Bountiful Benaughlin and the frolicking frogs

 

This morning the sun had more warmth than previous days, Spring was springing its glory. In the garden, the chittering of birds was almost deafening and the buds and leaves are appearing, full of promise. We decided to take advantage of the warm wave, but as we were getting on our coats and boots, the sky darkened, opened, and our spirits dampened. Decidedly full of hope that the skies would clear, we went ahead, to the Benaughlin Mountain (mountain of the speaking horse in Irish)  path.

We were right, the grey was a distant memory, blue skies and sun came out, just for us, it seemed. It wasn’t long before signs of Spring sprouted out at us. The Gorse was blooming and the Blackthorn (at least I think it was Blackthorn as unlike Hawthorn – the flowers always appear before the leaves) was beautifully blossoming. The willow buds were delicate against the grey branches.

 

 

As we rounded the corner, we heard  before we saw them, their flatulent bursts of song. This time, I plunged my hand in to feel the cool jellied eyes, fighting the urge to put some in one of our empty containers. Frogs are amazing amphibians, breathing through their nostrils as well as absorbing half the air they need through their skin. but life is tough and most don’t even make it out of metamorphoses and when it does, its a fierce obstacle course of survival. Although the Common Frog (Rana temporaria) is widespread, the destruction of their habitat and a huge decrease in the number of garden ponds still pose a threat. We went from pool to pond, watching and listening to their mating croaks and belches. We were giddy with wonder and joy.

 

 

Pond Skaters and Whirligig Beetles were making furious ripples and we watched dizzily as they swirled and paddled ferociously.

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The sun was really quite warm by this stage and we stopped to have our lunch amidst the song of the Chaffinch and Long-tailed Tit. I really love and appreciate the fact that my family love the outdoors but I worry that not enough kids are getting to explore their own environment never mind these wild and beautiful places. I relish our Sunday strolls, our discoveries and our explorations. I love that my brother Lorcan, who is less than two years younger than me and also has Asperger’s, shares this joy and wonder of nature too,.

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This week though, we got a new recruit to the Eco Schools group (its normally just myself and Mr R), another girl came to help us when we were filling up the bird table with food. I think she’ll come back! Maybe this is the way forward? Letting people come to you when they see that you’re doing something, a sort of mission creep? Our next project (we’ve already put up a bird feeder and bat box) is to make a bird hide! I am so excited for the future in my new school, where I’m being presented with new opportunities; many of these will benefit wildlife and nature.

We’ve also had an exciting garden visitor – our own Common Frog!! We watched in delight and we hope that it stays and maybe deposits a gift in our wee basin and bucket ponds.

 

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I think this is a bull frog as the ears (just below the eye) are the same size as the eyes, they are usually smaller in the female.

I’d like to leave you with a video reading of ‘Death of a naturalist’ by my favourite poet, Seamus Heaney, I know the title sounds quite negative but it’s  about the loss of innocence and perhaps childlike wonder of the natural world. I don’t think this was really the case as landscape and nature continued to influence his poetry and plays.  I love it so much.

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend!

 

Dara

 

7 Comments

  1. A wonderful blog, Dara and well done on recruiting another Eco School volunteer. Have you climbed to the summit of Benaughlin yet? It’s a great climb and the views are stunning!

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  2. Hi Dara. I have just been looking over your blog. It’s really great. You are a naturalist already. So congratulations from one naturalist to another. I’ll be checking in on it from time to time. May I share it on Facebook? All the best. Colin Stafford-Johnson.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Colin! Wow! I’m amazed that you read and liked my blog!! Thank you so much. I would love if you shared my blog. Wild Ireland is the most beautiful documentary I’ve ever seen and I loved that you mentioned the children of Lir at the end. We have Whoopers in Fermanagh, O wrote about them here a couple of times. They are magical!

      Dara ☺️

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