Tag Archives: fish

Still To See

It’s the last full week of August now and many people would think summer was drawing to an end, but there are still plenty of wonderful wild things to see in Wicklow. If you look in the streams right now you have a very good chance of seeing Brown (Sea) Trout parr (sub-adults) (Salmo trutta) in the crystal clear waters. In fact, there are loads of them and they are very handsomely marked and coloured:

Also, due to the very balmy winter, subsequent early spring, and the fairly consistent summer we’ve had this year, many birds have had more than one brood of youngters. It would seem some have had as many as three broods. Here is a Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) I saw feeding one of three fledglings which were moving through willow tree canopies with it.

Finally, keep an eye out for a lovely little bright red flower known as the Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis). This tiny flower opens and closes depending on the weather, and is famously used to predict coming weather as it will often open or close in advance of sun or rain, respectively. Most people will know the Scarlet Pimpernel as a swashbuckling hero of novels and films, but almost as many people are left wondering what a ‘pimpernel’ is exactly. Believe it or not it’s a very old Latin word for pepper – piperinella, which got modified over the centuries by the addition of an m. There is also a Bog Pimpernel and a Yellow Pimpernel, and, ridiculously, Scarlet Pimpernel can itself also be pink or royal blue in colour. However, it is mostly red in colour, as the name suggests. Anyhow, I personally feel a swashbucking hero going by the name ‘The Scarlet Pepper’ doesn’t really have the same ring to it, so long live Pimpernel!

Trout About

Wicklow certainly got its fair share of rain last night, and there are a few showers still knocking about right now, with the promise of a deluge overnight and tomorrow. But the streams and rivers are still relatively clear, and it’s good and sunny, so keep an eye out for Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) in the sandy shallows.

A small Brown Trout basking in a very shallow river. Keep your eyes peeled.
A small Brown Trout basking in a very shallow river. Keep your eyes peeled.

They are brilliant at looking like bits of waterweed, so watch for any movement, make light steps on the river banks (because they will feel heavy vibrations) and move very slowly, and you will almost certainly get good views, especially if you’re next to one of the many little hump-back bridges which are found throughout Wicklow.

What looks like a sea serpent, is twenty feet long and is known to swim off the coast of Wicklow?

And I forgot to mention is has a huge red crest.

Well, I don’t want to distract anyone who’s strudying for their exams, but just in case that study takes place near the seashore, or with a good vantage point across the sea, you might spot one of these rare creatures. And it’s a predator too, specialising in herring and other small shoal fish. So what is this monster? It’s an Oarfish (Regalecus glesne), and it is every bit the sea serpent, or water dragon.

The Oarfish, a huge mysterious sea creature known to inhabit the seas all around Ireland, but very rarely seen despite its immense size and similarity to a sea serpent. In fact, nobody knows for sure how big they can get. But they are harmless to man, so there's no need to panic.
The Oarfish, a huge mysterious sea creature known to inhabit the seas all around Ireland, but very rarely seen despite its immense size and similarity to a sea serpent. In fact, nobody knows for sure how big they can get. But they are harmless to man, so there’s no need to panic.

Oarfish are seen by trawler crews at this time of the year, and as far north as Norway where they pursue the herring shoals. So keep your binoculars and cameras handy. A truly amazing creature you might see while the sea is calm and clear. The nearest thing to a dragon that is known to science. I suspect it may even be the inspiration for the Chinese dragon.