Trip Leader: Allen Gillespie

Participants:  Ray Bennett, Gerard McGeehan, Carol Gillespie, Nigel Moore, Des Price, Norma Price, Martin Lamb,  Paul Lorimar, Tom Ennis, Roy Kirk

Eleven members (and a dog) met at 8:30 at University square.

Less than an hour later we were turning off the M1 at junction 18 (Ballymascanlon ) and heading in the  Greenore direction. Then right at the signpost for Giles Quay. Weather was sunny but windy. There were 2 Great Crested Grebes, 4 Great Northern Divers and two Red Throated Divers in the bay behind the harbour . Range was fairly short but all were fishing busily. There were another 4-5 Great Northern Divers in the harbour, one coming very close.

Great Northern Diver at Giles Quay, by Martin Lamb

Next we were back on the main road heading West. Just at the turn for Carlingford we turned right along the side of the Cooley Inn for Ballaghan point. The target were finches and Tree Sparrows in the hedges but not much about apart from Bull and Goldfinches and some Reed Buntings.  Several more Divers were seen in outer Carlingford Lough.

Scanning the saltmarsh at Lurgangreen, by Martin Lamb

Back through Dundalk turning left along the quayside towards Black Rock. A brief stop at South Marsh produced several Little Egret and various duck species including Teal, Shelduck and Wigeon, and a few Grey Plover.  We quickly moved on through Blackrock, where those of us with a lisp didn’t appreciate the Black Wok cafe, and swiftly progressed to Lurgangreen and down a narrow lane giving access to a sewage works, just south of the River Fane, where we had our lunch. The location gave excellent views over the bay and the saltmarsh.

Golden Plover flock at Lurgangreen, by Martin Lamb

We walked along the embankment to overlook the highwater island. There were lots of roosting waders including Oystercatcher, Bar Tailed Godwit, Golden Plover, many duck including Pintail, Teal and Wigeon, and geese which included numerous Greylag, Brent, a few Whitefronts, Pinkfeet and a Canada. Tide was very high and the number of Golden plovers was amazing – a wonderful sight in the sunlight, particularly when a patrolling Peregrine put these and everything else up.

Golden Plover flock in flight at Lurgangreen -disturbed by Peregrine, by Martin Lamb

Difficult as it was to drag ourselves away we hit the road again to try to track down the geese. These were quickly re-found on the main road south of Lurgangreen on the way to Castlebellingham, in the 'goose fields' beside beside the Truck centre. This time we hit the jackpot – a field full of geese in bright sun and short range and they weren’t skittish. Others kept joining them. There were about 200 Greylags, 25+ Pinkfeet, 25+ Whitefronts and 5 Bean Geese (6th goose species of the day) including one with a plain bill but strong white mark alongside bill. What a magic sight!

2 of the 5 Been Geese (back left) at 'goose fields' Lurgangreen, by Martin Lamb

Although the light was now fading fast we decided to drive on to Annagassan for one last stop. Lots of waders included Grey Plovers and a Scoter flock was fairly close in (by scoter standards) which provided good views. No Velvets visible but there were also plenty more Great Northern Divers. Now 16:00 so we called it a day, leaving plenty to discover on future visits.


Ray Bennett