Inishowen Wildlife Club
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To view the Butterfly Ireland web site Click http://www.butterflyireland.com/ Sat.2nd. Jan. 2010. A disappointing start to the New Year with no outing today, again due to another severe weather warning with black ice forecast for the main roads and byroads in most cases impassible, but hope springs eternal, perhaps winter will loosen its stranglehold before next weekend. Sunday. 3rd. Jan. 2010. Martin Moloney and a friend of ours from Galway braved the terrible conditions to have a look at what might be seen at Inch Lake. Mark Herrick has been out with us over the Christmas period for a few years. The following is Martins report............We went to the viewing platform, then to the upper hide. From there, in the field near the farm buildings we recorded approximately 400 Greylag Geese, and about 200 Whooper Swans. on the Lake there were large numbers of Tufted, Teal, Mallard, Wigeon, and a number of Goldeneye Duck. Further out were large rafts of Coot,and on the far side Canada, and Greylag Geese grazed contently........ From the viewing platform the field where a peregrine was recorded last Saturday week, today contained almost 300 Golden Plover, also present were good numbers of Fieldfare, and Redwing, at one point we recorded six members of the Thrush family, also noted here were two Buzzards on E.S.B. poles, one of these birds was being mobbed by a Hooded Crow. Near the Pump House twenty plus Skylarks were noted. .............. With the light starting to fade we set off for Muff to see if there was any evidence at the reed beds of Hen Harrier using them as a roost, but it proved negative, but we witnessed a great spectacle of thousands............Yes thousands of Rooks heading towards Kilderry Woods to roost for the night. Also seen in the area were Teal, Mallard, Wigeon, Curlew, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Lesser Redpool, Wood Pigeon, and last but not least a beautiful Grey Wagtail. Sat. 9th. Jan. 2010. Again this week it was decided in the interest of members safety, to call off today's outing due to the worsening weather conditions that we had hoped would have gone by now. Perhaps things will have improved by next weekend.
Sat. 16th. Jan. 2010. The shackles of the last few snowbound and frost encrusted weeks were cast aside today, as we embraced a more normal temperature, with the sun shining through a thin layer of cloud to cast it's translucent and welcoming rays on our visit to the Malin area. Our first call was to the Trawbreaga Bay at Glasha, where among all the usual Geese, Duck, Waders, Dunlin, Ring Plover etc, was a flock of approximately Twelve Hundred Barnacle Geese, and on the other side of the Bay a separate and smaller flock was recorded. While enjoying our well earned repast at the Meeting House at Lagg, on the water we recorded Mallard, Widgen, Godwit, Red-brested Merganser, and a Great Northern Diver. Over the land were Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Oystercatcher, Gull, and Chough. Then it was on to Malin Head. where thousands of Redwing, Fieldfare, and lesser numbers of Mistle thrush, and of course that great vocalist the Song Thrush were recorded. Conspicuous by their great numbers were the stunning Lapwing, which suggested that some of them had come here to avoid the very Arctic conditions in eastern Europe. Near Ardmalin a very large flock of Linnet, intermingled with Chaffinch was noted. On the shoreline at White Strand Bay, Redshank, Greenshank, and Turnstone were added to our list. With fading light, and loitering with intent on the northern horizon was a large bank of dark cloud so we decided to call a halt to what was a most enjoyable day.
Thursday 21st. Jan. 2010. A Golden Eagle was seen flying low near Rushfield, Buncrana, by Daniel Moloney at 12.30. pm. Sat. 23rd. Jan. 2010. Our clubs involvement in the I-WeBS count of lough Swilly had to be called off due to the heavy blanket of fog that obliterated the Lough in its entirety, and made participation in the activity impossible. With counters from many parts of the Peninsula and further afield, it eventually became obvious that the conditions were not going to improve, and after waiting until the afternoon we called a halt to the proceedings..................... I have been informed by Martin Moloney, who together with Jim Toland, Brian and Dillon Hegarty, remained in the area of the Inch Lake after other members had gone, were later contacted by Boyd Bryce to say that the fog was dissipating on the Swilly. So the count was preceeded with, and resulted in delivering a very high number of species. There must be a moral to be found in this little postscript. Sat. 30th. Jan.2010. In the crispness of the last Saturday of January, a month with its many days of intense cold and snow that perhaps may be replaced by a milder introduction to Spring, that was indicated by the bright rays of sunshine that welcomed the good turnout of birders that congregated at the Inch Lake car park, and from the adjacent viewing platform in perfect viewing conditions flocks of Golden Plover, Lapwing, Mallard, Teal, Tufted, Goldeneye and Wigeon Duck were noted, while Whooper Swans, and Greylag Geese arrived and departed from the Lake as if it was some great air terminal. At the Farland Bank, where more Goldeneye and large numbers of Shelduck were also recorded. But the tick of the day was the perfect view that was had of that rare winter visitor, the Male Smew, in his stunning plumage, as he moved gracefully over the silken surface of the Lake. On our way to our next stop, that was Blanket Nook, we had a perfect close up view in a roadside field of a Kestrel that may just have finished its lunch, and was in no haste to fly off. At our destination, a Buzzard was observed warming its self in the midday Sun as it perched on the branch of a tree accompanied by two interfering Magpies. From the fields at the southern end of the Nook large flocks of Greylag Geese were seen taking to the sky to fly in a northerly direction. On the water were yet more Goldeneye, Tufted, and good numbers of Mallard and Teal in their iridescent loveliness. Then from the direction that the Geese had gone a short time earlier heavy snow showers threatened, so it was decided that a very enjoyable days birding could now end.
Sat. 6th. Feb. 2010. Our forces were mustered at the Square in Clonmany, and in ever improving light and calm conditions we made our way to reconnoitre the wildlife at Binnion, where, apart from the fact that there were many walkers along the river and on the front shore, we still managed to record a Small flock of Brent Geese where the river empties into the Bay. Further up the river a few Curlew, and a lone Grey Heron were noted . Out on the Bay, Great Northern Divers were evident, together with a few Shag, and Cormorant. At the other end of the Beach a sizable flock of Sanderling were observed scurrying to and fro to the rhythm of the incoming wavelets, like a game played by children who did not want to get their feet wet. Also present in the area were large numbers of Oystercatchers, waiting patiently on rocky outcrops for the tide to recede, that would allow them to forage on the shells and sand worms that would be exposed. On a tranquil Ocean surface, more Great Northern Divers were noticed, and further out again a raft of Eider Duck were just visible. The next stop was at Rockstown Harbour, where a small number of Red-breasted Mergansers were recorded, as were the beautiful Black Guillemot in it's winter plumage. Our day concluded at Leenan Pier in the late afternoon, with little or no activity to report here, perhaps due to the rather high tide, so we decided to cease operations and return to base.
Sat. 13th. Feb. 2010. The enchanted woodland known as Lisnagrath, where Red Squirrels scratched diligently through the rich red carpet of beech leaves in an effort to locate some of the nuts hidden there last Autumn, while others scamper up the majestic Scotch firs and giant Beech Trees, to the comfort of their drays from where they observed the activities of the human intruders that are invading their peaceful domain. As we made our entrance to this special place, suspended from the lower branches of a small tree were many containers of varying sizes and designs, put there by some benevolent group, the contents of these handouts contained mainly peanuts in different quantities, some filled to the top, while others were almost empty, and some without their lids which allowed the many Blue Tits, Great Tits, and Coal Tits, to climb with great skill and speed to the nuts below and make an equally quick exit. The less adventurous Chaffinches, and Robins, remained on the ground to pick up the crumbs from the rich man's table. A very pleasant meander was enjoyed through most of the forest where the warm sunshine managed to penetrate to the carpeted woodland floor due to the absence of the delicate spring foliage waiting it's birth in the weeks to come. As we departed Lisnagrath we recorded three Buzzards a number that was added to later in the afternoon. Our next stop was on the shore of Lough Foyle, where in the warmth of the afternoon Sun we recorded numbers of Redshank, Godwit, Greenshank, Oystercatchers, Curlew, Lapwing, Grey Heron, Mallard, and Great Crested Grebe. So with evening fast approaching, a peaceful days birdwatching ended in a countryside pervaded by a sense of Spring. Sat. 20th. Feb. 2010. Our Club completed the section allocated to us for the February I-WeBS count of Lough Swilly. Starting at the pier, Buncrana in bright, but extremely cold conditions, with the wind coming from a south easterly directions. From this point to the Marina at Fahan Creek, there was a lot of disturbance on the beach due to the large number of people walking, some with dogs, and some without, and also a small number of people running. As we moved on to the elevated site overlooking the Causeway Road to Inch, a heavy bank of cloud seemed to be seeping it's way in our direction. After a much needed cup of hot tea, we felt sufficiently fortified to face the Inch Island side of the Lough which was by now under the cold influence of the fog, but it eventually eased a little which allowed us to complete our task to a satisfactory level with a high count of birds, and species which left us feeling that it was a job well done. Involved in the count today were Dermot and Danny Mc Laughlin, Peter White, Brian Hegarty, and Paddy Mc Crossan. Martin Moloney was otherwise engaged by representing the club at the Irish Raptor Study Group meeting in Dublin. Sat. 27th. Feb. 2010. Winter has still got a tenacious grip on the last day's of this month, as was experienced this morning as we made our way to that place of refuge, namely the Inch Lake Wildlife Reserve. Apart from the regular members we were pleased to have in our company a frequent visitor from Galway, in the person of Mark Herrick, and from County Tyrone, Brian Hegarty and his young son Dillon. Brian and Dillon are regular birders with us since Christmas. .... In defiance of the piercing Arctic wind bearing down on us from an easterly direction, we enjoyed the spectacle of the thousands of birds that were to be seen on the lake and in the shelter provided by the little islets with their coats of dead grasses and rushes, that cover a considerable area on the northern end of the Lake. Birds of prey were in evidence, with Buzzard, and Sparrow hawk patrolling the area to the disruption of the many birds that included very large numbers of Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Tufted, and some Goldeneye. Also present in large numbers were Golden Plover, Lapwing, Coot, and Redshank, and the expected smaller numbers of Greenshank and Red-breasted Merganser. A few Barnacle Geese were something of a surprise, as they are not usually seen in this habitat, but not so the Greylag and Canada Geese, seen feeding contently on the Inch side of the Lake. Our day concluded much later at Blanket Nook, where three Buzzards were recorded, also added to our list was another flock of Golden Plover, and a flock of Lapwing. Again here on the water were the ubiquitous Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, and Tufted Duck. The sighting of that special and scarce little bird the Yellowhammer added to the pleasure of our day's birding. With the chill intensifying it was decided that we should seek the warmth of our firesides with the bonus of watching the Rugby encounter between Ireland and England, which in retrospect was a good idea. Sat, 6th. Mar. 2010. In the beautiful stillness of the morning, and the comforting embrace of a warm sun that encompassed the Peninsula as seen from our meeting point at the Isle of Doagh Road, and from there we moved to the Trawbreaga Bay area where we encountered a large flight of Barnacle, estimated at twelve hundred plus, they settled in a couple of fields not far removed from our position where they soon started grazing. Close to the shore with a receding tide large numbers of Brent Geese were enjoying checking what was to be found in the newly exposed mud. Also out on this table of plenty were long lines of Godwit, some feeding while others seemed to be sleeping off the effects of their socializing earlier in the morning. Further out again a Common Seal was seen basking in the pleasantness of the hour. Then in a field further along the shore, a fine specimen of a Fox appeared to be in a bit of a quandary as to how it was going to spend it's day. After our midday repast at Mc Sheffrey's Bridge, our next stop was the Meeting House at Lagg, where we recorded fourteen Red-breasted Merganser having a torrid time, diving in the fast flowing current to catch fish, only to have their catch hijacked by gulls waiting in ambush. On the northern shore of the Bay from our vantage point many Godwit, Wigeon, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank, and a few Greenshank were noted. Further on a Buzzard was recorded, and then from the most strikingly beautiful observation point on Knockamany, a flock of Chough floated by uttering their very distinctive call. At the White Strand Bay, Malin Head, we had a close up view of more Brent Geese, Oystercatcher, Mallard, Red-breasted Merganser, Redshank, Greenshank, Great Black-backed and Herring Gull. At this stage our days birding was coming to a close. Finally we were glad to welcome new member Rose Mc Daid who enjoyed her first experience of Bird Watching in glorious conditions of today.
