Tolka Branch Trip Report

 Midland 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 Hammond)

Meanwhile, out on the lake there were lots of Tufted Ducks, Pochard and 100s of Coots.  There were 3 Great-crested Grebe, 2 Little Grebe, 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 Dunnock were 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.




Copyright, Tolka Branch, Birdwatch Ireland 2006