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.

Great Weekend in Mayo

What a weekend’s weather we’ve just had in Mayo. We had a really nice group for our walks this weekend, with everybody in the kind of good mood you’ll get with beautiful weather and surroundings.

Take a look at some pictures below. Highlights of the weekend, from a fauna point of view, were around 6 Bottle Nosed Dolphins off the west side of Iniskea South, 9 Grey Seals in ‘Seal Cove’, a Kestrel at Sheskin and, without doubt the highlight for me, 2 Otters at Sheskin also.

I was crouching down on the forest track in Sheskin, looking at the Kestrel that had landed on a nearby conifer, when I heard a “glub, glub” sound coming from the very small, shallow and narrow ditch behind me. I waited for the sound to get just past me, then stood up and saw a beautiful adult otter moving along the ditch. I was able to witness him for a good 10 metres as he pottered along minding his own business, seeing what he could catch for an early dinner. Ten minutes later, another came along in the same direction.

 

The Trees, The Flowers, The Birds

Of course, what’s really great about this time of the year is how the trees have mostly come into leaf and the lovely wild flowers are covering the ground all around. Meanwhile, the migratory birds are returning.

Interestingly, I was part of a group walking around some trees in Castlebar just this week (as you do), where, among others, the Sycamore was in full leaf. Meanwhile, just one day earlier, no more than 40 km away, I visited some Sycamores as yet without leaf.

Yesterday, I was up at the new Arrowrock Hostel, on the beautiful eastern shore of Lough Arrow, Co. Sligo, where the bluebells cover the ground under their mature Scots Pines.

Sycamore and Primrose, north Mayo

Sycamore and Primrose, north Mayo

On Monday, I was up in Sheskin Forest, where the primrose lords over the hedgerows and damp grassy knolls.

 I love the way my house has a wild hedge on one side of the garden. It gives us wild primrose and dog violets, among others.

 

 

Punctually challenged Ash

Punctually challenged Ash

Meanwhile, my Ash trees stubbornly refuse to partake in the whole re-awakening thing …

This photo shows the characteristic black buds in the foreground, with another Ash in the background and Hawthorn plus Ivy in the middle. The Hawthorn is just about to blossom. Admittedly, the black buds of the Ash are beginning to budge at this stage.

 

 

The neighbour’s Crab Apple is in full bloom too. It reminds me that each year I ‘allow’ the kids to try the fruit. They’re still too young to remember the experience by the time the next year’s crop comes around.

The swallows are well back by now, as are the House Martins and Cuckoos. The House Martins have been seen in south Mayo for over two weeks, but there’s still no sign of ours. It’s lashing rain outside and the weather is promised bad for the weekend. That’s not good, because I need to paint the outside wall of the house, where our Martins have their nest, before they return. I don’t want to disturb them once they’ve arrived.

Wild Mayo in May

Friday May 15 thru Sunday May 17 :

Join us on three wonderful days walking in Wild Mayo in Ireland’s West.

Forest track, Sheskin, Mayo

Forest track, Sheskin, Mayo

Friday – A five hour hike through the largest area of land in Ireland with no through road. Discover the vast bogs and enormous conifer plantations of Sheskin, Central Mayo. Try your hand at some red deer tracking, maybe spot some elusive otters or red grouse, stand in total silence and take in the sheer scale of the place.

 

 

Wild weather, Iniskea Islands, Mayo

Wild weather, Iniskea Islands, Mayo

Saturday – Take the boat out to the South Iniskea Island off the west coast of Mayo and Europe and stroll around for the day, taking in the wildlife and seascapes of this beautiful island. Observe the varied marine bird species of this uninhabited spot. Wander around the deserted houses long since abandoned.

 

 

The Mullet Peninsula, Mayo - a great place for walking

The Mullet Peninsula, Mayo - a great place for walking

Sunday – Some nice relaxing walks around the Mullet peninsula, west of Belmullet town, Coastal Mayo, including on the beaches looking west over the wild Atlantic.

Stay two nights in an environmentally friendly bed and breakfast out on the Mullet, heated by geothermal renewable energy and solar panels.

 

This long weekend will bring you back to a place of peace in these turbulent times.

You will need some stamina for the long walks, a genuine sense of adventure and deep love of the outdoors. Bring good hiking boots and layers of clothing for the ever changing weather of Ireland’s West coast. Enjoy. It’ll be great.

Price : Euro 285 per person. Accommodation is in twin bedrooms. Price includes all accommodation, breakfast and full dinner, packed lunches on each day, transport to and from Castlebar, boat to and from islands, full guiding throughout. You just get yourself to Castlebar by 10.00 on Friday, May 15th.

Places are strictly limited to first 11 only.

Call or contact me for further details.