Sat. 13th. Mar. 2010. In the absence of our regular scribe, we were fortunate to be able to avail of the service of our club's Raptor expert Martin Moloney. who contributed the following report................................We began our last I -Web count of the current season at the "Stone Jug" near the estuary of the beautiful River Crana (river of the trees) where it meets Lough Swilly. There we spotted groups of Brent Geese, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Turnstone, Black Headed Gull and Bar Tailed Godwit. We continued by making our way to the pier in Buncrana and were treated to an enthralling sight when we spotted a Golden Eagle soaring majestically over the hills above Augherlinn just north of Rathmullan. At one point a buzzard began mobbing the eagle causing it to flip over in mid air like one of those "Spitfire" fighter planes!! From here we made our way to Fahan Creek where we saw large numbers of Brent Geese along with Cormorant, Grey Heron, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Black Headed Gull, Common Gull, Great Blackbacked Gull, Herring Gull, Bar Tailed Godwit, Curlew, Red Breasted Merganser, Great Crested Grebe and Mallard. We also spotted a female Sparrowhawk's plumage glistening in the midday sun as she glanced over the silvery waters of the creek on her way to the shoreline to search for prey. We then went to Inch Island where we had our tea and sandwiches before adding to our tally of birds. Looking out on Fahan Creek from the Inch shoreline we saw more Brent Geese, Redshank, Wigeon, Ringed Plover, and a flock of diminutive Dunlin, some of which "disappeared " in the sand until they moved, giving away their location. As we walked along the shoreline we were delighted to see a female Peregrine as she caused mayhem to the waders on the mudflats below. A Buzzard then made an appearance over the colourful little wooded hillside which club member Boyd Bryce helped create by planting trees some years back. To put the icing on a brilliant days birdwatching, we had the privilege of the company of six Yellowhammers, as they displayed their beautiful exotic looking plumage on the hawthorn bushes near the shoreline. One of our group remarked that the yellow shades of the birds appeared to blend in with the yellow lichen on the hawthorn branches. After a great day we made our way home to cheer on the Irish Rugby team in their quest for championship glory.
There will be a illustrated talk by Joe Gatin, Former manager of the Glenveagh National Park, on the Golden Eagle, and it's influence for good in Donegal, and in time the other mountainous counties in the country . The venue is the Salvaha Room, Fort Dunree, on Friday March26th. at 8.00. pm. .....Admission Free, Everyone Welcome. As is usual the hospitable Dunree committee at the conclusion, offers everyone a cup of tea or coffee.............................. An interesting and informative evening is assured. Sat. 20th. Mar. 2010. No club activities today due to other commitments by members. A late report has been received from Daniel Moloney, who saw a female Hen Harrier in the Dunree area. and later in the day he observed a pair of Golden Eagles in the Illies, flying in a north-easterly direction towards the Fullerton Dam. Sunday 21st. Mar. 2010. The first reported sighting of Sand Martins for this season comes from our man Boyd Bryce, of Inch Island, who saw a couple there today. Friday 26th, Mar. 2010. The illustrated talk in the Salvaha Suite, Fort Dunree, by Joe Gatin, retired manager of Glenveagh National Park, on the history of the Golden Eagle since it's introduction there in 2001, was well received by the sizable and appreciative audience, after which we had our customary sociable intermingling over our snacks with either tea or coffee.
Sat. 27th. Mar. 2010. Again this week we were fortunate to have Martin Moloney submit his beautifully composed report on the wildlife in the Culdaff and Falmore areas, and is as follows.............................. The golden sands and cobalt grey sea of Culdaff beach made a pleasant picture for us as we stopped off to identify any birds in the vicinity. We spotted a group of gannets with their glistening white plumage,gliding over the waves like huge kites in the distance looking for small fish near the water's surface. A cormorant was also seen in the water near the pier. Behind us a pair of Buzzards did aerial maneuvers over the wood behind Culdaff House, cementing their bond as they prepare for the coming breeding season. We were to see a further six Buzzards during the days outing. A Meadow Pipet rose from the ground like a harrier jet, rising high into the sunlit sky before plummeting downwards like a little parachute to the ground below. We then made our way to Redford and took a pleasant stroll through the wooded valley there which leads to the little cove below. On our way we saw Blue and Great Tits, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, House Sparrows, Dunnocks, Robins, Pied Wagtail, and and wrens, as they foraged in a small copse. Mid way down the valley we were greeted by Ireland's smallest birds namely Goldcrests. These tiny creatures have a strikingly beautiful gold coloured streak on top of their heads which give them their name. When we reached the small cove we saw a raft of Eider Duck near the beach allowing close observation, their beautiful plumage glistening in the mid day sun. On the cliffs in the distance sat two Rock Doves, the ancestors of the domesticated Pigeon. On we went to Drumnagassan where we had a welcome cup of tea and sandwiches. As we sat relaxing, four Buzzards circled overhead. A busy Rookery in the distance was a hive of activity as the birds moved to and fro carrying twigs to construct their nests high in the trees. Falmore was our next destination, and here again we had a pair of Buzzards. Other birds of note here were: Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Grey Heron, Mistle Thrush, Reed Bunting, and birds we had not seen for quite a while, the Crossbills. A Fox strolled along a little path, and skulked it's way into the dense undergrowth, it's strikingly marked red coat making a beautiful sight. We completed the day near the quarry outside Carndonagh. The fields here had an abundant rabbit population, and Blue Tits, and Song Thrushes also made an appearance. After an excellent day's birdwatching now looking forward to the next outing......when perhaps we might spot a Swallow, Willow Warbler, or other summer visitors
The former head of research at the Irish Marine Institute, Edward Fahey, will give an illustrated talk on the interaction of a number of species, some with substantial fisheries abroad, all of importance in Irelands Territorial Sea. Cod, Crab, Whelk, Mussels, and Bass receive mention as their fish-driven interactions are examined. The venue for this talk and discussion, is the Saldanha Suite, Dunree Fort, on Friday next the 9th. April at 800.p.m. ........................................Light refreshments served after the talk.
Sat. 3rd. April 2010. A morning garbed in a somber winter tone that was to extend well into the increasingly colder afternoon was what greeted us on arrival at the forest of dreams that is Lis na Grath. But there were many moments of metaphorical sunlight that illuminated the rather sodden surroundings, for when we arrived at the domain of the great woodland giants, still in their denuded state of undress, we were entertained by troops of Red Squirrels showing scant regard for our close proximity as they gorged on the peanuts they retrieved from the depth of the hanging baskets suspended from the welcoming arms of some well placed Beech Trees. This left the many Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches, and at one stage Long-tailed Tits, having to wait their turn at this table of plenty. Over head the cat-like call of buzzards resounded through the stillness of the woodland. Also recorded in this area was the rasping call of that beautiful bird, the Jay. Further on towards the Birdstown area Buzzards, and that most skillful of climbers, the Tree Creeper was added to our list as was a pair of the diminutive Gold Crests. Our last recording for the day was of a flock of Redwing that was making ready for the long migration to it's Northern Europe, and Icelandic destinations. To end on a brighter note those harbingers of Spring the Wheatear, and the Sandwich Terns, had been reported on the peninsula earlier this week.
Wed. 7th. April. 2010. Mark Daly, our eagle-eyed representative in the Moville district reported the first Swallow for this year, at Ballybrack this evening.
Friday 9th. April 2010. Another well attended illustrated talk on the fishing industry in the costal areas of Ireland, on this ocassion given by Edward Fahey of the Irish Marine Institute, was well received by the large number of the local fishing fraternity, who had an active interplay with the speaker on the difficulties experiences in their industry. Earlier in the evening we held our A.G.M. when the activities of the past year were discussed, with reports from our chairman Dermot Mc Laughlin with special emphasis on the very successful organisation against all the odds, of the Whale and Dolphin Watch held in Dunree on the 23rd of August. George Mc Dermott contributed with the results of his group on the state of the Butterfly and Moth population over the past twelve months which was effected by the less than perfect summer weather. Martin Moloney reported on his visit to the Irish Raptor Study Group meeting in Dublin, and discussed with Dermot and Danny Mc Laughlin, together with Peter White, on their visit to the Hen Harrier Talk held in Donegal Town, and to our contribution to the National survey, to be carried out this year. The one low note of the evening was that our valued Secretary Mary Mc Laughin, was stepping down due to pressure of work in other fields. But every cloud has a silver lining, and this one was in the form of Jim Toland who has volunteered to take over where Mary has left off.
