Saturday, 29 June 2019


We flew from Leeds/Bradford Airport to Dublin on 16th June. Julie was there to meet & greet us. We quickly drove to her house about an hour away. It was a fascinating & quirky home, being a converted Chapel.

Julie's house


Delana & Julie, friends over a long period of time.

We enjoyed a couple of days with her & the next day we went to Fore Abbey.

Fore Abbey Ruins


The wonderful semi outdoor kitchen area.

The Grey Wagtail nest was just
 above the door.

Male Grey Wagtail

A pair were nesting in the farm courtyard.

The male is feeding the chicks.

Four chicks fledged this morning & were scattered 
all over the courtyard!

This bird had just left the nest minutes previously.

At least four youngsters were in this
Barn Swallow's nest.

A great, cosy little hideaway.

Inside is great too!

Evenings around the fire in the forest.

On the morning of 18th, Anica picked us up & drove us to Shawbook, her farm which also doubles as a performing arts & ballet school! We were shown to our accommodation for our four nights stay, which turned out to be a shipping container in the middle of a forest.

Anica & Delana in the forest.

We did several short walks each morning, most curtailed by rain!

The estuary in front of the village.

Little Egret

How times have changed!

On 22nd June we picked up our hire car & drove to Kilcogan, a charming village on a little estuary. The main purpose of our visit here was to go to Moran's Weir & Oyster Cottage for a meal. A bit of a surprise were 4 Little Egrets on the estuary!

Achill Island

Spent nights of 23rd & 24th June on Achill Island in a nice self catering apartment. The drive there went through some great scenery but torrential rain blotted most of it out! On arrival we decided because of the weather, to have a night in, cook & watch a movie.

The track that went up to a viewpoint 
just beyond the deserted village.

A pity it was such a dreary morning.

Part of the deserted village.

The Slievemore deserted village is a reminder of the terrible effects of the potato famine in Ireland. Many people were forced to the coast to find alternative food from the sea. This village was later abandoned.

The island has done a great job of showcasing their history to visitors. This is just part of the main maritime history trail.

A recently fledged Northern Wheatear

Several birds were around the deserted village.

After 30 hours of rain (well we are in Ireland)! The 24th dawned fine with even a bit of sun, so we made the most of it. First we had a short hike near the deserted village seeing plenty of Northern Wheatears & Meadow Pipits. Then we did a drive around several lochs in the north western part of the island without seeing a great deal. However the bay in the town off Keel delivered some excellent species: Great Northern Diver, 5 Common Scoter, 3 Manx Shearwater, Shag & a few Oystercatcher.

On the way to Keem Bay.

Keem Bay.

A lovely sheltered beach, but the sea is cold!

Delana in Keem Bay.


Several were fishing in the sheltered bay.

We had a short lunch break back at the apartment & then set out visiting the sandy beach at Keem, which was lovely. Several Kittiwakes were seen offshore.

Great Black backed Gull

Herring Gull

Common Ringed Plover

Rock Pipit

Male European Stonechat

A pair were nesting in a hole in some rocks
 in the harbour.

We then backtracked in the car & drove around the south eastern part of the island. The scenery here was stunning in the late afternoon sunshine.

Kildavnet Castle, associated with the pirate queen
Grace O'Malley.

Hooded Crow

Rock Pipits were very common along 
this stretch of the coast.

We saw a few birds as well: Fulmar, Hooded Crow, Stonechat & Rock Pipit, as well as six species of gull. We arrived back at the apartment quite late & spent another night in enjoying a nice meal.

Bellick Castle

After a bit of a lay in, we departed for Bellick Castle on 25th June. It was an easy drive of around 100 kilometers. This is an interesting building as it is not a castle at all! Built between 1825 & 1831 on the site of an abbey. Now used as a hotel & our home for the next two nights.

Killala beach

Sandwich Terns

Common Gull

The sun was shining so we had a look around the quaint town of Killala, seeing a few Sandwich Terns & Common Gulls on rocks in the bay. It is an interesting & pretty little town on a lovely bay. We then drove back to Bellick Castle & checked in. And what an experience it turned out to be!

The bed!

Liking it!

Introducing myself!

The truly amazing bar!

My meal!

We then checked in & what a place it turned out to be! Our room was spectacular & we met up with Philip & Anica for cocktails & dinner. It was a lovely evening.

River Moy.

Grey Heron

Female Mallard: this individual 
had eight ducklings in tow.



The sun was still shining on 26th June, so after a mammoth breakfast, we took a walk along the river & through the woods seeing Treecreeper & Goldcrest among other commoner species.

We enjoyed a lazy afternoon before more fun in the bar early evening & another good dinner.

The stack off Dunpatrick Head

St. Patrick & me!

It was a nice walk around the headland.

Delana getting close to the edge!

Good numbers of seabirds nest along the cliffs.

Northern Fulmar

All pale phase birds here.

Common Guillemot & Kittiwake



Young bird

Rock Pipit, feeding young.

Very common here.

Meadow Pipit

The 27th June was overcast & a bit breezy. We enjoyed a slow drive along the coast to Dunpatrick Head. We admire the blowholes, which were not doing much when we were there & then walked along the cliff top viewing the seabirds colonies below.

The view from the Ceide Fields

We enjoyed a nice walk around, 
looking at the remains of the walls 
& the many species of flowers.

A neolithic wall

Bog Cotton

In late afternoon we visited the largest stone neolithic site in the world at The Ceide Fields. The exhibition was interesting & we enjoyed walking around the raised bog looking at flowers & admiring the sea views.

The old convent at Stella Maris

The view from Stella Maris.

That night we stayed at Stella Maris, a converted convent & went into town for an excellent evening meal.

Looking towards Erris Head.

We left around 10 am on 28th June for a drive to the Mullet Penninsula. It was a dark & dreary day which often threatened rain but somehow we managed to escape a deluge.

Dramatic scenery.

The walk was pleasant, but a bit breezy!

Hooded Crow


A scarce to rare bird in Ireland.

 First stop was Erris Head & we walked a 5km loop along the cliffs. It was wild dramatic coastal scenery seeing 2 Raven, 2 Rock Dove & 6 Hooded Crows before the headland itself. On the stack just offshore were a pair of Great Skuas with a recently fledged chick. They were shy despite the great distance & as soon as they saw us they crouched low in the grass. This is a good breeding record I think for Ireland. Great Black backed Gulls & Fulmars were breeding on the cliffs. I did a little sea watch, seeing lots of Gannets, 8 Manx Shearwater & lots of Guillemots on the sea. On our way back we came across 5 Chough, which are always super to see.

Northern Lapwing

Sedge Warbler

We then visited a lake & nearby marsh in the centre of the peninsula seeing little of interest apart from 2 Irish Hares. It was then time for the long drive back to Shawbrook & we enjoyed a nice meal with Anica & Philip.

There are extensive wet grasslands & marshes here.

The view from the hide.

Reed Bunting

29th June was a lazy day for packing & getting ready for our flight on 30th. We did however fit in a morning walk to a nearby national nature reserve. It was a place to visit in winter for wintering wildfowl & geese, but it looked very pretty in the morning light. It had been a very enjoyable little trip full of variety. We will be back in the future for a full on birding trip.