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.

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10HD – A Full Day Out in West Mayo

Just four weeks to go to a lovely Ten Hour Day out in wild west Mayo.

Join us at Newport on Saturday June 26th for a 90-minutes cycle into the hills, then a 6-hour hike up Nephin Beg mountain, then a 90-minute cycle back to Newport. This is NOT a race. This is NOT a competitive event. It’s a day out in fabulous country, with great views over lakes, mountains, bog and out to the coast, with Achill, Blacksod and the Reek in the distance.

If you like your outdoors, take a look at the event poster, by clicking below, to learn more.

10HD poster

Féile Erris Beo 2010 – Brochure Here

Féile Erris Beo takes places in and around Belmullet from June 15 thru 20 next.

As a participating partner, I am delighted to present the festival brochure as a PDF here.

So, whether you are in to walking, cycling, golf or watersports and general craic, head for The Mullet and the wider Erris that weekend. Book now agus fáilte go hIorrais.

Teenagers Enjoy The Mullet

Yesterday, I enjoyed a wonderful day, with beautiful weather, up on The Mullet entertaining a group of First and Second Year secondary school students.

We took a 90-minute walk around the southern end of the peninsula, taking in Tobar Deirbhile, looking at the Napoleonic Signal Towers at Glosh and across on Achill and discussing the drowning tragedy of 1927 on Iniskea.

We were heading for the pitch at Caisleán, but fair dues to the kids, when we got there they were more interested in running down onto the beach. I certainly couldn’t blame them, with the warm day that was in it.

Later, having been well fed at Hannah’s Léim Siar B&B, I broke them into groups for a treasure hunt, based around the Blacksod pier and lighthouse area. I think they were pretty tired after all the activity and many thanks to their múinteoirí, R and L.

Yet another great day, as always on The Mullet.

Part of our group of young teenagers enjoying the weather on The Mullet.

Part of our group of young teenagers enjoying the weather on The Mullet.

Two Projects for 2010

1. Gunnera T. / Giant Rhubarb

Gunnera tinctoria (Giant Rhubarb)

Gunnera tinctoria (Giant Rhubarb)

Gunnera Tinctoria continues to spread through certain parts of west Mayo, including Achill Island and the southern end of The Mullet peninsula.

Better known as Giant Rhubarb, this is a highly invasive introduced plant species from South America.

A project has been run by UCD, led by Spaniard Cristina Armstrong, the aim of which is to eradicate the plant from Clare Island. I attended a presentation she put on last year about the scale of the problem and the project’s progress. However, its spread is much greater on Achill and The Mullet. It is very prevalent around Blacksod (especially the Garda station) and is creeping over the hill towards Deirbhle’s Twist and up Termon Hill too.

Read this from The Botanic Gardens website.

I want to get involved in curbing its growth in 2010 and beyond. For this, I’ll need equipment but, more importantly, manpower. Get in touch with me if you’d like to spend a voluntary week on this work during late summer. If you don’t want to do the dirty work, but would be willing to sponsor the purchase of some equipment, or even provide materials as required, get in touch too please. I would be more than happy to acknowledge any contribution, whether monetary or of materials.

2. Inland Otter Observation

Otter (madra uisce)

Otter (madra uisce)

I’m fascinated by the otter. I think the animal is really one of our most interesting mammals. While those that live near the sea (for example, along brackish water lakes) have food from both fresh and sea water to fill their stomachs, those who live exclusively inland would appear not to have such choice. Why don’t they move to the coast (joking) ?

By the way, sometimes people erroneously believe we have two sub-species of otter – the ‘Sea Otter’ and the ‘Freshwater’. In fact, it’s the same animal in two habitats.

Otter spraint beside small river

Otter spraint beside small river

A chance encounter a few months back with two otters in a conifer plantation drainage ditch, no more than 1 m wide with water no more than 15 cm deep, has me even more intrigued. The nearest stream of consequence was 500 m away, with a reasonable sized river 1 km off. I want to ‘stake out’ some such locations in Mayo this year and learn more. If you would like to join me on one such excursion, get in contact. If you are an ‘otter expert’ or student of this wonderful creature, even better.

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.