Members, with others arriving for the talk by Edward Fahey in the Salvaha Room Dunree Fort.
Donnamarie and Janet enjoying the wildlife and sunshine today. A more serious group of birdwatchers on the eastern side of the Peninsula. Sat. 10th. April. 2010. The eye of heaven focused it's benevolent gaze on to a beautiful countryside, where the evidence of Spring was at last making a firm statement, with fragile blossoms of the Wood Anemone, and the Wood Sorrel tracing their paths through the still denuded woodlands of the very scenic Glenagivney and the Mossy Glen , and where little clumps of Sweet Violets that offered the perfect foil to the cheerful blooms of Primroses peeping from the safety and shelter of ditches and hedges laden with the many buds that will explode with a spray of delicate green in a few more days.The many birds, both large and small seemed to be taking advantage of the glorious conditions, with Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Thrush, Grey Wagtail, Rook, Magpie, Jackdaw, Great Black-backed Gull, recorded before we stopped at that great vantage spot overlooking the placid Kinnagoe Bay where the Spanish warship the La Trinidad Valecera Foundered in 1558. While here, we watched Grey Seals popping to the surface with large fish secured firmly in their mouths, that the Gulls circling overhead would like to have a share of. Also on the silky surface below Eider Duck, were noted, as were Great Northern Diver, Razorbill, Guillemot, and Shag. It was from this elevated position that we decided to have our cup of tea to the accompaniment of the tuneful notes of Willow Warblers. On our way to Inishowen Head we watched Buzzards soar with great ease over Barnes Hill. Then at our destination a most pleasant time was spent walking on the road to the brow of the hill at Torcrom, where there were drifts of the beautiful Colts Foot that sparkled in the sunshine like some gold necklace from an ancient buried lode. Then it was back to the cars, and home after a most memorable day enjoying nature at it's best. Sat. 17th. April 2010. From our assembly point this morning at The Clochan, Glentogher, in pleasant sunshine which hopefully would extend to the rest of the day, we set off through Creeghennan to Drung Hill, where at the higher altitude our expectations of a warm sunny day was wafted away by the cold northerly wind. But while here Buzzard, Pigeon, Magpie, Rook, Jackdaw, Redpoll were seen, and from it's hiding place in the heavy cover near the forest of fir trees the raucous call of a Cock Pheasant was heard. Later at Ballyargus the warming sun made a short appearance, and together with the shelter afforded by the adjacent wooded area, conjured up the thought of a warm "cuppa"that seemed a great option that was quickly availed of, and while engaged in this therapeutic activity a couple of Green-veined White were seen, as were a few unidentified brown Butterflies that flutter by at some distance. After our break a search was undertaken for those emerald gems namely the Green Hairstreaks, but without success due no doubt to the very low spring temperatures that have retarded all growth especially their favorite food source, the Bilberry plant. A visit to Lough Fad revealed a sizeable flock of Golden Plover flying high in a western direction from our position, while earlier, on our way to the Lough, a flock of Reed Bunting, perhaps twelve to fifteen were recorded. The final stop of the increasingly cold and breezy evening was at Tullyally, where more Buzzards were noted drifting along the ridge of Condom Hill, and on occasions they had to suffer the torment inflicted by interfering Ravens and Rooks. Apart from the absence of the Summer-like conditions experienced last Saturday, an enjoyable day was had by all.
Sat. 24th. April. 2010. Our wanderings today took us through Bridgend and up to our first stop on Hollywell Hill, but our observations were greatly impaired by a rather heavy haze that the Sun had difficulty in penetrating, little time was spent here, so we proceeded to the bucolic setting that is Bogey where the Sun made it's welcomed appearance, and with it Buzzards floated effortlessly against a background of a light cobalt blue sky, and as usual they showed their utter contempt for the attempted harassment offered by Rooks, Jackdaws, and Ravens. Meanwhile a pair of Sparrowhawks were displaying their amorous intent high over the wooded area of Bogay House, while closer to the road the beautiful song of a Blackcap reverberated through the trees, a music fest added to by the tuneful notes of the many Willow Warblers. During our tea break the first Butterfly of the day fluttered by, this was an Orange Tip, perhaps drawn to the many clumps of Lady's Smock exuding their alluring fragrance on the warm midday air. Later in the afternoon we made our way to Blanket Nook, through a countryside resplendent in the bright sunshine with the recently tilled acres painted in the warm ochre and sienna tints from natures palette. At the Nook, a large flock of Godwit in their cinnamon breeding plumage was recorded as was a small number of Greylag Geese. Among the other birds noted were Teal, Mallard, Tufted and the beautiful Shelduck, also present were Great-crested Grebe, busily organizing their nesting arrangements. The final tick of the day was a lone Wheatear, and an equally lonely Common Sandpiper.
P.S. Our first report of a Cuckoo for 2010 comes from Eunan Doherty, who heard it on friday the 16th April at Corvish, near Carndonagh.
There is an open invitation to everyone interested in the animals of the unique Dunree area to another illustrated talk, one of a series for the 2010 season, being held in the Saldanha Suite, Dunree Fort, on friday 7th. May, at 8.00. pm. On this occasion the subject will be the Wildlife of Dunree, presented by our club chairman Dermot Mc Laughlin. With his far reaching knowledge of the Flora and Fauna of the area, an interesting and entertaining evening is assured. As is usual there will be light refreshments served at the conclusion of the night, courtesy of the hospitable Dunree Fort committee.
Sat. 1st May 2010. Again thanks to Martin for the following report.................... After a dull wet morning things brightened up as we made our way to the Inch Levels. The fields looked barren and bare without the white and brown blanket of whooper swans and geese which had made the area their home for the winter. Spring however had brought it’s own treasures...... chiffchaffs, willow warblers, swallows, sand martins, sandwich and artic terns . A few of our winter visitors still lingered on out on the lake and around its shores. Five Greylag, two white fronted, two pink footed geese and eight whooper swans gorged themselves on the grassy lakesides while quite a few of those ornate looking duck the beautiful wigeon restocked their bodies for the long journey back to the far north for the summer. Lapwing ‘danced’ in the sky over the cultivated fields where they planned to raise their young while out on the lake great crested grebes impressed club members with their courtship ritual. Black headed gulls in their hundreds, skimmed the lake surface like great white swallows feeding on the myriads of flies which appeared there. A restless flock of golden plover wheeled to and fro over the area as a mallard duck guided her ducklings through the lakeside vegetation. After a welcome cup of tea we made our way to the hide on the eastern side of the lake where we watched a lone cormorant fishing skilfully on the river. We were delighted to see our first swifts of the year as a little party of these summer visitors wheeled overhead like miniature peregrine falcons. The resurrection of the trees with their green coats unfolding and the magnificent white flowered blackthorn provided stages for the melodic songs of blackcaps, song thrushes, chaffinches and greenfinches near the hide. A lone sparrowhawk made its way over the lake in search of an unsuspecting passerine which would provide it with dinner for the day. As we made our way home after an enjoyable days Birdwatching, we spotted yet another summer visitor the house martin...........heralding yet again that spring is here.
Monday 3rd. May 2010. In the leafy auditorium of our hosts, Boyd and Bridie Bryce's farmyard on Inch Island this morning, was where the many bleary eyed club members assembled at 5.00 am. to be entertained by the enthralling musical extravaganza delivered by the massed choirs of the perfectly rehearsed birdsong with the power charged voices of the many Thrush, Blackbird, and Blackcap, right through the range to the lighter tones of the Robin, Wren, and Gold Crest for this Dawn Chorus Concert, an experience worthy of the effort required in relinquishing the warmth of ones bed at an unusual hour. Good fortune smiled on us, as all of this was enjoyed in calm, dry, conditions that later deteriorated somewhat with the arrival of a cold breeze, and intermittent light showers, the effects of which were lessoned by a very welcomed alfresco breakfast before we dispersed to our homes in the many parts of Inishowen, with one member to Co Tyrone after a memorable experience, due in no small way to the hospitality of Boyd and Bridie.
