Monthly Archives: May 2016

Feile Na Tuaithe

For the past few years the Country Life Museum in Turlough here in Co Mayo has celebrated a family weekend festival called Feile Na Tuaithe (celebration of country life). The Feile endeavors to celebrate all things good about country life, its craft and traditions. We seem to have missed some of the crafts this year but we did watch a blacksmith hard at work.

The birds of prey from the Mount Falcon Estate Falconry team are always impressive and this time around the beautiful Eagle Owl was particularly striking and very happy to pose for photographs.

The farming section is always popular with the children and we met a blind horse from the North Mayo Horse Sanctuary as well as some lovely donkeys from the Irish Donkey Welfare Organisation, some pigs (most were sleeping but the little fellow in the photo was busy looking for grubs), sheep and also some chickens and rabbits.

There is always some live entertainment at the Feile and as a family we really loved the Whistle Blast Quartet, who have a wonderful way of engaging children with classical music. The art trail too happens each year. Some of  the pieces didn’t do much for me this year but I did like this fishy one!

And of course a country life festival wouldn’t be much of a country festival without tractors – but it was the colourful tractor seats that caught my fancy.

tractor seats

tractor seats






International Day for Biodiversity – 22nd May

Today we are celebrating biodiversity. Biodiversity is all around us – in the wonders of the natural world that surround us; it is part of the food we eat; it provides us with clean water and fertile soil. And yet more than ever it is under threat. The vital ecosystems that support Earth are constantly being bombarded by man, be it with pollution, destruction of habitats or species extinction to name just a few. Today though should be a day for celebration. So let us put aside all the negative things we are doing to mother nature and celebrate all her glory.


One of the best ways to celebrate is to get out there and enjoy what the world has to offer. It may be just a walk in the park – but get outside, enjoy it!

Here in Ireland you can get involved in the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s ‘5,000 biodiversity records challenge’. All they ask you to do it get outside and record some wildlife and send you records to them – for more information click here.

Here are some of my pollinator biodiversity highlights from this weekend.

Pollinator Study Day – 21st May

As the next event for the Mayo Naturalists’ Field Club, I am giving a course with my friend Celia this coming Saturday near Straide Co Mayo – May 21st from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm

The morning will focus on the main Irish pollinator groups, their current status, lifestyles and habitat needs. Weather permitting we will observe pollinator activity in the immediate area: bumblebees, Spring butterflies and early hoverflies.

In the afternoon we will take a walk to look at different habitat types and pollinator forage plants, review the aims of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020, and discuss recently published strategies for putting them into practice at local level.

Cost: €10.00 (kindly subsidised by Mayo Heritage)

Please bring: any observations on pollinator activity in your neighbourhood this spring; rain-gear, stout shoes, and a packed lunch. Tea and coffee will be provided.

Booking essential as places are limited. Please fill out the form below to book or for more information.


May Pollinators

As May finally warms up the pollinators are returning in force to the garden. Top attractions are the fruit blossoms, dandelions and comfrey. I wish I could share the smell of the crab apple blossom. The tree is white with blossom and smells divine. It’s popular not only with the honeybees but also at least three different hoverflies. As always the bees are just loving the comfrey. It is also a good place to find the hoverfly Rhingia campestris. This is an easily identified hoverfly here in Ireland as it is our only one with a long snout!

Bee numbers are still low with few workers about, but hopefully the warmer temperatures will result in more.

Butterflies numbers are low too – mainly orange tips and whites at the moment.

After-schools gardening club

In the local primary school, we have started an after-schools gardening club as part of the school’s biodiversity green-school project.

With over 40 (about a third of the school) children attending it takes a bit of organising, but thankfully other parents have come on board to help out. It is wonderful to see the kids get so enthusiastic about not only gardening, but also making the school more wildlife friendly.

Our first task was to make some bird boxes, which have subsequently gone up in the hedgerow which surrounds the school.

There are a couple of existing flower beds which were weeded and planted with some primulas to brighten them up. Daffodils were already present. The kids have since set seeds of other flowers and these will be planted out in the coming weeks.

There is one quite small raised bed from a previous attempt to grow vegetables. The first part of this has been filled with compost and planted with onions, beetroot, radishes, peas and lettuce. People have been very generous and donated seeds, pots, tools and compost. The kids are keen to grow pumpkins so last week we started of some pumpkin seeds. They have also planted up strawberry plants into a large pot which the kids have to keep watered and hopefully they will be rewarded with some strawberries before the summer holidays come.

We’ve also planted a selection of apple trees. The soil at the site is poor and water-logged but we hope that over the years the trees will produce some apples that the kids will be able to harvest. We’d also like to incorporate some other soft fruit bushes like raspberries and currants. It’s very much a work in progress. But even if we can inspire just a couple of children to become avid gardens I will feel rewarded.