It’s summer holiday time for the children, who will be out and about and, hopefully, enjoying the natural world which comes alive at this time of year. And, given that so much is taught about nature and the environment in school, the rising generation may be able to teach their mums and dads a thing or two.
Bees are scarce these days, but you’ll still see the old one buzzing about its business. Wildflowers continue to bloom and attract so-called ‘good’ bugs such as ladybirds and beautiful, delicately-coloured butterflies, which help fight ‘bad’ bugs like greenfly that eat garden plants.
Daisies, primroses and forget-me-nots are among the flowers that lure the ‘good’ bugs, as well as, believe it or not, nettles. There are 34 butterfly species in Ireland, with the red admiral and peacock being among the best known, and there are plenty of excellent images on websites that help identify them.
For many animals, the breeding season is well underway and keep an eye out for all sorts of creatures, not just birds, and their young. Even in cities and towns, foxes are now seen regularly and they can be quite cheeky. Some people have foxes as regular visitors to their back gardens and, by now, the wily madra rua is probably showing its cubs around. You might also see young hedgehogs during the summer.
Bats, which fly out of roosts in barns and old buildings at dusk, are also producing young which won’t be seen until late August when they make their first flights. By the seaside, you might see common seal pups which are born in June and July.
Best advice is not to go near animals when they have their young with them, as they can be very protective of their offspring.
Our two reptile species — the common lizard and slow worm — can also be seen soaking up the sunshine during the summer. The slow worm is found in The Burren, Co Clare, but the common lizard can be seen anywhere.
The tiny lizard looks like a survivor from the dinosaur era, with an exceptionally long tail that makes up most of its body. You’ll find it in bogland, thick vegetation, stonewalls, and sand dunes.
The beach is an interesting place at any time of year. When the tide is out, look in rock pools for a range of marine life including crabs, shrimp and miniscule fish. Small shellfish can also be seen clinging to rocks. Various types of seaweed are strewn along the water’s edge, while seabirds are all around the place.
Finally, people are urged not to feed birds in lakes, as throwing in bread and other food can cause pollution in water, which decreases oxygen leading to a drop in fish and insect populations and increasing plant growth.
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