Musings and photos of wild and everyday life

Posts tagged “Wild Flowers

The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring …

Daffodil against sun in Garden
Crocuses in Hermitage Museum courtyard Amsterdam

Crocuses in Hermitage Museum courtyard Amsterdam

With apologies to Messrs Gilbert & Sullivan, these flowers have everything to do with this case.

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There has been a good showing of wild and garden bulbs such as Crocuses as well as other Spring flowers this year befitting from some sunny spring weather.
They add colour and provide nectar for early flying insects.
But more importantly, they signal an end to the dark cold days.
Snowdrop in Garden

Snowdrop in Garden

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Snowdrops lit up field edges and areas under sleeping bushes, early on.
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Their delicate, fairy-like white heads seemed to dominate fields and gardens.
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The traditional show in Altamount Gardens, Co. Carlow, was brilliant with different varieties and areas where the lawn was almost obscured by white. . See https://cliffsview.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/spring-signs/

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Daffodil against sun in Garden

Daffodil against sun in Garden

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Daffodils (Narcissi), Cyclamen and Tulips followed, reminding us what great value bulbs are, usually recurring each year, often in greater numbers, with little work required.
Tulip inners in Garden

Tulip inners in Garden

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Bluebells in Garden

Bluebells in Garden

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Primrose has had a very good spring and these always cheery flowers are in full bloom.
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So also are Bluebells in many places.
Bluebell woods Muckross rd Killarney

Bluebell woods Muckross rd Killarney

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Here in this colder corner of heaven, they are just starting!
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It always seems to me that blue is not a common colour in nature and so to see woodland carpeted in blue surprises and delights year after year!
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Three-cornered Garlic Allium triquetrum Howth with E coast in distance

Three-cornered Garlic (Allium triquetrum) Howth with East coast in distance

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Many places have large shows of white flowers again, like a revisit of Snowdrops. Ransoms or Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum), related to Chives, are in full growth in many places, especially in woods. A quick break of a leaf delivers the sharp Garlic smell.
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An introduced species of Garlic, Allium triquetrum, gives a similar show in some more open spaces around the country.  It  has more bell-like white flowers on Hydra-like multiple stems.  It also smells of Garlic but not as strong as the more common variety and has narrower leaves.
Wild Pansy Viola tricolor Bull Island

Wild Pansy (Viola tricolor) Bull Island

Pink Rhododendron Flowers Russborough

Pink Rhododendron Flowers Russborough

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Meadowsweet is beginning to add fragrance to country roads and keep an eye out for Wild Pansies which seem too vivid to be growing wild.
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Rhododendron, that most invasive of invasive species, should be blooming shortly.  It probably is already in some parts. Despite its all enveloping and choking nature, the flowers in many colours, are something to see.  If you can forgive them their bullying nature for 1 month, two good places to view them are Deer park in Sutton / Howth and Russborough House, south of Blessington (See .  Howth has the advantage of great views over the coast.
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In the west, many roadsides sport them and they can be a real nuisance to control!

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Gorse at Lower Reservoir Silent Valley Co Down

Gorse at Lower Reservoir Silent Valley Co. Down

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Of course one of the nicest sights at this time of year is Gorse (Ulex) in full bloom.

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Enjoy and may the Furze be with Yew.

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Sardinia E

Moving towards the East side of SardiniaWild Lavender Gennargentu Area Sardinia, wild flowers were still in abundance.  It was brilliant to see and smell Thyme, Lavender and other herbs growing wild in the hills and especially around the Gennargentu mountains. This is a special area with pigs roaming fairly freely, birds flying great scenery and relatively few people.

The descent to Cala Gonone – our HQ for the second half of the week – is through a tunnel from Dorgali which lightens to reveal a great vista of sea, town, hills and shitch-backs.

Cala Gonone vista from Tunnel Sardinia.

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Spotless Starling Orgosolo Sardinia
Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)

Being in the middle of the Med, you’d expect the birds to be a bit different.

The usual Gull is the Yellow-legged Gull (see previous post); the main crow is Hooded; the common Sparrow is of the Spanish variety and the Starlings are Spotless. Actually, the island itself is also fairly clean, although we were there before the tourist season really took off.Spanish Sparrow Male on chair back hotel

We stayed in a hotel above the North end of town with great views of the coast that also brought us closer to the cliffs and wildlife.Cala Luna & Caves S of Cala Gonone Sardinia

Easily seen wildlife included Alpine and Pallid (see previous blog) Swifts, the ubiquitous Sardinian Warbler,

Alpine Swift flying Cala Gonone Sardinia
Alpine Swift flying Cala Gonone Sardinia
Sardinian Warbler Male
Male Sardinian Warbler

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Dragonflies and Italian Wall lizards.
Italian Wall Lizard
Emperor Dragonfly Male

Cirl Buntings were also reasonably numerous and we saw a few Purple Herons
Cirl Bunting Female Orgosolo E Sardinia
Purple Heron flying Lago di Tortoli Sardiniabut I was delighted to see an Eleanora’s Falcon flying over the cliffs. Eleanoras Falcon flying,Sardinia

These have a well established and known breeding colony off the SW of the island.

