Tag Archives: spectacle

The Butterfly Extravaganza

Somehow, yet again, we’ve reached the middle of August and the days are getting noticeably shorter, but they’re still long and warm despite there being a bit of rain about. We are now at the peak of the summer bloom, and this is when you will see the most butterflies and most kinds of butterflies. Keep a look out for the Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), although we don’t have a lot of them around this year.

The Painted Lady is found across Europe and Asia and even in North America and is a migrating species.

This summer we have had an abundance of Peacock butterflies (Aglais io) which are very popular with tourists from the Americas and I have been told on more than one occasion by American tourists that when it comes to seeing and photographing butterflies, the one they most want is the Peacock. And who could blame them – it’s absolutely stunning.

However, a very close second when it comes to popularity is the closely-related, but quite different looking Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) , another Old World species much prized by wildlife photographers from the US and Canada.

Personally, I think they are all equally beautiful and the fact that you can often see them all flying together at this time of year, feeding on soil minerals and bramble blossoms, not to mention Butterfly Bushes (Buddleia davidii) and many other plant species, makes them even more special. There are also other beautiful butterflies which occasionally fly among these butterfly species and I hope to see and photograph some of them before the summer is over. Make sure you get out and have a good look at the butterflies this summer, while the spectacle lasts. In two or three weeks the numbers will begin to drop so make the most of it.

Stags in Glendalough

If you want to see a really exciting wildlife spectacle then now is the time to visit Glendalough. Remember, even if you are in a wheelchair or on a mobolity scooter it is perfectly possible to witness this spectacular event. There is a charge of €4 to park a car in the security-protected car park, but there are toilets, etc. and it’s worth the peace of mind knowing your vehicle is safe.  Stags can be seen on the slopes towards the back of the valley, behind the Upper Lake, and they are fighting each other for the right to mate with the females. Bring binoculars, viewing scope or camera with a long zoom to get the best of it, but the naked eye can see a lot.  Check out this little video I made to give you a better understanding of what you will see:

Because the deer in Glendalough are hybrids some of the stags looks like Sika stags and some look like Red Deer stags and their sizes vary. For example, here is one that appears to be a classic Sika stag:

Sika stags have much shorter antlers than Red Deer, and are much smaller animals.
Sika stags have much shorter antlers than Red Deer, and are much smaller animals.

And here is much larger one that seems to be a classic example of a Red Deer stag:

To all intents and purposes a classic Red Deer stag, with huge antlers.
To all intents and purposes a classic Red Deer stag, with large antlers, although this one has certain Sika traits.

And here is the upper part of the valley behind the lake:

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The deer are mostly visible on that opposite wall of the valley, and they are often hiding in plain site, so make sure to look and listen. It’s a big valley.

 

 

Last Call for Bluebells this year

Normally Bluebells would have disappeared a few weeks ago, but this year due to the very cold and slow spring, they can still be found. But if you are looking for the classic “Bluebell Woods” where there is a sea of blue, it’s harder to find… but it is there. I took this photo yesterday in Glendalough.

A Bluebell wood in Glendalough, still around as we begin the transition into summer.
A Bluebell wood in Glendalough, still around as we begin the transition into summer.

Where to go: Glendalough in the very navel of the Wicklow Mountains. Park in either the lower or upper car park. As you face up the valley, towards the lower lake from the Monastic City these bluebells will be on the left side (southern) of the valley by the path above the Lower Lake. You do need to keep your eyes open for them though.