Herald a new day with the Dawn Chorus

dawn chorus
RTÉ and BBC Radio Ulster are putting the Dawn Chorus on the airwaves (Pic sourced on Pixabay)

EARLY risers are no strangers to morning birdsong but everyone’s being invited to take part in the 2017 International Dawn Chorus Day on Sunday May 7.

BBC Radio Ulster and RTÉ Radio 1 are joining forces again this year with broadcasters in Europe and India to bring the sounds of our native birds to listeners.

And in our house, at least two of us are planning a camp-out to make sure we don’t miss out on this ornithological cacophony of sound! Continue reading “Herald a new day with the Dawn Chorus”

Help needed to record call of the cuckoo

The cuckoo is becoming increasingly elusive

THE PUBLIC’S help is being sought in recording the call of the increasingly elusive cuckoo this spring.

More often heard than seen, there is concern for the common cuckoo’s future since it became red-listed as a bird of conservation concern in the UK in 2009.

In Ireland, the cuckoo narrowly makes the Green-list. According to the report Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 2014-2019  the Irish population trend narrowly falls outside the Amber-listing threshold”.

Continue reading “Help needed to record call of the cuckoo”

Barn owl sighting like winning lottery

Barn Owl
The barn owl is a Red-listed bird because of plummeting numbers (pic from Pixabay)















A BARN OWL sighting close to our home one Thursday evening provided what I like to think of as a shared ‘super-buzz’ moment for me and our daughter Becca.

This was the first time we had ever seen a barn owl in the wild – but 8-year-old Becca didn’t have to wait quite as long as me for the experience of a lifetime!

The following morning her 84-year-old grandfather told me he hadn’t seen a barn owl for many years – probably not since his youth. Our conversation got me thinking about how lucky Becca had been, and how much I hoped she would have many more opportunities to see this snowy-faced, enigmatic bird.

Continue reading “Barn owl sighting like winning lottery”

Nature’s role in Christmas traditions

The robin is one of Mother Nature’s most popular contributions to our Christmas celebrations!

THE YULETIDE season may send most of us into a shopping frenzy but Nature and Christmas have gone hand-in-hand from the very beginning.

The early Christians were a savvy bunch, recognising the need to adapt existing Pagan customs to help ease the transition for converts adopting a new set of beliefs. And that’s why there’s so much greenery in our homes at this time of year!

Continue reading “Nature’s role in Christmas traditions”

Harlequin killer targets native ladybirds, butterflies and moths

harlequin ladybird
Harlequin ladybirds pose a deadly threat to native insects, including other ladybirds and butterflies

OUR LADYBIRDS are bearing the brunt of humans’ short-sighted interference with nature leading to my family’s first encounter with the invasive harlequin ladybird.

The harlequin, or Harmonia axaridis, is a larger, more voracious type of ladybird that originated in Asia and was introduced to north America in 1988 to eat other insects that were considered pests.

But if you’re a fan of Sci-Fi movies, where humans think they have something under control, until they don’t, then you’ll be able to guess what happened.

Continue reading “Harlequin killer targets native ladybirds, butterflies and moths”

Embracing my inner tree hugger!

One of our favourite year-round views is a large oak close to our home with a sunset backdrop

A VERY YOUNG OAK recently came into our lives and it got me to thinking that I need to embrace my inner tree hugger!

Our ‘patio’ hawthorn

That thought was reinforced this week after I ended up almost surgically pulling a tiny hawthorn from between the paving stones in our patio – it came out with roots intact and is now safely potted.

I think if everyone stopped to think for a moment, we all have a favourite tree, either from our past or our present.

My current favourite is a weeping beech that’s in our back garden – still too young to provide shade, but I’m hoping to watch our grandkids play underneath it in about 20 years or so, depending on our girls Ava (11) and Becca (8) of course!

So, our rescue missions involving the hawthorn (left), and the six inch oak, which was saved from being mowed along with this summer’s hay crop, seems like the perfect opportunity to write about the search for contestants in the Tree of the Year competition, and why it’s important to appreciate our trees.

Continue reading “Embracing my inner tree hugger!”

An otter? No, it’s an American mink!

American mink
The American Mink is not native to Ireland but is now found in every county

MY RECENT joy at having seen a native otter for the very first time was dashed when I realised that the animal I’d watched gliding along a local stream was probably an American mink!

I’m not the first person to confuse these two creatures – especially when a mink is wet, as mine was, but what was initially disappointment turned to a grim fascination as I read about the exploits of the mink since it arrived on our shores in the early 1950s.

Continue reading “An otter? No, it’s an American mink!”

Help sought for NI butterfly survey

Cryptic Wood White
The Cryptic Wood White and other butterflies are the subject of a new survey (pic by James O’Neill)

Butterflies appear to be in woefully short supply in my area of Co Waterford so far this summer but a call is going out to Northern Ireland wildlife lovers to help discover how they’re faring in Tyrone and the West – particularly the Cryptic Wood White!

The recently discovered Cryptic White Wood seems to be exclusive to the island of IrelandSo, as part of efforts to find out more about this, and other butterflies, wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation (BC) is holding a free workshop in Omagh to train more people how to survey butterflies on June 23 2016.

Continue reading “Help sought for NI butterfly survey”

Road kill stats boost efforts to protect wild species and slow drivers down

Otter sign
Road kill data can lead to signs being erected warning motorists to slow down









ROAD KILL MAY seem like a macabre subject to blog about on a sunny day but there are very good reasons why conservationists and authorities are interested in finding out more about the victims  – and why they need the public’s help.

I’ve decided to write about road kill right now because last Friday evening my eldest daughter and I came across a dead badger while taking the scenic route from the Nire Valley to Clonmel via the Comeragh Mountains. Continue reading “Road kill stats boost efforts to protect wild species and slow drivers down”

Saving our pollinators needs to ‘bee’ an All-Ireland priority

Pollinators play a vital role in food production
The red-tailed bumblebee and the common carder bee are among dozens of bee species found in Ireland and many are suffering a decline in numbers. Picture by John Breen

THE BUZZ OF BEES is one of the most familiar sounds of summer but these busy pollinators are more than a sunshine accessory – they help put food on our table!

There is so much to love about bees! Like the name suggests, honeybees produce honey, which is delicious in all kinds of foods, but can also be medicinal. When our eldest daughter was very, very young she had a dreadful teething cough, that kept recurring, and probably left me with a few grey hairs, but once she turned one I started giving her a local honey that I’m convinced – although I don’t have the scientific evidence to prove it – helped ease the symptoms.

The honey in question is produced in Powerstown, south Tipperary, and continues to be one of my ‘go to’ products when either of our girls has a cold.

Some day I would love to keep a hive in the garden but I’m still pretty intimidated by the whole idea. So for now, it’s staying on my bucket-list.

Anyway, the reason why I’m writing just now is because this week I’ve received two interesting pieces of news for anyone interested in bees. Continue reading “Saving our pollinators needs to ‘bee’ an All-Ireland priority”