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!
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!
Three weeks ago today we got on a flight from Copenhagen and landed in Dublin. It seemed like any other visit we have made over the last 3 years, but this time, it was a one way ticket. This time we took more luggage, including two bikes. This time, we are here to stay. Almost a month has passed, like a dream. There has been so many new faces, smells, challenges and surprises and so many memories which pop up at unexpected times. But we are taking each day, one at a time, and doing our best to remember why we made the decision to move to Ireland. What it is we want from this chapter in our lives. More family time, more mountain time, more wild time. Here’s my “best of” so far, which involves a lot of family, hills, birds, bikes, a bit of exercise and the odd dead thing.
For some reason, in my mind, badgers live in shady forests and hedgerows. This idea may have evolved after my early encounters with them at Fyne Court in Somerset. When I imagine them emerging from their underground homes (setts) at dusk, they are following well worn paths across rolling open green fields and along hedgerows to find worms and frogs, among other tasty things. In my mind they aren’t hill walkers, view hunters, exploring the wet marshy ground found on our open Irish hills and mountains. These places, I assumed, weren’t the chosen habitat of this black and white striped mammal.
However, the more I see, the more my preconceptions about nature are being challenged. Nature surprises us at ever possible moment. Yesterday while stretching our legs on the Cooley mountains in county Louth (part of my #30dayswild efforts), we came across some very nice footprints at around 520m elevation! The soft boggy ground of the Irish uplands is the perfect substrate for footprints!
However further reading revealed that this is not unusual, and that badgers are found in upland and boggy habitats, but there are fewer of the hill wandering, view seeking badgers, or in scientific terms, they are found in lower densities.
Maybe I might take a late evening wander some time, to see if I could spot these fascinating creatures. At least they usually attempt to put their droppings in a hole, but didn’t quite make it on this occasion!
A very nice quote from Dave Williams, Surrey County Mammal Recorder, which I found here tells me off for jumping to conclusions about badgers and nature in general:
“When surveying for mammals there are always surprises and strange occurrences. Never believe that all animals behave the way they are supposed to. Badgers digging setts in an open flat area, and in heavy clay soil, or on the side of a very busy road. I have rescued badgers from unusual places, behind a garage in a busy town, stuck in a drain on a building site, places where you would not expect them to be. But its not just badgers. Dormice that nest in a garden full of bamboo and laurel, one fast asleep and trapped in the polythene wrapping of a pallet of paving slabs that had travelled via three depots. Last year whilst checking a dormouse box a very angry weasel leapt out. I even found a wren caught in a longworth trap. Keep an open mind and beware of expecting the obvious.”