Monthly Archives: August 2015

Beauty and The Beast

Last Thursday was a great day for wildlife spotting. First we headed for a day out at Moorehall. Around the ruins of the hall we spotted a bat flying about in the middle of the day! Not a usual occurrence. The area is well known for it’s bats and includes a population of Lesser Horseshoe Bats, Ireland’s only horseshoe bat. Unfortunately, no photograph of that but we did see this beautiful Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia) not long after. This large butterfly likes deciduous woodlands so the woods around Moorehall are prefect habitat.

Silver washed Fritillary

Silver washed Fritillary

When we got home from our walk there was a female sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) sitting on the roof of the greenhouse. They nest in the conifier plantation just below the house and we have been treated to views during this last few weeks of the young and adults particularly during feeding time when the adults come home with some tasty morsel between their talons. Again I wasn’t fast enough with the camera. However, more was in store!

And our final wildlife highlight of the day was rescuing this strange creature from the water-butt by the greenhouse! It took a bit of time for it to dry off and probably also warm-up so plenty opportunity for some shots. It’s has two common names including giant horntail and great wood wasp (Urocerus gigas). The long rear appendage, which we originally thought may be a sting, is in fact a harmless oivposter. The females drills homes in wood and uses it to lay her eggs. It is perhaps somewhat unfair to refer to it as a ‘beast’ as suggested by my title, as really it looks pretty amazing. The near furry texture of it’s thorax reminds me of bumblebees. Still it’s probably not something you want to find flying around your bedroom!

Horntail or Wood wasp

Horntail or Wood wasp

Horntail or Wood wasp

Horntail or Wood wasp

Swinford Agricultural Show

Agricultural shows are part and parcel of rural Irish life during the summer months. Many large towns in County Mayo have their own show, the better known ones are the Bonniconlon Show and the Ballina Show. This year we went to the Swinford Show. Despite being August it was a cool blustery day.

Agricultural shows are of course great places to see all kinds of tractors – a great attraction for our seven year old!

It was fascinating watching the cows and bulls being washed, shampooed and groomed. People obviously take this very seriously and the animals must look their very best.

Horses, sheep, and goats were all on show and hoping for best in show in their particular category. There was poultry too – many were kept in cages so not good for taking photographs but again some amazing and strange looking creatures.

There are two sides to each show. It is not just the cows and sheep that get prizes. But also the best cake and jam makers too. We did not have time to wait for the marquee area to be opened to the general public. While we were there the judges were hard at work judging the best jams, breads, scones, and fruit tarts, not to mention the best flower arrangements and best vegetables.

A great day out for all the family.

 

 

The beauty of late summer’s wild flowers

We had a walk in Drummin wood and along the shores of Lough Cullen earlier this weekend. The wood has a new track, or should I say old track which has been re-opened and resurfaced. There were some lovely large specimens of hazel and holly.

Along the shores of Lough Cullen there was a wealth of wild flowers. It may be late summer but there was no shortage of colour. I just wanted to share a little of the beauty.

Grass of Parnassus was a plant I had to look up, as it is one I was not familiar with. In order to get a detailed photo I asked my husband to hold onto the flower head. It was really exquisite (it’s worth clicking on the photo to get a closer look).

And finally of course the lovely view over the lake.

Lough Cullen

Lough Cullen

Rejuvenated hedge

Those of you who follow my blog regularly may remember back in February we laid one of our hedges.

Hedge laying

Hedge laying

It looked rather drastic at the time – but this type of hedgerow management has been used for hundreds of years in Britain and Ireland. Our hedge is looking well, all the trees have regrown. This is what it looks like today.

Laid Hedge

Laid Hedge

Ash in hedge

Ash in hedge

The climbing roses which grow though the hedge are a heritage variety. They have been flowering all summer. The smell is heavenly.

Summer Gallery II

My second gallery this week – just a few of the wonderful bugs feeding and mating in the garden this week. And some purple loosestrife just because it looks nice and some wild raspberries because they taste great (they are particularly good this year, despite our poor summer. I hope the autumn cultivated ones will be as tasty!)

August in the Greenhouse

In the greenhouse, patience is finally paying off and we’ve been enjoying the first of the cucumbers. There are plenty of green tomatoes (no sign of them going red yet) and some interesting black ones (a friend gave me some seeds earlier in the year – I think they are called black berry).

The bees are enjoying the oregano that is flowering. And we are still enjoying some alpine strawberries.

I’ve seedlings started for some autumn and winter crops for the polytunnel including lettuce, mangetout and these leaf beat. There are more winter crops to go in, but I have already planted in some calabrese, which I have had mixed results with in previous years. After a poor summer in the vegetable garden I am hoping for a better autumn! Optimism when vegetable gardening in an Irish climate is essential.

Leaf beet

Leaf beet