Tag Archives: Discover Challenge

16 for 2016 Final review

This week’s Discover Challenge is Retrospective, and seeing we are in the closing days of December is seems the ideal time to look back on my 16 for 2016 list.

16:  Plant sixteen different vegetables in the garden

Success see previous June Review.

15: Read fifteen books in the year

Success see previous post on books read.

14: Send fourteen wildlife records to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

I had not kept a record of the data I sent to the National Biodiversity Data Centre. But they now have a great online facility that allows you to check you records. And I actually sent in 58, a lot more than I thought! This included ten mammal records, eight bird records, fifteen insect records as well as plant records.

13: Find thirteen interesting items

I didn’t do as well here as I had hoped. I mentioned previously the lovely bit of drift wood and there were the fascinating “By the Wind Sailors“. We did find some nice stones at the beach a couple of times too but still falling short on this one.

12: Give away twelve plants to worthy homes

Success see previous June Review.

11: Have eleven fun days out with the kids

The June count was four. But we had 4 great days out in Wales, and visits to Erris Head. Mulranney beach, Lacken beach and Keem bay.

10: Complete ten butterfly and or bee transects this year

Just got the ten in!

9: Try nine new recipes.

Oh dear, I haven’t been very adventurous! With only three days left I don’t think I will make it! I have just tried a Duck Terrine as a contribution to Christmas eve dinner at my parents. With the exception of forgetting to add the salt it seems to have gone down well. So that and the fish curry are only two that I can recall!!!!

8: Go on eight cycle rides

Cycle rides, again with the exception of the school run in the spring I have been very bad here too. I think I may have had two other cycles!

7: In addition to number 2 below have seven Mayo days out to some of my favourite Mayo places.

Achieved – see June review and 11 above.

6: Try to do six random acts of kindness to complete strangers

With the exception of letting cars pull out and giving some change to a poor homeless lady, and bringing the trolley back for an elderly gentleman I think I have fallen short of this one. Perhaps something to focus on for 2017.

5: With the help of my family make, and put up five bird, bat and /or insect boxes

We’ve done this with the school garden club and still hope to make some at home over the next couple of days!

4: Make four home-made presents for family and/or friends

Falling short on this one too – with exception of birthday cakes for both my parents – if those count?

3: Have three swims, ideally in the Atlantic

I actually had 4 or 5. One at Mulranney beach, two at Ross beach, one at Keem bay and one at Lacken beach.  The Lacken one was more a play in the waves but as it is the Atlantic I am happy enough for it to count!

2: Find two new places in Mayo to explore

We finally explored a small section of the Westport-Achill Cycle Greenway (also called the Great Western Greenway). Which was beautiful. We also enjoyed the beach just down the road at Mulranney.  Erris Head was another wonderful place to visit,  with amazing scenery.

1: Record one new species for the garden

As reported previously the Grey Dagger moth would count for this one.


There are many animals we humans connect to – dogs, cats, and other pets that often become important parts of our lives from childhood. Similarly there are those of us that make that connection with poultry. And in my opinion, you are either a chicken person or you are not! And if you meet another person who is a chicken person you naturally form a bond – it’s what I call the chicken bond.

My relationship with chickens started in childhood. I was about eleven when my sister and I purchased some chickens to start a mini egg-selling enterprise. Most of the eggs were sold back to my mother for household use, but when egg production was high, we sold eggs to family friends too. Growing up on a small farm there were always plenty animals; but there was just something quirky about the chickens that I liked.

Moving to Murtagh’s Meadow allowed me for the first time since the 1980s to get my own chickens.  We started off with just three,  Maud, Bernadette and Meabh. After initially keeping them in a chicken arc, the three roamed freely around our then open garden. They were great company while digging in the garden and were always eager to get the biggest juiciest worm.

They were happy wandering anywhere and in the summer liked the shade by the front door. They soon learned not to come in, though occasionally would give it a try! Bernadette was always the fiesty one, Maud the bravest and Meabh the shyest.

Over the years, and with losses to mink and foxes we went through various types of housing. We finally invested in a poultry electric fence which is great. It allows the chickens free roaming within limits (which has it’s advantages too as they are not digging up your flowers or vegetables). At the same time I do miss having them under my feet. You really get to know the individual characters that way. At the same time since investing in the fence we have not suffered any losses, other than through natural causes.

Once you eat truly free range chicken eggs it is very hard to go back to the bought ones. So if you have the space I would thoroughly recommend our feathered friends.




Left Behind

On a recent walk near Mulranney in County Mayo, we came across the remains of an old tractor. There were bits of engine, a wheel axel, pieces of rubber, rusting metal and broken glass.

The tractor had probably been brought onto the bog to collect turf and had broken down. But why hadn’t it been worth taking back and repairing? I have no idea. Tractors are expensive, even old ones.

So it was left to decay and become part of the landscape. It is strange the things that people leave behind.

Butterflies Bliss

Spring is still cool here in Ireland, and warm days and butterflies are still a while off. But inspired by this week’s Discover Challenge to look at one of our senses made me think about butterflies.

Butterflies are a real feast for our sense of sight – colourful, delicate, and just pretty amazing.