Day 3 finished and what a magnificent day we had. It started with us meeting up with Colin Barton who led the way cycling with me from Clonakilty to Galley Head. Colin maintains a Galley Head birding blog and knows the area like the back of his hand. The sun was shining and the visibility was clear, and landscape was stunning; it doesn’t get much better than this. Met up with Ciaran Cronin and Mark Carmody near Galley Head lighthouse and spent an hour or so just looking out to sea, and having a good chat. Interesting that both Ciaran and Colin get quite a bit of work from the JNCC, a UK State Agency, as they are skilled seabird surveyors. Galley Head is a well known bird watching site, at this time of year for seabirds and later for migrants. Thousands of shearwaters, petrels and skuas pass along the Atlantic at this time of year, and if there is a south-westerly wind it pushes these birds on-shore, and the passage of thousands of birds can be seen. Even rare petrels that breed in small numbers in the Azores and Cape Verde Island can be seen here. But today, there was no breeze so we had to contend ourselves with what else we could find. And that wasn’t bad, Fin and Humpback Whales, dolphins and porpoises. The lads claim they saw Basking Shark about an hour before we arrived (typical) Spotted my first Clouded Yellow of the year here too, and a peregrine overhead was an added bonus.
Colin continued with me cycling along the coast, passing through some really beautiful scenery. All the little bays and coves here are picture-postcard with the yacht-strewn harbours framed beautifully by the surrounding wooded cliffs. The vivid yellow flowering Montbretia and the deep red and purple Fuschia giving the area a Mediterranean feel.
Called into Lough Hyne, Ireland’s first Marine Nature Reserve and the surrounding wooded Knockamagh Hill. The roads were thronged with cars on this Bank Holiday so we didn’t linger.
Colin and I parted company at Skibberreen, he going east and I going west onto the heather and heath covered hills around Skull. Spent a lovely evening with artist and namesake, Damaris Lysaght, in the peace and tranquility of her home near picturesque Ballydehob. Managed to see plenty of Gatekeepers flying about her garden.