During the last weekend we visited Fota wildlife park in county cork and spent many great hours getting to know many of the animals they have in their care.
The weather was perfect during the time needed to walk around all the islands and planned routes around the park, with many of the animal on open display and very easy to view you get a very personal experience.
The image above is of a female Bennett’s Walley, with two of her babies resting Snuggly in her pouch, I felt very lucky to get a great view of the three of them as they all napped in the midday sun 🙂
About the Bennett’s Wallaby
Sometimes called the Red-necked Wallaby, the species has a mainly grey coat with reddish shoulders and a black nose and paws. The male’s body can measure up to 90cm in length and weigh up to 18kg; the female, in contrast, is smaller – though both have five clawed-tipped fingers that are used for feeding and grooming.
A native of the east coast of Australia and Tasmania, the Bennett’s Wallaby is noctural – resting during the day and coming out to feed at night. Largely a solitary animal, it follows a herbivorous diet and gains most of the water it needs through the food sources it consumes. Breeding can occur at any time of the year with females giving birth to one offspring – known as a Joey – once every 12 months.
The Wallaby’s ears are very sensitive and are its first line of defence in that it will bound away from a predator as soon as it hears one nearby. Each of its hind legs has an elastic tendon that allows the species catapult itself forward as its tail acts like a rudder, enabling the Wallaby to change direction quickly.
Once hunted for their meat and fur and persecuted by ranchers and farmers, Wallabies are now a protected species. The move has seen their numbers in the wild increase in recent years and as the species is tolerant of alternative habitats, it is of Least Concern on the Endangered List.
Did you know?
Similar in size to a grape when born, Joeys grow to 2,000 times its birth weight during the first six months of its life. They begin to leave their mother’s pouch from about seven months and are fully independent at a year old.
The Fota park Connection
The Park’s Wallabies are free ranging and now number between 50 and 70 animals around the island. More easily spotted in the early morning or late evening when the Park is quieter, this species feeds on the grass of the African Savanah or Woodlands areas and tends to be timid and hard to get too close to
I will post lots more images of all these great creatures at Fota park and do my best to introduce them to you 🙂
At this time of year , many parts of the Irish landscape come alive with the purples and pinks of the Rhododendron flower.
These images are just a few closeup shots taken on an evening walk yesterday …..
Rhododendron (from Ancient Greek ῥόδον rhódon “rose” and δένδρον déndron “tree”) is a genus of 1,024 species of woody plants in the heath family (Ericaceae), either evergreen or deciduous, and found mainly in Asia, although it is also widespread throughout the Southern Highlands of the Appalachian Mountains of North America. It is the national flower of Nepal. Most species have showy flowers. Azaleas make up two subgenera of Rhododendron. They are distinguished from “true” rhododendrons by having only five anthers per flower.
At this time of year our local woodlands are full of wildlife with the insects at the height of their activities.
I was lucky enough to capture this Predatory Sawfly, yesterday evening, just while there was enough sun-light left to help get a bright image 🙂
Sawfly is the common name for insects belonging to suborder Symphyta of the order Hymenoptera. Sawflies are distinguishable from most other hymenopterans by the broad connection between the abdomen and the thorax, and by their caterpillar-like larvae. The common name comes from the saw-like appearance of the ovipositor, which the females use to cut into the plants where they lay their eggs. Large populations of certain sawfly species can cause substantial economic damage to forests and cultivated plants.
In late springtime here in county Kilkenny – Ireland, I always notice when the wild flower come out.
Some of the most noticeable are the Cuckoo flowers, they grow at the side of rivers and along damp woodland paths.
I always feel like summer has started in full when I first see them …..
Cuckoo-flower / Lady’s Smock
Flowering time: March-June. Perennial. Native.
Large white to pinkish-mauve flowers. Yellow anthers. Colour depends
on habitat, pink-mauve on dryer ground. Fruit with long or short style.
Basal leaves round / oval, in rosette. Stem leaves narrow-lanceolate.
Variable plant, sometimes with runners. Height: To 60 cm
Very frequent. Damp meadows and lawns, stream sides, open moist woodland.
I took this Image of a Damselfly while on a Walk along the Kings river , County Kilkenny.
This Wonderful looking Damselfly was just resting on a leaf as I walked past and stayed long enough for me to get some great images.
