The robin can be seen in almost every Irish garden and easily recognisable with their bright orange-red breast and often cheeky behaviour
MY oldest boy hurt his foot on Saturday and we took the road well-known by parents to Shannondoc. This out of hour’s service located across from the Regional Hospital (UCH) is a God send for parents. The waiting room was busy and we were expecting a long delay. We did the shopping first and then decided to stretch the legs around the grounds.
There are loads of trees here and we could hear a wren singing and the chuckling calls of a blackbird from deep within the undergrowth. High in the trees starlings were singing and their choral activity is fitting for this time of the year.
The grass by the carpark has been left uncut. Even in December a few hardy flowers were out. Dandelions were in flower waiting for any winter insect that will emerge on a mild day. Broad-leaved dock had lots of seeds and these will be eaten by hungry bullfinches. There were also a few leaves of ragwort and creeping buttercup. A pied wagtail flew across the road. They will catch lots of insects that live in the long grass.
A high timber panel fence marks the boundary. The gardens of the houses run up to within half a meter of this fence, leaving an unclaimed piece of ground.
This narrow strip of land has become the smallest of woodland. Elderberry trees, brambles and ivy have all colonised this no man’s land. Each of these shrubs and climbers provide food for pollinators, birds and animals.
Young oak trees around 30 years old are dotted around the grounds. They will support hundreds of insects throughout their long life.
We followed a mature line of trees and shrubs. It is quite thick and ideal home for birds. The HSE had a horticultural training unit here, and I wonder if the students had a role in selecting and planting the trees. They are several good wildlife species. Buddleia for butterflies, Cotoneaster berries and alder cones for birds.
In the shelter of the trees we find winter cherry flowering. It has a divine scent and this is a new species that will be going in my garden. We reach a lawn with a long line of silver birch trees on one side, and also a tall line of topped beech trees. A chaffinch is feeding on the beech nuts, and a young male blackbird is probing for worms in the lawn.
As we head back to the car a bed has been planted up shrubs, creating a perfect mini habitat for nature. Pyracantha berries, tall alder tree and dogwood with purple berries. To the shrieks of the Black headed gulls we arrive back at the car as my son emerges.
Giving the gift of nature is a great way to help our under pressure wildlife. There are fabulous books available from the Birdwatch Ireland Shop to suit all ages and budgets. Exploring your garden, park or woodland is made far more interesting if you have knowledge of the different species that live there.
A well placed bird box can lead to summers of entertainment, as we get a window into the lives of wrens and robins. Planting a native tree will feed birds and animals. You don’t even have to spend money. Logs stacked in a corner or gift nature part of your garden and leave the wildflowers to grow.
Wishing everyone a safe and peaceful festive season and I look forward to sharing more nature stories in the new year.
email@example.com or 089 4230502. Albert is also available to do walk/talks with schools, tidy towns, youth and community groups