Wild About Wildlife: Beavers take to nature talk

Albert Nolan

Reporter:

Albert Nolan

Wild About Wildlife: Beavers take to nature talk

Eager Beavers discovering nature in Caherdavin

AN Taisce Living Limerick returned after a short summer break, to continue its engagement with groups all across Limerick.

This educational programme is co-ordinated by Green Party councillor Sean Hartigan and encourages adults and children to head outside and explore the natural world.

On a beautiful, sunny evening we joined the Patrick Sarsfield Beaver Lodge, which is part of the 25th Oliver Plunkett Scout Troop. The Beavers are support by dedicated leaders; such a brilliant activity for kids depends on committed volunteers.

Scouts have a great focus on outdoor education and they learn how to take care of themselves each other and the natural world.

We started off with the getting-to-know-you game. Sitting in a circle everyone had to say their name and an animal that begins with the first letter.

Next we headed outside to explore and the scout’s hall is in a beautiful location. A path runs alongside the River Shannon just outside and there is wildlife to be found on the river and along its banks. I had never walked here before and there are so many stunning places in Limerick to be discovered.

First we swept the long grass that was full of flowers and nettles. We emptied our catch into a white tray and nature was revealed in miniature glory. Spiders, caterpillars and bugs of all description were crawling and flying. The beavers were really excited and they immediately realised that long grass is great for mini insects. They spent the rest of the walk searching, and putting all sort of bugs into containers.

Rose hips or berries were just ripe and I explained that these are eaten by birds and animals. Some of the adults knew them as itchy backs. If you squeeze the ripe berries down someone’s back they get itchy from the hairy seeds.

I encouraged the Beavers to plant some in a corner of their grounds with berry bearing trees. This will not only provide food and shelter for wildlife but also be a positive step towards making our air cleaner. Fruiting trees like apple, pears and cherries can also be eaten by our young Beavers.

We later found a large garden spider that was sitting in the middle of a web. The Beavers loved catching these and one brave girl even let the spider run over her arms and legs. Spiders are really important for a healthy environment as they eat tonnes of flies and that helps keep their population under control.

The cranky call of a grey heron turned our attention towards the river. With large slow wingbeats he was flying a few metres above the river. Herons feed on eels, frogs and small fish.

As the sky started to darken we watched as rooks and jackdaws were coming in to roost after a day’s foraging in the fields. They were joined by small murmuration of starlings. They will coalesce in the comings weeks, and eventually reach thousands of birds.

Our last activity was to learn about bats and we demonstrated how to listen to them by using a bat detector. They was certainly plenty of food around for them as the skies above our heads were filled with flying insects.

Thanks to unit leader Mike Ryan and Beaver leaders Anne Holman, Richard Gorey and Brian McEillot, parents and members of the community who supported this recent nature walk.

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albert.nolan@rocketmail.com or 089 4230502.