A Spring in my step!

The days are finally starting to lengthen, the sky is brighter and the birdsong is filling a space which has been quiet for so long. I’ve been on my Easter Holidays and its been a very productive yet overwhelming time, to be honest I like the quiet of nature and sometimes I feel like things get too noisy. My blog and writing is going from strength to strength but with this public awareness comes a sort of an intensity that I’m not used to. So, I’ve been relaxing in the garden, walking around some of my favourite places in Fermanagh and doing some things which have been really unexpected, challenging but very rewarding too.

The garden has been coming to life and the flowers are starting to appear.


Top from left – the beautiful and very important Cuckoo Flower or Lady’s Smock, a haven for Orange tip Butterfly and other pollinators. Groundsel, Daisy and a new Hazel bud. The most imortant of course is the Dandelion, this unsung hero of nature is a vital resource for many of our emerging pollinators. So important to keep a wild patch in your garden so these insects can thrive. Please. Look at this gorgeous burst of yellow sustaining the life of this fragile Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum). Sit beside a Dandelion for ten minutes and see the sheer amount of life it supports, just incredible.


We’ve had a lot of activity in and around the feeders and our nest box has residents too!

From top left Male and female Chaffinch, the lovely wee Dunnock, Collared Dove (Collie – my brother Lorcan is obsessed with the antics of our collared doves right now. They are hilarious! Although obviously hiding an aggressive undertone of territorial stand-offs! Female and male House Sparrows. Below, a Blue-tit family have been in and out of the nest box over the last few weeks. Fingers crossed! Apologies for the bad picture, its from a mobile phone and taken through glass!

On a warm day when the air had just the right amount of heat, the butterflies just appeared out of nowhere, dancing around the trees, chasing the sunbeams and a very hopeful sign of what is to come. We were absolutely delighted to get a Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) in the garden. If you see any butterflies, don’t forget to record them with Butterfly Conservation Trust The Speckled Wood made a fluttery appearance too.

We’ve been wandering around Fermanagh to some special places – woodlands, lakesides, heath, upland and country lanes. It feels so good to be out and about without the cold bite of Winter, although the weather can change in a heartbeat here!

The gorgeous Great Crested Grebe to the top right, such an elegant bird. Two male Tufted ducks and what I think is a Chiffchaff? Such beauty all around and so refreshing to see life springing from all corners. We have heard the Cuckoo call and so the throes of Spring are now in full flow.

I’ve had some really cool things happen to me too! An essay of mine was published by The Curlew periodical. I was so thrilled to see my words in a book. Thank you to Dr Lynn Parr for the opportunity!


I was also invited by the producer of BBC Radio 4’s Tweet of the Day to record my own special stories about two of my favourite birds that visit us here in Fermanagh. It was perhaps the most nerve wracking thing I have ever done. I actually didn’t think I was going to go through with the recording because my brain went into sensory overload (very common in those with Autism or extreme anxiety) and I just completely clammed up and got very emotional. I had never done anything like this before! I saw it through though and by all accounts, according to Maggie, I did ‘great’!  I felt so incredibly proud to have conquered my own anxiety and complete this really great opportunity that was kindly given to me. Mostly, I am proud that Fermanagh will have a place in this wonderful series of  appreciation of birds. Fermanagh is sometimes underrated and undervalued, I really wanted to get a different perspective out there to a wider audience. That’s my mission! Thank you so much to Maggie at BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol, you really helped me on the day too!


I recorded the segments in Belfast and I was really glad to look forward to a family break in Donegal afterwards! We went to Glencolmcille and it was truly an inspiring trip, but you’ll have to wait for that! Here’s a little taster of the weather and one the beaches!


Look at all the lesser celandine, daisy and dandelion! What a sight and what sounds, it was fantastic!

I would also like to thank Colin Stafford-Johnson for his kind sharing of my ‘Wild Ireland’ blog and for getting in touch with me, it was really lovely to finally get viewers and make connections with my fellow islanders! I have also just finished watching ‘The Secret Life of the Shannon’ and yet again, my heart just burst with inspiration but also with feelings of loss, despair and a longing for a world which isn’t changing with such a speed that is damaging the natural world. 

When I watch documentaries presented by passionate and knowledgeable people such as Colin, I  feel more of a purpose to keep doing what I’m doing. To keep whispering and continuing the momentum. It can be kind of isolating being into nature, which is completely confusing, because to me, knowing and loving our natural world is a part of being human, a very, very important part indeed! There is a vibrant and dynamic community of people helping and working to conserve our natural environment and I am so grateful to each and every one of them.

Thanks as always for reading and I hope everyone had a peaceful Easter and also that you got to experience a few of Spring’s delights outdoors too.


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15 Responses

  1. I’ve shared to my FB friends Dara. You really shine with your passion for nature. For the love. <3 Ginny.

  2. Dara so proud of all your wonderful achievements. Your writings are so inspirational and engaging. Keep it up young man!!

  3. You are so inspirational! I am an ambassador for dandelions too but you have taught me about the Orange Tip and the Cuckoo Flower. Looking forward to your next blog.

    1. Thank you! Yes, they have a very special relationship which is why it’s so important not to cut/spray/drain fiends too early. If the fields are drained then the cuckoo flower won’t thrive because the like damp soil.

  4. Thank you, Dara, for another inspiring blog. As you say, Spring’s arrival is so uplifting. Congratulations on your achievements, and continue to take time out to just enjoy your love of nature.

  5. Another fantastic post, Dara 🙂 I always learn something from whatever you write. How wise of you to step away a little when you sensed some pressure from the blog’s success, and how courageous to step forward and make that recording! You really are a most inspirational young man

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