Where we are… We live in Roscommon but cover western counties of Mayo, Donegal, Clare, Roscommon, Leitrim and Cavan mainly. But never say no to an opportunity in Britain or western Europe

Old STORIES and Photographs

We cannot resist a good photograph, be it Winter or Summer or in between. Sometimes these are bespoke photographs. i.e. taken to support a report or a study like S. romanzoffiana which we have been covering for many years. Others reflect the current season and nature evolving each year. Many are just filed for later use and plundered for occasions like these headline article for the HOME page.

Autumn 2020: Autumn in the Wood…

We are happy to now live near Lough Key Forest Park, Co. Roscommon. This is a paradise for Wildlife for much of the year and a Happy Camping ground in the Summer. Today — an Autumn day — straddles the seasons with Summer leaves falling and Fungi everywhere. Today we focus on one species… Land around Lough Key was acquired in 1641 by  the The King family who held it for 300 years before it became a State owned Forest Park. Many avenues of Beech Trees were planted during this period but details of that planting evades us. However, many of these trees now have weakened trunks, hollow at the base, with numerous examples of this fungus attached to the main trunk — standing or fallen. Wildlife has prospered this year. Why? More people at home, working in their gardens, providing for the local wildlife?  In our small garden we have some plants very attractive to wildlife. Elderberry for the Pigeons; Blackbirds feeding on Darwins Berberis until they seem unsure in flight! Bees on all sorts of flowers. Blackcaps and Buzzards in our local Woodland.

Spiranthes romanzoffiana in 2020

We have been watching this species for nigh on 20 years. Firstly in L. Allen (Leitrim/Roscommon) and then in L. Conn and L. Cullin (Co. Mayo). What is clear from this biometric data is that this species comes and goes, is marginal in the Irish context, is vulnerable but has access to replacement seed. i.e. it is a long time inhabitant here, it is not well adapted to spreading seed here due to waterside location and late flowering season, but seeds DO come from North America in vast numbers availing of the favourable Jet Stream between our two countries.. This year numbers (513) is down about 100 in the Mayo lakes with survival even worse due to flooding in mid Summer and early Autumn. (2020 SURVEY data:)
Goldeneye displaying at Lough Meelagh before their long journey back to the Arctic
SITE Map Click Image
CLICK Image for SITE Map
Recording: Keeping records is a good way to sustain our biodiversity. What is common may become rare if we turn our head away for too long. Some species and habitats are resilient; others are delicate. But even the humble Primrose deserves a smile when it first emerges, or the familiar Robin when it starts to sing! Orchids are often specialised, found in small places and easily destroyed if they are not marked. Progress and Climate put rare Plants and Animals at risk!

Biometrics: (More information on Site Map…)

It is essential to record Numbers and Distribution of rare and not-so-rare species. Once common species quickly become absent — think of the Lapwing and Corncrake Biometrics is the art of recording the distribution and numbers of species over the years to see if they are reducing and to correct such effects where possible. Many of our Orchids are rare and mainly found in Ireland but also we have fewer species than other countries, e.g. Britain. Hence we count and record and depict mainly beautiful experiences but, also, it is important to observe when habitats or waterways are damaged or polluted.


Disturbance and change are the two key words for the species cited above. In a wild and open countryside — with many pressures from its population — there is a need for Industry, and Food Production, as well as Conservation, working together to leave our land as good as it was!
Wild West.ie

What can be done?

Farming is a vital industry contributing much to Ireland’s survival. If the rate of intensification could be matched to the wish for preserving our natural biodiversity both the Economy and our traditional Wildlife could survive hand-in-hand. Global Warming causes species to migrate or re-locate. Ireland is clearly having more warm and wet Summers — as is common around the Northern Hemisphere. Plants adapt to this with one population dying out and another appearing further north where they have never been recorded before. Mayo and Scottish S. romanzoffiana are doing well; perhaps Iceland, Norway, Greenland next? But, we would like to keep some here too!


