Sunday, 19 August 2007

Trip to Ireland

Our family holiday this year was to the west coast of Ireland, with a few days in Dublin. The area of Clare was chosen to match the various interests of the family (sea, surf and wildlife).

Much of the county consists of the Burren, a landscape of limestone pavements that reach from the hilltops to the sea, and with a mild climate this provides a variety of habitats for a huge range of plants (and not a few insects).

The first interesting bird to be seen was a Hooded Crow, in a housing estate in the city of Limerick, but they proved elusive for photographing until a couple were found on the dock of a bay.
The hollows made in the limestone by water over the ages (grykes, I believe) hold small specimens of a huge variety of plants, and even in the rain a clamber over the rock provides endless fascination.
Wood Sage

Harbells by a mossy clint

Maidenhair Spleenwort

Fragant orchid, flowering late near acid-loving heathers


The number one target species was the Grayling butterfly, and one flew in front of me near the coast at Doolin, settling on part of the pavement and blending into the mottled rock.

The weather was not condicive to butterfly-finding (nor indeed to surfing, swimming or sunbathing) but I noticed that Green-veined and Wood Whites were far more frequent than the common British whites, and although Meadow Browns were frequent, not a single Gatekeeper was seen.
Dark Green Fritillary

Carline Thistle

A cute type of Scabious was common, with flower-heads of about an inch diameter, and with three heards to a stalk.

Visits were made to the top and (by boat) the bottom of the Cliffs of Moher but most of the nesting seabirds had flown, leaving only a few rafts of Kittiwakes and some family parties of Shags [note - what is the collective noun for shags?]

A handful of Choughs patrolled the visitor centre at the cliff-top, looking out-of-place away from the rugged landscape that they normally frequent.

Also out of its normal habitat, a Rock Pipit used this boat as a perch.

Does anyone want to buy some suncream? Unused, honest!

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