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20/10/2021

Wild About Wildlife: Celebrating Waters Heritage Day

Wild About Wildlife: Celebrating Waters Heritage Day

Golden to the Rock of Cashel Walk starts at the bridge in the village - just follow the signs and be sure to look out for ancient ruins and amazing wildlife along the banks of the River Suir

THE beautiful River Suir walkway in Golden was the perfect setting for celebrating Waters Heritage day. The sun was out and the walk was led by yours truly and was held in conjunction with Golden Tidy Towns.

On the walk we discovered the plants that grow along the riverbank and their importance for wildlife. We also found some interesting birds and shared stories around wildlife.

Our first stop was by the entrance to the walk. A flower bed had been planted with a rose and the hips or berries were nearly ripe. These are a great source of food for birds and are also packed full of vitamin C for people.

On the fence the climber old man’s beard was in flower and this was providing plenty of pollen and nectar for insects. We saw a common carder bumblebee and a hoverfly. These are mimics and while they have the warning colours of wasp they are perfectly harmless and don’t have a sting.

Nature had also created its own wildlife garden at the base of the wall. These plants all have interesting scents, stories and uses.

Pineapple mayweed smells like the fruit, plantain provides instant relief for insect and nettle stings and the seeds of groundsel are eaten by small birds. These are the mini habitats that we need to protect as they enrich the entire community.

During the hours of darkness bats will feed along the river. The old stone bridge is a potential bat roosting location and it is important to survey bridges before carrying out any work.

The tall conifer trees also filter the night-time street and house lights from the river and if these were removed it could disturb this feeding habitat for bats. Our actions can have unintentional consequences for nocturnal creatures.

Wildflowers like angelica, wild comfrey and willowherb all thrive along the riverbank and support pollinators like bees, butterflies and flies. While we need space to walk it is important not to over manicure this natural amenity that is also a home for birds, insects and animals.

We swept the wild edge along the river with the net and this was full of insect life including spiders, true bugs and flies. This walkway is developing into a natural pollinator corridor through the agricultural landscape.

The leaves of River bank trees like alder and willow are eaten by the caterpillars of moths and these in turn feed birds. Also the adult moths are food for nocturnal creatures like bats.

We found lots of in insects including a seven spot ladybird, hairy molly caterpillar and common carder bumblebees.

Many of the people on the walk remembered finding these creatures when they were kids. They were definitely more numerous and crossed the road by the dozens. Some were gathered in glass jars in the hope that they would go into a cocoon and emerge as a moth. Many were rescued by weary mothers once their child’s initial fascination waned.

Moth populations have crashed in many places. They are supported along the walk by the diversity of plants from trees to flowers.

We were delighted by a surprise visitor a kingfisher and this is a good sign of a healthy river. He passed by in a flash of blue and they are plenty of overhanging branches along the river, Here the kingfisher can perch and catch fish. We also spotted mallards and a shy moorhen hidden by the reeds

One lady on the walk shared a lovely story from her childhood. She remembered picking the fully white seeds of the thistle and if one had a seed attached she would say “Jinny Joe please bring me an Easter egg”

Thanks to Lawpro for funding the walk and Golden Tidy Towns for promoting and supporting.

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

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