Damien Enright

Oliver O'Brien's photo of aa baby hedgehog, about 10 days old. The white spines typically have a parting down the middle. Brown spines will grown amongst them and, after 15 days the white spines will be hardly visible.

Wildlife in West Cork: blink and you miss it

I arrive back from the Canary Islands, with a brief stop-over in London, and have messages on my telephone which make me wonder if there is more exotic wildlife to be seen in West Cork than in many far-flung places.

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You’d be stone mad to journey to the ‘world’s best beach’

A ROCK falling on one’s head is a hazard rarely encountered on Irish roads. However, in the Canary Islands it is a distinct possibility on back roads not yet endowed with EU grants.

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Shear beauty, and sheer hell on a desert island at night

AT NIGHT, here on the island of La Gomera in the Canaries, we hear the pardelas — Cory’s Shearwaters — mewling as they cruise high above the lights of the harbour; their calls echoing against the sheer rock face that rises 1,000m directly above the port beach.

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Garajonay is a romantic place. It was there that my son and his 'novia', a lovely girl from Bedfordshire, made their marriage bond.

La Gomera’s lush green valleys have risen from the ashes

TO SEE green shoots rise from blackened branches in the vast swathes of forest destroyed by wildfires in La Gomera in the Canary Islands in August 2012 was at once a joy and a reassurance. 

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When the rain stops and we find a world transformed

The recurrent showers of recent weeks has had us crouching under bushes for shelter.

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A Great Northern Diver in full breeding array, Courtmacsherry Bay. This bird will soon fly to Iceland, Greenland or Canada to breed.  	Picture: Damien Enright

Birds of a feather stay on in Cork until breeding season

THE soldier stones that top the seashore wall for a kilometre or more from the east to the west end of this village are draped with the red stems and tiny purple flowers of ivy-leaved toadflax. If a lady could lift off this lacery of plant life and drape it on her shoulders, she would, it is sure, be wearing a shawl better than any designed by the top couturiers.

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Ron’s rapping at the window, summer must be here

IT’S SUMMER again, whatever Met Éireann may say about it beginning in June. 

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Lusitania: Path where our ancestors witnessed history 100 years ago

FOR a superb outdoor experience, salted with a bit of history, none will serve better on this Bank Holiday Monday than a coastal walk from picturesque Courtmacsherry village to Coolbawn (aka Blind Strand) on the Seven Heads.

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The price of a 'plate' (perhaps 12 sparrow-size blackcaps, warblers, robins,) has gone from €5 to €50.

Traditional Cyprus is not a bird’s best friend

Tourist Information Office birdwatching guides to the Republic of Cyprus and Turkish-Occupied Northern Cyprus (Kibris) are second to none, full of information and beautiful photographs. Each of the two Cypruses want to attract birders, says Damien Enright.

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Wriggle out of this, earthworms just about cut the mustard

After a fine dinner at our home last week, our guest (and chef for the evening) was (figuratively) in full flight and turned to the squirmy subject of earthworms.

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Time to reward people who protect habitats

Last week, I wrote about the increasing destruction of habitats in marginal areas, where, in the cause of creating more grassland for more cattle to make more beef and now more milk — bedrock is smashed and removed and the land scraped of all the wild and hardy vegetation that has evolved there since the last Ice Age.

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On the Sheeps Head in West Cork, of food for the spirit, there is a feast; bedrock breaks thefields and there is more gorse than grazing.

From milking the scenery to milking the marginal land

THE chatter of rock-breakers have long since replaced the hoarse cries of corncrakes in marginal farming areas of Ireland, writes Damien Enright

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The renewal of spring is everywhere, visable change almost hour by hour

Spring is another country. So different are these bright days from the dark days of a month ago that one might think one has moved to another land.

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A young Hereford fattening on peppery watercress in the River Ver, Hertfordshire. Will pepper steaks result?

Signal warning about the dangers of alien crayfish

As a boy, writes Damine Enright, I enjoyed catching crayfish in the River Suir near Thurles, Co Tipperary. River-prawns, I called them. I was in short pants at the time.

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Like lizards, dormice have the trick of 'autotomy' — discarding their tail if it is grabbed by a predator.

Of dormouse and men and Roman delicacies

This weekend, I will visit one of my sons in historic St Alban’s in Hertfordshire, England. 

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Teal drake, vivid in the winter light on Courtmacsherry Bay. Flotillas of the bird can be seen along the bay. Picture: Damien Enright

Magnificent display of mother nature on a spring morning

These days, the woodland floor is greening over with the shoots of ransoms and bluebells pushing through the leaf mould, writes Damien Enright. The trees are full of bird song and, on bright days, the paths are dappled with sunlight.

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‘Marimo’ mystery explained in a roundabout way, thanks

MY COLUMN of February 16 discussed the mysterious moss balls photographed on a west Cork strand by M Didier Le Goff, a Breton visitor. 

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Tree-like columns of Gaudi’s cathedral are a sacred sight

THE WEATHER here in west Cork is much warmer than the weather we left behind in Barcelona. It was evident from the time we stepped off the plane, in Dublin, and headed for Heuston Station, to entrain for the south.

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Marimo moss balls,found on a beach at Schull in west Corkand photographed by a French visitor. This rare species of velvety algae can grow to tennis-ball size. Natives of lakes in Japan and Iceland, they are sometimes kept as pets.

How did marimo end up on a beach in Schull?

Last week, a reader wrote, “Sir, I live in West Cork since four months. I come from Brittany.

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Pet parakeets are now the bothersome birds of Barcelona

OMG, it’s followed us!” I said to my wife as, walking down the graceful Carrer d’Aragó in Barcelona, I suddenly saw a grey heron winging its capacious way over the housetops. 

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