NEW Layout: Our Site Map is now ON A SEPARATE PAGE; we are keen this Autumn to bring more News and Updates to the fore. Remind us if we don’t update it regularly! This HOME PAGE will now be used for current or attractive or relevant new data. WildWest.ie is a personal initiative exploring where we live with many photographs and years of recording — but no links to other projects. Of course, we are pleased if people appreciate our work and (by and large) feel free to use it. We take a traditional Natural History approach to observing and recording what we see about us. Sometimes this gels with what other people are doing.. We see our role largely as presenting data in an attractive format and getting excited about new species and worried about losing others from our National Ecology.
More examples as we get them >
Northwest Ireland is a varied land bordered by the Atlantic with a rich interior of waterways, lakes, moorlands and mountains. Its West Coast is wild and distinctive in the EU. Other countries further north may have wilder or mightier cliffs. Europe is an amazing Continent and the West of Ireland is a significant part of it mainly for its range of diversity in plants, animals, scenery and weather! We will show you some of these here in the following months… Observations:We love seeing rare visitors to our island, migrants like the Goldeneye ducks (ABOVE) or native Red Squirrels still abundant in western Ireland. Long may they stay so; it is the appreciation of the common that characterises a place. A place without diversity or a country without a wide range of landscape can be lesser for that. It is biodiversity and the land that makes a place special. Ireland is just one of many EU countries rich in excitement and wonder.
The native Red Squirrel is common here wherever trees with cones and bushes with nuts are to be found. The Pine Marten protects them! Frequent in wooded areas of Connacht…
Inevitably, Orchids have grabbed attention in our ‘place’ — between the limestone and the western cliffs — where many rare species abound! S. romanzoffiana is one of them. It is an ‘American orchid’ rare in Europe, identified in Unalaska by a Russian Expedition under Governor Romanzoff of Kamchatka, first seen here in West Cork. Now we monitor them obsessively, inspired by Russian and European botanists both then and now! Many pages in this website are devoted to plants but in Ireland’s West there are many other Rarities, Habitats, and dramatic Landscapes. Ireland has some stunning cliffs/islands of Seabirds, and Woodlands full of Squirrels and Pine Martens. Our Geology is simply ancient and varied!
PLANTS PLACES & Animals:
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:)
•based in the West of Ireland •with interests in Western European wildlife •support conservation along Europe’s western shore •some remarkable habitats and plants•Orchids like Spiranthes romanzoffiana.
a Peregrine Falcon watches us from a Tower on a Castle on an Island in Lough Key — on a wet Autumn day — 400m away..
Goldeneye displaying at Lough Meelagh before their long journey back to the Artic
CLICK Image to go to SITE Map.
CLICK Image for SITE Map
Eagles RockPart of a very small mountain range, the Dartry Mountains mainly based in Sligo. It still has impressive cliffs, provides a base for some alpine plants but no Eagles, unfortunately.
Mixed WoodlandThis is the Spindle tree. Just coming into fruit at this time of year (October). It requires calcareous soils so often grows on flat limestone country of the Midlands and West. Timber is used for spindles, bows and formerly toothpicks.
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!
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 CorncrakeBiometrics 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!
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!
PENDING… PENDING… PENDING
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.
BELOWTrooping Funnel Clitocybe geotropaA fresh fungus with sturdy stype and a strongly gilled cap with delicate fringe and concave top.
LEFT Bracket FungusBrackets 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 FungusHelvella crispaIn 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…
Other FungiAt this season a wide variety of fungi are emerging from the leaf litter — some of the more striking ones are shown HERE.
Bracket Fungus ABOVEGanoderma 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..