Sat. 8th. May 2010. It was a sun-kissed Glasha, and Isle of Doagh that was the focus of today's outing, with new members Nial Doherty, and Stoycho Danev, joining us on this glorious day. At Glasha the sea bird population was conspicuous by it's absence, due in part by the very low tide that left any birds on the shore line very far removed from our line of sight, and nigh impossible to distinguish with our spotting scopes due to the distortion caused by their powerful magnification, when they see light rays passing through relatively warm layers of air that are bent upwards from their path causing this optical distraction. To compensate for the setback, in a little field close to the shore we had an amazing number of Orange-tip, and Green-veined White Butterflies fluttering hurriedly around the grasses and especially the flowers of the many Lady's Smock plants, the food source of the Orange-tip. Also present but in relatively insignificant numbers were Tortoishell. With this encounter in mind we set off for the Isle of Doagh and especially to the Craigawannia dunes system normally a great source of Butterflies, but not today, our search did reveal a number of the stunningly beautiful Cinnabar Moth. From here we went to Fegart, and again there was little to report on the incoming tide, but on the land Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Redpoll, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Linnet, Reed Bunting were recorded. Our activity ceased at the Castles where the sea bird count improved with Black-headed, Gannet, Herring Gull, Great Northern Diver, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Grey Heron, Shag, Shelduck, Sandwich, and Arctic Tern all noted. While earlier in the day six Buzzard were recorded. Sat. 15th. May 2010. The Club's ranks could only be described as being in a very minimalist state for today's outing to the Malin area, due to other commitments of many members. For the few that did manage to make it, the first stop was the car park at the northern end of the Parochial Hall, Malin Town, where a lone Shelduck was observed on the far bank of the tidal inlet, probably on guard duty for it's companion on a nest in the tall undergrowth nearby, while Mallard Drakes were thought to be performing a similar obligation. On the ultramarine blue waters of Trawbreaga Bay the Brent Geese and Wigeon were not to be seen, perhaps gone to their northern homeland. On the way to Lagg through Belleghan, large fluttering's of Orange-tip, and a few Peacock butterflies performed their spritely dance where the high ditch, sheltered from the the cool breeze was emblazoned with a colour scheme arranged by the colourful and aromatic Whin, golden Dandelion, the delicate purple tint of Lady's Smock, and the deep blue of the wild Violet. Further on at Killin a carpet of Bluebells spread beneath the dappled shade of lofty Beech and Sycamore added that touch of Spring. At Lagg, a sizable flock of Chough was recorded cavorting with gay abandon on the strong wind high on the grassy slopes of Knockamany. The White Strand Bay at Malin Head offered the opportunity to observe Shelduck, Grey Heron, Mallard, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Black-headed, Great black-backed, and Herring Gulls. At Port Ronan pier the outing ended on a high as a beautiful Kestrel was watched with awe when it flew past our group, to snatch it's afternoon snack in the form of an unidentified small bird from the Ivy covered rockface close to the pier. Mon. 17th. May 2010. Boyd Bryce our sharp eyed member from Inch Island, together with friend Christopher Ramsey reported seeing a pair of Arctic Skua flying over Inch Lake yesterday. There will be a Talk and Power Point presentation on the Corncrake in Inishowen, by Daniel Moloney (Donegal Corncrake Field Worker) on Friday night 28th. May. at 8.00.pm. in Fort Dunree, with the prospects of a walk after in the local area, where the bird may be heard. (depending on weather conditions) Admission Free. All Welcome. Sat. 22nd. May 2010. We were transported to a Mediterranean type of idyll in the form of Glenveagh National Park, for the Donegal participation in the National Biodiversity program where there were people from many parts of the county and beyond, with very diverse interests in the flora and fauna to be found in the Park. From 10.30am. the recording commenced of Slugs, Snails, Spiders, Beetles, Dragonflies, Bees. Our Forte included, Moths, Butterflies, including the elusive Holly Blue, and those little jewls namely the Green Hairstreak together with the more common Orange Tip, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, and Peacock. Birds, including Wagtails, Robins, Chaffinches, Goldcrests, Crossbills, Siskins, Willow warblers, Chiffchaffs and the Cuckoo were recorded. Reports of Badgers, and Foxes were also handed in, as were the many different spices of Flora that are to be found in this habitat. The scenery, exceptional in any sort of weather, but bathed in the warm sunshine today exceeded the limits of one's ability to absorb in entirety the beauty of this countryside and lake area. It was with considerable reluctance that we left the well manicured lawns and kaleidoscopes of colours and designs around the Castle, and head for our equaly amazing Inishowen. Friday 28th. May 2010. A full house comprised of visitors, locals, and club members, were enthralled by the illustrated talk on the Corncrake by the youthful Wildlife enthusiast Daniel Moloney, the local coordinator of this fast disappearing bird's protection scheme. At the conclusion of his talk, a question and answer session was held, after which some light refreshments were provided, before setting off to hear if the Corncrake had arrived at it's traditional breeding habitat. On our way there in pleasant conditions, Dermot Mc Laughlin gave an interesting history of the fort, and the local flora and fauna. Another member, Moth and Butterfly expert George Mc Dermott who had earlier in the evening set up his Moth Traps added a short description of the Lepidoptera to be found here. When we got to where we had hoped to hear the Corncrake, it was not to be, as the bird has not arrived here yet, but the consensus was that a very enjoyable evening was had by all. Sat. 29th. May 2010. It was a cornucopia of wonderful bird life that was our pleasure to experience on our arrival at Inch Lake this morning in what was a rather cool breeze, and leaden skies, but these were soon dispelled when the threatened rain failed to materialize and the sun made it's entrance. In these very pleasant conditions we watched from the viewing platform, the hundreds of duck that included the usual inhabitants such as Mallard, Tufted, Grebe, Shelduck, to the more unusual Common Scoter, and Shoveler, that were observed at close range due to the exceptionally low water level. Apart from all the Mute Swans here, there were considerable numbers of Whoopers , and seen waddeling over the exposed sands as it made it's way to the cover of a rush bed was a Black Swan. On the far shore of the Lake, Canada Geese shared the grazing with a small flock of Greylag. In the sky were Swallows and Martins busily picking off the the many flies that were to be had. Also noted performing a more relaxed form of flight were three Buzzards patrolling the airspace over and around the Lake. After our lunch we had a relaxed stroll through the heady scent of the extremely beautiful Mayflower bushes to the new hide at the northern end of the Lake, and at the picnic area we stood in wonder at the artistically arranged structures of the abundant flowering Cow Parsley, and on our way back to the cars admired the diminutive flowers of the Wood Avens, the blue and purple of the Tufted Vetch, the Common Storksbill, Herb Robert and the pristine petals of the Greater Stitchwort. What a treasure we took home in our memory bank of a day in late Spring. Sat. 5th. June 2010. A sun soaked eastern side of our scenic Peninsula greeted us after assembly at the Clochan, Glentogher, when we decided to go in search of the magnificent little Green Hairstreak Butterfly, or any other species that might be found in their known haunts with an eastely aspect. Our first stop was near the crest of Creehennan Hill, then to the well wooded upper reaches of Glencaw Hill, where we were entertained to an ariel encounter between a buzzard and a very angry male Kestrel, that ensured the much larger aggressor left the territory. At Ballyargus where we had expected to find the previous rich vein of those Emerald Gems, in the form of the Green Hairstreak's, but it was not to be. The most prevalent species in the area was the Small Heath, together with Orange tip, Green-veined White, a few Large White, and fewer Speckled Wood, and Peacock. But also recorded in reasonable numbers were Cinnabar, and Ruby Tiger Moths. But today will be remembered not only for the wonderful weather, but the large number of Raptors, noted, including Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Peregrine. The small birds were not forgotten, with Reed Bunting, Wren, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Lesser Redpoll, Willow Warbler, House Martin, Swallow, Blackcap, Siskin, Bullfinch, Sedge Warbler, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, and Linnet, all recorded by Martin for inclusion in the Bird Atlas Survey. And so concluded a pleasent and useful days Birding . The leading expert on Mackerel and Herring fishing at the Irish Marine Institute, John Molloy, will give an illustrated talk on the subject, with reference to the past, when our waters were invaded by the mighty Russian fishing fleet, to the situation today, and beyond. The venue for this talk and discussion, is the Saldanha Suite, Dunree Fort, on Friday next the 18th. June at 800.pm... Everyone welcome.......... Light refreshments served.......................................................................................................Admission Free. Sat. 12th. June 2010. The club made a very enjoyable excursion to Co. Tyrone this morning where we hoped to watch a pair of Hen Harriers, as predicted by our Raptor expert Martin Moloney, who has surveyed these rather scarce birds in many parts of Tyrone, and neighbouring Counties. On arrival at our destination, we watched for about twenty minutes, and then aided by our sharp eyed Donna Marie and Mary, the male bird made it's entrance on to the scene from a different direction than expected. The pleasure derived by everyone, especially those seeing one of these rare birds for the first time is something that will not be easily forgotten. The female was not observed during our stay, which we restricted to less than a half hour, but the assumption being that she was in the nest sitting on eggs. While all this was going on we were privileged to watch a Sparrowhawk chasing a Kestrel from its territory. In the lovely Sunny, warm conditions, the countryside was resplendent, with it's embellishments of wild flowers which graced the country roads bedecked with miles and miles of the white, lace-like flower heads of the Cow Parsley, and at ground level, bordered by the rich lines of golden Buttercups. In some of the damper pastures the serrated blossom of the Ragged Robin unashamedly flaunted its beautiful cerise tones. Back in County Donegal, along the banks of a meandering stream, an unending carpet of Bluebells intermingled with the white flowers of Pignut drifted to infinity. Then near Lough Derg, that place of pilgrimage, there were acres of the most invasive and difficult to eradicate Rhododendron Penticum, known by it Irish name of Roslabhran, but at this time of year these problems are overlooked with it's display of exotic red mixed with purple blooms that created a special atmosphere on this Saturday in early June 2010. Sat. 19th. June 2010. The great flutterings of those colourful creations of nature, or perhaps a higher power, Butterflies, that were here in immense numbers, these together with bright warm sunshine, and the air reverberating to the chorus of the myriad of Grasshoppers hidden in the tall grasses, lifted the outing to Lagg above a level often dreamed of in the many dark, cold day's of winter. Here the miracle of metamorphous, where from a little egg laid under a leaf, through to a caterpillar, then to a chrysalis from which a beautiful work of art is produced in the form of a Butterfly is something to wonder at, and today the most prevalent species of this miracle was the Dark green Fritillary, followed by the breathtakingly beautiful Common Blue, then the artistically coloured Meadow Brown, to the Small Heath, and last but by no means least, the dark chocolate brown of the Ringlet. Adding to the opulence of this immence Dune system were the hundreds, and hundreds, of the black and red coloured Burnet Moth feeding on the grasses, with others flying low to the plentiful food source. Also recorded in the area was a Kestrel carrying prey to young in a nest on a rock face draped with a curtain of Ivy. At Lagg Chapel a number of Chough were noted as were Sand Martin, that had their nests in the soft clay bank of the nearby stream. Then to White Strand Bay, Malin Head, where on the calmer water near the shore Shelduck proudly paraded troop's of ducklings with great diligence, as did a group of female Eider Duck at Esky. We finished on a high with our tick of the day when a small flock of the very rare little bird namely the Twite was recorded. Sat. 26th. June 2010. Another sun-soaked day was enjoyed in the Clonmany and Urris area, but on our first stop at Binnion, a grey mist slithered slowly down the valleys of the lofty mountains that surround this picturesque piece of our Peninsula, but it soon dissipated to reveal the brightness that was hoped for. In this revealing light, a pair of Kestrels were recorded hovering with intent before one of them plummeted to what may have been it's lunch in the heavily vegetated pasture close by the car park. On the sand dunes near the beach, many of the brilliantly coloured Common Blue Butterflies fluttered from flower to flower, while the equally beautifuly Burnet Moth, spent most of it's time feeding on the tall grasses. At the other end of the Bay, and at Rockstown harbour surprise was expressed at the absence of birds on or off the water. The exceptions were a pair of Shelduck, a similar number of Oystercatchers, and a few Herring Gulls, perhaps this was all due to the vey low tide. Somewhat dejected by all of this we set off for the old ruined Army Fort at Lennan. Here things changed, with the recording of the many Wild Orchids of different species, including the slender and beautiful Butterfly Orchid. (picture at top of page). Then later showing their aerobatic capabilities, a few families of Chough cavorted in the freshening breeze, while out on Lough Swilly, Gannets, and Herring Gull also enjoyed the conditions. The numbers of Butterflies noted were exceptional with the Common Blue again to the forefront, followed by Meadow Brown, Tortoiseshell, and a few Grayling. We finished our birding exercise with the recording of another Kestrel in it's shimmering russet plumage, hunting for an evening snack over the perimeter of the old Fort. Sat. 3rd. July 2010. The verdant paradise that is Liss na Grath Wood was our first stop this morning, where a complete transformation has taken place since our last visit, when the tints of spring had not fully developed. On this occasion the majestic Beech, the lovely Spanish Chestnut, and the towering Scotch Fir, were attired in their summer robes, that in some places, with their long arm like branches suspended from higher up the trees wafted close to the copper coloured carpet of last Autumns leaves in the gentle breeze circulating through the woodland, and where the Sun penetrated the dense canopy, many Butterflies were noted, mostly Ringlet, Meadow Brown, and Speckled Wood. There was a drawback to the leafiness of this domain, with the call of many birds audible, but made invisible by the deep foliage. The few exceptions were the Blue Tits, Coal Tits, and a line of Long-tailed Tits that floated through the branches near the road where feeders used to hang. Also recorded near this area was a Treecreeper, Jay, Magpie, then a Red Squirrel scampered through the branches. Earlier, in the depths of the wood a young Buzzard Chick was noted, ensconced high up in the comfort and safety of it's nest. The outing ended in the afternoon at Gortin in the Aught area where a Sparrowhawk's Kill was recorded together with pellets from a long-eared Owl, that had amongst it's prey Pygmy Shrews. Sat. 10th.July 2010. The threat of the weather forecast was on our minds as we assembled at the car park at Inch Lough.Despite low water levels there is always something to see here. We watched a Buzzard pick up its prey and settle down to enjoy it despite our close proximity. Meanwhile, Herons, a flock of Mallard, Lapwing, a pair of Black Swans, Redshank, Black headed Gulls, Mute and Whooper Swans, Greylag Geese fed before our eyes. On the nearby pathway a Sedge Warbler made her presence known. Otter tracks were visible on the mud of the dried waterways.
