18 Apr 2006

Choughs and Peregrine in Donegal

119. Chough Pyrrhocorax Pyrrhocorax

Drove from Co.Down to Donegal on friday afternoon and stopped at the base of Dooish mountain outside St.Johnston to arrange with farmer whether I could do a bird survey on his land on Easter Monday. The go ahead was given and he was given a brochure about Birdwatch Ireland Bird Surveys.

On saturday Penny and I went out ostensibly for Easter eggs for the children, whereas I was really out to see if I could see one of the Glenveagh National Park Golden Eagles. Efforts have been made to re-establish a viable Golden Eagle breeding population in the northwest of Ireland.The weather was very poor and the cloud level in the mountains was low so didnt see any. (Otherwise title of blog for today would be very different) I drove around seventy miles looking for them and guess what by the time we got back to Letterkenny there were no Easter eggs anywhere. I stopped at every petrol station on the way home even went to a village considerably out of our way to find only two very small kinder eggs. Felt quite guilty.

On Sunday we went to Horn Head. Horn Head's cliffs are some of the most spectacular on the north Donegal Coast.
Hundreds of gulls,fulmars, puffins and guillemots nest on the 600 foot sheer rock face. From the Head there is also a panoramic view of the Rosguill, Fanad and Inishowen Peninsulas to the right and out to Tory and Inishboffin islands on the left. My parents have had a farm in Donegal since early 60's and Horn Head is only 20 miles away and I had never been there!! It is also known as a migration hotspot. It was blowing fairly hard and showers were coming in horizontaly every 20 mins; so family were not over enamoured about walking out to headland, where there is an old lookout point. When we got there there were two pairs of Choughs playing around in the wind. It was fun to see and a new bird to the list for this year. Then they disappeared as did most of the fulmars and gulls. Suddenly I saw why. A peregrine was diving incredibly fast towards where they had been. Then it went out of sight. A few seconds later it was climbing above the cliffs high into the sky before diving down again. This happened over a period of ten minutes time and time again. I wondered whether it was infact displaying. ( Does anyone know whether peregrines display at this time of year. If you do please let me know) Anyway it was a lovely sight and more than made up for the fact that I was still stewing over the fact that our dog had chewed holes in both Pennys and my waterproofs.


Durnish said...

I am so pleased to have found yr blog.

I know lots of chough locations in Co Donegal and walk round Killard regularly in spring,summer and autumn.

Julie-Ann said...

Good to see other Chough lovers out there. Spend most weekends Fanad direction and have photographed the same Choughs nesting there, laying, and raising their youngins for the past 3 years..