Monday, 21 December 2015

Lough Sheelin's shores

Despite the snow and the rain and the cold, a brave few souls set off to explore the sites along the shores of Lough Sheelin.
The snow of the previous days had melted thankfully but the sky was grey so visibility was quite poor.

Michael has great local knowledge and had planned a route around the lake – from Crover to Mountnugent, stopping at Ross Castle and Sailors' Garden. We also visited Lough Kinale and Bracklagh. 
Though we started off slowly, with only a bird or two on view from the hotel grounds, this recorder soon found herself rapidly turning the corners of her book to remember our sightings! 
A goldcrest calmly flitted from branch to branch in front of us, allowing us to get a great close-up of this tiny bird. A flock of long-tailed tits took flight from trees near the water's edge.
Mute swans, wigeon, gadwall, teal, pochard, tufted duck, goldeneye, cormorant, great crested grebe, little grebe, grey heron, an enormous group of coot (AKA a cover of coot!)  numbering around a thousand according to one estimate, and water rail all were on the water on the lakes.
In a field overlooking Lough Kinale we spotted some redwing and fieldfare along with starling and chaffinch.

Sadly, we weren't the only ones watching the birds; a hunter had set up decoys and a whirling device on the lake and as we watched some tufted ducks in flight coming to join the flock we heard the shots and saw them fall. 
Many thanks to Michael for leading the event, it's one definitely worth revisiting in spring. 
P.S if I'm missing any birds from our count please let me know!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Dundalk Bay

Outing to Dundalk Bay on Sunday 15th November.

We left for Dundalk from Bailieborough at 9 am on what was a very wet November morning. By the time we reached our first stop, Annigassin Harbour, the weather conditions had improved considerably. At Annigassin, we spent a short time observing the many waders and gulls before moving to our next stop, Seabank at Castlebellingham. Seabank is a great site to watch waders- as high tide approaches the views of lapwing, golden plover and black tailed godwits in flight can be stunning! We were not disappointed and enjoyed watching the birds gather here as the tide came in. En route to our next destination, the Oscar Merne hide at Lurgangreen, we stopped to view the large flocks of geese in the fields close by. Here we viewed graylag and white-fronted geese and large numbers of curlew, some ruff and golden plover. Also present amongst the geese flocks was a pink-footed goose- a real treat! The tide was high when we arrived at the Lurgangreen hide. It was nice to have shelter from the elements and to view the birds from the comfort of the hide! After a short stop for coffee we finished up the day at the Dundalk docks. Here we enjoyed watching cormorants feeding and lapwings returning in to feed as the tide levels dropped. A special thanks to Gerry O' Neill for keeping us posted on what birds were present in the area and to both Gerry and Peter for meeting up with us at the hide.

Report and photos Elizabeth Mc Kenna

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Dundalk outing

Cavan Birdwatch branch are travelling to Dundalk on Sunday 15th November.
All are welcome to join us.
To car share, meet at Bailieborough Market Square at 9am sharp.
To meet with the group at Dundalk Bay contact Liz on mobile or by email in advance to arrange a meet up point.

Monday, 9 November 2015

An unusual sighting!

Michael photographed this blackbird lately and sent it on with a helpful attachment from Birdwatch Ireland.
It seems that colour aberrations like this are unusual but albinism is more common in blackbirds than most other species.
Many thanks for the interesting picture and the helpful info Michael!

I've also added an RSPB link to their page on similar colour variations; (complicated words that you get bonus points for pronouncing correctly!)

Monday, 19 October 2015

Trip to Sligo

We gathered in Cartron car park on a cold but clear Sunday morning to explore the favoured sites of Sligo birdwatch.
Michael Bell met us with a booklet of local birds published in association with Sligo Tidy Towns.
In Cartron we saw great black backed gull, herring gull and wigeon.
Our next destination was to Bunduff lake where there was a flock of whooper swans, one or 2 mute swans as well as mallards exhibiting un-mallard-like behaviour!
To Mermaid's Cove where a flotilla of eider caused great delight, cormorants, oystercatchers, great northern divers, black guillemot and a trio of brent geese.
At Raughly we spotted heron, sanderling, turnstone, curlew and rock pipit.

It is entirely possible that we spotted a great many more than these! We shall wait for more detailed reports from those who weren't desperately turning down corners in their books to remember what they saw!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Sligo outing

On Sunday 18th October we are meeting up with the Sligo branch to visit some of their favourite sites at this time of year. 

Regarding transport: 
If anyone has room for one more in their car or someone does not have transport please let me know as soon as possible so I can try to arrange something. email

Bring a lunch and hopefully we'll have somewhere scenic to have our sandwiches!

