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Monday, April 20, 2009

Starting to map my local hedgerows

I've often walked around the village when I was still able to walk, and I still follow most of these routes. Once I started to discover what my camera was able of, I decided to photograph the hedgerows around me. along those roads whose molten dirt and tarmac I have brought into my garden and my home. It was going to be a kind of map of the wild flowers, and the wild plants. Of course I am noted for having big plans, but with recent developments (as you can read below) I think I needed a project to keep my mind (and camera) occupied. Anyway, the idea took root last spring, and now I thought it would be a good time to start.
Amost all photos have been taken on one side of the hedgerows on the road coming into the village from the East, from Bantry.

Then there are walls which will be qualified hedgerows in due time. Walls where Maidenhair Ferns, the little ones with the tiny leaves, as shown in Elly's little book, has already taken hold on a large scale, among other species like Ground Ivy, Nettle and Navelwort. And various kinds of Moss, of course. So it will be nice to follow this process also.
I will publish a sort of 'map' soon.

Early Dandelions, Taraxacum officinale agg. fade sooner too. There are plenty to follow suit however to please my eye. As does these last starry seeds.

male House Sparrow, Passer domesticus

These lovely little Viola riviniana are growing in every hedgerow around the village here.
The Bug on the Fern is a Shield Bug. The Sloe Bug Dolycoris baccarum

I still have to identify this lovely little Fern, which grows all over the east hedgerows, coming into the village from Bantry.

and a little closer:

Our local Speedwell species comes in two lovely shades of blue.
this is the Ivy-leaf Speedwell, Veronica hederifolia.

and this is Germander Speedwell, Veronica chamaedrys; a specie which is a little more abundant around here than Ivy leaf.

Great Periwinkle, Vinca major
Dandelion, Taraxacum officiniana agg.
Common Vetch, Vicia sativa ssp. segetalis

and last, but not certainly not least, the star of the hedgerow and woodland, alike, the bell(e) of the ball, the Bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta.

Male Blackbird keeping watch.

Blackbird, Turdus Merula

Barren Strawberry, Potentilla sterilis

I've been absent from the world for some time and I am slowly descending again, I think.(sorry Andrew- no challenge again this time-read on-)

I've mentioned Elly's battle with Multiple Myeloma,(MM) the cancer of plasmacells in her bones before. Recently they discovered that the battle was over and that it was just trying to make her as comfortable as possible in those last days. Her immune system was down also, and so she caught pneumonia just before Easter. She died peacefully in the night of Easter Saturday/Sunday.
And even if I had been able to travel down to Holland, I could only start trying to organise a bus on Tuesday with the cremation being on Friday. And if you consider that 2 years ago it took me at least 4 days to organise a bus to the airport in Cork, forget it. We have a EU funded mini bus service here, Bantry Rural Transport,, a trip to Cork however, cost them a half day before being back in Bantry and thus many people being let down. In short, these things need to be arranged in time.
But with the chronic pain already taking over on Tuesday, my first time to take a breather on the road, it was very clear that I would not have made it to Cork, let alone Schiphol. (Amsterdam)
A few days after I'd heard the news on my mum's death I went out. onto the backroad down to the church of Ireland, a road which I had previously deemed unsafe, as the road has minimised so much that I have just a small strip of deeply potholed, surface to ride on which does not really work when your wheels are just a tat wider than the strip! The 'sides' of the road have sloped so much that in a short while my wheels will be turning in thin air with the underside stuck on the "strip" !
Anyway, I wanted to see the Blackthorn in flower here, and I had shot many Blackthorn pictures last year along this road. This year's photos which I will post later. (I'm glad I got text and these photos together as my mind is still apart from my physical self.)

A very mixed up post, and yet a good day to start returning to the planet, it being earthday!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Public is asked to protect the Irish hedgerow.

Hedgerows must surely be one of the Sun's most brilliant creations and habitats, don't you think? Here, mammals live next to Insects, Vertebrates, Birds and plants. However it is not all love and peace among all these species which are compacted into a very small and tight space which they can call home. Here, the hunt is ongoing, whether it involves nocturnal (nighttime) or diurnal (daytime) species, Life consists of finding and building a home where you can hide from predators, raise a family, and find food for yourself and your young. It might look easy, with having your food living right at your doorstep. Well, in that case you are wrong. We have a lot easier life as humans, with the supermarket down the road or a short drive from home.
In the hedgerow hunting for food, means you have to get outside into the open and leave your kids alone, hoping these will still be there when the parent returns. 'Outside' there are other, just as hungry, creatures waiting for you to step outside your little nest or hole. Plants too, play an active role in the life-blood which keeps the hedgerow alive and in all its health and glory. In order to survive, a plant needs seed which it can spread around, making sure that in the spot the seed drops down, a new generation will develop. In order to spread their seed, the plants need help. Help from another hedgerow resident, the winged insect. But how do you attract these to you, in making sure that the Bees, Wasps, Butterflies and Moths, plus the hundreds of Fly species, will choose you instead of your neighbour or any of the other rivals? You need something sweet to make it worthwhile to opt for you. So hence the birth of the flower, pollen, and its sweet nectar. Others had bigger aspirations and wanted to go further away from the local hedgerow. In order to do that, they started to attract birds with fruit, among others.

