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








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.


3 Responses

  1. If anybody slightly techie would like to tell me why the shrew pic comes up twice, despite my best efforts, I’d love to hear from you !!

  2. I’ve been out walking a good deal this year and have noted that the majority of wild life I have seen has been dead on the side of the road en route to wherever I was walking.

    I did however see lots and lots of frogs on a recent walk up the western flanks of Mweelrea, as well as a distant (too distant to identify) bird of prey pursuing and catching another bird in mid-air not far below the col between Benbury and Mweelrea.

    I like your tip on taking your time though…it makes sense.

    • Thanks Murray,
      Roadkill is indeed a terrible curse. Only last week, I came across the most beautiful specimen of a pine marten here in Mayo, killed on the road. He wasn’t the first marten I’d seen dead on the road, unfortunately.
      Mweelrea is a tough one alright. I’ve climbed it four times, but headed out to do so maybe 9 times. The mist beat me on the other efforts – I couldn’t see where I was going !
      Your bird of prey sounds like a Peregrine, which strikes its prey in mid air.
      All the best.

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