Wildlife on the move and more tales of Ire­land

Middleton Guardian - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

ONE of my long time read­ers, Tony Bryan from Marple way, has just sent me a fas­ci­nat­ing email:

“I reg­u­larly read your col­umn and thought you might be in­ter­ested in the fol­low­ing: I live on four acres fairly close to the A626 and I am send­ing you pics of a mink my dog caught in a wild pond on my land last year.

“I’ll spare you the pic­tures but the lit­tle beg­gars can be found the length and breadth of the coun­try now and they have even made it to many of the Scot­tish Is­lands as they are ob­vi­ously very good swim­mers.

“Of course many of the is­lands are a stone’s throw from each other which makes it fairly easy for the ma­raud­ing, eat any­thing musteloids, to swim across.”

Tony had two ques­tions: ‘To­day I found two froglets swim­ming in my dog’s out­side wa­ter-bowl, it seems the wrong time of year?’

De­pend­ing on when the spawn was laid, froglets will leave the pond be­tween June and Septem­ber, so early Oc­to­ber is not that un­usual dur­ing the rea­son­ably mild weather we have been hav­ing.

They leave the wa­ter en-masse and for a cou­ple of days the gar­den will be alive with tiny am­phib­ians.

They quickly dis­perse into sur­round­ing ar­eas and may not re­turn to the pond un­til they’re old enough to breed them­selves (two to three years later).

‘What do you know about hedge­hog con­ser­va­tion ef­forts lo­cally?’

I know there are many peo­ple in the cir­cu­la­tion area of this news­pa­per that are pas­sion­ate about the care and con­ser­va­tion of hedge­hogs and The British Hedge­hog Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety can give you all the help you need at www. british­hedge­hogs.org.uk.

Tony’s part­ing shot played to my strengths: ‘Keep up the Ir­ish sto­ries please; been all round Ire­land, love it.

‘I’d like to know a lit­tle more about Kin­vara, as your band and Glossop Rugby Club seem to be there all the time!’

Oh, okay then, says I with my arm firmly twisted up my back, so here is a few words on a typ­i­cal week­end in Kin­vara, twinned with Glossop.

The first morn­ing in Kin­vara was misty, the sea calm and Dun­guaire Cas­tle played hide and seek be­hind the foggy-cur­tains, while this lit­tle cor­ner of Gal­way Bay was criss­crossed by early birds, in­clud­ing mute swans and herons and not for­get­ting the dark, dark cor­morants al­ready div­ing for fish.

An idyl, lit­tle changed for over three hun­dred years, Kin­vara is 14 miles south of Gal­way it­self and eas­ily ac­cessed for a week­end from the UK, by ferry and car, or a 60-minute flight from Manch­ester to Shan­non and a fur­ther hour by hire-car.

As you sit on the quay­side, it is pos­si­ble to pick up the audi­ble sighs of re­lax­ation as new vis­i­tors ar­rive and shake off their daily cares, the only mild vex­a­tion, where to eat first.

As veter­ans of many trips to Kin­vara, our party of nine has a lit­tle tra­di­tion which read­ers may like to try, let’s call it, an ini­ti­a­tion into the West and, whichever time of day you ar­rive, the fol­low­ing itin­er­ary will save you time.

The Pier Head Bar and Restau­rant is ideally placed on the Quay and owner, Michael Burke, knows the drill.

Half a dozen oys­ters, soda bread and but­ter and, of course, a pint of Guin­ness; throw in the At­lantic view, fresh air and good com­pany and you are ready to be­gin. Guin­ness on the right, oys­ters in front of you, soda bread and but­ter to your left.

In the fol­low­ing order, pick up an oys­ter and ei­ther swal­low whole or take a cheeky chew of the bi-valve on the way down, a taste of the bread and con­clude the first stage with a large gulp of Arthur’s finest drop. Sim­ply savour and re­peat at your leisure.

Time re­ally does stand still in the west of Ire­land and you can be pleas­antly de­layed for half an hour by just ask­ing some­one for direc­tions, but with only a week­end to go at, you need to be well or­gan­ised to make the most of the days.

And while we are at it, let’s dis­pense with the no­tion that it rains all the time in Ire­land; ad­mit­tedly it can rain, but it is often at night and how else would you get 40 shades of green?

Kin­vara at night

The Laugh­ing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glossop

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