Category Archives: Biodiversity

Citizen Heros

Over the past few weeks I have been very lucky to have been working with some very dedicated people. These citizen don’t seek to stand out, instead they work tirelessly for their communities, their hard work often going unnoticed.

The people I am talking about are the community volunteer committees working to improve our towns and villages throughout County Mayo and Ireland. Many of these committees go under the title of Tidy Town Committees.  Tidy Towns was set up in 1958, and was initially used to encourage towns to improve their environs by planting flowers and trees. Today, Tidy Towns is much more than that, encompassing such themes as sustainability and biodiversity.

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I have been working with groups in Westport, Mulranney, Belmullet, Castlebar and Balla delivering Leave No Trace Biodiversity Training Workshops. The pilot programme is being delivered in partnership with South West Mayo Development Group CGL (SWMDC). The workshops are raising awareness of local biodiversity, what can be done in communities to protect and enhance biodiversity, and how biodiversity is linked to the Leave No Trace ethos and use of our outdoor spaces.

For me the most inspiring element of delivering the workshops are the groups themselves and their enthusiasm for improving their local areas. These community volunteers are working for the greater good of their communities. They don’t just plant window boxes. They create community gardens, build and install bird, bat and bug boxes, plant orchards,  and encourage others to actively participate in the community.

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These are the unsung heros of our communities.  No job is too small (they will stop to pick up litter where ever they walk), and no challenge too big. If you are a local business owner I urge you to get behind your local Tidy Town group. If you are just an interested citizen, Tidy Town committees arcoss the country are always looking for volunteers to help. Why not give it a go.

 

 

 

 

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Birch Shieldbug

I have always liked shieldbugs. We don’t see them that often despite their colourful appearance, because they are also good at hiding. I am using my camera phone as my own camera is out of action, so not the best image!

They belong to the order Hemiptera, which is the same order as aphids, pond skaters and frog hoppers. They have a sucking mouthpath which they use to extract fluids from plants.

National Hare Survey – Citizen Science

We are involved in a national Hare Survey of Ireland.

Hare

As part of the survey, the National Biodiversity Data Centre has joined the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) in launching a monitoring portal for hares in Ireland.

Anyone can submit all there hare sightings by following this link.

hare survey

 

For help with hare identification there is also an online identification guide.

This is a great opportunity to take part in a national survey.

 

 

A frog in the hand….

Regular readers will remember we had plenty of frogs in the pond earlier in the year and lots of spawn. The tadpoles are now developing into little frogs. My youngest spotted a couple moving from the pond to the hedgerow.

A frog in the hand

A frog in the hand

They are so tiny. The fact that any of these creatures can make it to a full -sized adult frog is truly amazing. How big the world must seem to them!

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Saturday Bumbles

Red-tailed bumblebees are lovely looking bees. The workers and queens as below, are jet black with a red tail. The males are similar but have a yellow band on it’s head and yellow face hairs. They are only occasional visitors to my garden but they are around at the moment, though this one was photographed on the West coast of Ireland.  They have a “near-threatened” status in Ireland.

Bombus lapidarius

Bombus lapidarius

National Biodiversity Week

We are already half way through Ireland’s biodiversity week, and computer issues and work have meant that I am only now getting around post about it. Biodiversity Week, which runs from 17th to the 27th May 2018, aims to celebrate all of Ireland’s wonderful biodiversity and looks at connecting people with nature. There are lots of events, walls, talks and workshops.

There are many simple things you can do to connect with nature in your own garden. Since starting my garden here 13 years ago, one of my main aims has been to increase biodiversity.

Here are some of my tips.

  • Plant trees. Fruit trees are a great option as they provide spring blossom for many pollinators and of course fruit later in the season.
Green veined white on apple blossom

Green veined white on apple blossom

  • Plant flowers. I love native wildflowers and have flowers meadows as well as including wild flowers in my flowers beds and vegetable patch.

Meadow

  • Plant a hedge. We have blackbirds, and dunnocks nesting in our hedge this year.
hedge with climbing rose

hedge with climbing rose

  • Dig a pond. Ponds attract frogs, newts and many aquatic insects including amazing dragonflies.
Frogs in pond

Frogs in pond

  • Put up some bird, bat and solitary bee boxes.
bee box

bee box

  • Get involved in some citizen science Programmes.  This week the National Biodiversity Data Centre are encouraging everyone to send in their butterfly records.

Enjoy nature!