The walk out to Parteen Weir offers great views of the Shannon
THE fog hung low over the River Shannon as we stepped out of the car. After a week of hibernating in the house it was refreshing to get outside and stretch the legs in nature.
Today we were exploring the walk to Parteen Weir and I love discovering new and interesting places. The first challenge was parking the car in the small car park and reversing is not one of my strong points. Eventually we were “parked” and started to relax and enjoy the amazing river and its wildlife.
The Tidy Towns committee have created a Sanctuary for nature. A sign explains that this space is managed for nature, but people also benefit from connecting with the birds, flowers and insects.
The trees along the walk are a haven for birds. Alder is a common riverbank species and at this time of the year has long purple catkins. I have often found flocks of colourful siskins and redpolls feeding on the alder seeds.
Up in the trees woodpigeons and starlings were singing. A lone hooded crow was keeping a watch on preceding’s from his high vantage point. These are lookout birds who warn the rest of the group of approaching danger.
Willows thrive in wet places and apart from oak support the greatest diversity of insect species. In February their branches will hum to the sound of visiting bumblebees.
There are lots of big ash trees that are at least a hundred years old. These are great survivors and bring a mature feel to the walk. Underneath the ash trees in the leaf litter a male blackbird was foraging for worms.
The gardens of the houses come down to the edge of the path. A fine native hedgerow was left during their construction. It has several good wildlife plants including holly, bramble, ivy and oak trees.
I squeezed through the tight style (my excuse anyways) and onto the next part of the walk. Mountain ash trees have been planted and these will produce flowers for insects and berries for hungry birds.
Another neat idea is a bottle bird feeder. I have done these with school children and it is a great way of upcycling a bottle into a feeder for birds.
Any flowers are welcome at this time of the year and luckily gorse yellow flowers can be found through the year. The winter flowers lack the beautiful coconut smell of the summer ones.
The walk opens out onto fields surrounded by hedgerows. We came across the biggest willow I have seen. It is home to an array of another plants from lichens, mosses and Polypody ferns.
There are still a few blood red hips hanging from the arching branches of the dog rose. We find the pink seed cases of spindle and inside the seeds are a bright orange. On the Gulder rose we find a few bright red berries. All of these plants indicate an ancient woodland.
The river also supports plenty of birds. A large Cormorant was fishing and when he flew away, we could see the large white patch on his body.
Mute swans were dipping down under the water and bringing up water plants to eat. A wary pair of moorhens were resting on a tiny island.
Across the river we can just make out the ruins of Inishlosky church. This was built in the 12 century and we put it on the list of places to visit. As we passed through a grove of hazel trees we saw a troop of long tailed tits. We reached the weir and paused to marvel at how ingenuious people can be. A lone yellow wagtail was catching insects just above the water. On the way back we spotted a male bullfinch and he showed of his distinctive white rump as he flew away. Out last stop is for a quick treat in Bonners shop in the village. This small shop is fast dying experience and like nature we visit them whenever we see one.
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