May is the most spectacular month in Wicklow. This is due to the sudden mass-blossoming of the various trees and shrubs along the hedgerows and in the parks and gardens. May is usually quite warm too, and it is this year, but there is quite a bit of rain too, which also helps the blooming, but can cause them to fade a little faster too.
The beautiful weather not only brings out the wildlife but it brings out the people who have a passion for it too. And I find these people almost as interesting as the wildlife. Today I met naturalist John Fields out on the East Coast Nature Reserve, armed with a big DSLR camera and a very big lens, all the better to get shots of the out of reach wildlife.
John told me about some of the wildlife he had seen in that very area, including otters. Like me he wasn’t just there for the birds, but for all of the nature on offer. A few moments after I was speaking to John I got a fleeting glimpse of a day-flying moth I have never previously managed to photograph, the Mother Shipton (Callistege mi). It’s not a great shot, but it is the first I’ve managed to get of this extremely nervous and wary creature, which looks like a small butterfly.
But it has to be said the most impressive species on the bogs at the moment is the Yellow Flag, a spectacularly beautiful iris.
There is so much going on out there at the moment it’s almost impossible to keep indoors for any length of time. Not willingly anyhow.
Last night we had a severe frost in Wicklow, but it seems the plants have decided, for whatever reason, that spring is here to stay. I have never seen anything quite like it. On New Year’s Day I found Bluebells throwing the leaf-litter off and raising their juicy leaves to the sun.
And not only were the daffodils up, but irises had poked their blade-like leaves through the soil, and the crocuses were not only well up above ground but some now have flowers on the verge of opening.
Okay, so maybe you’re thinking these impetuous plants are mistaken: crocuses can sometimes bloom in the snow, as can primroses, and daffodils often make mistakes. Fair enough arguments, but have you ever seen cherry blossom in January? There are certain October-flowering Cherry trees, but not January ones, and the pair of cherries growing out front of the church (opposite the petrol station) in Newcastle village would seem to me to be the typical spring variety. True, they are in sunny areas, but covered in blossoms and being attended by big Bumble Bees. Incredible!
According to the weather forecasters we are in for another week of cold frosty nights and mostly clear sunny days, so winter is certainly not done with us yet. But spring is here, whatever the weather. And just to end, keep an eye out for the beautiful feather-duster like, aniseed-scented blooms of the Winter Heliotrope. They are in abundance this year, and they have to be as there is so much competition.
And after a great 2012, with the massive successes of Wicklow boxer Katie Taylor and cross-country runner Fionnuala Britton, it seems the very landscape itself has decided to throw a celebratory party. 2013 is off to an awesome start.