Lough Derg is a great place for birdwatching as it supports important populations of both breeding and overwintering birds. The large numbers of resident birds are joined by summer visitors and others that arrive in winter. There are numerous piers and quays where you can observe waterbirds at close quarters and lovely walking routes around the lake where wetland, farmland, and woodland birds can be seen. A remarkable natural spectacle that can be seen in late autumn and winter evenings on Lough Derg are the flight displays of Starling murmurations. A murmuration is a gathering of Starlings. In late autumn and winter, many thousands of Starlings gather and put on amazing aerial flight displays before roosting communally for the night. Numbers of Starlings are boosted by visitors arriving from Europe in winter. Just before dusk is the best time to see Starlings perform their mesmerising aerial dance, which is something akin to a continuous Mexican wave. The reasons for these spectacular flight displays are not fully understood but the large gatherings probably offer safety in numbers. Predators such as Peregrine Falcons might find it hard to target one bird amidst a hypnotising flock of thousands. Starlings possibly gather to fine-tune their flying skills and perhaps to keep warm at night. Starling murmurations can be seen over Lough Derg in from the lake or along the shore. White-tailed Sea Eagles are the most prominent members of Lough Derg’s rich bird fauna and a regular sight in summer. They nest on islands on the lake much to the delight of visitors and local residents. The lake provides them with the fish diet they require and the security of safe nesting sites on the islands. These truly spectacular birds of prey were reintroduced to Ireland from Norwegian populations by the Golden Eagle Trust and have bred successfully in recent years. There are two pairs of White-tailed Sea Eagles nesting on the lake, at Mountshannon and at Church Island, Portumna. The Portumna pair has one chick that is only a few weeks old. Eagles frequently traverse Lough Derg. Waterbirds of nature conservation interest on Lough Derg include the Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Common Tern, and Goldeneye. The lake is designated for nature conservation as a Special Protection Area (SPA) because it supports important populations of these species. SPAs are designed to protect birds of conservation importance and their habitats. Greenland White-fronted Geese are also winter visitors to Ireland. They used to arrive in large numbers to sites around Lough Derg and feed on bogs and agricultural grasslands. They still use sites around the lake but not in such big numbers. Other waterbirds to keep an eye out for include Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Whooper Swan, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Teal, Mallard, Pochard, Coot, Black-tailed Godwit, and the familiar Mute Swan. Red-breasted Mergansers now breed on the lake and several Gulls can regularly be spotted- Common Gull, Mediterranean Gull and the Lesser Black-based Gull. A Species list from a morning's Dawn Chorus - in order of hearing: 1. Blackbird 2. Song Thrush 3. Robin 4. Blackbird 5. Goldcrest 6. Woodpigeon 7. Wren 8. Chiff Chaff 9. Willow Warbler 10. Chaffinch 11. Blue tit 12. Dunnock 13. Treecreeper 14. Sedge Warbler 15. Coal Tit 16. Moorhen 17. Great Tit 18. Grey Crow What a great variety. And they were just the early birds!!