At the Farland Bank the predominant noise was that of the Terns, whose nesting place on the island has benefited from the low water this year. Our attention was drawn to a lone chick as it dragged itself through the mud.
At Blanket Nook we added Curlew, Redshank, Shelduck, Turnstone, Dunlin, Snipe, Whiterthroat and Meadow Pipit to our count.
On our final stop in a narrow country lane we witnessed a Willow Warbler carry insects to a second brood. The first brood was still loitering in the vicinity of the nest. A quick examination of the nest revealed the newly hatched waiting intently on their next meal.
Wildflowers are now in full bloom. Willowherb, Meadowsweet, Yarrow, Corn Sowthistle, Celeryleaved Crowfoot are evident. Among the Umbels Cow Parsley is now being replaced by Hogweed, Wild Carrot and Angelica.
The good weather has encouraged the butterflies such as Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Speckled Woods, Common Blues and Small Tortoiseshells. Whites are still in abundance.
Despite an enjoyable day one cannot avoid noticing the amount of plastic bags of household waste, beer cans and plastic chemical containers found among such beauty. We have still a lot to learn with regard to the countryside.
Finally, readers should note that the exotic plant visible on the roadside on The Newtoncunningham Bypass is the highy dangerous Giant Hogweed. Despite efforts to eradicate it over the years it appears year after year and has extended its range along the road. Contact with this plant can have serious effects on the skin.
Despite an unfavourable forecast we had a very enjoyable day.
Thanks to Jim and Anne Toland for the above report.
Sat. 17th. July. 2010. The Gods were in benevolent mood with their gift of a beautiful warm sunny day, after a somewhat faltering start with grey sky's and light rain, but that was before we set off from Carndonagh, through Trenbane, and Effishmore, where the call of a young Buzzard resounded from a stand of broad leafed trees under the shade of Cruckroosky Hill, but much nearer a Reed Bunting advertised it's presence with it's wistful twittering's. Further on at Carrowmore Glen, that acted as a collecting bowl for the wonderful fragrance that wafted from the many roadside bushes that were hidden from view by the long lines of Wild Woodbine. Here also that perfect piece of architecture the Angelica plant was displayed on the margins of the roadway now being decorated by the intricate patterns of dappled shade. Further down at the main road an extraordinary count of Greenfinch was recorded (in excess of eighty). Later at Falmore in brilliant sunshine, the very rare plant Monkshood, was showing it's cobalt blue flower, as was the fragile Enchanters Nightshade with it's delicate white blossoms. In this area three Buzzards were recorded, as was a party of Crossbills enjoying the abundant supply of pine cones. Small numbers of Ringlet, Meadow Brown, speckled Wood, and one Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly fluttered in random fashion about the dense vegetation with great industry. Our final stop of the day was at the sparkling white sands of Tremone Beach, here a Small Copper Butterfly was added to our list. Hovering near the headland to the East, a Kestrel was observed as it hunted for a meal. On the little stream that enters the sea near our position, a family of Yellow Wagtails, and Pied Wagtails, flitted from stone to stone. On the beach Ringed Plover, Oystercatchers, Rock Pipits, and more Pied Wagtails scurried to and fro through the seaweed that was moving in and out to the rhythm of the tide. Out at sea a constant stream of Gannets flew with great ease in a westerly direction to some unknown destination. Sat. 24th. July 2010. Our first stop this morning was at the lush woodland that had an Amazonian atmosphere, with it's warmth, and multitude of variable coloured and textured foliage on the many shrubs and towering trees of various exotic species. That was the setting for the home of Seamus Canavan, and nearby the location of his Holiday Hostel Accommodation at this Moville beauty spot. Sauntering through the amazing place brought us to steps descending to the meandering Bredagh Glen River and across to a wild meadow, a haven for a variety of wildlife, where on a previous visit a Fox was disturbed from it's slumbers, and where lots of Butterflies fluttered over the many wild flowers, but not today, as earlier sunshine was replaced by grey skies and the tall grasses and plants were wet from a passing shower. Cavorting high in the sky were large numbers of Swift, House martin, and Swallow. Nearer terra firma, a family of Goldcrest moved cautiously through a tall Fir Tree. In a stone wall a Grey Wagtail's nest was noted, as was a family of Robin's being attended to by the attentive parents......... Then at Carrickarory Pier, many Black Guillemot were enjoying the heat radiating from the heavy structure of the back wall, and displayed utter disregard for our presence, also noted here was a Common Sandpiper, Black-backed Gull, and out on the navigational light in mid channel were Cormorant, preening and drying their plumage. At the Town Pier seventy three Sandwich Terns were resting on the shingle near the mouth of the river......... At Cornashamma Bay we observed Black-backed Gull, Grey Heron, Oystercatcher, Wheatear, Linnet, and Goldfinch, and between the rocky outcrop in the bay a few Common Seals made a brief appearance......... Our last stop was at Inishowen Head where large colonies of Cormorant were settled on rocks transformed from their natural grey colour to a gleaming white due to the years of accumulated guano deposited by these guests. Further out to sea, occasional Gannets floated past, while onshore Black-backed gulls rested on the sandy beach far below. Close at hand Goldfinch, Redpoll, Willow warbler, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, and House Martin were all recorded....... On the homeward journey some members recorded Treecreeper, Green finch, and a family of Mistle thrush. A total of two Kestrel, one Buzzard, and one Peregrine were added to our list. All of this information will be forwarded by Martin to the Bird Atlas Survey. Sat. 31st. July 2010. Frequent heavy showers greeted our arrival at the pump house car park were we later joined by Cork based Ronan Mc Laughlin who had been on a early morning successful outing to see a Laughing Gull in Ballycastle Co. Antrim. Hundreds of Swallows, House and Sand Martins swooped overhead feeding on insects. The morning between the showers was brightened with the sight of appprox. 350 Mute Swans, some Whoopers, and 2 Black Swans,Hundreds of Mallard, and over 30 Herons on, and resting on the surrounding marshland .Later from Thrady point hide good views were had of families of Tufted duck, Dunlin in summer plumage, Sandpiper, Great Crested Grebes feeding young, Lapwing taking ocasional flights over the lake. Sighting of a Kingfisher flying past, and a mixed party of Sandwich and Arctic Terns concluded our visit to the lakeMoving on through the rich farmlands of Burt we saw large flocksof Pigeons and Crows feeding on newly harvested fields of barley. In the hedges parties of warblers, finches, blackbirds, were busy searching for tasty titbits. On a roadway a flock of House Sparrows  were preening and enjoying the warm mid day sunshine.Continuing our tour to hear the song and see a Yellowhammer perched on a power line was one of the days bonuses. A Buzzard was the next sighing as it wheeled lazily in the bright sunshine.From the sea wall at Blanket Nook there were views of Curlew, Whimbrel, Greenshank, Oyster Catchers, feeding on the shoreline.On the lake and its margins was further evidence of the commencement of the autumn migration with advance parties of Black and Bar tailed Godwits, Ruffs, more Green, + Redshank . Over a hundred feral greylag are the first of the geese to arrive to join the local mallard to feast on the spilt barley grain in the stubbles.The sight of a shy Water Rail peeping at the outside world from the reed bed was the highlight of the day we finished on. Thanks to our chairman Dermot Mc Laughlin, for todays report. Tuesday 3rd. Aug. 2010. A Red Squirrel has been reported in the Moss Road area of Carndonagh by Jerry O' Keeffe. A first sighting of this beautiful animal in the Carn district of the Peninsula. Sat. 7th. Aug. 2010. A sizeable number of members boarded the Foyle Ferry this morning at Greencastle on a voyage of discovery to Magilligan, and from there to the beautiful woodland walks at Downhill, with it's slow flowing river silently making it's way to the not too distant sea. Bird life was present, but difficult to see due to the dense vegetation. The Butterfly population was represented mostly by Green-veined White, Large White, and one Red Admiral reported. After our enjoyable but relatively short sojourn in this leafy paradise we set off to the barmouth of the river Bann, where from beside the locked wildlife hide, in bright sunlight, but with a fresh breeze we recorded Dunlin, Mute Swan, Godwit, Shelduck, Black headed Gull, in their winter