Columbans Ireland

Oct 18th
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Home Dalgan Nature Notes

Nature Notes

Boyne Field Club at Dalgan

Ger Clarke welcomed the Boyne Valley Natural History Field Club to Dalgan last week.
Ger and others recently set up the club and they were delighted to come to Dalgan  to explore the  woodland and hedgerows and the water life of the Skane and Boyne River.
Ger led the nature walk  through the Dalgan Woodlands while Dr Declan Murray (retired Senior Lecturer, UCD) had particpants taking samples from the rivers . 

Afterwards there were refreshments in the Columban Education Resource Room and an opportunity to view some of the collected specimens with microscopes in a mini-lab setting.

The really good news we found out later was that 27 species of Chironomidae  were recorded  - that's non-biting midges to the rest of us!
The exciting news is that seven of these species are first records for the Boyne Catchment (and also County Meath) but  the really exciting news is that one of these seven is a new species record for Ireland. 

Further sampling will be done , for a species that has existed in these rivers for over 5000 years.

Courses for Teachers

Courses for Teachers

Every year the Mission Education department hosts a primary school teachers' in-service course. The course, which is called New Eyes to See, aims to help teachers to get their students to engage with the natural environment around them.

The course is run by Ger Clarke, with some inputs from guest speakers such as Sean McDonagh (pictured left ) .

It is very much a hands-on type of course, with a lot of time spent outdoors, as well as work with microscopes on samples collected from the woods and the river.


Moth Attack

Walking in the woodlands in Dalgan you may come across a sight which it seems is becoming increasingly common in Ireland.

At first sight it looks as if a tree has been invaded by a spiders. Hundreds of webs spun into tent like structures that seem to envelopoe the plant. On closer inspection in the centre of each web lies a tightly coiled nest of caterpillars, who as time moves on make their way out the web and start to strip the plant of its leaves.

The larvae or caterpillars are those of the ermine moth which normally spin a small web around some leaves of its food-plant  - the spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus).




Seeds and Sowing

Mention Spring and we think of seed and sowing. We prepare the fields to receive the seed and we prepare the gardens, be they for flowers or for vegetables.

This Spring, here in Dalgan, we prepared three raised beds for sowing vegetables - potatoes onions, shallots, leeks, lettuce, beetroot and many more. As well as that there are three wigwam structures made from bamboo for growing peas an beans. We wanted to experience the taste of food that comes fresh from the soil, ( in Welsh there is a term for this - “ blas a priddo” , meaning taste of the earth).


Buzzed by the Buzzards

When that great mimic the Starling begins to copy a bird`s call  then you know it has become a fixture in the landscape. The latest sound in the starlings repertoire is that of the Buzzard – Buteo buteo.

The now familiar cry signals the arrival of a team of these birds of prey in the area.

A careful search of the sky will soon find these great predators wheeling about in lazy circles, waiting for some movement in the fields below. The cry probably startles prey such as rabbits, rats and other small birds and animals.

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