17 Aug 2022

Wild About Wildlife: Exploring our local hedgerow

Wild About Wildlife: Exploring our  local hedgerow

Even in the dead of winter, there is plenty of activity in our local hedgegrows Picture: Pixabay

THE sky was blue all day and the unseasonal warm weather had encouraged the honeybees out of their slumber. They kept to the edge of the hive soaking in the sunshine but not energetic enough for flying. This would have wasted precious energy as it is too early in the year for foraging. A beekeeper has informed me that a cold and steady winter is better for the hive as they huddle together inside and use less energy and food reserves.
We were keeping it local and exploring a road near my house. The sun was low and sharp and this was blinding both for walkers and drivers. Also the fact that the hedgerows had been skinned to the bone did not help. A good thick hedgerow will filter the sunlight and reduce its intensity.
If I kept on looking up at the sky I could have convinced myself that we were out enjoying a fine June day. This reality was laid bare by the skeletons of the trees stripped off their leaves and the silence from the countryside
Earlier I had been chatting to my sister and it is always interesting how the weather varies. She had travelled down from Laois and there was very heavy fog all the way down and into parts of Tipperary. She even spoke to her son at home and he said he could not see the house across the road. This is their local landmark for telling the weather and I think everyone has theirs.
Ours is the highest local hill and when I see the rain clouds coming over the top and tumbling down the side that indicates that it is time to retreat indoors.
Harry kept himself busy lifting by lifting up a few stones and searching for any small creatures. There was only a frozen worm stuck to the base of a stone and we quickly put the stone back so as not to disturb his deep sleep.
Daises were cautiously flowering in the grassy margins and after a few days indoors any flower was very welcome. The daisy is one of the few species that can bloom in any month of the year. One of the things they represent is new beginnings and this is a great natural symbol as we face into the New Year.
The faded green of the hedges and hills was intermittently broken by the yellow flowers of the gorse. This can also flower throughout the year and has many different names from whin to furze.
We paused by a stream to listen to the welcome sound of the gurgling water. The hills around my house are dotted with lots of small streams that support a surprising array of water bore insects and their larva.
By the base of the bridge wall the yellow flowers of sow thistle were opening. If you cut the stem you will find a white latex sap that was once used for treating warts. Dandelion was also used and this treatment goes for any plant with a white sap.
We returned to the road and there are lots of plane tracks showing up against the blue sky. This could be holiday makers or the heartache of loved ones returning to their adoptive homes after the festive holidays.
Along the sheltered base of a hedge we heard the alarm calls of a wren. The fresh leaves of cow parsley are also emerging, but it will be well into May before the masses of white flowers appear.

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