18 Aug 2022

Wild About Wildlife: Adventure in the woods of Curraghchase - Albert Nolan

Wild About Wildlife: Adventure in the woods of Curraghchase - Albert Nolan

The group of 'adventurers' whotook part in the event at Curraghchase

IT had been a while since I last visited Curraghchase Forest Park and the miles slipped by easily as I motored along the N69. I was really looking forward to meeting the Leaders and ventures from St Paul’s Newcastle West and St Joseph’s Scouts. We were meeting at the scout’s house and discovering the hidden world of bats and biodiversity.

In a socially distanced circle we all introduced ourselves. Like the leaders all of the young people have been involved most of their lives and they have built up a really good relationship with each other.

The scouts rent the land from Coillte and we explored the natural garden to learn how bats interact with the surrounding landscape. Been aware of what you have growing around you and sharing this with others is an important first step in protecting the natural world. The adventured are now ready to move onto leadership positions and they are going to pass on their knowledge and skills about wildlife onto the beavers. This is a great example of positive role modelling.

I first asked the group what they knew about bats. I got really good answers from bats are nocturnal and that Curraghchase is home to a really special species of bat. Curraghchase has several species of bats but the most famous is the lesser known horseshoe bat. These are now the only residents in the ruined De Veres house and unlike other species of bat they echo-locate through their noses while hunting. This is an adaptation to living in a cluttered environment like a forest.

Next we used a bat detector to show how bats hunt. One of the adventures was blindfolded and another member started scratching their top. Using a bat detector they had to hone in on the noise and this shows how bat can use sound, to locate prey in pitch darkness.

Next we dispelled some of the myths like bats fly into your hair, are related to mice and chew the cables in your attic. Also bats are tiny and can squeeze in through the smallest of gaps.

On our walk we examined the different wildflowers growing in the grounds. Selfheal and cats ear whose leaves have the soft texture of a feline ears. The leaves of elm are also rough to the touch and doing a sensory walk in nature is a brilliant activity and we learn so much by our sense of touch.

The wildflowers attract insects that in turn are eaten by bats. Bats help keep these insect populations under control and this is a really important ecological service.

Hazel is a native species and the nuts are eaten by mice and also squirrels. The grey has an advantage over the red, as it is able to eat the nuts when they are still green. The stems can also be cut and woven together to make a living fence. When ripe the nuts can also be sown and this is a great way to introduce the beavers to the importance of trees.

Traditionally plants has so many uses from food, medicine and materials for building. This was all sustainable as it grew back every year and eventually broke down into soil.

Down in the woodland glade the adventures are planning to put up some bat boxes with the help of the beavers. We ended with a few good questions that I need to research and lots of engaging with groups involves learning on the wing.

The future of the environment is safe and green hands with these interested leaders and ventures.

For more, email or ring 089 4230502.

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