Tag Archives: naturalist

Super Moon and the First Moths of Spring

In the previous bulletin I mentioned that many flowers are now blooming and these will sustain insects, and now we have incontrovertible evidence, as the first true spring moths have appeared. Keep an eye out for this small medium moth, the Common Quaker (Orthosia cerasi) which comes to windows, which I saw two days ago:

This one was tucking its head under the net window curtain which keeps unwanted insects out of my house, by which I mean, mostly, mosquitoes.

Yesterday the same window was visited by the physically more impressive,  butterfly-like Early Thorn (Selena dentaria), which is almost a permanent spring fixture on this blog. It’s wings really resemble dry leaves:

This sudden abundance of insects seems to have occurred since the full moon early last week, which was also a super moon, being far closer to earth than usual, and exerting much greater influence on the waters of this world.

Anyhow, I have had a few adventures in this early part of the spring, and some of these can only be appreciated when seen in motion, so it’s a good thing I took video. Here is a celebration of spring, featuring scenes from both Wicklow and Dublin, with daffodils, crocuses, mallard ducks, tufted ducks, a black-headed gull just getting its black head (for mating season) and some spectacular lapwings, aka green plover or peewits, on the bog near the Kilcoole Breaches; and a big handsome Irish Hare galloping along by the railway tracks in the Kilcoole nature reserve. There are finches too: the goldfinch and siskin on a bird-feeder and a magnificent male bullfinch feeding on buds in a hedgerow. And let’s not forget two crows, rooks to be exact, for a final scene:

Daffodils and spiders

The daffodil bud from my last bulletin has only opened now, but crocuses have risen above ground, and I have also found the fleshy leaves of tulips! However, these flowers all appeared last year around this time, or even a little later,  and we still got some very heavy snow and cold conditions later in the year, in March.

Before things got too interesting this spring I wanted to do something about False Widow spiders. According to this January’s issue of the BBC Wildlife Magazine there is a wave of terror in England, particularly around London, caused by the presence of these venomous spiders. And, more worryingly, pesticides are being used in an ad hoc way to placate public fear, and pesticides are far more dangerous than any False Widows. Two species of False Widow spider are venomous and can bite people, but they are not aggressive, and to prove this I have made a video in which I handle a good size Noble False Widow spider, with no ill-effects. Here is that video:

True Spring… at last

Scarcely a week has passed since we had our unexpected snow storm, but at last true spring has begun, and here is a little video I made of the transition, and the exciting arrival of a Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris), a small bird which creeps up walls and tree trunks feeding on insects and spiders as it goes. And then a very exciting scene which proves spring is, at last, definitely here:

However, not only have birds been collecting nesting materials, but finally frogspawn appeared in my garden pond, and lots of it:

This is the spawn of the Common Frog, Rana temporaria.  For those of you who are wondering what the green on the pond is, it is actually tiny leaves of Duckweed, a plant which exists only as a leaf, and which reproduces by cell division – one leaf turns into two, two into four, four into eight, eight into sixteen. And that is how it forms carpets of green on ponds.