There is also a Griffon Vulture colony – reasons, if needed, to return!

Cala Gonone Pier Sardinia from boat


Sardinia NW

This is a place I always wanted to visit and it didn’t dissapoint.Alghero & coast Sardinia from South  It is an island in the middle of the Med which has managed to keep its charm despite growing tourism.

Lesser Kestrel M NW Coast Sardinia nr StintinoWherever you go there are birds and if you go in early summer, the weather is great – not too hot and the the island is still green.  We started our week in the NW, based in Alghero.  Nearby are a number of good places to watch birds, especially just to the North.

Apart from the sunshine, birds  and brilliant views, what struck us was the amount of wild flowers.

Wild Flowers & coast S of Alghero Sardinia

Birdwise, it was not hard to see many birds in the NW including  Lesser Kestrel, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt and Marsh Harrier.

Squacco Heron flying over marsh NW SardiniaLittle Egret flying over marsh & Black-winged Stilt NW SardiniaMarsh Harrier F flying over marsh NW SardiniaRelatively common were Spotted Flycatchers  as well as Swifts while Bee-eaters could be seen in the country-side.Spotted Flycatcher Calabona Hotel Alghero SardiniaBee-eater on wire NW Sardinia

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Pallid Swift flying Alghero SardiniaBoth Alpine and Pallid Swifts can be seen chasing flies in the air.

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The common Gulls here are Yellow-legged and I was pleased to see Little Terns.
Yellow-legged Gull scratching Stintino Sardinia
Little Tern at saline pool NW Sardinia

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It’s a place you would like to visit with a long lens, tripod and more birding time. Sun setting from Calabona Hotel Alghero SardiniaLighthouse on Capo Caccia from boat

On the other hand, the beautiful scenery, caves, coast and unspoilt nature makes it a great place for a combined holiday / bird trip.Formations in Grotto di Nettuno NW Sardinia

Alghero Sardinia from S at twilight

Alghero Sardinia from South at twilight


Wicklow Way, Kilmore Quay – Spiders and Insects – Review of 2010 – August

August

Wicklow SW and Lough Dan from Wicklow WayWicklow is known as the Garden County.  Some garden!

Brilliant scenery, great walks, and full of wildlife, this is my extended home!

Amazingly it is close to around 2 million people and yet remains mainly wild.

Perhaps we should keep it secret.

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The wicklow way winds its way across the mountains with railway sleepers in places making the going easier.  There are great wild flowers to be found.

Wild Flower mix road side Blessington.

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At home in Blessington, someone grew ‘wild’ flowers in a rough patch beside the road.

Perhaps not truly wild but they were colourful and probably beneficial to other wildlife.

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.Cross Spider on home wall

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Birds were still around but they tend to go a bit quiet in August.

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Insects and bugs on the other hand, seem to be everywhere,

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‘Evil’ spiders were commonplace, this one paler than usual on the wall of our house.

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On a short visit to Kilmore Quay, one of my favourite places, the weather was good and many insects flitted in the dunes.

6 Spot Burnet moth with tongue rolled up, Kilmore Quay dunes.

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There were many 6-spot Burnets feeding on the wild flowers.

When we were young (just a few years ago), my brother Don and I regularly cycled to Bull Island and spent a lot of time in the valley between the dunes and St. Annes Golf course, looking for birds such as Cuckoos, Pipits, Larks, Reed Buntings and the odd Long Eared Owl.

But a lot of our time was spent looking at or for other things – Pigmy Shrews and Butterflies & Moths, mainly.

The 6-spot Burnet was one of the commonest moths, together with the Cinnabar.

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Male Common Blue Buttterfly Kilmore Quay dunes.

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The dunes at Kilmore Quay also held many Common Blue Butterflies.

This is a male with its wings together showing the markings underneath.

They whiz around a lot and annoy would-be viewers and photographers but when they do alight they often ‘pose’ like this with the wings up.

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Male Common Blue Butterfly, wings out, Kilmore Quay dunes.

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But the colours shown when the wings are ‘out’ in the ‘normal’ position, are superb – a brilliant electric blue, seeming to shimmer and almost defy hue definition.

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As is common for the animal kingdon,if not for humans, females are a duller brownish colour.

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Grey Seal Kilmore Quay harbour

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In the harbour at Kilmore Quay, Grey Seals were frequent visitors to feed on discarded fish scraps from the fishing activities.

The Grey Seal has a different shape head to the less common ‘Common’ Seal.

It is said to be more dog-like and this one does look a bit like a dog looking for a bone!

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One of Ireland’s birding jewels, the Saltee Islands, is a short ferry ride from Kilmore Quay, but that’s another story.