plumage, Cormorant, Oystercatcher, and Redshank. In this area a few Common Blue Butterflies fluttered over the wildflowers and grasses in a cosy environment provided by a tall bank bedecked with large pink fragrant rose blossoms. From here it was onwards and upwards, as we drove to the summit of Benivenagh Mountain where we watched large gliders from the local club perform overhead their silent graceful maneuvers. After our second cup of tea of the day, we set off to the lake some distance along the summit, from where we looked to our homeland of Inishowen bathed in the late afternoon sunlight, and which we reached some time later, when again we boarded the Ferry back to Greencastle after a very enjoyable adventure. Sat. 14th. Aug. 2010. This weeks seafaring saw us on this grey, cool, misty morning boarding the car ferry at Buncrana pier to journey to Rathmullen. While on this short passage the weather took a turn for the worse, with rain aggravated by a cold north westerly breeze, coupled to mist that obliterated our destination and point of departure. At Rathmullen with new members Nial Doherty, Gerry O'Keeffe, and our guest Brendan Dunlop from the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group, we were met by Jim Toland from Letterkenny and set off along the coast road in a northerly direction , which in normal conditions would be a very pleasant experience, but on this occasion failed to reach our expectations. Our first stop was a lay-by overlooking Saldanha Point, so named as it was here in 1812 the ship was wrecked with the loss of all on board that amounted to 272. During our stop there were indications that the mist was dissipating and the rain was retreating inland to reveal the scenic extravaganza that was expected. Whitethroat, Goldcrest, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, and Rock Dove were recorded at this stop. Further on the Knockalla road from a very elevated position facing west, the beautiful Ballymastocker beach below extended to the village of Portsalon now gleaming in the newly arrived sunshine. Later at the sand dunes near the beach a number of Green-veined White and one Common Blue Butterfly, together a large number of Burnet Moths were recorded. To reach our most northerly destination we passed by Tria Lough, where Mallard, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, and Little Grebe in their colourful garb were noted. At Fanad Lighthouse after some light refreshments we watched playful Porpoises break the surface of the silvery sea not far from the coast. The tick of the day was at Rossnagill when on our return journey we watched at close range a Little Egret, attired in it's pristine plumage, contrasted by what looked like it was wearing black leggings, and yellow slippers. also recorded in the area was a Buzzard no doubt foraging for its evening meal. Then it was a quick dash to catch the ferry for the journey home after a very satisfying days nature watching. As part of the National Heritage Week activities, and at the request of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, the Inishowen Wildlife Club are hosting a Whale Watch at Dunree Fort on Sunday 22nd. August 2010. from 2.00pm to 5.00pm. With it's many high vantage points Dunree is an ideal venue for sea watching, so don't forget your binoculars or scopes.. Everyone welcome. Fun for all ages, Guided Walk, Bouncy Castle etc..................For further information contact Dermot Mc Laughlin, at 074 93 61570. or 0749361817. Sunday 22nd Aug. 2010. With no club outing yesterday, our attention was focused on Fort Dunree today, where in conjunction with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Dermot Mc Laughlin organised our Whale and Dolphin watch that ran from 2.00.pm to 5.00.pm. and in reasonable weather was viewed from the many great vantage points on this historic site. The numbers attending were near four hundred, with the young well entertained with face painting, and bouncy castle gymnastics, while those in a different age group, and physical ability could enjoy the many scenic walks, or avail of Terry Tedstones company as he divulged his knowledge of the flora and fauna of the locality. The highlight of the event came near the end when a pod of ten Porpoises were observed very close to the steep face of this bastion. What a great conclusion to the event, as the midges were prepairing their final assault on the human participants. Sat. 28th. Aug. 2010. What a bright start to a rather cold grey morning, when a pair of Red-legged Partridge was spotted by sharp eyed Peter White as we made our way into the Isle of Doagh. These beautifully coloured birds were observed foraging through light vegetation in a very large pasture on the left hand side of the road. After the impact of this sighting had subsided, we made our way to Magheranaul where we watched for a considerable time an Otter as it searched through submerged seaweed for an unsuspecting fish, or any other tit bits that might be available. A little further to the left a flotilla of Red-breasted Mergansers patrolled some distance off shore..... A short time later at the picnic area between Magheranaul and Fegart, while we indulged in our usual practice of consuming quantities of tea and sandwiches, a Whimbrel was noted out on the sand bank, made visible by the fast receding tide............ The next stop was to the new hide at Malin Town, where we had a leisurely look at the bird life in the inlet. Soon we had recorded a couple more Whimbrel, a Common Sandpiper, Mallard Duck, Common, Black-headed, Great Black-backed Gull, and Oystercatcher.......... At the dizzy heights of Knockamany in strong wind, a party of ten chough, followed by a smaller group of about seven swooped joyfully past enjoying the windy conditions. ........ A of pair of Kestrels at Port Caman were added to our list as they hung motionlessly high in the sky as if suspended by some invisible hand, perhaps they were observing the chaotic mess below, with rubbish strewn not far from the many makeshift mobile homes, and where many thousand tons of stones are being removed from the beach............ At Port Ronan a pair of Whitethroats were noted.......... Finally at Ballyhillin a beautiful Toadflax plant, with it's pale lemon flower head stood as a lonely sentry at the roadside, and just a short distance away at Esky Bay, the sighting of a Pomarine Skua concluded our outing for the day. Thursday 2nd Sept, 2010. A Little Egret was reported at Trawbreaga Bay near Mc Sheffrey's Bridge this afternoon, by club member Paddy Mc Crossan. Later at 4.30. pm. Another member, Gerry O Keeffe, while checking on the Little Egret in the same location, sighted a rare Curlew Sandpiper, feeding with a number of Redshank.
Sat. 4th. Sept. 2010. Some time was spent sitting in our cars at Inch Lake, with the loud staccato of the rain beating out it's rhythm on the roofs, this, added to by the reduced visibility, a product of the dark ominous mist that had cast it's gloom on the morning. With a slight easing of the downpour we collected our bits and pieces and made off to find refuge in the upper hide. A considerable time was spent here enjoying the bird life on the Lake. On the opposite side a large flock of Canada geese fed contentedly while close to them a few Greylag waddled through the tall grass. Back from their summer sojourn in their northern breeding grounds were large flocks of Teal, and Widgeon, with the old reliable residents, such as Coot, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe. Oystercatcher, Redshank, Lapwing, Mute Swan, and a few Whooper that spent the summer here. A Sparrowhawk made a quick passage past our viewing point much to the annoyance of the many birds, large and small, that had been keeping a low profile to the north of our position. After our midday break, and a short easing of the rain, it was decided to head off to Malin to see the newly arrived Little Egret, which was spotted near the new hide at Malin Town Bridge. Later at Esky Bay, Malin Head, homeward bound we watched Eider Duck sitting on the many outcrops of rock, while others fed in the sheltered waters near the shore, further out a thin broken line of Gannets stretched along the horizon.
Don't forget next Friday night the 10th. September . The last in the series of talks for the 2010 season by our club Chairman, Dermot Mc Laughlin on the "Special Species of Inishowen" in The Saldanha Room, Dunree Fort, at 8 00. pm. As usual admission is free, and everyone welcome.
This beautiful little poem was pinned to the
wall of the hide At Inch Lake this morning
November at Inch Lake.
The Swans make down from northern climes
Over harsh seas without mistake
Under grey cloud they bank and climb
And sense the way by secret sign
Here to our sheltering winter lakes.
Low-skimming lakeside stubble-fields
Strong wing beat white against the sky
Full flocks of Lapwing whirl and wheel
And greylag, Mallard, Widgeon, Teal
Signal them home with fractious cries.
The yellow leaves fall thick and fast
Upon the grass and trodden way
The shortening light slow-marches past
And as the brightness may not last
The year goes wandering away.
