All photos on this blog, Wildlife on Wheels, are taken by me. If you want to use any of my photos for anything other than personal use, send me an email and we'll talk about it. The email address is listed in the sidebar on the right .

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Wild White water of Glengarriff Woods,

On the 16th of June, it was my turn again to stay three days in respite, a service provided by Rehabcare and the HSE (Health Service Executive: the Irish equivalent of the NHS) It is run by Sarah Boys and her staff.
Sarah had told me 2 weeks before that she wanted me to meet this new lady, a new service user of Rehabcare, and now of respite also.
There was lots going on beforehand and, although I had put certain stuff, apart, and had washed almost everything, I was far from packed. Not that I was concerned. It was only three days after all.

All in all, I arrived with everything I needed. And meeting Mary, was a blast from the past. We knew each other from the early 1980s, when our husbands were lying side by side in hospital.
Much time had past and we had only met a few times since the late 1980s.
Problems with nerves in her back had left Mary with walking problems lately, which was why Mary had found her way into Rehabcare and the excellent respite.
A service where we are able to do things we do not manage to do at home (going out in the service's car) or just stay in in the company of other people than family and carers and users in a similar position.

Mike has been with the service almost from the start, and he and Sarah, the manager of the house, are great together. With a constant light banter between the two; observing them is just great fun as such.
Next week was going to be Mike's last week though. I understand his 'urge to return to the UK, the land where he was born. Unlike me, Mike has a (his old) job plus apartment lined up and waiting for him, for when he returns.

Usually, 3 or 4 service users are invited to come and stay at the same time. This time though, it was only Mary and myself.
I mentioned that I'd love to get back to Glengarriff Woods, in the more decent temperatures of late spring/summer, rather than the very cold ones of March, when sitting still and operating camera was close to impossible. Also I talked of (don't get me going on where I'd love to go by car... as we don't have one ourselves) places like the lagoon at Rosscarbery, the marshes at Clonakilty, the wheelchair-friendly trail in the Gougane Beara National Park, and Lough Hyne in Skibbereen.
It soon appeared that Mary would love to join in in one of these places. And since she had no ideas or wish list herself, we decided that there would be enough room for the four of us in the car plus a manual wheelchair for Mary, just in case it would get too much.
That there was room enough for us all meant that we would be able to fit in 2 outings per person, instead of the normal one outing per person.
so on wednesday Mary and I would do our few bits of Bantry shopping in the morning, and then we would head off to Glengarriff Woods.

Waking very early as usual, I waited until about 6am before I opened the double doors to the garden outside.
Outside, I made a little round around the building, where I was greeted by these drops, which look like the plant is giving me a wink with these long 'eyelashes'!

and opposite the building, next to one of the other three hexagonal houses (which each are used for sheltered housing.
And suddenly I spotted a little movement, and then it was soon obvious that I was looking at a family of Robins; 2 adults and two gorgeous youngsters. It was going to be an interesting break.
Back in my room, with a cup of Fennel tea at my laptop, I heard something at the pond, outside my room, and there in the Tree of Life, sat Madam Black.

Black Bird, Turdus Merula. (female)

the tree of Life was put together a few years ago by some of the users of the Rehabcare centre by mixing cement and then shaping it around a rough frame. It stands in the pool.

Back outside, I spotted a late Bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, whose pictures just did not come out right, also because I could hardly reach it!
Next I know, is this one landing nearby and walking up to me!
An excellent way to start one's day.
Robin, Erithacus rubecula (juvenile)

It had been raining very heavily during the night. As a result all of us, Sarah, the manager, Mike (staff), Mary and me, had slept very fitfully, waking up many times during the night.
Still, there was little time to waste and after a brief visit downtown, we set off to Glengarriff Woods. My suggestions to phone Clare, the reserve manager, beforehand, were thrown in the wind. (Clare had said she would meet me next time at the gate, so we could look at access in the reserve together.)

mike was driving, and Sarah talked of going to this lake at the the back, and so Mike followed her directions, going left after the village and then directly right again. At first we drove more or less 'above' the woods, and when we got to the entrance of Meadow Walk, which would lead to the lake from here. I recalled that Clare had talked of a gate being too narrow probably, and now I was looking at it. It was a small pedestrian gate next to one for cars. Which was padlocked of course, to prevent fires, etc.
Sarah said that she thought all the trails from this side were all graveled surfaces, nothing like the hardcore- gravel which I had tried out on my first visit, just past the bridge.

So on we went, and the hills soon opened up, with waterfalls of little springs right, left and centre. Both Mike and Sarah wanted to be the first to tell uss of one of the falls they spotted, and soon the competitive pair were soon fighting to spot the best waterfall..

Due to the heavy rainfall of the previous night, the river was very high and Mike stopped at several spots for me to take some photos through the open door. And the river was very high indeed, and white with lots of loosened sediment too.
So here's a few pics of this river.

Flooding too, although we only had a glimpse of how bad it turned out to be later.

At the end of the road, Mike started following the signs for Barley Lake. And before we knew it, wwe were on a tiny narrow and very steep 'road', hugging the mountain, with a few cm at the edge where it went down very steeply. . Too narrow, to turn around, the steep ascent took a huge toll on the little car. With me and my wheels in the back, (and with my wheels on its own weighing some 120kg, the car was having trouble getting up at all. Wasn't very easy on me and my wheels either, we felt all the jolts and bolts double up. When we finally arrived at the top, it was a relief to see 3 other cars, parked there on the little strip of grass.
We all had been severely shaken and stirred in our seats, and I told Mike that I definitely needed a cigarette, so I could settle my nerves a little. The view was absolutely stunning, and even in this picture can you see the river from above.

