The team that produced the new book.
The stunning Inch Wildfowl Reserve on the shores of Lough Swilly now boasts ten times more annual human visitors than the magnificent wild birds who flock to the important ecological site each year, the launch of a new book on the area heard on Sunday.
An Grianan Hotel in Burt was the venue for the official launch of a new book titled “A Guide to the Bird of Inch Wildfowl Reserve”, a children’s book that details the stunning array of bird and wildlife in the reserve.
Wildlife ranger for the area, Lee McDaid, told the guests that while there can be well in excess of 10,000 birds migrating to the site year year, they now have up to 120,000 people visit the area annually as well.
Mr McDaid stated: “Visitor numbers continue to increase at the site and the most recent records show 120,000 visitors to the site each year. Some of the visitors will come to walk the site, some to enjoy the beautiful countryside, some to run or enjoy the wildlife. What these visitors numbers show is that we have 120,000 opportunities each year to educate people as to why this site is so important and why we must protect this reserve and our native wildlife”.
He added that the book is another step on the development of the area and, with continued support of the local community, they “can achieve great things at the site”.
The new book project was led by the education staff from Glenveagh National Park, who had previous experience and over 10 years' expertise in designing and creating resources for schools and families.
Claire Bromley, from the Glenveagh National Park education division said the reserve area is unique and they hope to develop it for all ages in the future.
“The story of the area and the landscape here is a fascinating one. The challenge of how we use, and yet continue to protect the site for the future, is a big one. It is a working farm; a place of international importance for wetland bird life and a growing visitor attraction right on the Wild Atlantic Way. Great opportunities exist, and building and nurturing relationships with all involved will be essential going forward,” she explained.
She said the book was a partnership project from the outset.
The new book features a host of stunning illustration from Éadaín Madigan and the story of the reserve is told through the eyes of Inch resident “Dippy the Damselfly” who explains the history of the of the area and all other wildlife who share the famous wetland.
It offers tips for getting the most out of your visit to the reserve including tips for bird watching, maps of the walks and various viewing points, details of the bird life and the rangers duties at the reserve.
As part of the launch there was a host of music and educational games and activities at the hotel and also at the reserve.
Ranger, Lee, says the area is teeming with wildlife at the minute: “In a sense this book represents everything that is good about Inch Wildfowl Reserve. The entire book has been created through partnership and cooperation, not only between the various writers but also between the State agencies and the local community. This echoes how the entire site has developed, in partnership, and because of this it is so much stronger and better. The common thread joining all these agencies and dedicated volunteers together is their passion for the site and their belief in the sites potential.
“In recent days Whooper swans from Iceland have begun to arrive at their winter grounds in Inch, again marking the change in seasons. It is with a great sense of excitement we hear from iceland that the birds have left and that we can soon expect their arrival. During the winter over 10,000 birds will gather at Inch to create this winter spectacle. These are from Greenland, Iceland, Europe, the Baltic and eastern Russia. Inch truly is an international site and of international importance and we are lucky enough to live beside it,” he stated.
The book tells the story of six key species of bird present at Inch, along with interesting aspects of the site, its history, conservation work and activities for children to complete.
In 2001 National Parks and Wildlife Services entered into a 30 year lease of Inch Lough and the surrounding wet grasslands.