Although it’s cold and dark and not particularly pleasant, there are some advantages to Winter. For one thing the cold and general shortage of food supplies often brings larger animals closer to human proximity, and you can see creatures which normally don’t like to get too close. My dog recently had her ham bone stolen by a fox which came to visit my garden. I put a camera down in a good position and managed to get a nice shot of the fox paying a very early morning visit to the dog’s bowl, and glimpsing a person through the back window it hastily made its escape. Here is a photo of the fox looking up through the window, shortly after 5 a.m.:
The fox never seemed to notice the camera. This is the Red Fox – Vulpes vulpes, which can be found pretty much worldwide these days. Foxes are particularly beneficial for one reason – they eat more rats, and are far better at catching them than cats are.
Anyhow, although we are in the coldest part of the winter, there are already some definite signs spring is not far away. Here is a video I made this weekend which shows some of these signs:
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:
And here is much larger one that seems to be a classic example of a Red Deer stag:
And here is the upper part of the valley behind the lake:
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.
Only last week my brother contacted me with news he had come across that enormous African Convolvulus Hawkmoths were being seen on the island of Great Britain in large numbers this year.
These moths are as large as small birds, and I have only seen one of these moths on two previous occasions. One was sent to me to identify and the second was flying in a rainstorm in the lights of the family car many years ago. I caught it when it landed on the bonnet. I released both to continue their adventures. But two days ago I found a dried-out dead one in a polytunnel and here is a video showing you just how big this moth is. And some can be much bigger – so keep your eyes open for these giants. Apparently they will happily feed on string soaked in red wine hung from the branches of trees or bushes. They also love nicotiana flowers.