They have asked us to be there for 11 a.m. to make the best of the tides.
We have arranged to meet at Cartron Car Park, which is just off the main N4 as it travels over Hughes Bridge in Sligo. You take a left for Rosses Point rather than going on to Donegal. Cartron is on the left just before the road narrows with the seashore also on the left. There is a viewing platform there as it is a good spot for waders.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Buzzard on the wing

Clare sent in this great photo of a buzzard in flight.

Friday, 28 August 2015

A date for your diary

Who: Fionnbarr Cross RSPB Fermanagh

What: A talk on RSPB Fermanagh

Where:County Museum, Ballyjamesduff

When: Thursday 24th September

Fionnbarr is an RSPB warden who manages the reserves of Lower Lough Erne.
They have been involved in recent years in making the islands suitable for birds to breed.
He will talk to us about the work that they do in providing shelter and making the area attractive to birds. They have reported higher numbers of a variety of birds, evidence of their success.

This event is free and is open to members and non-members alike. 
We hope to see you there!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Sligo outing

On Sunday 18th October we will be joining up with Birdwatch Sligo to explore the habitats of the county.
We will be visiting Cartron, Bunduff lough and Lisadell.
Sligo have a fantastic website that gives you lots of detail regarding their favourite sites, what to expect to see and when.
More information will be made available closer to the date.
If you have any queries, suggestions etc please email me at

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Long-eared Owls

Members have reported hearing the call of long-eared owl chicks this summer in Bailieborough.
These birds are easier heard than seen as their plumage is ideal camouflage for them. 
Find out more here...birdwatchireland LongearedOwl

Listen to an adult long-eared owl here..rspb longearedowl
Here is a video link to their chicks calling; a sound described as a "squeaky gate"!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Lough Gowna, Wednesday evening. Fish on the menu!

Thanks to Clare for this great series of photos!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Dublin Bay birdwatching boat trip

Guided Boat Cruise: Seabirds of Dublin Bay Biosphere
To celebrate the launch of the new Dublin Bay Biosphere, Dublin Port Company is pleased to support a guided boat cruise which will be led by staff from the BirdWatch Ireland seabird team.

The cruise will visit some of the various seabird colonies located around Dublin Bay: Black Guillemots on the River Liffey near the East Link Bridge, the Common and Arctic Tern colony near Poolbeg Power Station and impressive numbers of cliff nesting seabirds at Howth.

Date: Saturday 27th June 2015 
Time: 08:00 am - 11:00 am
Departing from and returning to Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin City (near the Samuel Beckett Bridge)
Booking: please email or call 01 2223394
Admission: €5 per person or 10 per family of four (children must be accompanied by an adult)

Proceeds from the cruise will go to the BirdWatch Ireland Save Ireland's Seabirds Appeal.


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Cavan Birdwatch Events

To all our branch members,
I hope you have all received an email from me regarding future branch outings and talks.
If you have not, perhaps I do not have your email address.
You can contact me at and I will include you on our mailing list.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Curlew Appeal

   BirdWatch Ireland are currently undertaking a survey of breeding Curlew and are appealing for your records. While the focus of the survey is in the north-west, west and south-west of Ireland, we want records from around the country.

 The aim of the survey is to get an improved estimate of the number of breeding pairs of Curlew in Ireland and identify important breeding grounds. This information will help monitor long-term populations trends and aid in the design and application of new conservation measures for this threatened, enigmatic and well-loved species.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

"Save our Nature" campaign

Save our Nature
There is an article in the Summer edition of Wings on the campaign to defend the Birds and Habitats Directives.
The European Commission has been tasked by its President Jean-Claude Juncker to undertake a review of the Directives. We believe, (as does BirdLife International, World Wildlife Fund for Nature, and the European Environment Bureau) that this is in fact an attempt to weaken the Directives as the push is for economic growth at all costs.
We would not have the nature laws in Ireland that we currently have it were not for the Directives. An example of the effectiveness of the Directives is that the Corncrake has been saved from the brink of extinction in Ireland as small numbers grow slowly in the north west of the country.
It is probably one of the most important campaigns BirdWatch has conducted.

We are asking everyone to get involved, to read and sign the petition, share it, spread the word and to encourage as many people as you can to sign it too.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Dawn Chorus

We met up at the Castle Lake forest lakeshore car park on Sunday 17 May at 4.30am for our Dawn Chorus walk. As we gathered in the car park to set off on our walk around the lake, we had the pleasure of listening to the beautiful songs of the blackbird and song thrush who were already in full song by 4.30am!

