My Red kite sighting is 'extremely rare'
Lots of people in Inishowen are always looking at ways to bring Scottish tourists back to the peninsula.
Well, at lunchtime on Sunday, I had the pleasure of welcoming the first of a new breed of tourist here.
I was standing at my kitchen sink, washing up the dishes and keeping an eye on the many finches, tits and siskins that frequent the bird feeders in our back garden.
Suddenly, a ruckus in the nasturtiums caught my attention.
Then a magnficent bird emerged, walked to the centre of the garden, just feet from the window, and stood there for what seemed an age.
I didn't know what it was, nonetheless even I could tell that it was some kind of unusual bird of prey.
Maybe I've read too much Edgar Allan Poe, but I swear the raptor looked me in the eye. I stared right back.
Eventually, I had to break the spell and reach for my mobile phone, hoping to capture the moment.
But the movement spooked the bird and off he flew.
I reached for my trusty guide to birds and wildlife, and, with great excitement, scanned all the pics. No, not a peregrine falcon (that was my first guess). Not a marsh harrier or a buzzard either.
It was, I can confirm with all certainty, a red kite.
Like me, you've probably noticed that this particular bird has been making headlines in recent weeks, with the release of red kites in Wicklow and Antrim. It's all part of one of the world's longest running protection programmes in Ireland and the UK, which has saved the bird from extinction. So, I knew that at least there was a chance I could be right.
Yesterday morning, I rang Inishowen's wildlife officer, Emmett Johnston. After a fairly detailed chat, he was satisfied that the bird was a red kite, and that there were no tags on it.
Emmett then contacted his colleagues in Wicklow and Northern Ireland, who explained that all the birds which were recently released were tagged and accounted for.
The verdict - a wild red kite which has travelled over from Dumfries and Galloway.
Emmett says there have been less than a handful of red kite sightings in Inishowen over the last twenty years.
He recalls one being spotted three or four years ago in Greencastle, and another at Leenan about ten years ago.
"This news is very, very exciting for us. A few golden eagles have also been reported in Inishowen of late, and it really would be something special if we could get both golden eagles and red kites breeding here again."
If you see either of these birds, with or without a tag, please ring Emmett on 086 328 4463.
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Weather for Derry
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 8 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North west