Interesting Observations in Nature

Being out and about walking really gives you the chance to observe some interesting things in nature. There is a whole world out there that you may not be aware of and which, if you are willing to dedicate some of your time, can be observed. 

As a rule of thumb, if you want to actually observe nature, as opposed to simply traversing it, spend at least 50% more time doing a walk than the ‘guideline’ completion time. So if you’re on a, say, 3 hour loop walk, take it easy and aim to complete in, maybe, 4 1/2 hours. 

Mother Red Squirrel and Baby 

A while back, in south Mayo, I was unbelievably lucky enough to witness a mother Red Squirrel carrying her young in her mouth. As she was on her way, presumably moving her young from one safe spot to another, she came across me on a forest track. I was crouched down, having heard her approaching through the fern undergrowth. We mutually observed one another for over a minute, until she continued across the track and on her way through the thick vegetation. I decided not to try to pull out the camera, afraid I might spook her. 

Sheep and Fox 

Look at the photos below. I came across this scene near a cliff top in north Mayo. Given that I approached from down wind, the fox did not seem to notice me for several minutes. This beautiful hunter was 2 metres away from the sheep in the picture, with an additional 3 sheep, including one lamb, no more than a further 2 metres away, just out of shot. Eventually, I needed to continue on and was the first to make a move. The sheep and fox then scampered away, but the former didn’t seem in the slightest bothered by the latter’s proximity. 

 

Dead Shrew 

I found the unfortunate dead Pygmy Shrew, below, the other day. Shrews are absolutely tiny, aren’t they ? 

Pygmy Shrew

Pygmy Shrew

  

  

  

 

 

 

Cuckoo 

This year I seem to have heard healthy numbers of Cuckoo. But just last weekend, I saw not one, but two of these difficult to spot birds from Africa. Both were observed on telephone wires, both above bogs next to plantation forests, both during the early afternoon on quite warm days, both in NW Mayo, but in different spots.

A Great Weekend in West Mayo

Last weekend was excellent fun. I led guided walks on The Mullet on Saturday and Sunday, treated myself to the Ceathrú Thaidgh cliff-top walk on Sunday and completed the wonderful Glendahurk Horseshoe in the Nephin Begs on Monday.

You’d never know, but the fabulous weather we’ve been having to date might just as quickly come to a shuddering halt in an Irish summer, so better to take full advantage while it’s going !

Floral highlights of the weekend included the many orchids now in bloom, the strange Ragged Robin, St. Patrick’s Cabbage at 700 m altitude and the stunningly beautiful Common Mallow.

Fauna of the weekend included one Fox, several Hares, fantastically aerobatic Ravens and one solitary Golden Plover. Unfortunately, no Seals were spotted at Erris Head, but you can’t always be lucky.

Erris Head – A guided walk of Erris Head (with another guide, not me) takes place, as part of Féile Erris Beo, on Sunday, June 20th. Contact Erris Tourism, on 097 – 82292.

Ceathrú Thaidgh – I will guide a walk of this cliff-top trail, also as part of Féile Erris Beo, on Thursday, June 17th, beginning at 6 pm. Again, call Erris Tourism, on 097 – 82292.

Comórtas Peil na Gaeltachta 2010

The annual Gaelic Football competition for teams from Gaeltacht areas rumbles into Belmullet this coming weekend. With it come a lot of footballers and football followers. The craic should be good.

An Clár Oifigiúil is here, if you’d like to take a look : Clár Oifigiúil

As part of what you might call the “off festival”, I will be leading walks on both Saturday and Sunday. So come along, if you fancy a stroll. Good comfortable runners will suffice for both walks, but, as always, I would advise hiking boots anyway.

Saturday :

Erris Head / Ceann Iorrais. Meet at the small carpark at Glenlara / An Gleann Lara, at 11 am. This beautiful cliff-top walk is around 2 – 3 hours and entirely off-road.

Sunday :

Aughleam & Falmore / Each Léim agus An Fáil Mhór. Meet at the graveyard in Falmore, at 12 midday. This walk is mostly on-road, but quiet roads they are certainly. Various possible loops allow you to leave when you like. The maximum length, should you join for the walk’s entirety, will be around 3 hours.

Hopefully, we’ll have the weather.

The Colour of Erris

This is a really wonderful time of year. There are so many flowers in bloom right now and the weather this year is ridiculously good. Too good, perhaps.

Among the places I found myself this week was a plantation forest in Erris, where, honestly, you could easily think you were in southern France. The ground is so dry and the brown leaves underfoot make so much noise when stood on, you’d nearly expect a snake to wander across the track at some point.

But apart from there, I was also on coastal grassland, where I took the pictures below. While I could get the photos of the still flowers, the same could not be said of the six magnificent Irish Hares I saw, or the various birds, including Wheatear, Ringed Plover, Fulmar, Cormorant, Great Black Backed Gull, Skylark, Twite, etc.