Tag Archives: funny

A Very Crazy Spring – Winter Returns with a Vengeance

Only last week the weather was improving so much, and the spring flowers all blooming so brilliantly, that it seemed spring was truly here and here to stay. I even saw my first hoverfly, which was, unusually for our spring, a Drone Fly (Eristalis species):

But this week everything went crazy, with the arrival of the so-called “Beast from the East”, a fierce cold weather system bringing snow and freezing temperatures to all of Europe from Siberia. Just as I was winding down using the bird-feeders in my garden they suddenly became vitally important to birds in the cold weather, and were also getting the attention of many rodents, including one particularly handsome and determined Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus).  Here it is climbing out of the leaf litter next to the tree holding the feeders, just at sunset:

One night I even managed to get a video of the mouse climbing on a peanut-feeder, a tiny creature with huge eyes and ears, and a long tail:

However, there were also some less welcome visitors, such as two young Brown Rats (Rattus norvegicus), which were not quite so cute, and a lot bigger than the mouse, but equally interesting in their cheekiness:

   The cold weather inspired some incredible behaviour in some of the wildlife. Probably the most amazing thing I have seen in some years was a flock of desperate crows, Rooks (Corvus frugilegus) to be exact, who were managing to take food off the carefully-designed “crow proof” small bird feeders. One of them was even hovering like a hummingbird! Watch and be amazed:

The bad weather doesn’t end there though – tonight a huge rain storm from the Bay of Biscay, Storm Emma, collides with the Beast from the East and we have a Red Weather Warning, the highest level, only used once before and, ironically, only a few months ago when Hurricane Ophelia made for the island of Ireland. This time, it’s for snow drifts. Hopefully the wildlife will not suffer too much.

A Very Wild June

So far we have had a very warm, sunny and mostly dry June here in Wicklow, with temperatures ranging from 20 degrees to 24 degrees Celsius in the shade. Last year was a very cold summer in contrast. And the lovely weather has brought the wildlife out. Here is a young Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) crossing the road right in front of me:

A lovely young red fox, returning from a foraging trip to a shop!
A lovely young red fox, returning from a foraging trip to a shop!

I was standing at a bus stop and happened to notice the electric green of a girl crossing out into the middle of the road, and the little fox was trotting in front of her, wary but not too scared. The girl and her sister went to the shop to get some food for it, as they were fairly certain hunger had brought it out. I suspect it was in the habit of foraging in the shop’s forecourt bin. It ented a field behind the bus stop and I got this lovely photo of it peering out from the corn:

Foxes have very beautiful eyes, as you can see here.
Foxes have very beautiful eyes, as you can see here.

Whereas livestock farmers often hate foxes, cereal farmers really appreciate their presence as they eat a lot of rodents and scare birds away from their fields. Birds are extremely wary of fields where they’ve previously seen foxes. At night you will often hear the piercing shriek of vixens across the hillsides. This usually happens in winter or early spring, but they also call in summer and autumn.

This year the Hawthorn blooms have lingered for a very long time, and they are absolutely beautiful:

A lovely white-blossomed hawthorn tree, one of the most beautiful sights in the late spring and early summer countryside.
A lovely white-blossomed hawthorn tree, one of the most beautiful sights in the late spring and early summer countryside.
Hawthorn blossom up close - the scent is amazing. The scent of spring.
Hawthorn blossom up close – the scent is amazing. The scent of spring.

I’ve been very slow with my posts in recent weeks but from now on I intend to keep them at a steady space, so watch out for them.

A Rabbit’s Tale

The thing I love most about Wicklow is that you never quite know what you’re going to find around the next corner. Yesterday I was passenger in my brother’s car and we were travelling along one of the myriad narrow lanes that crisscross Wicklow and we rounded a bend covered in jungle-like undergrowth and came across a rabbit sitting in the middle of the road. Fortunately we were only going along quite slowly, so the rabbit got to its feet and ran beneath a fence on the edge of a large open field of grass. I jumped out of the car and ran to the fence, and was surprised to find the rabbit waiting behind the gate, watching me with some fascination. I got to within two metres (roughly two yards) of it and got this photo:

What's up, Doc? The wild rabbit posing for his photo.
What’s up, Doc? The wild rabbit posing for his photo.

Many narrow winding lanes deep in the Wicklow countryside (Wicklow is nearly all countryside) are quiet places where wild animals don’t feel threatened by people, because they’re not. I often see rabbits on this stretch of road, but never manage to get as close as I did yesterday. But the encounter made me wonder something – last year I was driving down the same lane and came across a small young rabbit, sandbathing in the middle of the road. I stopped my car and waited for the rabbit to move, and then, as I fumbled for my camera, the rabbit ran underneath my car. So now I had to get out of the car and look underneath it to make sure it wasn’t waiting there, so that I could drive off without driving over the little creature. It was gone, so I got back into my car and drove off.

So today I’m wondering if the rabbit I photographed yesterday is actually the same animal, but a year older. I don’t honestly know, but this rabbit has a wonderful cheeky personality. Here’s another photo I took just before it decided to bound away into the long grass of the field:

We have three species of the rabbit family in Ireland: the European Rabbit, the Brown Hare and the Irish Hare, a subspecies of the Mountain Hare. The European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is by far the most common, but how long it has been in Ireland is much-debated, with a lot of evidence suggesting that the European Rabbit was only introduced into Ireland in the Middle Ages by the Normans to provide food.
We have three species of the rabbit family in Ireland: the European Rabbit, the Brown Hare and the Irish Hare, a subspecies of the Mountain Hare. The European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is by far the most common, but how long it has been in Ireland is much-debated, with a lot of evidence suggesting that the European Rabbit was only introduced into Ireland in the Middle Ages by the Normans to provide food.