Last nights illustrated talk by Dermot Mc Laughlin on the habitat of Inishowen, and the wildlife to be found there, was the last in the series for the 2010 season. Dermots great knowledge of his subject was well received by the very interested audience. This was followed as usual by friendly discussion while availing of Dunree's customery hospitality. Later some remained to join George Mc Dermott, to see what jewels his moth traps had attracted with their bright lights. George who is a master of his craft was delighted with having captured a few migrants, including a Dark Sword-grass, a Hebrew Character, and the very large North African migrant the Convolvulus Hawk moth. This morning when he had released his captives, he was treated to the sight of at least thirty dolphins making their way past Dunree and into Lough Swilly Sat.11th. Sept. 2010. A rich mother load of wildlife was struck, when on our arrived in wonderful, sunny, warm, conditions at Blanket Nook, Newtoncunningham this morning. Here the entire lake surface was clad with thousands of birds that included hundreds of Greylag Geese, Teal, Mallard, Tufted, and Scaup duck. Waders included Redshank, Greenshank, Godwit, Curlew, Whimbrel and Sandpiper. Surprise could describe our response to seeing five Snipe on the shoreline of a little islet very close to where we were observing all the goings on in the area. Gracing the backdrop of a cobalt sky were three flocks of Lapwing, showing off their incredible flying skills as was the large flock of Golden Plover flying in close formation. Good numbers of Mute and Whooper Swans were noted. To the left of the pump house five Buzzards were recorded, and off to our right hand a Sparrowhawk was added to the list. As usual the reliable Kingfisher made a very brief appearance before disappearing behind the hedge on the other side of the slow flowing stream. While partaking of our cup of tea, five Tortoiseshell and one somewhat dilapidated Peacock butterfly were admired as they nectared on flowers of a small Buddleia bush. The Speckled Wood was prominent in the general area. At the Farland Bank the same bird species were evident, with the addition of a number of Great-crested Grebe, Coot, and Canada Geese. The final stop of the outing in the lake area was at the viewing platform where to our great joy, a female Hen Harrier was seen flying to and fro over the reed beds at the northern end of the lake. Next at Buncrana we were treated to the unusual sight of an albino Jackdaw, perched on a roof in a housing estate. Then to round off our day Martin, our Raptor enthusiast let us have a look at a beautiful newly acquired Goshawk in his birds of prey collection. It was nice to have Mary Mc Laughlin back out, after an absence of a couple of months due to academic commitments. Sat. 18th. Sept. 2010. The first count of Lough Swilly on behalf of Bird Watch Ireland, for the 2010 - 2011 season, was undertaken in atrocious rainfall, and difficult visibility, by four stalwart club members, namely Martin Moloney, Jim Toland, Brian Hegarty, and Paddy Mc Crossan. The assembly point was at the pier Buncrana. From there they set off to their designated areas, which was from the mouth of the Crana River through to Lisfannon, then to Fahan Creek which includes the area from the Marina, to the Pier at Inch Island. Even with the terrible conditions a good count was recorded, with many species included. added to this was the satisfaction of a job well done. Wed. 22nd. Sept. 2010. The Little Egret, first reported near Mc Sheffrey's Bridge, Malin, on the 2nd Sept. is still in residence, as it was seen near the Parochial Hall, Malin Town, today by Liam Mc Laughlin. Sat. 25th. Sept. 2010. In the quiet stillness of this grey Autumn morning, we were treated to a lively display by a large flock of Sanderling, Ringed Plover and with fewer numbers of Dunlin, rushing to and fro with great urgency along the tide lines on the beach behind the pier wall at Buncrana. This pleasant start to our outing soared to greater heights, when at the viewing platform of Inch Lake, a Black Tern made its entrance on stage with an aerial display of it's ballet routine over the waters of the submerged old road, that links Inch Island to the eastern shore of the Lake. Added to this spectacle was the appearance, for the third week in succession of the female Hen Harrier as it again hunted over the extensive reed beds. Not far from our viewing position, six Ruff were observed as they plundered the edges of the grassy islets in the lake, observed by the many Lapwing resting nearby after their early morning flights. These together with the usual residents, that included in great numbers, Mallard, Teal, Coot, Canada Geese, and Redshank, Also noted in the area were five Buzzard. Later at Blanket Nook, most of the previously mentioned birds were recorded, with the addition of a Slovenian Grebe. Then on the way back to our cars, an extraordinary large number of Greenshank interspersed with a small flock of Redshank were feeding contently out at the edge of the ebbing Swilly tide. Sat. 2nd. Oct. 2010. Our first outing for October got off to the ideal start, with pleasant sunshine, light wind, and good autumnal temperatures. At Glasha, two Peregrine Falcons drifted in ever increasing circles against the blue infinity of the sky, deciding what to have from the menu that far below had available Curlew, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Redshank, Greenshank, Common, Black-headed, Herring, and Great black- backed Gull, and perhaps as a starter a little something from the large flock of Ringed Plover scurrying around the rocks and seaweed. At Malin Town we checked on the Little Egret, as it fed in the very shallow waters near the Parochial Hall. In the same Area good numbers of Teal, Mallard, Wigeon, Redshank, Greenshank, Snipe, and Lapwing were observed at close range. As expected, at Knockamany a family of Chough were noted as they enjoyed the strong breeze at this beautiful elevated site. While on our way to Malin Head, a pair of Buzzards and a Kestrel were recorded. At Port Ronan that little assassin the Sparrowhawk did a quick fly past to the delight of the good turn out of club members. On the rugged coast from here to the " Wee House of Malin," many rafts of Eider were admired, with the drakes in their striking plumage sparkling in the bright sunlight, as they rode the heavy Atlantic swell. To finish this most pleasant outing, we watched Seals popping to the froth encrusted surface of an angry sea for a quick intake of oxygen, only to disappear as quickly again. Sat. 9th. Oct. 2010. The beautiful season of Autumn, with its kaleidoscope of the many tonal variants of red, brown, orange, ocher, and yellow, that were evident in this sunlit fantasy land of ours, but especially the destinations that we had outlined for our observations today. Our start was when we crunched our way through the tinder-dry leaf litter of Crucknakilladerry Wood. At this place of history and christianity near Carndonagh, we recorded Buzzard, Raven, Rooks, Jackdaw, Coal tit. Other birds were heard, but not seen due to the dense foliage. Also found at this site was the evidence of Sparrowhawks, with the feathery remains of Pigeon, and crow lying on the ground.......... Next a quick dash was made to Glasha before the tide had retreated to a distance where the bird life would be far removed from our viewing position. Noted here were Common, Black-headed, Black-backed Gull, Large numbers of Curlew, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and a few Turnstone. After our cup of that magic portion, tea, augmented by a sandwich or two, we went to the very high rim of the Craigahorna Glen at Glenmakee, to stand in wonder at the beautiful scenery before our eyes. When we had absorbed this wonderful vista we set off in a northerly direction along the valley top until an opportunity to clamber to the valley floor far below was available, and where the gurgling river is home to the Otter and Kingfisher. Here also was evidence of kills by raptors, many of which are present in the area. A sparrowhawk was observed as it dislodged lots of birds especially Wood Pigeon from their siesta in the sunny afternoon. There is a micro climate that exists here, evident by the carpets of Wood Sorrel, and Wood Anemone foliage that are enjoying these comfortable conditions so late in the year, and where the great Oaks have their sprawling branches clothed in thick moss, and lichen, that underlines the purity of the air in this special place. Sunday 10th. October. A flock of aproximately sixteen Brent Geese were recorded as they came in over the Bar Mouth from a northely direction to land on the front shore at Lagg, Malin. These were the first Brent to be seen here this season. Also noted close-by, on the suthern slope of Cranny Hill, were Forty plus Chough, enjoying the evening sunlight. Sat. 16th. Oct. 2010. The weather today belied the fact that we are halfway through the month of October, and not in the middle of June or July. With the Gods in a benevolent mood, they delivered their bounty of cosy warm sunshine, and perfect calmness that encapsulated the whole country, and that made our task of doing the monthly Winter count of our designated areas of Lough Swilly on behalf of Bird Watch Ireland very pleasurable. What a complete contrast from last months count when we were subjected to non-stop rain, poor visibility, and a cold wind. Today the silvery silent surface of the Lake presented the perfect background for the many birds that were recorded, and due to the perfect light, the task was performed with considerable ease on it's waters. Added to all of the sea birds noted were, seven Buzzard, two Sparrowhawk and one Peregrine Falcon.
Tue. 19th. Oct. 2010. A pair of Little Egrets have been reported at Malin Town bridge this morning, by club member Paddy Mc Crossan. The thumbnail picture on the right is of the one that has been here since September 2nd. and has now been joined by a companion...........................Click thumbnail for larger picture, taken by local enthusiast Liam Mc Laughlin. Sat. 23rd. Oct. 2010. The heavy rain and mist that cast it's Pall on a countryside and sky that made it difficult to distinguish between where one ended, and the other started, but this dismal picture did not dull our excitement at the prospect, that with some luck we might be able to see a Donegal born Golden Eagle reported in an area north of Moville. After a search of the most likely habitats, the great creature was sighted as it soared majestically in a north westerly direction, showing scant regards for the intimidating escort of Ravens, Crows, Jackdaws, and Magpies trying to persuade this great raptor to vacate their domain. After a considerable time spent enjoying this spectacle in the very cold wind that was increasing in strength we indulged in our practice at this time of day of drinking cups of tea, after which we set off to Inch Lake to see the many migrants, that had arrived there, some of which will over-winter in the area, while others will, after a short rest, filter on down the West coast of the country. On our arrival at the viewing platform at the Lake, we checked what was on show there. Later in a few adjacent fields very large numbers of Whooper Swans were noted, estimated at approximately three thousand, while in other fields, many hundreds of Geese were recorded that included Greylag, White-fronted, Pink-Footed, and Canada Geese. What a great day's birding!. Apart from the Golden Eagle, also noted were Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. Sat. 30th. Oct. 2010. The Autumnal equinox creeps gracefully towards it's conclusion with a stunning display of sunshine. augmented by the absence of yesterday's torrential rain, but today with a gentle ghostly zephyr that barely manages to have the odd gold encrusted leaf flutter gently to mother earth from the partly denuded trees with their extravaganza of rich blazing tones of Orange, Reds, and the many variations between. This was our good fortune on arrival at Inch Lake this morning, where many hundreds of Golden Plover performed their intricit formations high above those other spectacular specialists, the Lapwing, with their iridescent plumage shimmering in the morning light before settling back on the verdant islets in the lake. On it's surface many hundreds of Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, and Tufted Duck enjoyed the conditions. Also present numerous amounts of Greylag, and Canada Geese, Whooper, Mute and the three Black Swans. Noticed on a post on the "Watery Road" was a female Merlin, perhaps deciding what she would like on the lunch menu set out before her. This Inch Lake, and surrounding area must surely rank tops with any wildlife habitat in the Country North or South. At Blanket Nook it was a repeat of Inch Lake, with the addition of a Female Sparrowhawk, that spread terror among the group of resting birds at the northern end of the sanctuary. Raptors recorded today were, five Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk, and a Merlin. Earlier in the day we met with a "Bird Watch Ireland" group led by John Cromie. Sat. 6th. Nov. 2010. As we resumed our contribution to the Birdwatch Ireland Bird atlas, we set off on our weekly outing and our first stop was Inch where we encountered an interesting array of birds including: Mallard, teal, widgeon, tufted and a pair of beautiful shoveller duck. Four snipe zig zagged through the sky over the reed beds. Also present were spiralling flocks of lapwing and golden plover circling the bird haven that is Inch Lake. In the nearby fields two cock pheasants were engaged in a pitched battle like two Roman gladiators both determined to oust the other from the precious feeding grounds. As we made our way to Bogay, whooper swans made their way towards the fields of stubble like great white gliders against the cold grey winter sky. A lone buzzard epitomized the idea of the wild heathery hillside as it sat patiently on a grassy hummock surveying the ground for a possible meal of a mouse or other rodent. On our arrival at Bogay with it’s kaleidoscope of autumnal colours, we were greeted by the rasping calls of jays and parties of feeding finches including chaffinch, greenfinch and linnet. The unmistakable sound of skylarks was clear as they made their way off the hills to lower ground to feed. A female sparrowhawk treated us to a breathtaking aerial manoeuvre which any peregrine would be proud of as it stooped from around 500 feet in the sky towards the ground probably in pursuit of some unsuspecting bird. We completed our bird count at Blanket Nook where we saw large flocks of common and black headed gulls as they foraged in the fields. There were also good numbers of passerines including: goldcrest, blackbird, song thrush, wren, bullfinch, starling, dunnock, woodpigeon, long tailed tit, great tit, blue tit, robin, and raven. We also spotted a group of our friends from the north, namely fieldfares as they began their visit here for the cold winter months. All in all, we enjoyed a brilliant days Birdwatching and added a good few species to the atlas count. .............This weeks report was submitted by Martin Moloney in the absence of our regular contributor Sat. 13th. Nov. 2010. Starting at 10.00.a.m. we commenced the November count of our designated areas of Lough Swilly on behalf of "Birdwatch Ireland's" Winter survey. What a pleasant experience it was, to perform this task in the Summer-like conditions that prevailed throughout the day. A good count was achieved, with the surprised recording of a few birds that would not normally be noted in this area. It was suggested that they had been driven here to shelter from the very severe weather of earlier in the week. The absence of large numbers of Duck, would appear to be due to the possibility that they were seeking the solace of Inch Lake because of the same conditions. Taking part in today's exercise were, Demote and Danny Mc Laughing, Martin Moloney, Peter White, and Paddy Mc Crossan.
