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Old 23 June 2015, 17:21   #1
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Northern Waters - summer patrol

I got a call this week from the local wildlife ranger - he needed a lift out to Inishtrahull, the most northerly part of Ireland - there had been reports of a death and he wanted to confirm them. I'm very fond of Inishtrahull and as the ranger offered to tell me a few secrets in exchange for the lift - I was in. Some may have seen my photo of the Inishtrahull on the Scottish SIB thread - it's an uninhabited island littered with ruins, cliffs and coves - populated by thousands of birds and other wildlife. On previous trips there I've spotted basking sharks, dolphins, seals and a minke whale.

And so at 0900 on Tuesday, I slipped into Buncrana pier and collected my man. He's a crack shot over distance, so I didn't want to be late. We sent off and as the day developed into a scorcher, the familiar scenery began to take on a new meaning as the ranger filled this empty vessel with local knowledge.







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Old 28 June 2015, 17:00   #2
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The trip north was swift and uneventful - we had a look about for Basking Shark and dolphins but all was quiet. I'm not too well versed on birds, so I certainly had my eyes opened there. I'd been driving past an occupied Peregrine's nest this past month and was none the wiser! The spring has been cold and windy and the nesting birds had abandoned the more exposed and nested in more sheltered coves and cliffs. As we approached the island we nosed into various places and found birds wherever we looked.

When I was a nipper, there was an old lad at the top of the lane who was born on Inishtrahull. It was evacuated around 1928 so as I'm getting on myself, I have a tenuous link to life on the Island. The landing is at the Lighthouse quay and is protected by a very nasty rock and (that day) around 20 fearless grey seals. We landed and after a spot of lunch, set off to see if the rumours were true - had the ranger's auld enemy really passed over?







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Old 28 June 2015, 17:14   #3
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As we set off up to the old ruined lighthouse (the "new" one is on the other end) we got a great view back south over the island and north to the Tor Mor, our last outcrop. The ranger was delighted to spot a pair of nesting skua. At the tip of the island is the old graveyard - a strange stone encirclement with centuries of interments. No sign of a body though...







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Old 28 June 2015, 17:24   #4
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We made a tour of the entire island and as we passed the ruined clachan, the ranger suddenly stopped and exclaimed - "There she is - dead as reported!" The "she" in question was a well deceased Sika deer. There was a small group of females put on the island years ago and they have been lurking around the cliffs and boulders for almost 20 years, eking out a living by eroding the soil and eating birds eggs. Any other jurisdiction would have shot them years ago, but here they were protected, if not quite respected! One less now - I'll spare you the photo
There are some fascinating standing stones, seen below just behind the Mass Rock that stills sits beside the old schoolhouse. I didn't have to be the Gurnard to hear the voices and cries of the schoolchildren who once frequented that overgrown yard - I knew one of them long ago.



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Old 28 June 2015, 17:39   #5
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And so, fatality confirmed, we beat a retreat before the tide trapped us behind the rock guarding the quay. It's a tricky wee lump and I'm glad that I now have a bead on it. I've just been (very) lucky in the past!

A list (from poor memory) of the days birdies includes:

Black Backed Gull
Kittiwake
Storm Petrel (heard, not seen)
Peregrine (heard, not seen)
Cormorant
Shag
Oyster Catcher
Skua
Chough
Swift (in the lighthouse)
Razorbill
Black Guillemot
Guillemot (ordinary flavour)
Puffin
Golden Plover
Tern
Wheatear
Raven
Fulmar
Gannet

And so a good day was had by all (except the Sika) and we returned without drama to our homeports on the Swilly. I think the next time I go out there, it will be for a spot of wild camping. All needs to be said now is:

Thanks Mr. Ranger Sir!
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Old 28 June 2015, 17:46   #6
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Nice report and pics willk, looks like you had some lessons off the Gurnard if you don't mind me saying so :thumbup::thumbup:
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Old 28 June 2015, 17:55   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kerny View Post
looks like you had some lessons off the Gurnard if you don't mind me saying so
Yer a cheeky git kerny - I was writing trip reports back when the Gurnard still had hair!

I "might" have drawn a splash of inspiration from the same well as him though...

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Old 28 June 2015, 18:11   #8
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Quote:
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Yer a cheeky git kerny - I was writing trip reports back when the Gurnard still had hair!

I "might" have drawn a splash of inspiration from the same well as him though...

Would that be the Guinness well :beer:
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Old 29 June 2015, 02:46   #9
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Hey ..nice report and photos Willk.. I thoroughly enjoyed it.. and it was like reading myself. Hope you can produce a few more too

I think you could safely add another bird to the list you included ? You omitted the obvious one.

The seagull.. must have been some around ?
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Old 29 June 2015, 04:48   #10
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was it the sib you were out in Wilk?
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