Monday, November 29, 2010

Irish Hen Harrier Conservation

Barry O’Donoghue of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, was scheduled to give an illustrated talk entitled Irish Hen Harrier Conservation at the Spirit Store, Dundalk Docks, Dundalk (see for directions) on the 6th December 2010 at 8pm. This talk has been rescheduled and will be replaced by a talk by Breffni Martin on Irish Bird Folklore.
Entry is free and all are welcome!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Eric Dempsey at the Spirit Store next Monday

The ever popular Eric Dempsey will deliver an illustrated talk at the Spirit Store, Dundalk Docks, Dundalk, on Monday, 1st November 2010 entitled "A Year In Birds". Eric will also be on hand to sign copies of his latest book, "The Complete Field Guide To Irish Birds", possibly a thoughtful present for a birdwatching friend!

The talk will start at 8pm as usual and all are welcome!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Shorebirds of Ireland the Illustrated Talk

In a follow-up to the photographic exhibition in the County Museum, Mark Carmody, co-author of the widely acclaimed book "Shorebirds of Ireland", will give an illustrated talk on the Shorebirds of Ireland, that is to say waders, wildlfowl and gulls at the Spirit Store, Dundalk Docks at 8pm Monday 4th October 2010. Dundalk bay holds the hightest concentration of shorebirds in Ireland, all of which will be covered in this talk.

Entry is free and all are welcome!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shorebirds of Ireland - photographic exhibition by Mark Carmody, County Museum

Dundalk Bay holds the highest population of overwintering shore birds (waders, wildfowl, gulls and the like) in Ireland.

Next Friday the 24th September at 8pm, 2010, The County Museum, Dundalk, in collaboration with the Louth branch of Birdwatch Ireland, will run a photographic exhibition of Mark Carmody's wildlife photography. This exhibition covers photographs of Ireland's shore birds; these photographs were published earlier in the year by Mark in his book Shorebirds of Ireland, co-authored with Jim Wilson.

Drinks served afterwards. All are welcome!

Monday, September 6, 2010


This evening, Monday 6th Sepember at 8pm in the Spirit Store, Dundalk Docks, Dundalk, Anita Donaghy, Corncrake Project Manager at Birdwatch Ireland will give an illustrated talk on the Conservation of Corncrakes in Ireland. This is of particualr interest as we had several instances of calling corncrakes in East County Louth last year.

Entry is free and all are welcome!

Friday, September 3, 2010


Thanks to everybody who came along to the seawatch off Clogherhead on Wednesday. In the event we has manx shearwaters, fulmars, gannets, common and sandwich terns, razorbills, guillemots, cormorants, black-headed, common and great back-backed gulls, common scoter, grey heron, grey seals, and a glimpse of a light coloured unidentified cetacean. Despite a fresh south easterly the birds were quite a bit off shore, however as conditions strengthen over the weekend it might be well worth a try, particularly on Sunday.

Right now the forecast is a beauford 3 - 5 on the Irish Sea on Sunday. A 3 is go and a 5 is stay for the pelagic - if its a 4 bring your sea sickness tablets!

seawatching outing to clogherhead august 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Seawatching and Pelagic

We would propose to run the seawatching outing on Wednesday from 6:30 - 8pm at Clogherhead meeting at the upper car park to walk out on the headland. Please bring telescope or binoculars. Nothing is guaranteed but we would hope to see good numbers of manx shearwaters as well as gannets, fulmars, terns, gulls and perhaps a skua or some storm petrels. There should be a few migrants on Clogherhead as well. All are welcome!
The pelagic is provisionally scheduled for next Sunday departing from Dun Laoghaire (the boat has unfortunately moved south for the summer and will not be back in Clogherhead until the winter). However this means we are further south and can check out the Kish bank. Several have reserved already, could they reconfirm this date, and could anyone else who is interested let me know. The pelagic will depart mid-morning and return late afternoon. If the sea is anything more than a Beauford 3, please be aware that we will cancel.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Seawatching and Pelagic 2010

We are organising a seawatching outing (viewing seabirds from the headland) from Clogherhead and a pelagic (trip in a boat out to Dundalk Bay to view seabirds closeup) during the next few weeks. For both outings we need to keep an eye on the weather, therefore dates will be announced here a few days before the outing (likely dates are 15, 22, 29th August or 5th or 12th September.

