circa.4300 BC to 2020 AD

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Wildlife Newsletter for the Township of Dalkey     
August / 2020 - Michael Ryan

 Elms are peculiar in actually producing their seeds in the spring rather than autumn and the seeds provide great nourishment for wildlife including this male bullfinch

  Linaria flowers, also known as Toadflax, are easy to grow, slugs don’t eat them and they have flowers in different colours which look like orchids and pollinators. This Carder bumblebee likes them too.

The Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella) flowers attract lots of bees and hover flies but I was surprised to see a Silver Y moth feeding on them at midday on a very hot day. The little mark on its wing, from which it gets its name, is probably a camouflage adaptation to make the wing look more like a decaying leaf with a hole in it when the moth is at rest. They’re a migrant species which arrive in droves from southern Europe and feed day and night time.


 I'd been envious of people that had Linnets coming to their bird feeders so was delighted in June when Lucy told me we had a pair, above, on one of our nyjer seed feeders.

I’am sure it’s more than a coincidence that bullfinch and goldfinch have had a very healthy increase in numbers from around the time they began to come to garden bird feeders and I hope linnets will benefit as well.


  Our first day trip since lock down began was to Kilmacurragh Botanic Garden. Kilmacurragh has some exotic plants for pollinators such as the Pride of Madeira, above, this one was being visited by among others this honey bee. Farmland adjoining the gardens had herd of cattle lying down on the stubble but the field also paid host to at least 15 Red Kites on the ground feeding on worms. Although a cloudy day this Emperor Dragonfly was on the wing.


The Pine Marten, above, paced along the path in front of us.

   Earlier in the year I wrote about us spending a night in Kinnity Castle and hearing, then seeing, a pair of courting Long Eared Owls fly out of a tree on the avenue, so when we went back to the Castle in July, our first nights away from home since lock down, we thought there was a good chance there might be young owls on the wing. And, sure enough, the first night we stepped out the main door of the hotel we instantly heard the sharp, high pitched, single note calls of young owls coming from the trees beside the drive. They were calling from close to the edge of the tree line and we got brief glimpses of them drifting out on broad silent wings.
  Later I spoke to the night manager at the hotel, a wildlife enthusiast himself he’d seen a Pine Marten outside the hotel at 4.00am that morning. It turned out he takes in and cares for injured and abandoned wildlife, feeding some of his patients with milk from his goats. He’s become quite an expert at rehabilitating distressed hedgehogs as well. He told us a good potential area to see red squirrels in the woods along a riverside walk and strolling there next day, we spotted lots of Norway Spruce cones that been stripped of their scales and dropped from a height but we couldn’t see any of the creatures that had dropped them. They could have been up there but the dense crowns of the trees towered too high above us . We were walking up along one of the Slieve Bloom walks when a narrow grass path just off the main track attracted our attention. Among the dense woodlands this path threaded around a long single line of beech trees in a grassy open space. They were wonderful specimens of beech, moss covered roots buttressing the huge smooth trunks. Despite thousands of conifer trees around us the first red squirrel we were to see was running across the grass in front of us and up into a beech.
   Retracing our steps back to the hotel on the riverside path we heard, very loud and very close, an animal call that we knew could only be a pine marten. We slowed down and paced along quietly and suddenly there was the pine marten, walking along the path in front of us before disappearing out of sight, a moment later raising its head above the long grass and staring intently at us, looking not as happy to see us as we were happy to see it.

A line of lovely old beech trees in Kinnity Forest and, inset, a red squirrel we saw in them.

Images & Text by :- Michael Ryan