At 4.30 GMT (Ireland is in the same timezone as Greenwich) this morning we reached the exact halfway point between the Winter Solstice just past, and the approaching Summer Solstice. Today the night and day were of equal length, which is where the term ‘equinox” derives, night and day being equal in length. We are now in the Great Northern Summer, when each day is longer than each night. And it was a lovely sunny day here in Wicklow too, a change from the cloudy days of the last week. And it does look like proper spring. Here are some of the delights I’ve encountered:
Above is the amazing broad green on the way into Greystones from the south (Charlesland) side. Every year it is gold from the flowers of thousands of cultivated daffodils. You still have time to see this, but soon the flowers will begin to wilt, so don’t wait too long.
Yesterday I found two different moth species under the light by the back door, firstly the beautiful little Double-striped Pug (Gymnoscelis rufifasciata):
And secondly, the slightly larger and longer Diurnea fagella, which badly needs a common name:
Two heralds of warmer weather. And now, with midnight approaching, I must go.
After the wettest December on record in Ireland, and an unseasonably warm one, the rains of early January have finally given way to good cold clear skies chilled by winds from the Arctic. Although daffodils did bloom, and some snowdrops have already awoken, more sensible crocuses are still lying dormant here in Wicklow and it has become typical January weather. In 1998 there was also a very severe El Nino Effect which brought terrible rains to Europe, but miraculously the Jet Stream was far to the south of Ireland and we were spared. However, this time another severe El Nino was predicted and it hit the island right on the chin, and we got what we missed in the winter of 1997/98. These things do happen. Wicklow, as usual, is well able for floods and has only suffered minor inconveniences in comparison with the rest of Ireland. On New Year’s Day I spotted this beautiful creature in my neighbours, a cock Ring-neck Pheasant.
He is already approaching breeding plumage, and has a habit of calling loudly outside my bedroom window in the early hours of the morning. In the past pheasants would never have been considered ‘garden birds’ but in the last decade, all across Europe, they have started to become so, and they make for a spectacular addition to any garden. Here’s the same bird, but his head is a little blurred as he pecks up small insects and other creatures from the ground.
Only last week Ireland’s meteorological service began giving names to storm rather than just using reference numbers. The first storm was Abigail, and yesterday Wicklow got struck heavily by a storm called Barney. Trees were felled across Wicklow, and in Wicklow Town a sports hall had its roof torn off, while a GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) building in the town of Rathnew also lost part of its roof in gusts reaching up to 129 kmph. Here is my video of the early part of the storm just as it was rolling in from the west over our clear skies and the handsome glowing crescent moon: