There are 19 “birders” in the group, with varying levels of bird knowledge, and this group is going into its 12th year. In normal, non-Covid times we meet on the 2nd and 3rd Monday of each month. However we certainly are not in “normal times” at present and we have had to make adjustments as the government regulations change. Currently we can take two people in a car – a driver and another member in the back – however on the Risk Assessment I have limited the cars to five on any one occasion. This means not all members can come on all the outings so we use the “pick a name out of the hat” system. At times we have been able to get out twice a week but mostly now it is once a week depending on weather but nowadays we can go out any day, not just Mondays. All our members are on WhatsApp and so we can communicate very quickly with one another.
When we were on total lockdown, we had a bird quiz on a Monday and then from Tuesday to Friday I taught via WhatsApp about a different species of bird each day so we all managed to learn a lot during that few months. We all share birding experiences and all of us just love being outdoors enjoying all kinds of nature.
Some of the bird outing we have gone on recently for half a day have been along Seacliffe Road and the Bangor piers and Long Hole, Groomsport, other parts of the coastal path, Conlig Reservoirs, Portavoe Reservoir, Newtownards Flood Gates and along that coast, Kiltonga, Mount Stewart, Scrabo Quarry, Killynether Wood, Kinnegar, Ward and Castle Park, Walled Garden, Crawfordsburn Country Park, Castle Espie and many more. During the summer, we sometimes go away for the day to the Quoile Pondage and Castle Island hide (visiting places along the way), Dundrum and the surrounding area, Castlewellan to see the Kites and Inch in Donegal etc.
On 16 October 2020 new restrictions were announced with no unnecessary travel regulation in place, so Bird Watching outings have been suspended until the restrictions are lifted. However, we are not going to waste the time, instead Margaret will give a weekly PowerPoint presentation to the whole group regarding Bird watching on Zoom, and also throughout the week we will have our Birding WhatsApp to share various interesting information with one another. Margaret may even set a few quizzes! Birding never really stops as you can bird watch from your window, especially if you hang bird feeders in your garden, and during lockdown it is a really good chance to take the time to look and study the birds more closely.
Below are some photos taken by members of the group.