Wild about wildlife: 'A day in the hills' - Albert Nolan

Wild about wildlife: 'A day in the hills' - Albert Nolan

ANOTHER start and another steep path right from the beginning. Sometimes it is hard living in the hills, but the body forgets as I start to tune into the bees, butterflies and birds living along this ancient trail. This walk really started a few days ago as we were cleaning out an old press.

Inside there were stacks of photos trailing back for 20 years. One in particular caught Harry’s attention. It was a photo of Goulmore standing stone, one of the most impressive located around my house. Harry was keen to pay a visit and also to see the cairn located on top of “Mother Mountain”. This is a bit outside of out range and we will have to wait for the restrictions to ease.

The cairn was also visited on local Pattern day. The young men and women would carry a stone and place it like generations before on the ancient pile. Many a match was also made away from the strict eyes of parents and the rest of the community.

There is plenty of bird song from the new songs of the recently arrived swallows to the resident wren and great tit. Where there is a deep cover of blackthorn we heard the song of the migrant blackcap. A teacher whose school I frequently visited for nature walks contacted me last week. She had spent the morning trying to identify this strange bird singing in here garden. Her patience was rewarded when she got here first view of a male blackbird. I easily share in her excitement of discovering something new.

The high banks bordering the roads are full of flowers. Yellow pimpernel, opposite leaved golden saxifrage, lesser celandine, Stichwort, violets and cow parsley. The kids also find cleavers but are disappointed as it is too small and not very sticky for sticking to my back.

Queens of common carder and tailed are feasting on the flowering currant. I took a few cuttings a few years ago and they are now brightening up my garden. A long succession of other flowers provides plenty of pollen and nectar for the bees. Dandelions and crab apple are already out soon to be followed by ragwort, foxgloves and ivy.

A small stream passes under the road. It has lots of potential for pond dipping but the steep banks makes it in assessable. The path becomes steeper and we are glad to pause to examine a few plants. We gingerly unfurled a few nettle leaves and inside a caterpillar was feeding safely.

Blackthorn is still flowering and we hear the beautiful songs of a Blackbird, robin, chaffinch and Willow warbler. The latter is a spring migrant from Africa and after spending the summer here will overwinter on the distant continent.

Harry finds a strange plant and I recognize it as a Liverwort. I can’t give him any more details and learning about nature is a lifelong journey. He does find something I know and that is bugle. This is a scarce flower in my locality and I only know of one other place where it grows. A woodpigeon breaks cover and flies away with noisy wings. They are right to be nervous as they are reguraly hunted by both man and beast.

A plump white tailed bumblebee queen is searching for a suitable nest site. She pops in and out of the grass but nothing seems to take her fancy. Nearby there is plenty of food in the catkins of the willow.

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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