Saturday 08/10/2011 Banagher - Shannonbridge - Banagher (Ballina by car)
Motto of the day: Meeting nice boaters
Today we drive further upstream. In April only the markers south of Banagher were repainted green and red. Now the black ones upstream to Shannonbridge are also painted green. It’s cloudy but dry. We pass some bigger and some smaller boats.
At the quay at Shannonbridge we spot the ‘1B’ well known as ‘Peter Farrell’ and later as ‘Talisman’, when owned by John Weaving.
We turn upstream of Shannonbridge and drive back to moor in the small stream besides Borannagh Island. Usually the locals keep their boats here but they have moved because of the increasing water level. Willi lassos the mooring sticks. Richard would be really delighted with Willi.
The plank, we have borrowed from Donal, is called into action. Two locals come along and we have a nice chat with them. Willi recognizes one as the moderator of the table quiz in April 2009.
We hear and watch a small group of Curlews and later a group of Lapwings in the meadows.
The corncrake as a breeding wader in the Callows has gone. What will happen to the Curlews? Their stock in Ireland has been greatly reduced. Lost moorland and the extensive use of the meadows are the main reasons for that beside the use of weed killer and unfavourable weather during the past two years. 1988-1991 the breeding Curlews in Mayo and Donegal was estimated around 6.000 pairs, in 2011 only four pairs were counted in Mayo and four in Donegal. Birdwatch Ireland estimate that there are only around 200 breeding pairs left in Ireland.
Although the shooting season has just started we saw only few moorhens and ducks. In Northern Ireland the Coot/Moorhen are protected and we saw more of them in the last years there than on the Shannon . And I’m wondering why shooting of Golden Plover (Goldregenpfeifer), Snipe (Schnepfenvögel) and Curlew (Brachvögel) is allowed in Ireland. I know the decline of the stocks has several reasons but why additionally stress those species with shooting? Since 2010 the Curlew in NI is protected and off the quarry list, not so in the Republic, although “BirdWatch Ireland reckons that well over 80 per cent of the Irish breeding population has been lost since the 1970s, falling from some 12,000 pairs to just a few hundred."
It remains dry during our drive back to Banagher in the afternoon. But later, drizzle starts when we drive by car to Ballina. Here we take part in a meeting of the IWAI Lough Derg Branch and after the official part, Nick and Pat give us an enjoyable report of their Green and Silver trip in summer. They finished the circle journey Shannon – Royal Canal – Grand Canal with their sailing boats as number 16 and 17, most of the time both single handed and raised around 3,700 € for RNLI Lough Derg during their trip. See details of their journey on the IWAI Derg homepage.
Sunday 09/10/2011 Banagher - Portumna Castle Harbour
Motto of the day: A grey Sunday
When we start to leave Banagher downstream we have to wait some minutes while a hire boat has discussions with the bridge. Current and wind push them crosswise but the boat is too long to fit diagonal through the bridge and we can hear some bouncing. Ouch!
After a while rain sets in, it’s more drizzle but when we lock through Victoria Lock it stops.
Later it becomes uncomfortable with blustery wind. That’s weather! Although it is not weather for photo shots, I like it. These chaps in the fishing boat seem to be weatherproofed and also, most of them are wearing Personal Floating Devices.
We reach Portumna Bridge and wait for the 14:30 opening. After a while drifting I decide to moor in second row to a CarrickCraft boat to have land access. The crew seems to be initially surprised about our intention but then they let us come along. They are from Cologne and the skipper knows the German Shannon-Forum. The bridge keeper comes along and tells us what has happened. It must be because of the wind in the second row and my bad English but the only word I understand is “key”. Eventually the bridge opens and we drive through.
The lake is choppy and we moor in Portumna Castle Harbour. The wind increases in the evening. Wind today F5 gusts F8 (35 knots at Shannon Airport).