Hen Harriers

I came across this lovely video about a man’s great interest in the Hen Harrier in Scotland.

Here in Ireland, the person ‘in charge of’ Hen Harriers is Barry O’Donoghue, of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Barry can be contacted with any sightings, at 087-9110715. He gave a nice talk about Hen Harriers here in Castlebar early this year.

Marketing of Rural Tourism in Ireland

WARNING : Nothing about this work is scientific. I have carried out this little experiment purely out of curiosity and, as I suspected would be the case, I find the results more than a little interesting.

This is just a little bit of research I’ve done over the past few days. It is only a snapshot and certainly doesn’t claim to be thorough in any way.

Over the last number of weeks, I’ve had reason to find myself in front of 141 small and not so small, but rarely ‘big’ Irish rural tourism businesses. They may have been B&Bs, small hotels, self catering providers, outdoor activity venues and the like.

Of the 141, 115 appear to have a website. That’s just 82%.

Of the 115 with a website, by searching for them, on google.ie, under activity (rather than their actual name), here follows what I came up with. So I didn’t search for, say, Barry’s B&B in Newport under “Barry’s B&B Newport”, but rather “B&B Newport”. In my opinion, this is far more informative, since, for the purposes of this little exercise, I assumed that the typical would-be holidaymaker knew what they wanted and where they wanted to go, but not the name of any given provider.

19 % of businesses came in the top 5 listings, when searched for in google.ie.

A further 7 % came in from no. 6 to no. 10.

However, a massive 74 % did not appear on the first search page under Google Ireland at all. The first Google page typically lists the first ten results only.

It goes to show the vital role of linking and third party website listings and reminds us that a website is more a product that needs to be promoted than a promotional tool in itself.

Of course, I should point out that, sometimes, google.ie search results are dominated by third party listing sites, such as goireland, discoverireland, dublinevents and so on.

Next Walking Dates for Mayo

Iniskea South island, Mayo, Ireland

Iniskea South island, Mayo, Ireland

Our three day walking event in North Mayo will next be run from Fri June 19 thru Sun June 21.

We had a really nice small group for the event last weekend and are looking forward to running another, perhaps a little drier, three days next time.

For further information, call me on 094 – 9027797, or email me on info [at] tourismpure [dot] com.

Alternatively, have a look at the entries below, “A Great Weekend in Mayo” and “Wild Mayo in May”.

A Great Weekend in Mayo

Mayo in May 2009 - Oystercatcher Eggs, Iniskea

Mayo in May 2009 - Oystercatcher Eggs, Iniskea

We’ve just had a wonderful weekend’s walking here in Mayo.

Mayo in May 2009 - Sheskin

Mayo in May 2009 - Sheskin

On Friday, we started off with a large Irish Hare running around the bog at Sheskin and having the decency to go zig zag, rather than in a straight line, so we could have a good long look. The rain was pretty continuous, but our little group was so wet so soon that people gave us worrying about it and got stuck in. Great day.

 

 

Mayo in May 2009 - Iniskea

Mayo in May 2009 - Iniskea

Saturday saw us off to the wonderful Iniskea South island. We observed Grey Seal, Shag, Cormorant, Great Black Backed Gull, Common Gull, Arctic Tern, Oystercatcher, Fulmar, Raven, Ringed Plover, Sanderling and others. Most walkers enjoyed the seals the most, although succeeding in not stepping on these Oystercatcher eggs was the highlight for me.

 

 

Mayo in May 2009 - The Mullet

Mayo in May 2009 - The Mullet

On Sunday, we took a leisurely stroll around the southern tip of The Mullet itself, changing from quiet roads, to hillside tracks, to sand and rocks. We saw Skylark, Wheatear, Gannet, Sand Martin and others. We dropped into Ionad Deirbhile for the cup of tea and scone. Heck, we didn’t even manage to get too wet yesterday. Some of us fitted through the east window of Teampaill Deirbhile. Those who didn’t, won’t be telling.

 

Our next Three Days in Mayo walks take place Friday, June 19th to Sunday, June 21st. Come along, relax and you will enjoy.

Benefits of Interacting with Nature

Some folks from the University of Michigan carried out interesting research into the cognitive benefits of interacting with nature last year.

In it, the authors state that “Nature, which is filled with intriguing stimuli, modestly grabs attention in a bottom-up fashion”. I couldn’t agree more.

The authors carried out two experiments with students (who, interestingly, were recompensed), which “show that walking in nature or viewing pictures of nature can improve [certain] attention abilities.”

Interacting with environments rich with inherently fascinating stimuli (they give the example of sunsets), allows some attention mechanisms to replenish. After such an interaction with nature, one is able to perform better on tasks that depend on so-called directed-attention abilities.

Directed attention can (unscientifically) be explained as the ability to concentrate in the face of distractions.

In the first experiment, participants had their mood assessed. They were then randomly assigned to take a walk, either in a nearby arboretum or downtown area. The former was tree lined and secluded from traffic and people. The latter was on a traffic heavy street, lined with buildings.

Performance in the test was much improved among those who walked in nature, but not with those who walked in the urban area.The season in which students were tested had no impact. Researchers found that mood improved after walking in nature, compared to urban.

The second experiment showed pictures to students of nature and of urbania. Participants rated viewing those of nature as significantly more refreshing.

The researchers, in concluding, state that “these experiments demonstrate the restorative value of nature as a vehicle to improve cognitive functioning.” Indeed, they add that “To consider the availability of nature as merely an amenity fails to recognise the vital importance of nature in effective cognitive functioning.”

Can’t argue with that.

Maybe you should come for a walk with Tourism Pure, or just get out by yourself in some nice, quiet spot.

Still Raining

We’re suffering incredible amounts of rain in Mayo at the moment. April was recently declared the wettest in 15 years. On Sunday, I drove down to the hurling in Thurles and it lashed heavily all the way to Portumna. Today is Wednesday and it hasn’t really stopped since.

However, on a brighter note, the Hawthorns in our hedge are just opening their flowers. The House Martins are back. So a bit of rain doesn’t really matter that much, does it ?

Good Old Scotland

Scotland unveils tough new marine protection plans.

Stringent conservation laws could tightly control fishing, salmon farms, dredging or new oil pipelines. Two thirds of Britain’s inshore waters would be affected.

Salmon farms, offshore wind farms and oil companies will face much tougher environmental tests in Scotland, after ministers unveiled new marine protection laws.

A new marine bill, published by the Scottish government this morning, will make protecting the environment a primary and legal requirement for all activities around Scotland’s coastline. The proposals include a network of ‘marine protected areas’ , where stringent conservation rules could prohibit or tightly control fishing, salmon farms, dredging or new oil pipelines within Scottish inshore waters, out to 12 nautical miles.

Conservationists applauded the new measures, which include a new over-arching marine protection plan.

The bill also includes a new stricter licensing system for shooting seals, often illegally killed by fishermen and fish farmers, who blame them for breaching nets. The Guardian revealed last year that common seal numbers around the UK were plummeting, with some populations halved in recent years. It will now become illegal to kill seals without a licence, while the penalties for killing them without authority will rise.

Source : The Guardian newspaper.