The Foxglove bells
By : Mary Webb
The foxglove bells, with lolling tongue,
Will not reveal what peals were rung
In Faery, in Faery,
A thousand ages gone.
All the golden clappers hang
As if but now the changes rang;
Only from the mottled throat
Never any echoes float.
Quite forgotten, in the wood,
Pale, crowded steeples rise;
All the time that they have stood
None has heard their melodies.
Deep, deep in wizardry
All the foxglove belfries stand.
Should they startle over the land,
None would know what bells they be.
Never any wind can ring them,
Nor the great black bees that swing them–
Every crimson bell, down-slanted,
Is so utterly enchanted.
Photographing and capturing Nature is something I love doing through out the year.
In January the woodlands are still full of life, it may be a little harder to find but it is still all around. Mushroom are enjoying a very mild winter here in Ireland and I managed to find and capture these (Wood Mushrooms and Common Puffball Mushrooms) yesterday in a local woodland nature reserve.
Gallery and details
Common Puff ball Mushrooms
Lycoperdon perlatum, popularly known as the common puffball, warted puffball, gem-studded puffball, or the devil’s snuff-box, is a species of puffball fungus in the family Agaricaceae. A widespread species with a cosmopolitan distribution, it is a medium-sized puffball with a round fruit body tapering to a wide stalk, and dimensions of 1.5 to 6 cm (0.6 to 2.4 in) wide by 3 to 7 cm (1.2 to 2.8 in) tall. It is off-white with a top covered in short spiny bumps or “jewels”, which are easily rubbed off to leave a netlike pattern on the surface. When mature it becomes brown, and a hole in the top opens to release spores in a burst when the body is compressed by touch or falling raindrops.
The puffball grows in fields, gardens, and along roadsides, as well as in grassy clearings in woods. It is edible when young and the internal flesh is completely white, although care must be taken to avoid confusion with immature fruit bodies of poisonous Amanita species. L. perlatum can usually be distinguished from other similar puffballs by differences in surface texture. Several chemical compounds have been isolated and identified from the fruit bodies of L. perlatum, including sterol derivatives, volatile compounds that give the puffball its flavor and odor, and the unusual amino acid lycoperdic acid. Laboratory tests indicate that extracts of the puffball have antimicrobial and antifungal activities.
This species was originally noted and named in 1753 by Carolus Linnaeus as Agaricus campestris. It was placed in the genus Psalliota by Lucien Quelet in 1872. Some variants have been isolated over the years, a few of which now have species status, for example, Agaricus bernardii Quel. (1878), Agaricus bisporus (J.E. Lange) Imbach (1946), Agaricus bitorquis (Quel.) Sacc. (1887), Agaricus cappellianus Hlavacek (1987), and Agaricus silvicola (Vittad.) Peck (1872).
Some were so similar they did not warrant even variant status, others have retained it e.g. Agaricus campestris var. equestris (F.H. Moller) Pilat (1951) is still valid, and presumably favors pasture where horses have been kept. Agaricus campestris var isabellinus (F.H. Moller) Pilat (1951), and Agaricus campestris var.radicatus, are possibly still valid too.
The specific epithet campestris is derived from the Latin campus “field”.
The cap is white, may have fine scales, and is 5 to 10 centimetres (2.0 to 3.9 in) in diameter; it is first hemispherical in shape before flattening out with maturity. The gills are initially pink, then red-brown and finally a dark brown, as is the spore print. The 3 to 10 centimetres (1.2 to 3.9 in) tall stipe is predominantly white and bears a single thin ring. The taste is mild. The white flesh bruises slightly reddish, as opposed to yellow in the inedible (and somewhat toxic) Agaricus xanthodermus and similar species.
The spores are 7–8 micrometres (0.00028–0.00031 in) by 4–5 micrometres (0.00016–0.00020 in), and ovate. Cheilocystidia are absent.
Your may think the during the still month on January the woodlands are died and that nothing is growing, yet a closer look will bring you some well deserved surprises.
January for the woodland fungi is a perfect month, the winter rain and relative warmth of the trees bring perfect growing conditions, these Birch Polypore were growing in a woodland at the foot of Brandon hill, County kilkenny.
The fruiting bodies (basidiocarps) are pale, with a smooth greyish-brown top surface, with the underside a creamy white and with hundreds of pores that contain the spores. The fruiting body has a rubbery texture, becoming corky with age. Wood decayed by the fungus, and cultures of its mycelium, often smell distinctly of green apples. The spores are cylindrical to ellipsoid in shape, and measure 3–6 by 1.5–2 μm.
