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  19.07.06, 9.31pmhrs  |  reported by admin1
  Whale and Dolphin History

An appeal for Whale and Dolphin Information

We are appealing to anyone who has old photographs, newspaper articles, video footage, Slides, or even stories about whales that have been washed up or seen on or around the shores of Inishowen.

If it was a Hundred years ago or last year we?d like to know about it. If it was a whale, a tortoise, a shark, a dolphin or a porpoise we would like to hear all about your encounters.

All the information we gather will be presented and displayed under the title ? The story of Whales and Dolphins around Inishowen?. The display will be at Fort Dunree during the whole month of August. This will coincide with other marine displays and events during August being held at Fort Dunree.

To find out more see the events section.

Don?t be shy and please don?t assume we already know about particular sightings or whale and Dolphin stranding. Please get in contact! Every piece of information is important to building up the story of whales and Dolphins around Inishowen.

You can post your story or photo directly onto the web-site under the Report Wildlife Section.

Or you can contact us by email by clicking on the contact page.
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  06.07.06, 11.45pmhrs  |  reported by siteadmin
  Minke Whale Dig

Malin Head, July 10th ?14th ~
Youth groups to conduct dig for buried whale?

Glengad and Malin head youth groups with E. Johnston advisor to Nature will be attempting to dig up bones of a Minke whale buried on Port Ronan Beach in the late 1990?s.

This event is a summer camp for youths organised to raise the awareness of young people in the local area about marine wildlife. The bones will be exhumed over the period 10th-14 of July. They will then go on display in the new wildlife Display area at Fort Dunree for the month of August. This will coincide with the many other events planed at Fort Dunree on the Marine life theme during August.

See the events Diary for information on National Whale Watch Day at Fort Dunree, a fun and educational event for all the Family.

For more information on summer camps and the whale dig visit the Education section of the Web site,
Or come and visit Port Ronan and give the youths some encouragement and watch the Dig in Progress.

This event is organised by Tish McDaid and Carmel McLoughlin of Malin head youth group and Sile Smith of Glengad youth group with E. Johnston advisor to Nature and overall assistance, coordination and support by P.J.Hannlon of the Inishowen Partnership.
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  06.07.06, 11.43pmhrs  |  reported by siteadmin
  Nature at Inishowen Gathering

July 21st-22nd ~ The second Inishowen Gathering will be on the 21st ? 23rd of July at Culdaff on the North Coast of Inishowen.

The Nature team will be there with the Nature Table. Come down and see some sperm whale jaws or try to identify some of the plants and animals we will have on display.

We will be giving free talks and walks on Bats and Woodlands. Both will have a local theme as this year Gathering venue is located in the heart of the North Inishowen Coast Special Area Of Conservation which is Internationally recognised for its populations of Breeding birds and pristine natural coastal habitats.

Nature Hunt
Our main event will be the Nature Hunt, which will take place at 12 midday till 3 PM on Sunday the 23rd. Teams of four will follow the Nature Trail around Culdaff answering questions and Finding clues.

No mechanical transport is allowed for competitors so the Nature Trail will provide a great way to explore and learn about Culdaff and its beautiful natural surroundings. Families and friends will be able to join in the fun and enjoy the competition.

The team who complete the Nature Hunt in the shortest time and have the most answers right will be the winners. The First Prize is a weekend break for 6 in the Old Coast Guard Cottages at Bunagee pier, Culdaff.

Talks and Walks
The Talks and walks will be held in the straw-bail theatre. The bat walk will start at 10:00 p.m. on the Friday. The Woodlands event will be on Sunday starting at 3:30 p.m. following the Nature Hunt.

Come and visit The Nature Table at this years Gathering there?ll be prizes and competitions for children through out the whole weekend.

visit www.inishowensummergathering.com for more

See you there !
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  06.07.06, 11.37pmhrs  |  reported by siteadmin
  Bottlenose Dolphin encounters

Culdaff, June ~

Des Mills gives an account of the playful Bottlenose Dolphins at Culdaff.

Midsummer?s day 21st June 2006. I was awake at 5am. And looking out my bedroom window overlooking Bunagee harbour at Culdaff. The reason I was there at this hour was the weather forecast of Northwest gales of Force 9 and more. The charter boat ? Barracuda? was at anchor just off the pier.
I have constantly told the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group that we rarely see bottlenose dolphins off North Inishowen, when there they were in front of me, 3 or 4 of them.

While the ?Baracuda ? rode out the storm in the increasing swell the dolphins played and turned cartwheels all around here. I wanted to wake everyone to watch. As it turned out I didn?t have to. The dolphins were with us for the next 5 days. The weather settled down and they put on a show everyday for everyone standing on the pier or walking on the beach. Every boat that came onto or left the harbour was treated to an amazing display of jumping and bow riding. The ?Baracuda ? was no exception and my son Shaun actually touched one of the dolphins as it rose at the bow of the boat.

