Wild about wildlife: 'Twists and turns of life' - Albert Nolan

Wild about wildlife: 'Twists and turns of life' - Albert Nolan

LIFE is always full of surprises and with family it can take unexpected turns throughout the day. It started with my son waking up with a sharp pain in his tummy. We had been doing a lot of heavy lifting and we presumed he had pulled a muscle. He took an aspirin and went back to bed, while we headed out to the garden. May is a beautiful time to be outside but also very busy.

At the end of the day I was looking forward to a shower and dinner. John’s pain had gotten worse so after getting an appointment with Shannondoc, located beside UHL, Dooradoyle, we all headed off. We had not travelled this far in weeks and this has not how we had planned to ease our lockdown.

Waiting is part of any parent’s role and while John was seen we had a look around to see what wildlife we could find. As we stepped out of the car, we heard the familiar calls of swallows and housemartins flying overhead. They were up very high and catching the last of the insects, before retiring for the night.

Last time we were here there was a beautiful display of wildflowers and grasses, but unfortunately this has been tidied up. This area has huge potential to feed bees, butterflies and bugs, if the mowing regime could be relaxed for the summer. A simple sign explaining why this area is been managed differently would help raise awareness throughout the community. Nature also has the ability to aid the healing process both physically and mentality.

Limerick County Council are also developing pollinator friendly areas. Instead of intensive grass cutting, you now have a diverse range of wildflowers that provide plenty of pollen and nectar for pollinators. These actions are supporting the national pollinator plan, developed by the biodiversity centre in Waterford.

The hedgerow at the back of the lawn, is also a valuable habitat for wildlife. Elderberries white flowers attract insects and these are then eaten by the swallows. On the leaves of the sycamore, we found a black ant. We follow his journey with our eyes and he led us to his herd of aphids. Greenfly drink the sap of plants and exude a sweet sticky liquid that the ants drink. These also try and protect the aphids from predators. As we watched a blue tit flits through the trees, but leaves the ants and their animals well alone.

We gently shook a branch of the Oak tree, but there were no insects. The recent dry spell has meant the most insect species, have not emerged or are waiting at the egg or larval stage.

Along by the prefabs we carefully searched the edges of the windows and found lots of spiders and their egg sacks. Strangely enough they were clustered in fours and I have no reason as to how or why this occurred.

The next lawn was well manicured too with one belated knapweed flower that the lawnmower missed. Two tall Lawson cypress trees grow at the edge of the lawn.

The calls of a woodpigeon are easily heard about the diminished traffic. As one recent correspondent commented that for the first time in years, he can hear the birds singing during the evening.

Insect safari: Please check out Albert Nolan Wildlife safari activities. 'Go on an insect safari around your house, garden or park and discover the amazing world of insects. Read aloud while walking or fill in this worksheet as you go. Please take a photo of what you found and upload it to Heritage in Schools or Living Limerick Facebook page'. The worksheet can be downloaded here: /…/HIS-Nature-Scavenger-Hunt…

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