Sunday, 29 January 2012

Talk by Jonathan Shackleton,Mullagh

 " Extraordinary Survivors: Wildlife of The Antarctic" 

Photo by Jonathan Shackleton

A presentation by Jonathan Shackleton will take place in
 St Killian's Heritage Centre, Mullagh on Wednesday 15th February at 8pm.

Jonathan has visited Antarctica numerous times, partly because of the obvious family interest but also for the extraordinary wildlife and magnificent scenery. His talk will be  well illustrated and all are welcome to attend.
 No admission charge  but a small donation to cover costs would be welcome.

For information on branch events visit the Birdwatch Ireland website

Outing to Swan Lake and Lough Gowna

Report By Tom Murtagh

A squally westerly breeze with occasional, but all too short, spells of sunshine greeted Cavan Branch members and some locals of the area who assembled on the shoreline of Swan Lake, Lough Gowna village, on the morning of Sunday 22nd January for the Branch’s first outing of 2012.
Swan Lake is situated beside Lough Gowna village in south west Cavan and is a wildlife sanctuary providing refuge for a number of duck species during the shooting season on the nearby Lough Gowna lake system. On this visit, Mallard was the predominant species present (c.250+) with smaller number of Wigeon.
Teal, Shoveler and Tufted Duck were also present in small numbers as was a solitary Great Crested Grebe, a Great Black Backed Gull, a pair of Mute Swans and some Moorhen. The ducks were concentrated on the northern shore of the lake and best views were obtained through the scopes. The lake is a great natural amenity for the village and easily viewed from the Granard Road.
After viewing Swan Lake, some members proceeded to do a quick tour of the Lough Gowna lake system, with good views of the lake from Dernaferst Bridge, Aghakine Road and Erne Head (the latter two locations being in Co. Longford). Lough Gowna itself lies on the Cavan Longford border and is surrounded by a mixture of farmland, coniferous and deciduous woodland, with some reed bed cover and a few islands, the largest being Inchmore Island at the southern end of the lake. Viewing of the lake is well served from a network of local roads with a number of public access points, and some good roadside viewing where a scope comes in handy.  On our visit, we spotted  small parties of Goldeneye (with some displaying males) and Wigeon at Aghakine Point on the west side of the lake, a Kestrel hunting over Woodville Forest and, at Inchmore Island (Culray), a small flock of Curlew, some Coot along with Great Crested and Little Grebes, Tufted Duck and a pair of Mute Swans.
The Lough Gowna/Swan Lake catchment area has a good diversity of habitat – farmland, bog, woodland etc. with a number of well-developed public walks and pathways which make for an interesting area for exploration from a bird watching perspective in any season.  This was the first winter outing by the Cavan Branch to this area and all agreed was an enjoyable and worthwhile venture, despite the sometimes inclement weather conditions on the day.

For further information on birding in the Lough Gowna area see:
Birds in County Cavan – JK Lovatt (2006),
Finding Birds in Ireland – Eric Dempsey & Michael O’Cleary (2007)
Ireland’s Wetlands and their Waterbirds: Status and Distribution – Olivia Crowe/Birdwatch Ireland (2005)

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Outing to Swan Lake, Gowna Sunday 22 January

The First outing of the New Year will take place on Sunday 22 January to Swan Lake,Gowna. Meet at the car park on the Granard rd at 11 am. If you wish to car share coming from the Bailieborough or Virginia area or if you wish to have soup and sandwiches after the outing in the Piker’s Lodge, Gowna please email by Saturday 21st
Local Birdwatch Ireland member Tom Murtagh will join us on the day and has supplied the above photo and following information and directions to  the site.

Swan Lake is a wildlife refuge and is protected from shooting/hunting, thus leading to transient populations of duck species, mainly Mallard but with some Wigeon,Teal and Shoveler present. Gadwall and Pintail have been recorded here this winter.
As well as checking out Swan Lake,if time and weather permits, it may be possible to visit the Lough Gowna lake system itself, viewing from vantage points at Church Lake, Dernaferst, Erne Head Wood and Dring. Lough Gowna holds the usual duck species in small numbers and also Mute and Whooper Swan,Great Crested and Little Grebe, Cormorants, with Golden Plover, Curlew and Lapwing on its shorelines from time to time.Hen Harrier, Buzzard and Raven have also been spotted in the area. The woodland at Erne Head has Jay,Treecreeper, Siskin and Redpoll. Brambling was recorded here in 2010.Car pooling for this part of our outing (if we have the time) would be helpful.
 Directions:Gowna village is approx. 23km from Cavan town and is accessed from Cavan via the N55  (signposted Athlone),On arriving at Ballinagh village (on the N55) follow the signage for Granard/Athlone. On leaving Ballinagh, after approx 4km, take a right turn off  the N55  on to the L2514 signposted Loch Gowna . Arriving in Loch Gowna village (coming from Ballinagh/Cavan direction),turn left – signposted Granard and Swan Lake is visible on left on the outskirts of the village.. Wellies /walking boots and waterproof clothing recommended for this event.
Visit the Birdwatch Ireland webpage for more information on branch events here