In November we hope to bring more topical notes like the one Above on Beech Trees and their fungal associates (i.e. ‘vandals’). However, we will return to S. romanzoffiana before Christmas, as it is a special plant. In the meantime the SITE MAP will link you to a wide variety of information on this species in Ireland. We appreciate how lucky we are to live near this species as it is one of the Orchids European botanists love to see and photograph.
BELOW Trooping Funnel Clitocybe geotropa A fresh fungus with sturdy stype and a strongly gilled cap with delicate fringe and concave top.
LEFT Bracket Fungus Brackets on one tree, the lower one being fresh and white. Older fruits can be 60cm wide and 18cm thick including both the hard brown cap of many years and softer hyphal tissue under the bracket.
White Saddle Fungus Helvella crispa In grass or in hard wood litter and often damaged before its tricornate cap can develop. A grey specimen also present may have been the Elfin Saddle


Here, we replicate a small section from our Site Map particularly relating to…

Spiranthes romanzoffiana

Irish Lady’s Tresses

Results for 2020 can be found via the SITEMAP A very special plant in North West Ireland and one we have studied for years… 2017 American seeds coming to Ireland? 2018 Numbers, Reproduction, Propagation. 2019 Daily LOG  Total Count & Report 2019  ARCHIVED INFO from Lough Allen
Other Fungi At this season a wide variety of fungi are emerging from the leaf litter — some of the more striking ones are shown HERE.
Bracket Fungus ABOVE Ganoderma applanatum This species is a ‘pest’ for Beech trees with hyphae penetrating into the heartwood and causing the tree to rot from the centre, leaving the familiar ‘caves’ large enough to stand up in.

Bracket Fungus on Beech Trees

Bracket Focus  Ganoderma applanatum This species is a ‘pest’ for Beech trees with hyphae penetrating into the heartwood and causing the tree to rot from the centre, leaving the familiar ‘caves’ large enough to stand up in..
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CLICK where you see this Symbol to Enlarge Images.

DATA BOX: INFO on Archived material.

0: Beech Trees and their decay. 1: Some Visiting Waterfowl from the far North.


SNIPPETS from recent Home Page ARTICLES
A R C H I V E 2021:  0 a Trial run
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis travel to Ireland every Winter from the east coast of Greenland to the north and west coasts of Ireland. One of our most impressive nature experiences is to see 1000’s of these flying over Lissadell and Ballyconell in Co. Sligo and commuting nightly to Inishmurray in Donegal Bay
From Leitrim… (RIGHT) Goldeneye Bucephala clangula  Whooper Swans Cygnus cygnus

Lough Gara, Co. Roscommon.

A spreading low lying lake with good reserves of Orchids in Summer and Waterfowl in Winter with one of the Country’s largest number of Whoopers. Might make a good site for a Local Nature Reserve if such an attraction could be established and promoted?
Tufted Ducks (ABOVE) Teal Male and Female (LEFT) Goldeneye. (BELOW) Even now displaying and courting prior to flying back to their northern breeding lands in the Spring
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We love seeing rare visitors to our island, migrants like the Goldeneye ducks that have now arrived along with their larger brethren, the Whoopers (RIGHT) Ireland has less Winter migrants in terms of Ducks in particular. Many of our ducks come from Northern countries typically migrating through the Baltic into west European mainland countries. The theory is that they settle there only moving to Britain and Ireland in extreme cold. Guess what; it’s not that cold any more and we don’t have large flights migrating to Ireland! These images are from Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon (L. Gara featuring in the lower images.) Three of the most interesting migrants we still have in good numbers. These are the Barnacle Geese, Whooper Swans and Goldeneye. (Images collected from December.)

Retaining Biodiversity:

Unlike some of our rare orchids these handsome members  of our biodiversity can choose not to fly to Ireland if food sources remain plentiful on the Continent. It’s a pity but, perhaps, the best we can do is try and facilitate our native breeders through very detailed commitment to maintain clean waters and protecting rare species through a chain of Local Nature Reserves — a Godsend for children and not common in Ireland.

How to get a Nature Reserve:

We have often longed for a Nature Reserve near our place, where people can go to see ducks and geese — like Peter  Scott’s reserve at Slimbridge. This was developed after the war on a very personal basis by a passionate Wildfowler. Unfortunately we don’t have the innate wealth of wildfowl but if encouragement was provided birds might fly in, either as Winter Visitors or later on to stay and breed? Many sites are protect in Ireland (see NPWS) but are not developed to encourage children and visitors. A site would require near access to wildfowl, i.e near the sea or lakes or even expose cut-over bog, like Boora Bog!

Today we look at Lakes, Geese and Ducks, 3 Counties in December…

A R C H I V E 2021:  1 Winter Visitors