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18/09/2021

Wild About Wildlife: Going wild in Baggot Estate

Wild About Wildlife: Going wild in Baggot Estate

The Baggot Estate is an oasis of calm

Baggot Estate was the venue for this year’s heritage week adventure and over two days we discovered the amazing wildlife in this hidden part of Limerick.

The walks were organised by Sharon Lynch, environmental technician with Limerick City and County Council and kindly funded by Urbact Health and Greenspaces.

Myself and Green Party Councillor Sean Hartigan led the walks and like the council we are both committed to encouraging people to engage and reconnect with nature.

Members from Ballinacurra Tidy Towns were also on the walk and they take an active interest in the maintenance and development of the park which is located in the area.

On Saturday there was a family walk for kids and on the Sunday a walk for the wider community. Both walks were very well attended and some kids even came for the second day as they loved learning about nature.

A wildflower meadow has been sown by the entrance. Birds foot trefoil, corn marigold, red clover, black medic, ox eyed daisy and wild carrot created a large feeding station for insects.

Small tortoiseshell butterflies were sipping nectar for the flowers of the thistles while meadow brown and large white butterflies flew between the flowers.

A quick sweep of nets caught a harvest man, a grasshopper and a solitary bee. These were shown to the group and a few brave kids even let the large harvestman run up along their arms.

Insect populations are crashing and it is so important that the upcoming generation had a good understanding of why these tiny insects are so beneficial for us.

The park also has an excellent range of tall and mature trees. The hawthorn trees were full of berries and these are a valuable winter food for birds. Horsechestnut leaves can be made into a natural soap and we also found dozens of tiny brown mines on the leaves.

In nature nothing goes to waste and everything is recyclable and this is a valuable lesson for people. Other species included the lime trees and its flowers hum with pollinators in early summer.

Underneath the tall trees there is a shrub layer. Elderberry, holly and blackthorn all provide food and shelter for birds and insects. Speckled wood butterflies spiralled above our heads as they competed for territory and mates.

The branches of the trees were not empty of bird life and we heard the songs of a robin, wren and woodpigeon.

On the ground there was a profusion of wildflowers. Broad leaved plantain is a great cure for nettle and insect stings. Nettles are eaten by the caterpillars of our native butterflies. They also helped with the D-Day landings. The plant was soaked in water and the green dye used to camouflage the soldiers uniforms.

We played a game of “You are only safe”. This helps kids to identify plants in a fun and interactive way.

The walk opened out into grassland with flowers. The purple flowers of Knapweed were out and these had attracted lots of bumblebees. The commonest was the common carder bumblebee.

All of the walking and fresh air worked up a great appetite and we found some natural food in the blackberries growing along the edge of the path. These delicious fruit contain an antibiotic and this boosts the immunity coming into the cold of winter.

The next part of the walk was shaded and cool. Here we found puff balls and fungi, the great decomposers and recyclers of the wood.

The time flew but it was brilliant to be back doing live walks again and we look forward to doing more workshops.

For more, email albert.nolan@rocketmail.com or 089 4230502.

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