As it turned out the hides weren't at all hard to find as there are signposts in the car park at the Inch Island Wildfowl Reserve. As I suppose there would be!
We parked the car and took the path to the left to visit the hide there which according to the sign is the "Tready Point Hide". The path is well laid out and cemented until just after the old pump house along the path and thereafter the path is made of some sort of compacted gravel so easy to walk on. I would imagine pushing a wheelchair or a baby pushchair would be easy to do too.
Having never been to a hide before I knew not what to expect but in my mind's eye I envisaged a construction of branches covered with an old tarpaulin. Was I in for a very pleasant surprise!
The hide is a sturdy wooden hut measuring around 14 feet by maybe 8 feet. There is a ramp leading up to it. We lifted the latch to enter and inside there were a number of people lined up along the wall at the various little openings which overlook the marsh and sandbanks (and probably the lake too when the water is higher).
You can stand and open one of the eye level openings or sit on the sturdy benches and open a waist level opening. You just stand or sit and unbolt the wooden shutter at your chosen point. After you have finished you should lock your shutter up again.
Outside had been a bit breezy but inside the hut was warm and cosy even though there is no heating. On the wall there is a board where you can note the birds you saw and the date and time.
Not being birding experts we only managed to identify swans, some of the gulls, a huge heron and what we think was a cormorant. We had seen cormorants on our trip to Owey Island so thought the bird we saw at Inch was the same.
Video clip of swans "dancing" on the lake at Inch Island yesterday
(Click on any of the photographs to enlarge).
When we were there yesterday we saw quite a few people who were there solely to walk: parents with children, elderly people, and people walking their dogs (dogs must be kept on a lead and any "business" they might do picked up).
And as is usual with me, I got chatting to some people there. The first was a gentleman from Derry who told me he goes there every day to walk his dog. He was really interesting and we chatted for ages ~ until a heavy shower of rain stopped chat! It was a pity because he had many tales to tell. I asked if he uses email as I would be really interested in the history he had to impart but he told me that he bought himself a computer but doesn't even know how to switch it on yet. But he said he was there every morning and asked that I come back so we can continue our chat. I will definitely take him up on that offer and report back some of the tales ~ the ghost story one he told had me mesmerised.
Later I got chatting to a woman who was at the lakeside with her little girl. They too were from Derry and she told me that she took her wee girl to Inch Island every week to see the swans and ducks and to check on the new chics as they arrive and their progress. Her little girl then has a story to tell each Monday morning at school. I thought that was a pretty good thing for a mum to do for her child: encouraging children to appreciate the joys of nature is a must in my opinion.
There is no charge and there is a car park beside the fort.
From Letterkenny drive to Burt (a village along the main road). You will see a very distinctively designed church, St. Aengus', (see pic on left here) to the right. Take the left turn off the main road across from the church. Take great care at this area, especially when going back on to the main road, as traffic travels very fast there at times.
A short distance along that road the road takes a turn to the right and you will see another, smaller road to the left. Drive along that road and you will come to a car park (parking is free at the date of writing).
There are directions at the car park for the hides:
Take the left path to the Tready Point Hide (which is the one I have written about in this blog post. The path to the right takes you to the Toobin Junction Hide. Each are 800m from the car park (about half a mile). The paths are well laid out and easy to walk along.
For those with limited mobility there is a disabled viewing area 150m from the car park.
1. The car park is tarmacked and easy for a wheelchair to manoeuvre.
2. There are no lavatories.