There were still a few bats on the wing as we set off, and it was not long before we started to also hear the song of the robin and wren. As it brightened up, we were able to observe nesting great crested grebes,moorhen, mallards and mute swans on the lake. No sign of any cygnets just yet but hopefully they should hatch any day now! Further on, we stopped  to listen to a variety of bird song including goldcrest, chaffinch, willow warbler, blackcap and chiffchaff. It was a lovely surprise for us all when we encountered a red squirrel during the course of our walk as this species is on the list of endangered species for Ireland! 

A special thanks to PJ Byrne for adding an additional interesting route to our walk this year. We finished up with a nice cup of tea and a chat in the car park before heading home. Thanks to all for bringing along refreshments to share.

Click here for more information on Castle Lake Forest. It's a lovely place to visit at any time of year. Other interesting birds that can be seen in the forest include buzzard, Jay, Dipper, Kingfisher and in summer whitethroat and sedge warbler.

report and photos Elizabeth Mc Kenna

4.30 a.m. saw a slightly smaller group of birdwatchers (4 to be exact!) congregate at Town lake in Killeshandra. Bats swooped overhead and 2 herons flew to shore to investigate as we started off along the lake. The earliest singers were the robin, song thrush and blackbird, joined later by a whole host of birds; willow warbler, wren, blackcap, wood pigeon, chaffinch, goldcrest, chiffchaff, moorhen, sedge warbler, grey wagtail, collared dove, swallow, starling, coal tit, treecreeper, blue tit and great tit. The woods varies from native trees to coniferous plantation and one of our group remarked on the noticeable difference in levels of birdsong leaving the former and walking through the latter.
The slightly less musical tones of the jackdaw was dominant as daylight brought us from our loop through Derrygid woods back to the lake. Things were busy on the water with a flock of juvenile mute swans, some great crested grebes, a black-backed gull, an unidentified duck in the distance with a brood of ducklings as well as a Canada goose. Town lake has numerous colourful birdboxes built by local Cub Scouts which brighten up the trees!
Garden warblers have been sighted in these woods in previous years, these are a scarce summer visitor so a trip to Killeshandra might be rewarding! birdwatch/GardenWarbler

Friday, 15 May 2015

Dawn chorus

We are hoping for good weather as we rise with the lark to hear our birds in all their magnificence!

The nesting season is now in full swing. Everywhere you look birds are singing, displaying , nest-building or carrying beakfuls of food. Every morning male birds announce in song they have survived the perils of the night. What is more they proclaim to rival males and local females that they are in peak condition ready and willing to rear the next generation.

Listen to the birds welcome the new dawn in fine voice and identify which birds' song you are hearing. 
Birdwatch Ireland organises Dawn chorus events nationwide to celebrate this rite of spring.
Cavan are hosting 2 events, we are hoping for some mild and dry weather for Sunday morning, it's looking good so far!
1) Bailieborough Castle Lake Forest. Meet at the Lake shore car park, Shercock rd at 4.30am. Contact Elizabeth 086 8336675
2) Killeshandra. Meet at the Town Lake car park, Belturbet Road at 4.30am.
Please wear sturdy footwear and bring warm waterproof clothing.

The RSPB have a section where you can listen to the song of individual birds so you might get a head start on identification.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Dowra outing

Apologies for the delay in showing the photos and report from our Dowra outing at the end of April. 
Many thanks to Freddy for the photographs!
A perfect habitat for dippers and kingfishers: both were spotted today!

The Cavan Way, from Dowra

One of our group is a writer/birdwatcher and she wrote an article Mudlarking! on our outing, luckily there is no photographic evidence of the mud she mentions!

Monday, 27 April 2015

Friday, 24 April 2015

Monday, 13 April 2015

Hoopoe alert!

There has been an influx of these dramatic-looking birds in Ireland recently. Experts believe the recent warm spell is probably the reason they overshot mainland Europe and arrived on our shores. There have been a number of sightings in the south, maybe a brave bird will venture further north for the rest of us to see!
If you are lucky enough to spot one of these, Birdwatch Ireland asks that you notify them.
Let us know too :)

Monday, 6 April 2015

A date for your diary

Cavan Birdwatch will be visiting Dowra in northwest Cavan on the 26th of April.
A beautiful part of the county, Dowra is the first town on the river Shannon, and is also the start (or end, depending on where you start!) of the Cavan Way.
Bring your binoculars, waterproof gear and sturdy footwear; as well as a packed lunch.
More details about where we will be birdwatching, what birds you might expect to see and when to meet up will follow.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Cavan Birdwatch Committee

The Cavan Birdwatch branch A.G.M took place on Thursday, 19th March prior to the "Irish Swifts in Decline; What Can We Do?" in the County Museum, Ballyjamesduff.
The committee for the year ahead is as follows:
Chair: Heather Bothwell (Killeshandra)
Secretary: Ashley Wynne (Cavan )
Treasurer: Sean Callaghan (Virginia)

General committee : PJ Byrne, (Vice Chairperson), Michael Mc Kiernan (Vice Secretary), Peadar Reynolds (Vice Treasurer) Liz Mc Kenna, Andrew Carleton  and Nigel Beresford.

