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Put Louth on the map!

Louthonians, if we can be called that, you help is needed, and rather urgently! The National Biodiversity Data Centre, the organisation that collects information about plants & animals in Ireland, are putting together a Mammal Atlas, a map of all the wild mammals in Ireland. To do that, they need records from people living in every county in Ireland (that’s you!). To date, very few records have been received from county Louth. We are almost at the bottom of the leader board, with only around 150 records submitted!

Louth records

Get Louth off the bottom of the county leader board!

To lift us from the bottom, I am asking all Louth residents who have spotted a badger, hare, fox, squirrel (both red and grey) or any other wild mammal to send this information to the NBDC. You can also report sightings of road kill and cetaceans (whales, dolphins etc.). It only takes a minute via this link, and it will  literally put Louth on the map!



Records of wild mammals wanted! Photo: NBDC website



Trading Norway for Northern Ireland

Another colour-ring read, another piece added to a puzzle. Personally, it offers me a better understanding and a reinforcement of the science I read. Getting out there, seeing evidence of migration in action, makes it so much easier for me to understand and get to grips with. Colour-ringing and the subsequent ring reading (here’s where I come in) allows me to play a small part in a bigger project. I feel like part of a team.

Belfast Harbour

Belfast Harbour  where the gulls lined up nicely!

After a day spent indoors, watching the first round of the Irish Bouldering League in Belfast, I convinced Rasmus to pop by Belfast harbour to spend an hour or so outside. After a quick visit to the RSPB Window on Wildlife Reserve which was filled with ducks and godwits, (well worth a visit by the way) I spied a gang of gulls loitering (also known as roosting) on a metal railing at the side of the road, close to the harbour. Armed with not one, but two scopes, we scanned standing legs for colour.

Black Headed Gull, Belfast

Black Headed Gull, J4U6 roosting on one leg (the one I want to see, luckily) in Belfast Harbour, October 2015

Our efforts were rewarded. We edged closer and read a single colour-ringed Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus – a white ring with black lettering J4U6. I soon found out from the local gull guy that this bird belonged to a Norweigan ringing scheme and send off the details.


J4U6 was ringed in southern Norway (blue) and re-sighted in Belfast Harbour (red) ca. 840km away

After a little wait, I found out that J4U6 was ringed in March 2012 in Rogaland in southern Norway. Between April and June 2015 he was spotted seven times in southern Norway. This sighting in Belfast Harbour is the first time he has been spotted out of Norway. Maybe he will stick around and enjoy the mild weather we are having! For more on colour-ring reading – here’s a piece I wrote on the Dublin Bay Bird Project #DubBayBirds.

Adding more wild

Before I joined the #30dayswild challenge with the Wildlife Trusts I thought my days were reasonably filled with wild forays. From bird watching, walking in the hills, jogging in the woods to the odd spot of gardening. But as the month of June has passed I have realised that I am a creature of habit. My wild time is fairly predictable and in a way repetitive, which isn’t altogether a bad thing, but it leaves many doors unopened. Most of my outdoor time is spent surveying or exercising, all be it in different settings.

The #30dayswild challenge has opened my eyes to the many other possibilities that the outdoors has to offer. I don’t have to be counting and documenting, or burning calories in nature, there is plenty more to do in the great outdoors. The twittering updates from people of all ages and background provides many great ideas and motivation. Wild can be much much more than I ever imagined.

For the rest of the month I have set myself a few goals, with the aim of opening a few more doors into the wild.

1. Engage all my sense, and focus less on the visual. My plan is more tasting (with caution), sniffing, touching and listening to all things wild.

2. Create more homes for nature, building, collecting, planting, what ever it takes. I’m usually an observer and not a creator, so this will definitely add something new. A bug hotel is on the cards and who knows what else!

3. Doing every day things outside. Although the Irish weather can be a deterrent, we have started eating more meals outdoors and taking cups of tea or coffee to the greenhouse. There is something very calming about sitting with our newly planted tomato plants, watching them grow. I want to find more ways to bring the outdoors into my everyday. Reading, relaxing, yoga, whatever.

4. Share and be proud. I’m crazy about all things wild, but sometimes I’m cautious in showing this passion to others and sharing this awe. Maybe I’m afraid it will come across too strong, or people will think i’m a “crazy bird lady” or worst off all, they may not be interested in the slightest, and this would break my heart. For the next few weeks I going to try and throw caution to the wind, share more with passing strangers, family and friends. This will be interesting!

I think this is enough to keep me busy and to broaden my own version of wild.

Wish me luck!

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