P. betulinus has a bipolar mating system where monokaryons or germinating spores can only mate and form a fertile dikaryon with an individual that possesses a different mating-type factor. There are at least 33 different mating-type factors within the British population of this fungus. These factors are all variants or alleles of a single gene, as opposed to the tetrapolar mating system of some other basidiomycete species, which involves two genes.
Range and ecology
The geographic distribution of Piptoporus betulinus appears to be restricted to the Northern Hemisphere. There is some doubt about the ability of isolates from the European continent, North America and the British Isles to interbreed.
It is a necrotrophic parasite on weakened birches, and will cause brown rot and eventually death, being one of the most common fungi visible on dead birches. It is likely that the birch bracket fungus becomes established in small wounds and broken branches and may lie dormant for years, compartmentalised into a small area by the tree’s own defence mechanisms, until something occurs to weaken the tree. Fire, drought and suppression by other trees are common causes of such stress.
In most infections there is only one fungal individual present, but occasionally several individuals may be isolated from a single tree, and in these cases it is possible that the birch bracket fungus entered after something else killed the tree. These fungal “individuals” can sometimes be seen if a slice of brown-rotted birch wood is incubated in a plastic bag for several days. This allows the white mycelium of the fungus to grow out of the surface of the wood. If more than one individual dikaryon is present, lines of intraspecific antagonism form as the two individual mycelia interact and repel each other.
The fungus can harbor a large number of species of insects that depend on it for food and as breeding sites. In a large-scale study of over 2600 fruit bodies collected in eastern Canada, 257 species of arthropods, including 172 insects and 59 mites, were found. The fungus is eaten by the caterpillars of the fungus moth Nemaxera betulinella.
I just reached 500 posts on my blog.
In the time I have been Blogging and posting images along with commenting on the locations I love to visit and photograph.
I this time I have received some 41000 hits, 20000 likes and over 5000 wonderful comments.
So I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has visited my Blog and helped to make it something I am very proud of and love sharing !
THANK YOU !
Here are just some of the Local flowers I found and photographed during the year in and around county Kilkenny.
Thank you flower Gallery
In an October hedge-row
The Hedgerows in county Kilkenny at this time of year are so full of life, Insects, berries, flowers and leafs.
I just love capturing all of these natural things as they change and get ready for the winter !
Life in an October hedgerow : Gallery
In September all the insects in the hedgerow seem to come to life, they feed frantically on the remaining flowers and fruit before the Autumn takes hold.
I can remember the first time I came across the Slate quarries near Windgap, County Kilkenny, there are about four or five of these sites in the area all of the now disused and flooded, How long they have existed varies but all of them go back to the Victorian period.
The quarry in these images is located near Ahenny, Co.Kilkenny and the reason I find it more interesting than the others is that it still has remains of some cottages that the workers would have lived in during the period that the quarry was in operation.
I don’t know how deep the lake is, I have been swimming in it many times and it feels deep very deep, the miners would have had to blast most of the slate out and the sides of the lake go strait down below the water. If you swim underneath the water and down the sides a little you still cannot see the bottom of the quarry, many would feel a little unhappy swimming here.
There are some ten cottages in this row, its just around the corner from the lake, which when the quarry was in operation would have been a very dangerous location, with blasting and all the machinery in very close proximity to the cottages it cannot have been great living condition. This as-well the fact that the location is miles away from any village, the conditions for the worker must have been very poor.
The Quarries Today
Today these quarries have become a wildlife and natural reserve, slate lies everywhere but this has provided a haven for plant life and wildlife, Herons hunt in the rive below the quarry and the lake is full of fish. The area covers about 2 square miles.
I will come back to these quarries over the next weeks as they are wonderful places to post about and I love being around these quarries very much.
Walking along the river Barrow in Co.Kilkenny I came across this small collection of water Lilies and took some shots. I also noticed that last years leafs still sat underneath the water only now being replaced by this years new growth.
On an early morning walk along our local river bank, I noticed these fading Primrose’s. Spring was very late this year and as a result all the spring time flowers have lasted a long time. The primrose is always the first out but even now they are fading.
I think its made for some wonderful images so here they are, the last primroses of this year.
Cuckoo flowers on the banks of the Kings river, Kells, County kilkenny…..