Tag Archives: May

Biodiversity continued…

A lot of wildlife is there, but not always obvious because it gets up early. So you either need to get up early or put out camera-traps to catch photo or video of creatures. Here’s a brief glimpse caught by a trail camera of a Red Fox (Canis vulpes), our only remaining wild native member of the dog family, paying a visit to our front garden pond a few weeks ago, at 6 am. Daylight is coming much earlier now –

National Biodiversity Week

Usually National Biodiversity Week in Ireland begins on a Saturday and ends the following weekend. However, this year it is a two-week event which began the week before last and will be ending next Monday, June 1, the June Bank Holiday. However, it was only late last week that the cold Arctic winds abated and a tropical current took over, and what a weekend we had. The birds are nesting now and are interesting to watch – such as these Jackdaws nesting in one of our chimneys:

Jackdaws at their chimney nest - it's almost impossible to differentiate the male from the female but she is usually slightly smaller, making her the one with the bread in its beak.
Jackdaws at their chimney nest – it’s almost impossible to differentiate the male from the female but she is usually slightly smaller, making her the one with the bread in its beak.They take turns at nesting duty.

Also, the insects are now making their presence felt – keep an eye out for this creature:

This is a male Poplar Hawkmoth, which is the largest moth most people see in Wicklow, and not all that often either. But they are always around.
This is a male Poplar Hawkmoth, which is the largest moth most people see in Wicklow, and not all that often either. But they are always around. They have a funny way of holding their wings when at rest, but this makes them look very like dried leaves.

This is the largest moth species most people encounter in Wicklow and is far bigger than people expect Irish moths to be –

In daylight hours this moth can be handled easily and is not usually stressed in the least bit.
In daylight hours this moth can be handled easily and is not usually stressed in the least bit.

However, although it’s large there are several much larger species found in Ireland, and the largest that does visit Ireland, albeit only occasionally, the Death’s Head Hawkmoth, is about twice the size of this species and far more robust.

Moths are not the only large insects flying about our short late May nights – you can still find Maybugs, aka Cockchafer beetles blundering about and crashing clumsily into windows, cars and the occasional forehead. They are not our biggest beetle species, but they are probably our most common big beetle species, but they fly for only a short time in late spring and early summer, spending most of their lives as white grubs feeding on the roots of plantains and dandelions.

Many people find the large Cockchafer quite frightening, but it is completely harmless and spends its relatively short adult life searching for a mate.
Many people find the large Cockchafer quite frightening, but it is completely harmless and spends its relatively short adult life searching for a mate.However, it does have hooks on its feet which means it can cling onto clothing and even skin and be a little difficult to remove.

May Blooms

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.

Hawthorn is one of the most beautiful blooming plants and can be found right along Wicklow hedgerows.
Hawthorn is one of the most beautiful blooming plants and can be found right along Wicklow hedgerows.
The apple blossoms are all but gone now, but they were absolutely spectacular this year and gave Wicklow its scent of spring. In this photo you can see tulip flowers too. Apple trees are very common in Wicklow and there are many old orchards, and even apple trees growing in hedgerows.
The apple blossoms are all but gone now, but they were absolutely spectacular this year and gave Wicklow its scent of spring. In this photo you can see tulip flowers too. Apple trees are very common in Wicklow and there are many old orchards, and even apple trees growing in hedgerows.
Lilac trees are not quite as numerous as hawthorns, but they are common and widespread along hedgerows and in gardens and their magnificent flowerspikes produce a heavy yet subtle perfume that actually makes the air smell fresh. This year they had a bumper blossoming making for a fantastic May.
Lilac trees are not quite as numerous as hawthorns, but they are common and widespread along hedgerows and in gardens and their magnificent flowerspikes produce a heavy yet subtle perfume that actually makes the air smell fresh. This year they had a bumper blossoming making for a fantastic May.
The so-called 'Wedding Cake' Viburnum is a magnificent shrub which, for some reason, is very common in Wicklow and produces huge swathes of blossom but no fragrance. However, they are extremely popular with insects, especially hoverflies.
The so-called ‘Wedding Cake’ Viburnum is a magnificent shrub which, for some reason, is very common in Wicklow and produces huge swathes of blossom but no fragrance. However, they are extremely popular with insects, especially hoverflies.
The bluebells came up early this year and are still forming carpets of blue in the mountains, but I don't think they'll be around too long, so make sure to get out and look for them. You can tell the true native bluebell from the similar Spanish bluebell because only the native has a scent, and it's a beautiful scent too.
The bluebells came up early this year and are still forming carpets of blue in the mountains, but I don’t think they’ll be around too long, so make sure to get out and look for them. You can tell the true native bluebell from the similar Spanish bluebell because only the native has a scent, and it’s a beautiful scent too.
In boggy areas (of which there are many in Wicklow) the Yellow Flag is the dominant flowering plant and they can be seen in huge numbers in coastal marshes right now. These beautiful plants are irises and they can be kept next to garden ponds, but the root can be more than a metre under the soil, which is usually under almost as much water in the areas these plants inhabit, so digging them up is certainly not worth the effort. Leave them where they are and admire from afar.
In boggy areas (of which there are many in Wicklow) the Yellow Flag is the dominant flowering plant and they can be seen in huge numbers in coastal marshes right now. These beautiful plants are irises and they can be kept next to garden ponds, but the root can be more than a metre under the soil, which is usually under almost as much water in the areas these plants inhabit, so digging them up is certainly not worth the effort. Leave them where they are and admire from afar.