Little Terns at Baltray 2010

This years effort at Baltray produced 94 chicks from 43 pairs of little terns. Amazingly there was no predation at all, largely thanks to the effort of the many voluntary wardens; the overnight work in particular. We also had tremendous luck with the weather, with Spring tides arriving only after almost all fo the chicks had hatched (and so were able to move and avoid the water). The little tern protection scheme at Baltray is run by the Louth Nature Trust - full details of the season are here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ornithology Birdwatching Course O'Fiach Institute Dundalk 2010

Breffni Martin will be running a 10 week ornithological/birdwatching course at the O'Fiach Institute In Dundalk this Autumn. The details are here. Download the pdf brochure. Classes will begin in Septermber 21st 2010 and run from two hours, from 7 to 9pm. To sign up please contact the Institute.

The classes will be delivered in a relaxed manner and very much tailored to the interest and level of the attendees. We will try to include some outings. The following is the expected syllabus, this may be varied in accordance with interest and level of attendees.

Week 1
Introduction to birds: what are they and why are they important.
Identification of garden birds. Garden feeders, nesting boxes etc.

Week 2
Bird behaviour: what do birds do and why do they do it?
Identification of waders and shore birds.

Week 3
All about birds of prey.
Identification of birds of prey and owls.

Week 4
Territory, sexual behaviour and breeding.
Identification of countryside birds

Week 5
Bird migration: where do they go and why? Finding rare birds.
Identification of seabirds.

Week 6
Bird ecology: how birds interact with the environment.
Identification of wildfowl (ducks, geese and swans)

Week 7
Bird conservation: how are birds protected in Ireland.
Breeding birds in Ireland and the Irish bird atlas.

Week 8
Bird evolution: how did birds evolve?
Overwintering birds in Ireland - focus on Dundalk Bay and Carlingford Lough.

Week 9
Bird anatomy and health. How to deal with an injured or starving bird.
Rare and scarce birds in Ireland.

Week 10
Review of course
Bird identification quiz

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Events in Autumn/Winter 2010

August - pelagic off Clogherhead - date to be announced depending on weather conditions
August - seawaching outing off clogherhead - date to be announced depending on wheather conditions
Monday 6th September - corncrake conservation in ireland - anita donaghy
Sunday 19th September, 1:00 pm - walk along Navvy bank, meet at Soldiers Point, Dundalk
Starting September 24th - photographic exhibition of shorebirds by mark carmody, louth county museum, dundalk
Monday 4th October - Jim Wilson - shorebirds of ireland (author of book of same title)
Monday 1st November - a year in birds - a photographic journey of irish birds - eric dempsey

All illustrated talks starting at 8pm at the Spirit Store, Dundalk Docks, Dundalk, County Louth (

Email for more details.

Rescue of Herring Gull Chick

Jeanette from Drogheda rescued this herring gull chick which fell from its nest in Caple Street in Dublin. Herring gulls are increasingly nesting in urban areas, partucularly along esturine rivers. When the chicks get lost or become trapped in various man-made structures, pandemonium often ensues with the terrified chick or juvenile bird calling for its parents, and parents swooping and screaming at terrified pedestrians trying to rescue chick. It shoudl be remembered that herring gulls are highly protected in Ireland partly due to a recent collapse of up to 90% of their population following implementation of the landfill directive. Herring gulls are red-listed by Birdwatch Ireland for this reason.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fifth Carlingford Birding Weekend - 28 - 30th May 2010

For the Fifth Carlingford Birding Weekend we decided to try something a bit different, focusing on the birds of the mountains rather than the shore. In the summer months the Irish shores are largely bereft of birds who spend our summer breeding further north in Iceland, Greenland, Canada, Scandinavia and further east. However we have several breeding species in the mountains that are of interest and these were our targets. The weekend started Friday evening with an illustrated talk by Eric Dempsey of Mooney Goes Wild at the Four Seasons Hotel. Then we were up at 7am on Saturday morning to look for grasshopper warbler and cuckoo but were beaten back to the coast by unseasonable driving rain, and so spent the morning observing the black guillemots, dunlin, sanderling and others at giles quay, then other seabirds at balaggan point (shearwaters, gannets, terns). That night we returned to the Cooley mountains for woodcock and grasshopper warbler which duly performed. On the Sunday morning we went up to the mast on Annaverna and carefully made out way down where we found breeding wheatears and a jay, as well as all the other usual mountain birds (buzzard, kestrel, ravens etc).

