, unlike today's conditions were very much in the air, with many of the not so ancient mariners having their great crafts lifted with the aid of a mammoth crane from their safe winter land bases to the smooth waters of the marina. ........ Our task continued as we worked our way to Inch Island, where with great diligence we concluded the count and celebrated with a hearty tea break, followed by a look at the devastation caused by the removal of trees and bush-lined ditches of the area surrounding the Inch Lake. What a disaster!!!.
Saturday 17th. March 2018 . Due to our revered National Holiday coinciding with the usual Saturday Outing, and to facilitate the members and their family's to attend the many national and local events it was decided to call off our quest of nature until next week
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