Nature at its best in Leitrim
The good thing about social isolation is having time to do the things you fret about not doing in normal circumstances. So I have, on occasion, fretted about not cleaning out my cupboards or tidying my garden shed. I now have lots of time to do it but have decided I’d much rather spend time in the great outdoors in the company of nature. I’ve taken to the hills, forests and byways that I frequented with my parents and siblings as a child when we went looking for birds’ nests, picking bluebells, listening to bird song, watching the clouds or just out and about on a farming task. On our 2km & 5km walk/hike from Tawnylust Lodge, we have encountered some magnificent creatures great and small during Spring and Summer. Here I share some of them with you. I also name the town-lands which are poetry in themselves. I worried about getting the names of some of the species wrong but decided that not knowing the name would not interfere with the enjoyment of their beauty!
I love the tradition in Leitrim and other places of leaving Mayflowers on the doorstep and windowsill of neighbours’ houses to ward off evil spirits and cheeky fairies on May eve. It was also done at byres to keep bad health away from the cattle. A lovely start to the festival of Bealtaine. We also had National Biodiversity Week in May that further encouraged me to take pics and record Leitrim’s wonderful flora and fauna with Biodiversity Ireland’s Bio Data Centre.
I used to take offence with the dandelions for appearing in my fairly well groomed garden. Now I see them as food for the bees and other wildlife and the perfect excuse to faff about with the camera and not bother to cut the grass! Well, if I have to go around with bushy hair and grey roots, why should the garden be perfect!
I watched this starling gather for days and build her nest in my neighbours eave at the house, I had never seen the iridescent feathers so clearly. She carried and carted for what must have been hundreds of trips to ensure a safe house was constructed for her brood. I heard the fledglings in the nest while she carried and carted again to a hungry bunch of babies and then teenagers. It was so lovely to see the little ones emerge and fly around. My gorgeous neighbour never complained about the ‘toilet business’ outside her back door but just wondered at the magnificence of nature!
This field of gold; buttercups at my childhood home, caught my eye one day. I had to pop out with the camera and get a pic. According to Tim Hurley writing for Nature Trail in the Sligo Champion, we have three types of buttercup in Ireland; the Bulbous Buttercup, Meadow Buttercup and the Creeping Buttercup. Read Article Here.
Butterflies (or as my friend’s grandchild calls them flutterbys!) are very numerous this year. The good weather certainly has made them more visible and I have particularly noticed the orange tip. Only the male has the orange colour, the female is white.This one I spotted on a cuckoo flower or Blessed Virgin flower as we used to call it when we were kids and it was popular for our May altar.
I decided on a trip down memory lane so took off over the fields and lane ways to visit places that were hidden in my memory. Houses I visited as a child, fields I played in, trees I’d climbed. It was so lovely to see those places with the eyes of an adult and all the feelings that seeing them prompted. Below is a collage of the flora I encountered in the town lands of Loughafonta, Tawnyinshinagh, Tawnylust Upper, Tawnylust, Doagh and Lughawnagh.
On my travels a few hundred metres from home, I came across this derelict cottage, surrounded by native trees with the most wonderful views across the valley. I don’t ever remember having been there before but I do remember the man John, who lived there. He worked in the shop at the local creamery, a couple of kilometres away at Mullawn. As a child I was mesmerized by the way, when you ordered sweets (money permitting) he weighed them and, very deftly, with a scoop filled them into a paper cone made with one hand. I do believe he gave myself and my friends a few extra but it was never acknowledged. I don’t think the mixed sweets were wrapped. The brown paper, if not too sticky was probably reused for something at home. Sustainability at its best.
I have always been fascinated with the white Ermine moth and two of them decided to visit in the last few days, resting around the house during the day. I love their colouring and have always dreamt of having a dress designed around their colour and texture. Who knows, I just might meet the right dress maker in 2020!
The usually wet uplands are quite dry at the moment so it’s great to be able to walk across them and see the flora and fauna. On Saturday’s walk I saw lots of day flying moths and the wild flowers.
I hope you have enjoyed this little meander in nature in Leitrim, I certainly did and I’d like to leave you with these words of wisdom:
Till the time Mother Nature takes away what she had bestowed upon us for free – this wonderful gift, of life. Value it, while you have it.