Tuesday, 2 October 2012

October 7th National Trails Day Cliff Walk

On Sunday October 7th the Dublin Branch celebrated National Trails Day  with a scenic cliff walk from the Waterside Hotel, Donabate to Portrane. It was a gloriously sunny morning with a great turnout of about eighty people, to walk along what is considered one of Dublin’s most scenic walks, with a great view of Lambay Island, Howth and the rugged coastline itself. 

The first birds we saw were oyster catchers and turnstones running along the rocks, and as the tide was in, waders like curlews and godwits feeding in the fields to our left. A lone heron also was hunting in the field - perhaps looking for mice! We were also joined by a solitary grey seal who observed us at various points as we walked along.  A nice variety of seashore wildflowers was also visible on the path as we walked along, like the sea spurrey in the picture blow. 

The best birdwatching was found when the group reached the shoreline under the Martello Tower in Portrane. Along with a few cormorants sunning themselves with outstretched wings on the rocks, we also saw a guillemot in its winter plumage. This confused some of us initially as the chocolate brown summer head colouring is replaced with much more white in the winter. With the aid of a telescope the group also identified a red throated diver out in the water. Various species of gulls and terns were also spotted overhead, and visible in the distance was the island of Rockabill near Skerries, where most of northern Europe's population of roseate terns go to breed. A stonechat with its orange breast was also glimpsed on the rocks around the group, which was a good thing to see as their population has crashed due to the two very bad winters we had recently. 

As the group headed back to Donabate the sky clouded over, but the rain held off and overall, everyone was happy to have seen some of the amazing birdlife that Dublin's coastline has to offer!
Photo courtesy of Joy

Sea Spurrey - courtesy of Joy

The shore below Portrane Martello Tower - courtesy of Joy

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