Barley Lake was another 10 minutes walk through wet bogs and although Mike did go for a quick peek, it was obvious that it was hard going, with his feet sinking into the soaked grass.

Finding our way back was almost harder than getting onto the top of this mount. We did follow signs saying Glengarriff, but again we came to a dead end.
How we managed to get into Glengarriff, we don't know. all I recall is me shouting "Stop!" at a certain moment, when I spotted something unknown and blue. It turned out to be several flowers of the Sheep'sbit, Jasione montana
Sheep'sbit, Jasione montana

It took ages for us to get back onto the main Glengarriff Kenmare road and this was perhaps a great way of Mike saying goodbye to us and the area round Bantry. Or as he said himself: "Nothing against a some exploration and having a bit of an adventure." We will miss the guy.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mallow/Geranium resolved.

In my last post I posted pictures of quite a few wild Flowers I had trouble identifying.
A week after that post, I asked Jenny Seawright of Irish Wildflowers.

I asked mainly because my readers and I kept wondering about the pink flower; was it a Mallow or a Geranium? Things like this can drive me crazy. (not much needed to do this, as you can see.)

The next day I was going into respite, so it was obviously the right moment to let my mind go a little. And it was here, that I found a lavatera in full bloom. And there, in the garden of respite and the rehabcare centre, did I see one of the suggested options, a Lavatera. And so, have a look for yourself.

unknown specie:

Known specie as Lavatera or Mallow:

this photo shows the unmistakable way in which Lavatera grows and shows off its beautiful flowers.

It was Liz, who hit the nail on the head with suggesting it was a Geranium, but not sure which one. It was a Crane'sbill, Liz.
It turns out to be the Druce's Cranebill. Geranium x oxonianum (G. endressii x G. versicolor)

Other Garden escaped (like the 'Druce') which Jenny was able to identify were the Chilean Iris, Llibertia furmosa.
Perennial Cornflower, Centaurea montana member of the Knapweed family.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Moth and Flower Power

I've been running after my own tail once again, these past few weeks. And whenever there was anything to post, I did so in Birding on wheels. My camera never sat still though, and these images are mostly from the end of May, when we had one gorgeous day.
Now again I am without time. I'll be picked up soon to spend the next few days in respite. A facility of Rehabcare to take in tired souls and let them spend three days doing whatever they want. You can then use the car +driver/helper for certain place you want to go.
Last time I used it to go to Glengarriff Woods nature reserve. But it was incredible cold that morning. On top of which we got showers, and I had left my cape at home, and also my glove. which meant that operating the camera was very hard.
The forecast doesn't look good for the coming 3 days either. Tough luck. Now I can finally go somewhere with a car, and again the weather isn't good looking. I'll have a good time anyway.
And a few days without internet/Sky tv access is great sometimes. Does mean I get to miss the BBC's Springwatch specials.
This little Speedwell, a close cousin to the Germander Speedwell,
Veronica chamaedrys
which is probably the most famous of the Veronica's.
Wood Speedwell, Veronica montana

Opposite our former house, the neighbours had acquired free Rhododendron, Rhododendron ponticum, plants and these formed their fully matured hedge, and in spring we looked out at a great wall of purple, red and rose 'Rhodos'. They must also have given some to the then inhabitants of our cottage, because they were dotted around here and there. One of these has really grown big now, and grows in the front garden. The photo below is one of its faded flowers. In the backgarden we had one which had grown into a large bush, about 3 metres tall.
Rhododendron, Rhododendron ponticum

Garden escape, I believe. Looks very pretty against the blue fence though.

Unknown species. (to me, that is!)

I went out to find a nice Flag Iris and a Raged Robin which had still a fresh flower on it and which was easy approachable too. It is a pity that my Lumix hasn't got one of those flip LCD screens at the back of the camera. From above, I need to take many pictures keeping the lens close to the subject, at an angle to get the best end result. My Lumix has a fairly good macro mode.(even though I want more, of course! In the shape of a Macro lens for the DMC FZ18. That is for dreams at the moment) Mind you, I think the best lesson I learned is not to hold the lens too close to the subject, while zooming out. This Ragged Robin was the only one with just the one reasonable fresh flower which I could use as my subject. Their flimsy texture means that they wilt very easily and start hanging down very soon.

Ragged Robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi

Field Mouse Ear, Cerastium arvense

Dog Rose, Rosa canina

Bush Vetch, Vicia Sepium

It being summer almost, lots of wild flowers are out, and also the Moths have been in and about the house. These three have been calling in last week:

Buff Ermine Moth. Spilarctia luteum,

This little Garden Carpet Moth, a common garden variety (hence its name!) has called into the house last year also. I used to call it "Face-Moth however, because of the little face which is marked in the middle of the two front wings.
Garden Carpet Moth, Xanthoroe fluctuata

Small Magpie Moths visits the house often, and now too, it was trying to get and stay indoors. I guess it was seeking shelter from the wind, and the door offers a little shelter, but it obviously was seeking for more. I put it in one of my plant pots, in a little container among the leaves, where it could gather its wings.
Small Magpie Moth, Eurrhypara hortulata

This wild Flower still confuses me; is it a Butterwort, or is it a Mallow? This last one is the family of the garden favourite Lavatera.

On May 30, I came upon the spot where I knew I would find Yellow Flag Iris, one of those wild flowers, which is loved by almost every citizen in the British Isles. Like with the Ragged Robin and Honey suckle. It was hard to believe however that one Flag Iris had already faded flowers, while the next one was still in bud! Another one had faded all over. (and I had been kept indoors due to too much rain until the end of May! Must admit thuogh that they are growing in a very sheltered spot, with trees on both sides of the little road.)