She lives in Laois.
A google search of 'Laois birdwatch' and bingo - a Laois branch was listed on the Birdwatch Ireland page, with an outing on Sunday!
No specific details of the outing, and no Laois website link, but there was an email address, so I sent off an email hoping I'd receive a reply before Sunday.
I received two replies before the end of the day.
10.30am meet in Vicarstown, with a walk along the river Stradbally, Co.Laois to look for Kingfishers.
A perfect first outing for a beginner.
After a few wrong turns and asking for directions, I found the meeting place and met Ian who was leading the walk. He was very friendly, as was Charles, the guy who set up the Laois branch in 2010.
A simple hello can make such a difference when you're new to a group.
Danni turned up, I put my binoculars over her head, christened her an official birdwatcher and we set off.
We drove out to a section of Stradbally river where Ian said he often saw Kingfishers
As he was talking, a Kingfisher flew along the river, under the bridge we were all standing on, and out the other side.
Ian knows his Kingfisher spots!
|Laois branch of Birdwatch Ireland. Stradbally River, Co. Laois.|
|The newbie starts to take over and points out every bird in the sky.|
|She really loves her birdwatching.|
|Trying to get shots of the Kingfisher. Danni put her camera phone back in her pocket.|
|Kingfisher, Stradbally river, Co. Laois|
|The best I could manage!! The illuminous, vivid, turquoise blur over the water is the Kingfisher.|
|Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler? It didn't sing - and are those legs dark or not? Going to go with Chiffchaff. We also saw Spotted Flycatchers and some Yellowhammers (a possible family).|
|Walk along the River Stradbally, Co.Laois.|
After a couple of hours we were back at the cars and discussing lunch options.
Danni and I decided we'd try one of the pubs along the canal, but one was closed and the other didn't do food. As we were leaving the 2nd pub, D spotted a little Swallow trapped in a room, throwing itself against a window trying to find a way out.
We started to panic a bit, hoping it wouldn't hurt itself.
Thankfully the poor, wild eyed looking thing was so exhausted it stayed still on the window ledge long enough for me to get hold of it quite easily (and carefully! minding no damage to the wings) and let it escape out the window.
Watching it fly off was such a relief.
As was the quality food in Stradbally Fayre, Stradbally.
Thanks to the Laois birders for being chatty and friendly, especially Charles, Martina, Ian and Hugh.
Here is the link to future Laois branch events http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/Events/BranchEvents/Laois/tabid/1181/Default.aspx
If you email them, they do get back to you.
Good luck to Martina who is going to try setting up a Laois birdwatch blog/ website and a facebook page, though for now I think this is it http://www.facebook.com/birdwatch.laois