Six months in 17 for 2017

So six months in how is my list of 17 for 2017 doing. Definitely time to review.

17. Help seventeen people learn more about their environment.

Completed. I have been really lucky this year as I have been asked to run various workshops, both on pollinators and biodiversity. I really enjoyed working with our local country-life museum doing a biodiversity workshop with 30 school children a couple of weeks ago and will be doing a family biodiversity workshop for heritage week in August.

16. Send sixteen mammal records to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Only five so far. A wood mouse, two pygmy shrew and two roadkill (badger and fox).

15. Give away fifteen homegrown flower or vegetable plants to worthy homes

Six to date to friends and family. This doesn’t include things grown and planted in school garden.

14. Fourteen fun days out with the family

Union wood, Enniscoe House,  Longford Demesne, Ross beach. And summer holidays have just begun so more planned.

13. Learn thirteen new words

Oxford is a great website I have been looking at. I have learned the world muumuu. Which I think is great addition to my scrabble vocabulary.  It’s a type of dress in case you were wondering.

I also like “mouse potato”  which is someone who spends a lot of time on the computer for leisure or work.

And “nagware” which is computer software which is free for a time but then constantly reminds you to buy!

12. Write twelve blog posts (ideally one a month) on an environmental topic

Need more work here.  Short post on International Biodiversity Day, and one on Earth Day with some practical ideas, a couple of bee ones including plants for bees, and one on Climate change,

11. Read eleven new authors

A boy made of  blocks by Keith Stuart: A story about a dad learning how to love and see his autistic child just as a boy and not as a child with autism.

The trouble with goats and sheep by Joanne Cannon: A who done it with a difference, sometimes viewed through the eyes of a twelve year old.

10. Complete ten butterfly and or bee monitoring transects this year

Only four so far. Hopefully will get more done in the summer

9. Find 9 ways of encouraging more wildlife into our garden

Am creating two new wildflower area. Work in progress

8. Discover 8 new things

Chi seeds, beneficial health benefits and good for baking

Plantain (the plant) has amazing properties. Need to do more research

7. Send seven letters to friends

Only one yet

6. Try six new recipes

Oh dear, failing again. Must try harder! Though did try frying fresh kale leafs with some lamb cutlets which proved popular with everyone in the house.

5. Have five swims

Only paddles yet!

4. Find four positive ways of helping those in need

I visited a school to give them some advice on making their school grounds more environmentally friendly

3. Plant three new vegetables or fruit that I did not grown in the garden last year

So far I have only stuck with the old reliables!

2. Record two new species for the garden

Done. Humming bird hawk moth and a carabid beetle who’s name I can’t just recall.

1. Attend one cultural event

Nothing yet!

Ribworth plantain

Ribworth plantain

Teach Saileach – Willow Room

On a sunny day last week, I got a sneak preview of the new Teach Saileach or Willow Room at the Country Life Museum in Turlough, Co Mayo.


Sunshine through willow of Teach Saileach

On Sight 2017, was a community arts project, funded by Mayo County Council, in partnership with the National Museum. The Willow Room is one of several willow sculptures created in the grounds of Turlough Park, by the talented Mayo Art Squad. The artists used local willow and traditional basket making techniques.

Willow House

Willow Room

I was privileged the following day to be the first person to use the Willow room as an outdoor classroom for a group of pupils from a local primary school. We used the space as our classroom before exploring the wood for bugs and other mini-beasts.  The bug hotel is also a new addition to the woodland.

The room made a wonderful outdoor classroom. Pictured below are just  a couple of the other willow sculptures that can be viewed as part of the Willow trail.

The artists involved in the project were: Mick Smyth (coordinator), Brendan Timlin, Kevin MacNeely, David McInerney, Saw Tun, Sanita Vecbrale, Paul O’Driscoll and Aidan Crotty


Hoverflies are important pollinators of our crops. There are about 180 species of hoverfly in Ireland. Some like the one below resemble wasps or bees. They don’t have stings, but by pretending to a species that does they can perhaps avoid predation!

Chrysotoxum bicinctum

Chrysotoxum bicinctum


Drone Bumblebees

Male bumblebees, also know as drones as pretty transient. They don’t hang about for long. Once they leave their nest they fly around for a few weeks looking for females to mate with and then, job done, they just die off. It is the new females queens that will hibernate and start a new colony the following spring.

This year, drones of both Early Bumblebees and Heath Bumblebees are appearing earlier than expected here in Ireland. No one is quite sure why yet. It may be due to the strange weather we are experiencing, or it could be that these species are having two generations a year.

Many drone bees can be distinguished by the yellow hairs on their faces. The drone will often fly further than the females. So while this is the second year I have seen Heath bumble drones in my garden, I have yet to see a female Heath.

Heath Bumblebee

Heath Bumblebee (Bombus jonellus)

And I near forgot to add solstice greetings!!