We were able to get some amazing DVD footage of them bow-riding and playing. Dolphins will follow a food source and I?m not sure what these ones were feeding on, but my daughter Laura saw one surface with a fish across it?s beak, toss it in the air, and catch it as it fell. Unfortunately whatever the feed source it must have moved on, as we?ve not seen our dolphins since Sunday 25th June.
Let?s hope they come back as they capped a really memorable month of June off Inishowen which began with the unbelievable sightings of basking sharks and Minke whales then the bottle nose dolphins so everyone, Watch this space!
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  06.07.06, 11.34pmhrs  |  reported by siteadmin
  Corncrake Survey

The Corncrake, the shy bird with the big voice! The Corncrake (Crex crex) is known as the secretive bird of the meadows. The distinctive breeding call of the male Corncrake was once heard throughout all of Ireland during the summer months. After almost 100 years of decline, the population of this endangered migratory bird has now been confined to only a few areas in Ireland. The floodlands of the Shannon Callows and the hay meadows of West Connacht and Donegal are its few remaining strongholds. The Corncrake census revealed a total of 162 calling males during the 2005-breeding season. Although population numbers remain critically low, the figures show an increase frm the 2004 numbers. This is encouraging findings, especially considering Inishowen and Malin head in particular have shown significant increases in the last two years.

The provision of tall meadow grassland within hay fields during the breeding season to protect the nests, eggs and young birds frm predators is crucial for the birds? survival. The modern trend towards silage production in place of hay production has resulted in farmers cutting their crop earlier during the breeding season. This is thought to have accelerated the decline of the Corncrake.

BirdWatch Ireland, funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), and the Agriculture and Food Development Authority (Teagasc) have introduced farm management agreements to conserve areas were Corncrake are known to return in order to promote their breeding success rate in Ireland. Corncrake friendly mowing techniques and delays in cutting dates are in place during this time.

What can you do to help?

you can contact your local wildlife Ranger on 074 93 22628

or Bird Watch Ireland at www.birdwatchireland.ie
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  09.06.06, 8.08pmhrs  |  reported by siteadmin
  Basking sharks and Minke whales

Inishtrahull, June ~ An account of events reported by Conservation Ranger E. Johnston on board the Barracuda with Skipper Des Mills.

On Monday June 5th we landed on Inishtrahull, Irelands most northerly island. The task of the next few days was to conduct breeding bird surveys of the Island. Stepping off the Barracuda onto the pier at Port M?r is like stepping into another world. It is a place dominated by sea birds and tidal currents.

On tuesday morning we arose to dead calm seas and perfect visibility, which is an extremely rare occasion at Malin Head. Telescopes and Bins out relaxing in the sunshine. Within 60 seconds we had our first sighting of a Basking shark about 100m off shore, then it started: five, six no wait twelve and even more? at one moment we had over 20 in view. There had been some talk of Basking sharks during the last few days and I saw a few myself while monitoring the coastline days earlier. Word on the harbours was that they were in the usual number and density, sure isn?t it about this time they always turn up to coincide with the salmon season.

We then saw our first cetacean sighting, Minke whales feeding about 2-3 km off the east end of the island. First we thought it was a group of 4-5 but as we started to pan the scope, more and more kept coming into view. Twenty plus separate animals was our final count at about lunchtime. Mix in a spattering of harbour porpoise sightings and our day was made. Relaxing that evening on the heli pad beside the lighthouse no scope or bins just taking in the view, we caught a once in a lifetime moment. What we now believe to be a Humpback leapt clean out of the water and dived back with a mountain of a splash. There was silence during those few seconds. ? Did you just see that? ? was the loud shout as we leapt to our feet. We saw another great splash about 4-5 miles out towards the North Antrim coast minutes after.

That same night my phone was inundated with calls the public reporting sharks near shore and a broadcast on highland radio meant these events were a bit more topical than the usual.

At lunchtime the next day we were picked up by the Barracuda. Skipper Des Mills told us about an 8 meter Minke that passed under the boat earlier. Our hearts were thumping for the journey in. As we got to about 3 miles off Inishtrahull we hit the tidal meeting line, birds were diving all over the place. Basking sharks passed under and around the boat. Des killed the engine and we started to hear the Minke blowing. We saw our first one, then more and more and more. Within 10 minutes we were surrounded by them feeding, breaching and blowing. Their blows sounded like someone was blowing through a hollow steel tube. My camera was on overdrive but the digital wouldn?t take pictures fast enough, I just kept catching their backs as they dived again.

We were all ecstatic, hairs raised on end. Three hours later and after finding a dead baby porpoise we reluctantly headed back to shore. Later that night I sent off a few emails and made a few phone calls, the pictures looked good! We manged to rope Daniel Maloney into being camera man and everyone agreed to head out again the next day.

This time it was a little more breezy and we didn?t catch the same tide, but the basking sharks were there alright milling around in pairs! They looked like they were pairing up to mate, the video cameras were whizzing and we were lucky to get some great footage. This is the first time I?ve ever heard of Basking sharks been seen together like this. Some Minke leapt nearby and we headed in their direction but a few jumps later and it was just us and the gannets out there. We saw 5 Minke jump but no feeding activity, a bit of a difference the day before.

I can?t say I was disappointed, all in all it was a manic few days, but I have to admit I have definitely caught the whale watch bug.
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