Tolka Branch Trip
Lakes - February 2011
by Rosemary Doyle
On a beautiful sunny February morning we met Enda Bannon and John O'Malley
along with other members of the Westmeath Branch of BWI in the Park Hotel
car park Mullingar, who issued us with helpful maps of the area. At 10
a.m. we set off on our tour of the lakes.
Our first stop was Lough Ennell, where the usual welcome committee of
bread-hungry Mute Swans trundled out of the lake in anticipation of a
feed. Much to our delight, a juvenille Whooper Swan was keeping
company with the Mutes and has learned well the begging behaviour.
It was a marvellous opportunity to compare and contrast the features of
the two species at close quarters.
Juvenile Whooper Swan (Photo by John
Meanwhile, out on the lake there were lots of Tufted Ducks, Pochard and
100s of Coots. There were 3 Great-crested Grebe, 2 Little
1 Heron and 1 Black-headed Gull. Amongst the shrubbery where we
stood there was an abundance of Chaffinch, a Robin, 3 Blackbirds, several
Blue Tits and 1 Grey Wagtail.
We then drove over to the east side of Lough Ennell where we had good
views of 33 Goldeneye. A few Woodpigeon, a Wren and
also spotted in the hedgerows.
From here we drove over to Lough Owell. The lake was fairly quiet
with just 6 Cormorants and 20 Goldeneye present. In Enda' garden,
during our lunch break, there were several Siskin, Great Tit,
Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Robins at the feeders. There were also a
fair number of Rooks and Magpies in the trees surrounding the lake.
Siskin (Photo by John Fox)
Fully replenished we drove over to Lough Derrevaragh. There were plenty
of Little Grebes ducking and diving and popping up like corks all over the
lake and a couple of Great-crested Grebes on the opposite shore.
On leaving the lakes a Kestrel was the last bird for our list which was
spotted on the main road overlooking Scrag Bog.
We are most grateful to Enda Bannon and John O'Malley and the Westmeath
branch for all of their guidance and their company through their local
birding hot spots, which made the day effortless for us visitors.