Waiting for the roding woodcock to show in the Cooley mountains - they did show at 10:13pm, and the grasshopper warbler chimed in just after they left.
Over 60 species were seen over the weekend included the following:

  1. Sand Martin

  2. Whitethroat

  3. Swallow

  4. Blackbird

  5. Song Thrush

  6. Dunnock

  7. House martin

  8. Shelduck

  9. Ringed Plover

  10. Little Egret

  11. Oystercatcher

  12. Redshank

  13. Curlew

  14. Wren

  15. Chiffchaff (Singing)

  16. Woodpigeon

  17. Feral Pigeon

  18. Black Guillemot

  19. Rock Pipit

  20. Sanderling

  21. Dunlin

  22. Hooded Crow

  23. Gannet

  24. Common Gull

  25. Sandwich Tern

  26. Cormorant

  27. Manx Shearwater

  28. Meadow Pipit

  29. Fulmar

  30. Greenfinch

  31. House Sparrow

  32. Mallard

  33. Great Black Backed Gull

  34. Herring Gull

  35. Black-headed Gull

  36. Swift

  37. Blue tit

  38. Goldfinch

  39. Jackdaw

  40. Rook

  41. Magpie

  42. Robin

  43. Starling

  44. Bullfinch

  45. Pheasant

  46. Great Tit

  47. Kestrel

  48. Chaffinch

  49. Long-tail tit (Calling)

  50. Woodcock

  51. Grasshopper Warbler

  52. Linnet

  53. Willow warbler

  54. Skylark

  55. Wheatear

  56. Raven

  57. Grey Herron

  58. Jay

  59. Pied Wagtail

  60. Buzzard

Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Bird Panel at Soldier's Point

A new bird panel by renowned wildlife artist Micheal O'Cleary has been erected at Soldier's Point at the end of the Navvy Bank in Dundalk. This entirely original design and artwork was sponsored by Dundalk Town Council with contributions from local Birdwatch Ireland and Louth Heritage. The panel shows the main species of bird that can be seen from the Navvy Bank along with the different prey items that they feed on, emphasising how the shape and size of the birds bill is adapted to the kind of prey item on which they depend.
This now panel joins a previously erected panel and a telescope at the site. In further work to enhance the biodiversity interest of the area, several bird tables have been erected, and a LINNET plot is planned to provide feeding for overwintering birds.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dawn Chorus - Thanks

Thanks to Derek Watters, Branch Treasurer, for covering our radio spot on Dundalk FM radio on the 15th May and to Peter Phillips for facilitating the event at 4am on Sunday 16th at Rathesker Woodland. Thanks also to everyone for showing up despite the weather.The predicted rain did not materialise but it was cold, which meant that when folks arrived there was complete silence, until a lone blackbird struck up starting the gradual buildup to the full chorus. A special thanks also to Brendan Sheils for help with identifying calls.

Friday, April 30, 2010

National Dawn Chorus Louth 2010

Our next event is the national dawn chorus which, for Louth, will take place at Rathesker Woodland Walk. Details of and directions to this woodland and pond area can be found here: Ratheskar is near Dunleer on just the other (west) side of the M1 and is accessible from all over County Louth. Meet at the carpark at 4am. All are welcome!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Louth Insects

On Monday 5th of March 2010, local entomologist Don Hodgers, will give an illustrated talk on Louth's insects. This is a follow-up to several previous popular talks covering dameslflies, dragonflies, butterflies, moths and others. On this occasion Don will focus on moths, as one birding wag put it: "the true masters of the air"!

All are welcome to this talk which will take place in the Spirit Store, Dundalk Docks, Dundalk at 8pm.

Navvy Bank Walk March 2010

As I was unavailable to do the Navy Bank walk on Sunday 7th March, Gerry and Derek stood in. About 12 attended and the following species were observed along the shore / on the water:
mute swan, brent geese, shelduck, wigeon, teal, GC Grebe, cormorant, buzzard, oystercatcher, golden plover, grey plover, lapwing, snipe, black-tailed godwit, curlew, redshank, turnstone, bh gull, common gull, herring gull, and rock pipit (and maybe a few more). Surprisingly no herons or egrets in the area - maybe the cold weatehr did for some of the local little egrets As I understand it several went on to observe the waxwing at Greenacres, the only one seen in County Louth this year.

