Niamh Fitzgerald, national co-ordinator of the Irish Wetland Bird Survey, gave a very enjoyable presentation on the birds you might find on Cavan lakes. She talked about distinguishing features of water birds – for instance the mute swan has an orange bill, while whooper swans have a yellow more wedge shaped bill. She highlighted all the striking plumages of the male ducks you might see (females are usually a variety of shades of brown to help them camouflage in the reeds during breeding season) and spoke of the different shapes of these birds as very often you might only see a silhouette in the poor Winter daytime light and being able to recognise a longer neck or a tuft of hair as in the case of the tufted duck may be the only clue to identify the bird. She also gave helpful tips on how to estimate the size of flocks as its not always easy to count individual birds and many flocks contain multiple species.
Thankfully when we got to Derrybrick Lake the sun was still out and we were able to see a wide variety of water birds including: mute swans, whooper swans, tufted ducks, mallards, wigeon, great-crested grebes, coots and canada geese. We were particularly fortunate to see a flock of lapwing land at the waters edge.
Special thanks to Niamh Fitzgerald for an excellent presentation, to Ben Malone from the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) for coordinating the day and to Anne and Anna May for getting Killeshandra Community Hall ready and providing refreshments.