Last Thursday was a great day for wildlife spotting. First we headed for a day out at Moorehall. Around the ruins of the hall we spotted a bat flying about in the middle of the day! Not a usual occurrence. The area is well known for it’s bats and includes a population of Lesser Horseshoe Bats, Ireland’s only horseshoe bat. Unfortunately, no photograph of that but we did see this beautiful Silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia) not long after. This large butterfly likes deciduous woodlands so the woods around Moorehall are prefect habitat.
Silver washed Fritillary
When we got home from our walk there was a female sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) sitting on the roof of the greenhouse. They nest in the conifier plantation just below the house and we have been treated to views during this last few weeks of the young and adults particularly during feeding time when the adults come home with some tasty morsel between their talons. Again I wasn’t fast enough with the camera. However, more was in store!
And our final wildlife highlight of the day was rescuing this strange creature from the water-butt by the greenhouse! It took a bit of time for it to dry off and probably also warm-up so plenty opportunity for some shots. It’s has two common names including giant horntail and great wood wasp (Urocerus gigas). The long rear appendage, which we originally thought may be a sting, is in fact a harmless oivposter. The females drills homes in wood and uses it to lay her eggs. It is perhaps somewhat unfair to refer to it as a ‘beast’ as suggested by my title, as really it looks pretty amazing. The near furry texture of it’s thorax reminds me of bumblebees. Still it’s probably not something you want to find flying around your bedroom!
As well as the Hall there was a farmyard and stables. You can still walk through the tunnel that was built to provide a throughway from the farmyard to the coach house and racing stables without causing disturbance to the back lawn!
Tunnel at Moorehall
Then there is a huge walled garden, or at least the remains of it. It must have been an impressive sight in its time. The following website (http://www.oreillydesign.com/moorehall/housmain.html) has a fascinating diagram of what the garden would have looked like when fully functioning and it included four walnut trees, a glasshouse, fruit trees, vegetables and flowers. The trees included peach trees – not a normal crop for the west of Ireland!
Gate from walled garden
Wall garden – turret
Wall in garden
The original house probably had views of Lough Carra but trees have now been planted right around the ruin. Some of the older trees are still in evidence though.
Large beech tree
Lords and Ladies (Arum Lily)
It was a cold day in February when we walked around, but we hope to return later in the spring or early summer when more of the woodland flora will be in evidence.