Monday, 18 July 2016

July 9th - Bull Island Wildflower walk

On Saturday 9th July, the Dublin Branch went on its by now annual walk to Bull Island to see the amazing variety of wildflowers that can be seen there at this time of year. The day was lovely and warm, and led by Niall Mac Coitir, those attending saw at least twenty different kinds of wildflowers . As well as many members of the pea family, such as restharrow, bird's foot trefoil, kidney vetch, and common vetch (which can thrive in the poor, sandy soil), and the sweet smelling ladies bedstraw, the group saw no less than five different species of orchid.

The orchids encountered were pyramidal orchid, common spotted orchid, some last surviving early purple orchid, marsh helleborine, and in a first for the Bull Island walks, - the beautiful and elusive bee orchid!

Truly a day to remember.

pyramidal orchid

Marsh helleborine

bee orchid

Yellow rattle

July 5th - Green Drinks: "What can be done to keep the bee"

This July the Dublin Branch gathered to hear Kieran Flood, IWT Conservation Officer talking about the important issue of the threats facing our pollinating insects, especially bees, and asking the question: "What can be done to keep the bee?

According to Kieran, bee numbers have been declining in Ireland, Europe and beyond, due to loss of habitat and insecticides. This is a matter of major concern as so many of our plants cannot bear fruit unless they are pollinated, including many important food crops. There is an attempt to tackle this problem with an All Ireland Pollinator Plan - an island wide plan to help protect our bees.

Kieran outlined that while the honey bee is important in pollination, the bumblebee also plays a vital role in the pollination of many wild flowers. The talk then delved a little deeper into the wonderful world of Irish bumblebees, of which there are twenty species in Ireland! Kieran went through some of the more common species, which can be distinguished by their distinctive markings - as shown in the handy diagrams below.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

5th & 19th June - Trips to Ireland's Eye

This year the Dublin Branch of IWT arranged two trips to Ireland’e Eye – on 5th and 19th June.
We had a tremendous response – both outings were fully booked up and not everybody could be accommodated. Ireland’s Eye: two glorious contrasts. Day One bathed in sunshine, birds hatching their eggs, some chicks roaming around, their parents screeching and warning us to stay away from their offspring. Day Two bathed, literally, in rain, chicks grown, their parents less agitated, hovering anxiously and keeping a watchful eye on our group. Everybody obviously enjoyed the first tour, but despite the weather the good-humoured group on the second trip also appeared to have a good time, appreciating the unique charm of this little gem of an island.

We saw the usual suspects; guillemots, gannets, terns, all the different gulls, of course, cormorants and shags, oystercatchers and ringed plovers, rock pipits, a few puffins and two peregrine falcons. Our thanks to John Fox (Birdwatch Ireland) who provided us with details of their nesting, feeding, migration, habitat, behaviour and lifespan.  


Monday, 16 May 2016

15 May 2016 - Ballyboughal Hedgerow Walk

Ballyboughall Hedgerow Walk (SlĂ­ na Sceacha’) 15 May 2016

Nature smiled on us in every way on our second visit to Ballyboughal, Co. Dublin.
With blue skies and beautiful sunshine our marvellous guide Ann Lynch of the local Hedgerow Society took a group of over 30 adults and children on a wonderful walk through the hedges of Ballyboughal providing us with plenty of information on what was all around us as we went along.

In true Irish fashion the walk ended at a pub, O’Connor’s (we stayed outside), where we were joined by the Mayor of Fingal David O’Connor who expressed delight at the large group and thanked Ann for hosting us.


Ann showing us one of the many wildflowers to be seen

3rd May - Green Drinks - Hedgehog Rescue

The Dublin Branch of IWT this month heard from Yvonne McCann from Hedgehog Rescue Dublin talk about the how the organisation got started, the threats facing wildlife (both natural and human caused) and the trials faced by wildlife rehabbers in Ireland. Practical advice was given on the night about what to do if you come across a hedgehog casualty with added insights into the rehab process.

Hedgehogs face a variety of threats, from strimmers, to traffic, to disturbance during hibernation and need all the help they can get. Yvonne and her friends in Hedgehog Rescue work entirely voluntarily and rely on donations and the help of friendly vets for support. You can find Hedgehog Rescue Dublin on Facebook.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

12th March - Trip to St. Enda's

On Saturday 12th March, the Dublin Branch went to visit St Enda's: Carmel, our guide, was excellent. She took us through all the important rooms in the Pearse Museum, engaging with everybody and keeping information at just the right level. After a brief visit to the so-called Nature Room we went round St Enda's Park where Carmel showed us the various follies. Certainly the most interesting of these were the 'Summerhouse', the 'Hermit's Cave' and 'Emmet's Fort', which she unlocked for us so that we could have a good look around this astonishing little building. A very interesting day out.

St. Enda's Museum

Carmel in front of the hermit's cave

Monday, 22 February 2016

21st February Birdwatching Broadmeadow Estuary

On Sunday 21st February the Dublin Branch went birdwatching in Broadmeadow Estuary. Despite terrible weather, our guide Sean Fox showed us quite a few species of birds, including brent geese, teal, black-tailed godwit, stonechats, little egrets, cormorants, and of course the mute swans for which the estuary is famous. Highlight of the trip however, was the sight of a sparrowhawk hovering over the motorway in search of prey. Alas the weather was too wet for the kingfisher which Sean assured us was a regular visitor.

As the morning wore on the wind and rain eased off, and we were able to look through our binoculars and telescopes without getting fogged up. The sun fitfully came out and we had time to look at the swans at close quarters as they gathered around us looking for some bread to eat. There was no need to panic, however, as Sean informed us that the old story about swans being strong enough to break a  man's leg was nothing but a myth!

Photos courtesy of Brendan