Day 13 Coasting Around County Down
I am staying at my partners Mum's house in Newry so we decided to head to the County Down coastline, starting in Dundrum about 40 minutes away.It's a great place to see Brent Geese in Winter but today they were replaced by 26 Mute Swans.
Also dotted around the bay were a few Curlew, Herring Gulls, Little Egrets, Hooded Crows and 7 Grey Herons.
Walking along I noticed a lethargic Tree Bumblebee in the road so carefully let it climb onto my finger and relocated it on a Dog Rose.
On the way out there was a Male Bullfinch on the grass verge.I managed a quick pic from the car before it vanished into the hedgerow.
We continued South down the coast a few minutes in the car and arrived at Murlough National Nature Reserve.A massive sand dune system known as a stronghold for Marsh Fritillary Butterflies and 250 species of Moth.
Unfortunately I didn't find any Fritillaries but there were plenty of Small Heath Butterflies instead.
Four moth species were found, 3 Micros and this Yellowshell.
along with a Drinker Moth Caterpillar on the path.
Drinker Moth caterpillar.
Hooded Crows patrolled the dunes
and the song of the Meadow Pipits drifted on the sea breeze.
After returning to the car we had another short drive further South to the coastal town of Newcastle.It's a high street with a beach and mountains and one of my favourite places in Northern Ireland.
We grabbed lunch, went in and out of a few charity shops and then headed to the small boating lake which is always good for some Gull action.
Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Herring Gulls and Black-headed Gulls were all in attendance.
Lesser Black-backed Gull
The Gull creche.
The sun was starting to warm up so it was bath time for a Mallard and Hooded Crow.
Another Grey Heron was doing its best to ignore the Gulls and concentrate on fishing until it gave up and moved away to the other end of the lake.
We avoided the temptation of buying ice creams and walked back to the car along the promenade while deciding we still had time to move a bit inland and visit Silent Valley situated in the Mourne Mountains.
There are numerous trails to trek round varying from the lower Nature trail to the more adventurous steeper trails into the mountains.Of course I decided to do the "easy" nature trail along the Kilkeel River.It was a relaxing walk with the songs of Blackbirds, Blackcaps and Long-tailed Tits serenading us along the way.
A Treecreeper, one of my favourite(non-bird of prey) bird flew from tree to tree trying to unearth bugs from beneath the bark.
We finished the day by having a break at Sally Lough, a very peaceful place with just Mallards for company.
It was time to head back to Newry on the coastal road through Rostrevor and Warrenpoint and it was in the latter that the real highlight of the day arrived.AS we drove through the town along the sea wall I saw a few birds bobbing on the water and screamed "stop the car, turn around!" Majella said "what!" and continued on before finding a place to turn and park up.
I had seen three Black Guillemots in the sea.I got out the car and walked over the road to lean on the sea wall and try to get a photograph of these stunning sea birds.
It was then I realised there were actually seven of them and incredibly a couple of them flew in and landed along the wall, ambled within a few feet of me and just sat down, unfazed by my presence.
What a fantastic way to end our day out.What stunning birds :)
I am not sure what tomorrow will bring but I hope it will contain more "wild" encounters.
Get out and get WILD!! :)