Tag Archives: beautiful

Definitely a Very Early Spring in Wicklow

Although much of Ireland has been covered in snow, eastern Wicklow has largely escaped despite heavy frosts, but it seems spring has definitely decided to make its presence felt. A neighbour of mine told me he had not only got spring plants above ground, but they had already begun flowering, I took these photos yesterday, January 13, in daytime temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius (roughly 40 degrees Fahrenheit).

A beautiful, abeit cultivated variety of Snowdroblooming yesterday.
A beautiful, abeit cultivated variety of Snowdroblooming yesterday.
A beautiful daffodil, clearly an early variety, but daffodils are well above ground all across Wicklow.
A beautiful daffodil, clearly an early variety, but daffodils are well above ground all across Wicklow. According to my neighbour this and other daffodils in his garden have been blooming since mid-December.
A small primrose with a delicate yellow bloom in my neighbour's garden. Incredibly I'm finding wild primroses starting to bloom around the Wicklow landscape.
A small primrose with a delicate yellow bloom in my neighbour’s garden. Incredibly I’m finding wild primroses starting to bloom around the Wicklow landscape.

 

Evidence of an Early Spring

This morning I got a huge surprise when I found a Crocus flower above ground and ready to flower this morning. I always judge the arrival of spring by crocuses, and this year, like last year, it’s incredibly early. Early February is much more typical. This is not a wild flower though.

The delicate flower of a not-so-delicate little plant, a crocus ready to bloom. It could be a day or two though, before it decides to unfurl.
The delicate flower of a not-so-delicate little plant, a crocus ready to bloom. It could be a day or two though, before it decides to unfurl.

Yesterday we had some very stormy weather, and trees were brought down all around Wicklow, and electricity supplies were cut off in some places, and there was some destruction to garden fences, sheds and in some cases even houses. The storm brought very warm weather, up to 16 degrees Celsius. However, today it was about 5 degrees Celsius in the day and it’s a chilly night. The birds are still very dependent on the food put out for them, and you could find some nice unusual species are attracted. Here, for example, is a male Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), which is quite a large species of warbler.

The male Blackcap, a beautiful garden visitor. The female is virtually identical, but has a rusty brown cap instead of a black one.
The male Blackcap, a beautiful garden visitor. The female is virtually identical, but has a rusty brown cap instead of a black one.

These birds have traditionally been considered summer migrants, but I have seen them in the garden in winters since the 1980s, and they were probably doing so before that. Blackcaps are actually insectivores, but will gladly take peanuts from feeders in cold winter months.

December Chill

As the days now get very short it is becoming chilly and frosty in Wicklow, especially on higher ground. But as often happens at this time of year there are spectacular sunsets in the evenings, weather permitting, such as this one a few days ago.

The palm-like tree visible to the left is a cordyline, known as Cornish Palm, although not actually a palm tree at all. These hardy trees originate from New Zealand where they are known as Cabbage Trees due to the resemblance of their trunks to the stems of cabbage plants.
The palm-like tree visible to the left is a cordyline, known as Cornish Palm, although not actually a palm tree at all. These hardy trees originate from New Zealand where they are known as Cabbage Trees due to the resemblance of their trunks to the stems of cabbage plants.

A sure sign of the colder weather is the behaviour of birds. Blackbirds and Robins in particular become much less shy and will allow you get closer to them with a camera, possibly as part of a policy of using as little energy as is necessary in order to stay warm.

A male Blackbird allows me to come within arm's reach of him, which makes for a great photo opportunity.

A male Blackbird allows me to come within arm’s reach of him, which makes for a great photo opportunity.

Now that the berries on the trees have all been eaten by the birds they have to try and get food from wherever they can. I usually leave some apples out for them, as even insectivorous birds like the Blackbird above will gladly partake of free fruit.

When birds eat apples they usually leave the skin and core intact, as in the case of this one.Mammals usually eat the skin too, as they have teeth to tear it more easily than birds' beaks.
When birds eat apples they usually leave the skin and core intact, as in the case of this one.Mammals usually eat the skin too, as they have teeth to tear it more easily than birds’ beaks.