Thanks to Gerry and Derek and to all who attended!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cavan Branch Outing to Carlingford and environs

Sunday 28th February turned out to be a beautiful day on Carlingford Lough with cold clear light and a very high tide. After meeting at Templetown Beach where there were dozens of cormorants and shags in breeding plumage, and a single distant red-throated diver (thin on the ground this year, perhaps because of the colder than usual water temperature), we moved to the Carlingford shore where the rocky islands created by the high tide hosted dozens of birds of several species packed together making viewing and identification easy. Grey heron, curlew, bar-tailed godwit, oystercatcher, lapwing, turnstone, dunlin and ringed plover on the rocks along with mallard, wigeon and light bellied brent geese were all on view, along with black headed, common, herring and great black-backed gulls. Later we swung around the Balaggan shore ending up back at Templetown beach where a single great northern diver obliged.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Birds (and other wildlife) of New Zealand

On Monday 1st March 2010 at 8pm at the Spirit Store, Dundalk Docks, Dundalk, Billy Clarke will give an illustrated talk on the wildlife ( mostly birds ) of New Zealand and it's subantarctic Islands. He will show photos taken on a cruise to these subantarctic islands and a subsequent tour around the mainland islands. These areas are a diversity hotspot for albatrosses ( thirteen species ), penguins ,cormorants and many other seabirds.
Many thousands of albatrosses were seen on this cruise. The mainland islands are largely devoid of native birds but the wildlife service of New Zealand has pioneered many innovative conservation techniques. Many critically endangered birds have been moved to offshore islands that have been cleared of introduced pests. It is possible to see such strange and fascinating birds as kiwi and takahe on these islands.

Billy is a laboratory technician in Biology in UCD doing research on Fallow Deer, Grey Squirrels and the extinct Giant Irish Deer. His hobby is wildlife photography and he also has painted plates for some bird and mammal guide books.
All are welcome and entry is free!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Carlingford Birding Weekend 2010

A few people arrived early on the Friday afternoon so we went on a walk along the Carlingford shore. The tide was rising so the birds were all packed together to roost on the small rocky islands along the shore. In these circumstances it is possible to study the birds are relatively close quarters and observe identification features. Species present were dunlin, turnstone, ringed plover, lapwing, redshank, greenshank, bar-tailed godwit, curlew, little egret and grey heron as well as mallard, widgeon and teal. Returning along Shilties Lough, a small sea inlet along the shore, we had four little grebes and a snipe just before the light fell. That evening we all met at the Four Seasons hotel for Eric's illustrated talk about the winter waterfowl we were to see the following day at Oxford Island.

The weather on Saturday proved to be perfect given the arctic conditions up until then. At Oxford Island all the regular ducks were seen, mallard, teal, widgeon, pochard, tufted, and goldeneye, as well as flocks of whooper and mute swans. Everyone was very impressed with the excellent facilities at Oxford Island.

That evening we had a group dinner at the hotel. It has to be said than the food was generally excellent, as was the chat with many people staying up til after 2am! Luckily the start on Sunday morning was late and given the state of the tide, we decided to head for Annagassan where a snow bunting had been found. As luck would have it the bird showed very well, this arctic species being particularly confiding. On the way back to Carlingford we stopped at Lurgangreen to view waders and geese and Giles Quay for diving birds. Finally after lunch we did a final swing around the sites near Carlingford and picked up a peregrine hunting the Carlingford shore and a buzzard quartering the Locra, near Greenore.

A big thank you to everyone for being such enthusiastic participants and to Eric for his professional and entertaining guidance. We are planning a follow-up weekend in June to look for breeding summer birds both on the shore an din the Cooley mountains.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Floral Ramble Through County Louth

On Monday 1st February 2010 at 8pm at the Spirit Store, Dundak Docks, Dundalk, Dr Maurice Eakin will give an illustrated talk about the flora and ecology of County Louth entitled A Floral Ramble Through County Louth. The talk will cover Louth from the Boyne valley, thought the depths of Ardee Bog to the heights of Clogherhead and the Cooley Mountains. The talk is suitable for anyone with an interest in the natural world and will follow up on Brendan McSherry's previous talk on the geology of County Louth.

Maurice Eakin is the District Officer for the National Parks and Wildlife Service covering counties Dublin, Meath and Louth. He took his PhD at Colraine University in Botany.

Entry is free and all are welcome!

Direction to the Spirit Store can be found at

Navvy Bank Outing

Thanks to everyone who came along to the Navvy Bank outing on Sunday! The weather was fantastic and we timed our visit perfectly to that moment when the tide starts to turn after high tide, and the birds start coming out onto the mud to feed. Species seen included:
Grey Heron
Light-bellied Brent
Great Crested Grebe
Red-brested Merganser
Ringed Plover
Bar-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit