I enjoy traveling within my own country but am often reluctant to travel further – but sometimes you don’t have to go far to see stunning scenery. Two days ago we headed for the west coast to Doolough near Gweesalia, here in County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland.
“If there’s a heaven for me, I’m sure it has a beach attached to it” – Jimmy Buffett.
I had to “borrow” this wonderful quote from PA Moed, as it is very true for me.
To the right you can see the Mullet Peninsula, to the left Achill Island.
The beach is a great one for shell collecting.
And at over 2km long you can also get a very decent walk. I know there are many beautiful places out there to see and many of you have shown me some of them in your own blogs. But for my travels, I am, so far, content with this.
Last week I was very lucky to spend a day with the BSBI (Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland) during their Mayo recording event. The botanists had spent 4 days in County Mayo, recording plants on Clare Island, Inishturk as well as on the mainland.
This is the second BSBI recording event I have attended and I am always impressed, not only by the knowledge of the botanists doing the recording, but also by their enthusiasm to pass on their knowledge to amateur botanists like myself. In Ireland, we have about 980 native vascular plants and a further 1300+ non-natives. The last time the recording event was held in Mayo back in 2015, a whopping 10,824 plant records were collected. All this information will go to feed into the BSBI Plant Atlas 2020.
On the day I attended, the group was broken up into a number of smaller groups of about 4 individuals, each with a specific area to survey. Each group had a mix of botany skills, from experts to beginners. Our group started recording in some flora rich grasslands along the shores of Lough Carra.
Botanising often requires that you get up close and personnel to your subject matter, particularly if it is something rare that you don’t want to pick.
In this case (see above photo), it was determining if the plant was Spring Gentian. In flower the plant is easily identified by it’s beautiful blue flower, but when you only have a dried flower stalk and some leaves you need to use something like Webbs An Irish Flora plant key to make sure you have your identification correct.
Other habitats we looked at during the day included road verges, hedgerow banks, bogs (including a dried-up bog pool, unusual but perhaps not surprising after our dry June and July), and turlough (though again totally dry).
If you see a group of people with their heads stuck in a hedge they are likely to be some kind of scientist!
It really was a great day out. Our group recorded about 220 species, everything from common dandelions to rare spring gentians. I learnt so much from Maria, Rory and Mark, my colleagues for the day. A huge thank you to all involved but particular Maria Long, BSBI’s Irish Officer.
This week’s Lens Artist weekly challenge theme is “blue”.
Blue brings to my mind two things. The sky and the sea. The combination of blue sky and sea is magical.
Firstly Newport beach from our trip to Wales earlier in the summer.
Then closer to home, Ross beach, and below Beltra beach, County Mayo.
Harebells, Campanula rotundifolia, are one of my favourite summer flowers. What is not to like – a beautiful blue colour and shaped like bells. I have cultivated forms of Campanula in my garden but nothing beats this native one. The native ones are found on dry grasslands and dunes. These ones were growing on a dry sand/soil bank adjacent to some machair (a specialised, rare and sandy habitat formed from windblown calcareous sands) near Belmullet, Co Mayo.
We only occasionally get these little heath bumblebees in our garden. As the name suggests they are more common in upland areas, particularly bogs and heaths but they are recorded in gardens too. I took these photos on the shores of Lough Cullin here in County Mayo, last weekend.
There was a couple of queens and one very small worker, who practically dissappeared into the flowers as it searched for pollen and nectar.
Heath bumblebees are one of the smallest of Ireland’s white tailed bumbles and they have three yellow brands making them look quite yellow.
Ross Beach is one of our favoutite beaches at any time of year. With Easter falling early this year, we have had opportunity to take a few day trips. Heading to the beach is always a bit of an adventure. This time we were surprised to find that the storms over the winter have shifted sand away from the beach. This has resulted in the loss of some dunes, but also the exposure of a more pebbles and stones in one area.
There was time for some beach-combing and even castle building.
The horses and their riders were also enjoying the freedom of a long beach. Like us, the horses had a paddle, they did not seem to notice that the water was FREEZING!