A Mute Swan on the lake at Inch Island
Although I have been to Inch Island a number of times, the first time to photograph places on the island, and after that there were many visits to see the swans and ducks on the man-made lake there, I had never made the effort to find the "hides" there so yesterday we decided we would go in search of them. Incidentally, Inch Island is attached to the mainland by a causeway road so no boat trips involved.
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
THE TREADY POINT HIDE, INCH ISLAND
(Click on any of the photographs to enlarge).
For those not interested in bird watching Inch Island Waterfowl Reserve is still a great place to visit. The scenery and the peace of the place together with the well laid out paths makes it an excellent place to go to to enjoy a walk (or a jog).
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.
View from Grianan Aileach to Inch Island
If you do go to Inch Island, and I would encourage anyone visiting Donegal to do SO, you can take the short drive to Grianan Aileach which is an ancient ring fort, dating back some 2,000 years which overlooks the island.
There is no charge and there is a car park beside the fort.
St. Aengus' Church, Burt
DIRECTIONS TO INCH ISLAND WILDFOWL RESERVE
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.
County Donegal, on the fabulous north west coast of Ireland has retained all our 13 Blue Flag Beach awards making it the Irish county with the most Blue Flag Beaches 2013 (see below for Blue Flag criteria).
The Donegal beaches achieving this prestigious award 2013 are: Bundoran, Carrickfinn, Culdaff, Downings, Killahoey (Dunfanaghy), Lisfannon (Buncrana), Marblehill, Murvagh, Fintra, Narin/Portnoo), Portsalon, Rossnowlagh, and Shroove.
County Donegal has hundreds and hundreds of miles of coastline and probably more beaches than any other county in Ireland. There are sandy beaches dotted all along our coastline: some tiny, hidden away gems for you to discover; others huge swathes of silvery golden sand where one can walk for miles enjoying the fresh, unpolluted sea air and scenery.
There are beaches known for their beauty: Ballymastocker beach on the Fanad peninsula was once voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world; others known for their superb surfing; others for their family suitability with gentle seas lapping their shores; and others just waiting to be discovered.
Time to head to Donegal to enjoy just a few of these beaches ~ there are way too many to get to see in a week or even a fortnight. But of course that is always an excuse to return!
SLIDESHOW OF JUST SOME OF DONEGAL'S BEACHES
CRITERIA FOR BLUE FLAG BEACH AWARD (from BlueFlag.org):
"1) Environmental Education and Information
Information about the Blue Flag must be displayed.
Environmental education activities must be offered and promoted to beach users.
Information about bathing water quality must be displayed.
Information relating to local eco-systems and environmental phenomena must be displayed.
A map of the beach indicating different facilities must be displayed.
A code of conduct that reflects appropriate laws governing the use of the beach and surrounding areas must be displayed.
2) Water Quality
The beach must fully comply with the water quality sampling and frequency requirements.
The beach must fully comply with the standards and requirements for water quality analysis.
No industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach area.
The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for the microbiological parameter faecal coli bacteria (E.coli) and intestinal enterococci/streptococci.
The beach must comply with the Blue Flag requirements for physical and chemical parameters.
3) Environmental Management
The local authority/beach operator should establish a beach management committee.
The local authority/beach operator must comply with all regulations affecting the location and operation of the beach.
The beach must be clean.
Algae vegetation or natural debris should be left on the beach.
Waste disposal bins/containers must be available at the beach in adequate numbers and they must be regularly maintained.
Facilities for the separation of recyclable waste materials should be available at the beach.
An adequate number of toilet or restroom facilities must be provided.
The toilet or restroom facilities must be kept clean.
The toilet or restroom facilities must have controlled sewage disposal.
There should be no unauthorised camping, driving or dumping of waste on the beach.
Access to the beach by dogs and other domestic animals must be strictly controlled.
All buildings and beach equipment must be properly maintained.
Coral reefs in the vicinity of the beach must be monitored.
A sustainable means of transportation should be promoted in the beach area.
4) Safety and Services
An adequate number of lifeguards and/or lifesaving equipment must be available at the beach.
First aid equipment must be available on the beach.
Emergency plans to cope with pollution risks must be in place.
There must be management of beach users and events to prevent conflicts and accidents.
There must be safety measures in place to protect beach users.
A supply of drinking water should be available at the beach.
At least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality must have wheelchair and accessibility features.
Wheelchair access and accessibility features must be in place for at least one Blue Flag beach in each municipality."
We Love Donegal
We Love Donegal is a site dedicated to bring the beauty of County Donegal on the north west coast of Ireland to the world.