On this page we catalog some of the species that share our farm with us. We add species as we get a chance, but at least it’s a taste of what is here.
During our Summer bat walks we generally get to pick up some bat calls. We have a couple of monitors. We generally pick up calls in the 45-55kHz range, so we think that we’re listening to either the Common Pipistrelle or the Soprano Pipistrelle. I’m told that the two species were only differentiated as late as 1999! For info check out their details at Bat Conservation Ireland.
Where to start? We’ve lots on the land and over the years we’ve come to know a little about some of them. Here’s a very inexhaustive list and some associated links from Zoë Devlin’s record of Irish wildflowers. It’s a great site that gives both a formal botanical and an informal folklore-based description for each flower. Don’t forget to record your own sightings to the 2012 Wildflower Survey:
- Fleabane – I love the thought any plant that promises to keep fleas at bay.
- Meadow Sweet – Great aroma when crushed. Have been told that they were used on the earthen floors of cabins as an antiseptic.
- Ragged Robin – We get these guys on our entrance road and they are always a welcome pick me up.
- Cleavers – Trea reckons these have great medicinal properties and has been known to make ointments and tinctures from them. I just remember playing with them as child when we called them ‘sticky backs’. Although, Zoë Devlin calls them ‘sticklebacks’, which is what we kids called a type of freshwater fish (if memory doesn’t fail me).
- Plantain – This is the one that we used to play ‘soldiers’ with when we were kids. Similar rules to ‘conkers’ :-). Apparently good for sprains and bruises.
- Great Willowherb – I just really like these ‘weeds’. I’ve seen their dried seed heads used as tinder for Leave No Trace fires.
- Common sorrel – I love picking the leaves when going through the fields. I’m told that I shouldn’t eat too many, but that tangy sour taste is a real winner for me.
- Marsh Orchid – These are real treats and it’s great to see them flourishing on the farm, albeit in the damper areas.
Again, with birds, there is lots to chat about. We have most of the expected garden birds visiting our feeding stations. Notable exceptions are siskins and blackcaps :-(. We do have a blue tit that roosts during the winter in one of our bird boxes, luckily the one with the camera in it. No nest in this one over the last couple of years, but I’m loathe to move it as it does serve as a roost. I must try to record a clip of the bird arriving in the cold evenings, it is interesting to watch its ritual as it puffs up for the night.
I give links to Birdwatch Ireland’s entries for each species listed. By the way, Birdwatch Ireland is a great organisation, you should consider joining. Our local Clare branch is very active and constantly updates their site with the latest ‘twitchings’.
- Grasshopper Warbler – First started hearing this Summer visitor a couple of years after we planted the 4 hectares of woodland. It was a real mystery to me for a while until I did a bit of research and spotted the eventide noise maker in the bushes.
- Skylark – Aren’t these birds just the best? Talk about making our hearts soar!
- Meadow pipit – Favoured host for our cuckoos.
- Kestrel – Again, one of those infrequent but majestic sights over our meadows. I’m sure that I enjoy the hover of the kestrel more than its potential victims… although they are probably not aware of the danger until it is too late…
- Curlew – Great to see these heading over each evening! Not too mention their calls, many of the campers mention them and wonder what they are hearing. On still nights, the air is thick with the sounds of the our neighbouring waders as they forage on Querrin shore.
- Long-eared Owl – We’ve had some great experiences with owl sightings at our farm. One evening while sitting in the garden we were buzzed by an owl that had been perched in a tree just 6 metres from us. He/she only decided to glide past us on being disturbed by one of our curious cats.