New members are always welcome, come along to an outing or meeting; keep an eye on our blog and Facebook page; also check out and their Facebook page for information, news and events.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Spring walk

Birdwatch Ireland:(NH) 
If you're looking for a fun activity this coming Sunday, 29th March and are in the Dublin area, please join me for a woodland birdwatching walk through the Furry Glen in the Phoenix Park. This is the latest in our joint series of monthly nature events with the OPW, and we hope to see a wide range of woodland species, including (with a little luck) this fellow here, the Jay. The walk is free of charge and open to all: simply meet at the Phoenix park Visitors' Centre ( at 11:00am (don't forget that the clocks go forward an hour this weekend!)

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


Michael Casey from Birdwatch Sligo gave an interesting presentation in Cavan county museum recently, on the subject of a declining swift population.
Concerned with the apparent decline in swifts, he and Sligo locals set up the Tubbercurry Swift Project. 

Swifts spend most of their life on the wing, landing only to nest, arriving in Ireland in May, staying until August.
Their Latin name, “Apus apus” means “footless footless”, referencing the fact that their weak and small feet only allow them to cling to vertical surfaces or shuffle akwardly on the ground, being unable to take off in flight from the ground.
They need high buildings and crevices as they drop from the nest before gaining momentum to fly.
There is alot of work being done in Ireland and across Europe to help the swift. If you have any information or are interested in finding out how to get more involved, please contact us!

Monday, 23 March 2015

We are on Facebook too!

Cavan Birdwatch now has a Facebook page, click on the above link to view it.
We will continue using this blog to inform members of events, display photos etc.
If you have Facebook page check us out and like to spread the word!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Hen harrier Survey

(photo Shay Connolly)

BirdWatch Ireland, alongside the Irish Raptor Study Group and the Golden
Eagle Trust are coordinating the National Hen Harrier Survey 2015.

This survey will begin at the start of April and the project co-ordinators
are running a series of training workshops to ensure all surveyors are
familiar with the methods involved and to offer opportunities for new
fieldworkers to participate to help monitor the Hen Harrier population.

Anyone who is interested is invited to attend the up-coming survey training workshops which
will cover Hen Harrier ecology, methods, reporting and other research
opportunities during the course of the survey. 

In Cavan, you can attend the Errigal hotel, Cootehill, this Wednesday, 25th March from 9.30 a.m. until 1.30 p.m. The workshop is free, however registration prior to the event is requested.

Even if you can’t take on a survey square you can assist by reporting
information and sightings of Hen Harriers in your local area. 

You can submit your sightings through the dedicated survey
website   irishhenharriersurvey

Monday, 2 March 2015

A Presentation "Irish Swifts in Decline: What Can We Do"? on Thursday 19 March

 Swift photo by Micheal Casey

  A Presentation entitled "Irish Swifts in Decline: What Can We Do?" by Micheal Casey (Birdwatch Ireland,Sligo Branch) will take place on Thursday 19 March at 8pm in Cavan County Museum.

This talk will be about the decline of swifts in Ireland,causes of this decline and what we can do about it.

Micheal is a vet with the Dept of Agriculture Food & the Marine's Laboratory Service. His interest in swifts is pursued outside of his work. He is also a bird ringer, with a special interest in swifts, dippers and peregrine falcons.

Micheal is involved with the swift conservation project and hopes to encourage local groups in the County to help out by getting involved in a local project.

Members of Tidy Towns committees and local Heritage groups are very welcome to attend this event!

The Branch AGM will take place prior to presentation at 7pm sharp.

More information on the Swift Conservation project can be found here

Dundalk Bay outing, Sunday 22 February

 The Bird Hide at Lurgangreen

Our outing to Dundalk Bay began with a rainy start but soon cleared as we reached the hide at Lurgangreen.There we were met up with Louth Branch member Gerry O Neill. 
On view were a wide range of waders, ducks and geese. We also caught some wonderful sights of Yellowhammers as they perched in nearby bushes.

 yellowhammer at Lurgangreen

 curlew by Peter Mc Kenna
grey heron by Peter Mc Kenna
greenshank by Peter Mc Kenna

 As we continued on our journey we stopped along the way to watch large groups of wildfowl feeding in local fields.These included Brent,Greylag,White-fronted and Pink-footed Geese.