Wild Ivy, is one of the most prolific hedgerow specie in our village, I think. They also surround our council estate and they are occupied by all kind of species, House Sparrows live in it, as do perhaps the many Moths which usually visit my garden and house.
And not only is it the food-plant of Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies and the Red Admiral, Peacock Butterflies are also known to hibernate in the Wild Ivy around the country. And with 3 new species of Butterflies breeding in Ireland it might become busier in future.
(mind you, I have only seen no Peacock in the garden last summer, despite the many Nettles and other weeds growing in the garden! Did have an heap of Small Tortoiseshell and Cabbage White Butterflies in my garden. In the hedgerows along my 'botany road' I saw Meadow Browns, a few other Red Admirals. But all in all in much smaller numbers than in the years before.
Ivy, Hedera helix.

Field Mouse-ear is also one of the local hedgerow flowers where it spreads into large patches of white little stars, with gravity have them hang down. These photos were taken along the coastal road at Dunmanus Bay, south side of the Sheepshead Peninsula. Bot sides of the road would be totally white.
Field Mouse ear, Cerastium arvense

Primroses is often the first flower we see in the hedgerows, and I've now also seen the cultivated form in graveyards. More exuberant than the little ones along the road, gardeners must love it for their early colour also, I assume.
Primrose, Primula vulgaris
During the summer, Cork county council comes with their enormous shearer to give those valuable hedgerows an intensive cut and shave. Although garden plants rejuvenate in general after cutting down and dead heading, life in the hedgerow depend on the lush growth for shelter, breeding and food.
Shorn hedgerow, Sheep'shead Peninsula, county Cork.
Last year the Irish minister Gormly (Heritage and Environment) , sent a reminder to all local authorities as a reminder to a provision in in the Wildlife Act, in relation to the cutting of hedges and other areas of uncultivated vegetation between 1 March and 31 August.and receiving an email, recently, about this made me very happy initially, but the fact that this mail was sent to the council in February or earlier in 2008, and that I still found the hedges cut a few months later is perhaps not such a good omen for this year.
I wonder would anybody ever have made a blind guess at how many species are alive in a square metre of hedgerow? It would end in a line of many, many and more zeros. Millions? Billions? Trillions?
And with 44,608km of hedgerow in the county of Cork, we can confidently add three more zeros to all those numbers. .
The Irish Wildlife Trust is asking for our cooperation in making sure that our local authorities learn that this provision in the Act means that hedge/verge or any other wild green/colourful area should stay untouched.

SO Please, if you live in the republic of Ireland, and you do see any cutting of wild hedges, road verges, please Take a Note, a picture, and remember the date.
You can report this, by Time, Date, and location.
Then you can send this info to
We need to act as Nature's Watchdogs, unfortunately, and your help would be most useful. The minister asks us to be vigilant of hedge cutters in particular, and perhaps we can have a truly wild hedgerow summer this year?
Lets all make it clear that we need to protect this wonderful habitat. Also, please make sure that your family and friends are aware of this inhumane act against our wildlife.

This, Fuschia, is perhaps one of the most iconic Irish hedgerow species, seen in South West Ireland today.
Fuscia, Fuchsia magellanica.
Seen along the coastal road, Dunmanus Bay, northside
Not really hedgerow species, more roadside and banks, still a little more colour.
Plantain Ribwort, Plantago Lanceolata

Dandelion, Taraxacum Officianala.

The little Herb Robert

Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum
In spring Irish hedgerows come alive, first with Primroses, and then the next burst of colour arrives soon afterwards on the ground level. Little Flowers like Herb Robert, with its sweet pink face

Friday, April 3, 2009

Some of the many Lichen & Moss of Glengarriff Woods.

Ireland has long been famous for being a wet country, and our South West corner doesn't escape any of this rain. With all the surfaces being quite damp, a different habitat is created and some of those species thriving on damp ground, stone or wood, are Mosses, Lichen and Fungi. I've had a particular fondness for these extraordinary species, and once I started sketching and painting deserted buildings like sheds, barns and the like, I was brought into contact with Mosses and Lichen inadvertently. It is their structure which fascinates me. Just go and stop at a bridge, a wall, or a tree which is overgrown with Moss, and have a real good look at it.
Lichen too, deserves a second look, it is often even more bizarre in structure than the Moss, you've just looked at.

Being in Glengarriff Woodslast week, I had a good chance to look at all of these following species:
(see also this post at Birding on Wheels, my other blog.)

Everywhere I looked, there was Moss or Lichen present, I will try and find out their proper names via Paul Whelan's website, and Clare Heardman, the manager of the reserve..
I have absolutely no idea of what the name is of this beautiful speciemen! Just draped along the branch, it seems.

In the website of the Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve, this Fern is mentioned, as,

So, you see, one species we got already! (to me it looks very parasitic, growing on other lifeforms.)
I presume that a little spring, or waterfall has been occupying this slit in the past?

Also wonder which specie of "Thorn" this one belongs too. Not Blackthorn, nor Hawthorn either, I think. Looks damn sharp though!

Wood Anemones were in flower all over the floor of the woods, Their little heads bobbing in the cold wind, .

It was noyt all Moss, Fungi and Lichen, of course. It was also scattered with spring flowers, like these Wood Sorrel and Primroses.

When we stopped for a minute, Dave pointed out these Fungi, growing on wood (I think)