In January there were reports of beautiful tropical wading birds called Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) having somehow arrived in Ireland. Three of them found their way to the East Coast Nature Reserve on the Wicklow Coast and have been the focus of huge attention, the area becoming almost a pilgrimage site. And, most remarkably, they don’t shun the attention at all. They are not scared of people.
They are very dark birds, kind of like a choclate brown combined with shimmering dark purple. They have long beaks which they use to probe the boggy ground for insects.
What everybody is wondering is if they are going to stay in Ireland, like the Little Egret did in the 1990s. They are found mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, southeast Asia and Australasia, but in the mid-19th century Glossy Ibises flew across the Atlantic to Brazil and have since colonised much of the Americas. Could they make a permanent colony here too, despite our cold conditions? We’ll know soon enough.
Here is a video I made about them, easily the most exciting nature event in Ireland, and Wicklow, in a few years:
Only last week my brother contacted me with news he had come across that enormous African Convolvulus Hawkmoths were being seen on the island of Great Britain in large numbers this year.
These moths are as large as small birds, and I have only seen one of these moths on two previous occasions. One was sent to me to identify and the second was flying in a rainstorm in the lights of the family car many years ago. I caught it when it landed on the bonnet. I released both to continue their adventures. But two days ago I found a dried-out dead one in a polytunnel and here is a video showing you just how big this moth is. And some can be much bigger – so keep your eyes open for these giants. Apparently they will happily feed on string soaked in red wine hung from the branches of trees or bushes. They also love nicotiana flowers.
Considering we are at the transition between summer and autumn, and it’s still astronomically summer (the Equinox is on this coming Wednesday morning, 23 September, at just after 8.40 am) it’s amazing what creatures are still running round although the temperatures are starting to fall. Here’s a little video I made about one of them, and beneath the video window a detailed close-up taken by my brother Gavin.