Magic pollinators

As it is coming to the end of pollinator season for 2019, it seemed an appropriate time to have a celebration of all the magic off pollinators and the work they do.

peacock butterfly

Peacock

Butterflies and moths are only incidental pollinators, it is the bees and hoverflies that visit the flowers for both nectar and pollen.

White tailed bumblebee

White tailed bumblebee

Here are some more magical pollinators.

 

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Six on Saturday

We have had a few visitors this week in the garden. First the hawthorn shield bug. This I think is it’s final instar before it becomes a full adult.

Hawthorn shieldbug

Hawthorn shieldbug, final instar

The second visitor was a red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidararius). I very occasionally get red-tailed bees in my garden, though I see them elsewhere in Mayo. For some reason they don’t seem to like my garden. This chap is a rather worn and weathered male.

red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidararius)

Red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidararius)

And yes the pumpkins are getting to pumpkin size. My children are already claiming theirs for Halloween! They have five to choose from. I have one decent sized squash and one little one.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin

We have plenty of autumn raspberries this year. If the weather stays mild we should be able to continue harvesting for a couple of weeks yet.

Raspberry

Raspberry

I just wanted to share this photo, I did mean to take the carder bee, but the hoverfly popped in too! Comfrey is still flowering and the bees love it.

Comfrey with bumble and hoverfly

Comfrey with bumble and hoverfly

I know I have shown this poppy before. It is always popular with pollinators. Here a hoverfly and a solitary bee are sharing the same flower. Pollinator season is nearly over so I have to get my fill in!

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Poppy with pollinators

 

Thank you to The Propagator for hosting Six on Saturday.

 

 

Inishbiggle (Inis Bigil)

Inishbiggle (Inis Bigil in Irish) is a small island (just under 3km2) that lies between Achill Island and the mainland off the west coast of Ireland. We had the opportunity to visit the island a couple of weeks ago. The journey, just takes a few minutes in a small boat from the mainland.

Boat ride

Boat ride – looking back to mainland

The island has only very small roads and with hardly any cars, is the perfect place to walk and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Inis bigil

Inis bigil

One of the oldest building on the island is the church, a small pretty building on the eastern side of the island.

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The island was only first inhabited in 1834. At it’s peak the island had a population of 171 and throughout the early 20th Century the population remained about one hundred. By 2006 the population had dropped to just 24. Today, there are just ten households occupied throughout the year and only 14 people living on the island permanently. The majority of inhabitants are over 50 years of age. The ferry man told us there was no longer any children living on the island.

 

In the past, farming and fishing would have been the main occupations but today only a couple of landowners continue to farm (sheep and cattle). Tuft is still being cut in some places.

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The island has a magical quality to it. It is so peaceful, the views are stunning and the light is special.

But at the same time there is a sadness, a feeling that humans time here is coming to an end. The men who took us across on their boat were very conscious of the changing climate. They could already see the impact on their community, with rising sea levels and increasing strengths of storms. They showed us at how extra stones cages have had to be installed at the pier to protect it and how the floating platform needed and extra 30cm added to the top to deal with higher tides and storm surges. We often think of sea rise as only affecting tropical islands but for these islanders it was very real too.a

 

The island’s isolation is both it’s magical charm and it’s potential ruin.

Inis bigil

Inis bigil

 

Ferries to the island are available from the mainland at Doran’s point or from Achill island, see this link.

 

Six on Saturday

We have had a minor disaster this week in that strong winds (not even a storm, but a gust of strong wind during some heavy rain) felled one of my favourite apple trees. Both in 2017 and in 2018 it was also our most productive tree so a big loss.

Annie Elizabeth tree

Annie Elizabeth apple tree

Here in the west of Ireland we have had a very wet spell with what feels like constant rain. So while there are good blackberries and autumn raspberries, many are going rotten because of the rain.

Blackberries

Blackberries

We have a reasonable crop of cob nuts, but each year we loose a lot to nut weevil grubs. We wait to see what this year brings.

Cob nut

Cob nut

It’s all a bit negative isn’t it – so here is some positive news. The chicks are growing. They have been moved out to the polytunnel during the day, and are enjoying consuming chickweed which tends to seed itself in the poly and greenhouse!!

Growing chicks

Growing chicks

While in County Clare I really saw the value of scabious as a pollinator plant. We do have a small patch of wild devils-bit scabious but it is one thing I will try and grow more of next year. I also hope to try out some of the cultivated forms too.

 

Finally for this weeks six, Osteospermum. In one of my previous gardens, this plant did really well, but it has failed to thrive here in the west. This time I bought a potted plant and just re-potted it in a larger pot. And this is its second flowering. I will over winter in the greenhouse or polytunnel and maybe keep it as a pot plant for next year.

Osteospermum

Osteospermum

Thank you to The Propagator for hosting Six on Saturday.