Tag Archives: Spring

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, back in Wicklow…

We are having a magnificent spring this year. The last two weeks have been almost completely sunny, with just the right amount of rainfall to keep the plants happy. Blooming dandelions are providing an extra amount of pollen for the bees, and there are many very happy bees around this year. And bees are not all aggressive stinging insects. Many are quite laid back, such as this female Early Mining Bee below. They seem to be quite inquisitive insects.

A female Early Mining Bee perched on my finger today. They can be very relaxed and curious insects if they don't feel threatened.
A female Early Mining Bee perched on my finger today. They can be very relaxed and curious insects if they don’t feel threatened.

But the mining bees don’t have it all their own way. There are also ‘cuckoo bee’, species which will lay their eggs in the mining bees’ nests but which do not themselves make nests. Instead the young of the cuckoo bee hatch out early and feed on the eggs and grubs of the mining bees. These cuckoo bees can be very handsome species, but look more like small wasps. The species photographed below seems to be Nomada panzeri, a species that parasitises the nests of Tawny Mining Bees.

A Nomada cuckoo bee flying close to ground level, beneath blades of grass just above the ground in search of mining bee nests.
A Nomada cuckoo bee flying close to ground level, beneath blades of grass just above the ground in search of mining bee nests.

But the insect you will probably be noticing most of all at this time of year is the male Orange-tip butterfly. This species only comes out for a few weeks in spring, usually appearing around mid-April and then completely disappearing usually before the end of the first week of June. They are extremely difficult to photograph, but somehow I got decent shots of two different individuals today.

A male Orange-tip basking in the late afternoon light today.

A male Orange-tip feeding on nectar along a hedgerow today. Females are all white with not even a little bit of orange colouring on them.
A male Orange-tip feeding on nectar along a hedgerow today. Females are all white with not even a little bit of orange colouring on them.

 

 

The Malta Bird-hunting Problem – Final Instalments

Anybody listening to the news last night might have heard that the British naturalist Chris Packham was detained by Maltese police, on charges brought against him by the Maltese hunting lobby. Here are the two final instalments – numbers 5 and 7, number 6 being a mere statement to say that he had been detained by Maltese police and therefore there is no need to see it.

Instalment five shows a very theatening and sinister confrontation with Maltese hunters who actually prevent him entering an area of public land. It’s extremely disturbing to think that the hunting fraternity on Malta, comprising less than 1% of the Maltese population, can be having such a detrimental effect on the lives of the other 99% of the population that they cannot even enter their own national lands without fear of intimidation, especially considering that Malta is a very recent member of the European Union and the Eurozone and therefore should have been properly vetted before being allowed membership. Clearly this does not seem to have happened. It’s a shame too.

But many Maltese people are genuine heroes and Packham takes the trouble to make this point and show you who these people are. Ironically, Malta is actually a place I liked so much I visited it twice in two years because of the remarkable landscape, history, archaeology and romance. Had I know our migratory wildlife was been massacred there to such an extent I might never have gone there even once, although I am glad I did. However, listen to what the Pacman has to say and make up your own minds, and if you are Irish, then ask the canvassers on your doorstep about this issue. The EU HQ should be more than a well-paid job for Irish politicians.