 Geese flock in fields close to Lurgangreen

The Harbour at Giles Quey by Freddy Mc Gavin

When we reached Giles Quay we were met by marvellous sunshine and caught some great close-up views of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Sanderling as they sped along the seashore.

 Giles Quay Beach by Freddy Mc Gavin
ringed plover by Peter Mc Kenna
turnstone by Peter Mc Kenna

After a short Coffee break and short visit to Rockmarshall we finished for the day and continued on our journey homeward bound.

watching roosting waders at Rockmarshall 

Rockmarshall  Freddy Mc Gavin.

 A stormy scene at Giles Quay
Photo Freddy Mc Gavin

 All in all it was a most enjoyable day with some breathtaking views and a large variety of birds spotted.Many thanks to Elizabeth,Gerry, PJ and Michael for all their help on the day.

Report by Branch Member Freddy Mc Gavin 

Changes had to be made to our itinerary on the day due to the bad weather. We are very grateful to Gerry for coming along and opening up the hide and for his help on the day

For infomration on bird sightings visit the Louth Birds Blog here 
For information on where to watch birds in Louth click here 

Saturday, 24 January 2015

February outing to Dundalk Bay

Grey Seal at Clogherhead

Our next outing will take place on Sunday 22th February. We will visit the new bird hide at Lurgangreen, Seabank, Annagassan Harbour and then head South towards Clogher Head.

To car share from Bailieborough,meet at the Market Square at 9am. If you would prefer to make your own travel arrangements please contact me at in advance of the trip to arrange a meet up point. 

We will spend 3 - 4 hours birding along Dundalk Bay and should see a good variety of waders,wildfowl, flocks of brent geese and some grey seals.

 It is recommended to bring along a snack and to wear warm waterproof clothing. Beginners are very welcome to come along!

Please check the blog for updates on any possible last minute changes,due to bad weather,closer to the date!

Contact number on the day Elizabeth 086 8336675

Date for your diary!- Thursday 19th March.

 A presentation by Micheal Casey "Dwindling Irish Swifts - what can we do ?" will take place on Thursday 19th March at 8pm in the Cavan County Museum. 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Outing to West Cavan on 11th January

Lough Atain by Heather Bothwell

Citizen Science
Cavan Branch Birdwatch Ireland made a start on this year’s Irish wetland bird survey last weekend.This nationwide effort of citizen science happens every year.  The aim is to find and count the waders, wildfowl, gulls and other wetland specialists that are visiting Ireland. In addition this year a special effort is being made to find and count the whooper swans. 

 Map of the Lough Oughter Complex

   We meet up at Drumlane Abbey near Milltown, Belturbet, (see map), and started to count what we could see. Drumbrick lake is a wildfowl sanctuary so shooting is prohibited. The field behind the Abbey was being grazed by a flock of over 100 Canada geese. These feral birds are the descendants of birds escaped from wildfowl collections. The population appears to be increasing and could be regarded as an invasive species. See the following link for Canada goose information

Where are the birds?

 We split up into two groups and headed out to other sites. The Lough Oughter complex is a confusing flooded landscape of ribbed moraines and drumlins.  It takes time to find a route round to each lake and then find the birds. The birds move about depending on food supply, wind direction and shelter and human disturbance.

 Whooper Swans by Jonathan Shackleton
  However we managed to find tufted ducks, goldeneye, mallard, whooper swans, widgeon, teal, cormorants and great crested grebes. We also managed to pick up a buzzard and a sparrow hawk. I found it interesting to see how I constantly undercounted flocks compared to others in my group! I may be more careful with my counts!

Report on event by Heather Bothwell,Branch Chairperson.
 Upcoming Events

 For information on the  International Swan Census 2015 which takes place this weekend 17th and 18th January click here

whooper swans by Jonathan Shackleton

To report any sightings of Whooper Swans this weekend,contact the Birdwatch Ireland office at or a member of the local Branch.
For Branch contact details click here 

February - Sunday 22th outing to Dundalk Bay. More information on this event will be posted soon.

March - Thursday 19th . presentation by Micheal Casey "Dwindling Irish Swifts - what can we do ?" Cavan County Museum at 8pm. AGM prior to presentation at 7pm sharp.
 April  - Outing to Dowra, West Cavan. (Date to be confirmed)
May - Dawn chorus walks will take place in Bailieborough and Killeshandra