Sat. 20th. Nov. 2010. It was our expectation that the weather today would replicate yesterdays wonderful, mild, sunny conditions, but it never quite reached that mark. So in the stillness of the morning with predominately grey skies, and light wisps of mist wafting over the countryside and Trawbreaga Bay, we gathered at the Isle of Doagh Road to commence our main focus of the day, and that was to do a count in the Trawbreaga and Malin area of the Barnacle Geese, that by this date would have arrived to enjoy what would be to them a mild winter. After a visit to known sites without any results, we hit a rich vein at Glasha, when as if by magic the air was filled with their unmistakable chorus, and then they appeared in a continuous stream, that numbered eight hundred plus to settle on the beach, vacated by the tide now off in the far distance. Intermingled with this great influx was a lone White-fronted Goose, that was being completely ignored by it's fellow travelers.... At Malin Town a large flock of Goldfinches, estimated at thirty plus were recorded, and had in their midst many Chaffinch, Greenfinch, linnet, and a small number of Siskin...While having our midday repast at the Presbyterian Church at Lagg, over a hundred Brent Geese were added to our list as were Mallard, Wigeon, Red-brested Merganser, Redshank, Greenshank, Godwit, Grey Heron. Cormorant, Common, Black-headed, and Great Black-backed Gull. On our way to Malin Head via the scenic Knockamany Bens, pairs of Chough were observed. There was an absence of Barnacle Geese at the various sites in Malin Head today, perhaps they my have been out on Inishtrahull Island, but Buzzard and Kestrel completed the list of Raptors, and we signed off the outing with the recording of that rather scarce little bird the Twite.
Sat. 27th. Nov. 2010. It was an early return to the Arctic conditions of last Winter, with sub zero temperatures this morning, and a snow and ice clad countryside, that helped us to decide that a visit to the Inch Lake might be a good option, as there we would have available, shelter and the relative comfort of the various hides. Fortunately these facilities were not required, as out of the murkiness caused by the smothering snow showers that reduced visibility to near zero the Sun made it's welcomed entrance to illuminate the by now glittering spectacle of our destination. Our joy was further heightened to see the many Greylag Geese recorded at fifteen hundred plus, back to their traditional sites near the Slob Road and the large acreage close to the car parking facility at the Lake. A little to the south, close to the farm buildings, large numbers of Whooper Swans grazed contently..... Some time was spent at the viewing platform, watching the comings and goings on the Lake. At this vantage spot we were joined for a little while by a party of enthusiasts from the English Lake District that were enjoying the spectacle before them. Apart from the usual species on, or near the water, were flocks of Golden Plover, and Lapwing. A Peregrine Falcon was observed as it perched nonchalantly, enjoying the midday Sun on a fence post on the Watery Road.... In a field at the Farland Bank other large flocks of Golden Plover and Curlew were recorded.... Near Blanket Nook we had more success when we recorded a flock of sixty three Pink Footed Geese, a flock of thirty plus Siskins feeding on Alder Trees, and a similar number of Sky larks feeding in an adjacent field.....At our next and last stop, almost seven hundred White fronted Geese were noted at the Big Isle, as were one hundred and sixty Shelduck. With the light fading fast, it was time to call a halt to a very good day birding that also included the Raptor recording of eight buzzard, one Sparrowhawk, one merlin, and the Peregrine at the Lake. Sat. 4th. Dec. 2010. No outing today due to the very severe weather conditions that has prevailed for the last couple of weeks, many roads are impassable, with deep snow and black ice.
Sat. 11th. Dec. 2010. That well known condition called "Cabin Fever" created by the terrible winter weather of the past few weeks, effects those who enjoy the outdoor life, was dispelled today when we paid another visit in perfect conditions to the still partly frozen Inch Lake, Farland Bank and Blanket Nook. On the approach road to the Lake, as on our previous visit, Greylag Geese in their hundreds were recorded enjoying the newly exposed soft green grass. At the Lake we watched the many flocks of Duck, that included hundreds of Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, and Tufted. The variety of Waders busily taking advantage of the thaw included, Redshank, Greenshank, Godwit, Curlew, and Lapwing. Also noted here were a small number of Greylag and Canada Geese. On the trees surround the Lake area, sizable flocks of Siskin, Goldfinch, Redpoll, Chaffinch, and one Goldcrest were added to our list as was a Sparrowhawk, and four Buzzards......We stopped at the Farland Bank to partake of our most welcomed tea break, and while there we met a couple with a similar interest to our own, this man, formally from London and his charming wife, are now living in Derry, were well versed in the clubs activities, through their regular visits to our web site. Before leaving the Bank we watched at close range a Great Northern Diver foraging close to that sturdy stone bastion that contains within its boundary the extraordinary wildlife reserve that is Inch Lake......... At Blanket Nook, and the Surrounding area another flock of Siskin, approximately forty plus were recorded feeding on Alder trees, at the same locations as on our previous visit to the area. The Nook was still in the grip of the frozen onslaught of recent times with only small numbers of waders on it's slippery surface, but noted were Mallard, Teal, and Goldeneye Duck. Off the water we listed Reed Bunting, and Skylark. Another Sparrowhawk was observed as were two Kestrel one of which had a mouse in it's talents and was being consumed with great gusto on top of an E.S.B. pole. What was considered as the tick of the day was a small number of Yellowhammer, flying to and fro, from a hedge to the nearby undergrowth to forage for seeds to help them survive another cold night. The count of Buzzard reached a total of eight, which completed our grateful return to our usual weekend routine.
Tuesday 14th. Dec. 2010. A small party of Waxwings, the first for this winter, was reported this morning by a club member near Woodside, Carndonagh .
Sat. 18th. Dec. 2010. With a return to the severe weather of a couple of weeks past, but with the addition of a very heavy fall of snow that accumulated a depth of eight to twelve inches. It was decided yesterday that our monthly winter count of Lough Swilly scheduled for today could not proceed....... Our next outing will be the annual Christmas one, when we will meet at the Causeway Road to Inch Island, on Monday 27th December at 10.30am. everyone welcome. To all members and friends I will take this opportunity to wish you a very happy and peaceful Christmas.
Monday 27th.Dec.2010. With the very welcomed thaw that is releasing us from our imprisonment of the last couple of weeks, we assembled at the Causeway Road to Inch Island this morning for our Annual Christmas Outing, where a light grey web of mist draped over the landscape reduced visibility considerably. After viewing the still partly frozen surface of Inch Lake, devoid of the many birds usually seen on it, we set off for the eastern bank, and in particular to the viewing platform where good numbers and varieties of Duck, Waders, and lesser numbers of Geese and Swans were recorded, also noted in the surrounding hedges and fields, were large numbers of Thrushes that included Fieldfare, Redwing, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, and Blackbird. Smaller birds were evident, with large flocks of Siskin, Chaffinch, and fewer Goldfinch. Buzzards were noted as was a Sparrowhawk. Raptors seem to enjoy the very cold weather when their prey is easier to catch, as they are greatly weakened due to starvation incurred by the loss of their food source..... It was our intention to visit the Farland Bank, and Blanket Nook, but decided against it, as the roads to these areas would still be ice-bound.........Our next, and final stop was at the Manorcunningham lay-by, where from our great elevated position we were treated to a wonderful bonanza of wildlife, with thousands of birds feeding on the mud banks laid bare by the retreating tide, these included Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Knot, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Godwit, Brent Geese, and hundreds of Shelduck, while lying close to the tideline were Common Seals......... What a way to end a very enjoyable annual outing.
A detour through Balleeaghan, Glacknabrade and Killin, where even today in the misty greyness, the view over Trawbreaga Bay and beyond was breathtaking. Here the high ditcSat 7th. July 2012. Our intended objective over the past number of Saturdays was to pay a visit to the Wooded Wonderland of Ards Forest Park near Creashlough, where Wildflowers and Butterflies abound, but due the forecast of heavy rain that has blighted the last number Saturdays the project has been put on hold...... Not to be deflected from our usual outing we went to the reliable Malin region, where from the site of the new Bird Hide near the Lagg Road a Sparrow was observed as it procured it's early lunch on what appeared like a Meadow Pipet. A short time later a small flock of Godwit were seen arriving to join others and flock of Curlew, as they foraged in the long grass of a field near the shore line ..hes were hosting many colourful Wild Flowers that had in their midst the erect soldier-like Digitalis,, Great drifts of Red Campion, long stalks of Buttercup, the hanging lantern flowers of Fuchsia, the many varieties of Umbiliferous plants, Purple, and Yellow Loosestrife, a variety of many Hawks bit, and the emerging fluffy flowers of the Meadowsweet. .......Later after our pick-me-up cupa, flocks of Chough were recorded on the northern side of Knockamany, and where the Golden Rod enhanced the roadside At the White Strand Bay, Malian Head, we watched a flotilla of young ducklings cruising between the rocks and weeds under the supervision of their parents. ..An end to the outing was decided on, with some of our party having to leave to attend another function, and another, Brian, going to install a couple of his very well constructed Red Squirrel feeding boxes at Lisnagrath Wood on his way home.