Tag Archives: blue

Last Call for Bluebells this year

Normally Bluebells would have disappeared a few weeks ago, but this year due to the very cold and slow spring, they can still be found. But if you are looking for the classic “Bluebell Woods” where there is a sea of blue, it’s harder to find… but it is there. I took this photo yesterday in Glendalough.

A Bluebell wood in Glendalough, still around as we begin the transition into summer.
A Bluebell wood in Glendalough, still around as we begin the transition into summer.

Where to go: Glendalough in the very navel of the Wicklow Mountains. Park in either the lower or upper car park. As you face up the valley, towards the lower lake from the Monastic City these bluebells will be on the left side (southern) of the valley by the path above the Lower Lake. You do need to keep your eyes open for them though.

The Greatest Show in town…

In Wicklow Town, that is. And this show might not last all summer long, so get down to the Murrough in Wicklow as fast as you can on a sunny day. A beauiful little accident has occurred. An area by the coast that was off-limits due to some public works taking place was supposed to be ploughed and then rolled so that the area would return to grassland. Instead it was ploughed, but due to an oversight it was not rolled. Instead of grass growing “weeds” began to appear, and many local people were very angry about it. But now the weeds have blossomed and this small area of Wicklow has turned into a little piece of heaven on earth.

The incredible wild flower meadow on Wicklow Town's seafront.

It is brimful of fantastic meadow flowers as only newly ploughed ground can be. This is their rare window of opportunity and so they don’t hesitate to take advantage of it, with seeds that have lain dormant for years bursting into life, and plants bursting into blossom. Sun yellow flowers of Corn Marigold (Chrysanthemum segetum) and bright white Corn Chamomile (Anthemis arvensis) dominate, but their colours are speckled by the bold red of the Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas), stunning blue of the Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) and the purple and pink flowers of Common Fumitory (Fumaria officinalis).

A wall of colour, prepare to be stunned.

Wildlife on the dunes

Wicklow has an incredibly special and impressive coastal area. Ironically one of the best wild areas in Wicklow is the expanse of heath-covered dunes at Brittas Bay (see map). This area is flooded with tourists and holiday-makers on sunny weekends in summer. It is maintained by Wicklow County Council, which allows public access to gorgeous beaches and a fantastically scenic and wildlife-filled area.

The dunes at Brittas Bay

I visited in late June to get photos of butterflies, moths and wild flowers. Here are just some of what I saw:

Dark Green Fritillary - Argynnis aglaja

One of the few completely reliable places on the island of Ireland where you are guaranteed a viewing of this large and handsome species of butterfly is Brittas Bay. They are absolutely everywhere, and unlike their name Dark Green Fritillaries are powerfully built orange-coloured butterflies. The “Dark Green” of the name refers to the colouration at the base beneath the hind wings, something you won’t notice unless you get close to one while it’s feeding. The butterfly is large and can be bigger than in this life-sized photograph.

On the other hand…

Littl Blue Butterfly - Cupido minimus

…the Little Blue butterfly is probably the tiniest in Ireland, and most of Europe. It is rarely seen, not so much because it is rare, but because it is so small most passers-by assume it is a tiny day-flying moth. It looks like quite a large species in this photo, but what you are looking at is actually no larger than your thumbnail.

However, the butterflies are not the only scene-stealers on the dunes. My primary aim was to find orchids, and just now the magnificent Pyramidal Orchids are bursting into bloom all along the dunes of Wicklow.

Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) with a beautiful metallic green pollen-eating beetle feeding on it.

Scrambling wildly across every bush and tall plant or tree in the sunniest places of the dunes are the unmissable and fragrant candleabra-like flowers of the Honeysuckle. The plant is a beautiful creeper even when out of bloom, but when it comes into flower there are few that can match it.

Honeysuckle (Lonicer periclymenum in full bloom and sporting a potent yet subtly-sensuous perfume. A flower much-loved by insects.

But the flower that will really capture your heart is the tiny, beautiful and easy to miss Dune Pansy (Viola tricolor) which is often yellow in colour. This subspecies of the Wild Pansy can be identified simply by its presence on sand. The flowers, like the Small Blue butterfly, are little more than thumbnail-sized, and grow very close to the ground. This is one of those little stunners that requires patience and careful observation to find, but grows pretty much anywhere there is open ground and a degree of shelter amid the dunes.

A tiny Dune Pansy (Viola tricolor curtisii) at Brittas Bay