Of Bilberries and Froghoppers

Day 61

I’m posting this a couple of days late just as I’m being a bit lazy. I delayed my normal lunchtime walk for a work from home day until the evening as I wasn’t really feeling like it at lunchtime. It was quite a muggy evening but everything was quite dry – no gaiter weather. Our thistle is getting a bit past its best but it’s neighbour has now flowered


Things are changing so fast at this stage – some of blackberries have berries forming and are well past the flowering stage, while others are still flowering.


Further on, a few of the bilberries are developing nicely but they don’t seem to have done very well this year – there are very few. Ardagh mountain isn’t really quite high enough for bilberries to thrive but the do make quite a tasty little snack for late summer walks.


It is funny how you take time to find things out when your children ask you, but I had myself wondered since I was a child what “cuckoo-spit” was. It is fairly abundant at this time of year although is isn’t too prevalent later in the day. Anyway, I looked it up and discovered it is a defence mechanism of the Froghopper nymph. The secret the foam and then hide from predators inside the foamy mass while living off plant sap. So that’s that mystery solved.


A good soaking

Day 60

There was time for a quick walk when I got home from work so I went out even though the sky was looking a bit ominous. Sure enough it started drizzling as I was going up the lane and it was really tipping it down by the time I got into the forest.

As a result I didn’t take many pictures due to being worried about my camera getting wet. My thistle had made a full emergence by how though so I did get a shot of it.


It was all a bit of a mad scramble due to the rain but I would think I was close to a record time. We all got rightly soaked and were happy to make it home

Another fine lunchtime walk

Day 59

Another fine lunchtime and I managed to get out for a walk. It was a fine clear day and things were still pretty dry up there. Visibility was clear to the horizon. We were up on one of those other hills at the weekend at Uisneach but unfortunately it was too wet and misty to be able to look back.


Our thistle is still making progress but it is getting a bit more difficult to take a clear picture of it, especially when you have a dog pulling at you eager to get on with her walk.


We continued tramping round at a reasonably good pace with not a lot else going on. I did spot this rather pretty little orange flower growing in the gravel path. No idea what it is.


After that it was back into the covered tracks until we spotted a wasps’ nest about 5 minutes from the end.  There seems to be a lot of wasps about this summer for some reason. We have something in our bottom field that is rooting them out – probably a badger.


So all-in-all that was quite an interesting little walk between our flower and the wasps nest.

Uisneach Tour

This wasn’t primarily a  walk but there was a bit of a hike involved and I had a few nice pictures so I figured I’d do a quick blog post about it. We went over to Uisneach, the ancient spiritual centre of Ireland for a guided tour on Sunday and it was a very interesting outing.


I won’t say much about the history or myths as the people there are very much better at that than I would be but suffice to say that there was a very good tour given that involved laser eye, flaming swords and possibly even a visit from Darth Vader. I should have suggested that Bealtaine could have come from Star Wars day – May the 4th.

This is the Earth Goddess – and she’s looking very well.


The landscape up on the hill was quite odd. It had some upland appearance about it but there was a little lake up there. Of course the lake has all kinds of historical and mythical significance being the place where the Sun God Lugh met his end.


They have some quite cool carvings up there. This is Lugh.


This is our erstwhile band of travellers on our way to the Catstone.


Our guide for the day pointing out how if you squinted and perhaps took off your glasses the catstone looked like a cat.


Another view of the catstone


I though the landscape was quite odd on the hill. There were little clumps of hawthorn bushes everywhere which gave the place quite a stark feel.


We had a nice day out and it was a very enjoyable tour. For more info have a look a the uisneach.ie site or their Facebook page.

Afternoon Walk

Day 58

I managed to get out for a quick walk on a showery Saturday afternoon. Luckily enough I did manage to dodge the showers so had a nice stroll. The elder-flower is in full bloom by now and looking quite nice. Indeed some of the trees have finished up already.


The thistles haven’t progressed much but there is a bit of difference about them. I have got some pictures of some others a bit further one but I’ll refrain from posting them unless I miss the same stage on this one.


The dogs had a nice time – they always love getting up the forest.


The visibility was very good today.


That’s about it for this post. I had a grand if uneventful walk.

Biking the Loop

This doesn’t warrant a new day as I had already been round at lunchtime but as it had been so dry the last few days, I decided to take the bike around for a spin. I have a reasonably nice aluminium hard-tail with hydraulic discs that I bought in a previous life and has only ever been up Ardagh Mountain once and that was only the easy bit and not far from 10 years ago.

So anyway, I dusted it off and set off up the mountain. After huffing and puffing up the road I set off around the left loop which has a hard gravel base without too much difficultly despite my lack of bike fitness. I had a bit of fun after the peak scooting down and again it was pretty easy going.

Once I crossed the road, the going got a bit tougher as the path is mostly mud here. I had to dismount a couple of times and I nearly sunk a couple more. Eventually, I came a-cropper and went over the handlebars and luckily landed in heather so no harm done apart from a slightly bent brake-lever.

That was the worst of it over so I rattled down through the rest which turns back to gravel fairly quickly. I decided not to take the turn-off that keeps me in the forest but instead continued on the good surface and finished off the loop by cycling into the village and then back home.

Anyway, that was fun for a change although I might apply a bit more wisdom the next time and dismount for the rough stuff until I lose about 15 kilos and 10 years.

Overcast Lunchtime Stroll

Day 57

For the first trip of the day, it was a normal lunchtime walk around the longer of the two loops. It had clouded over since yesterday but I couldn’t really complain about the weather. The first thing of note was the thistle from yesterday where I thought I’d take another picture to show its progress. Not a lot really had changed. Hopefully I’ll get around once more before the weekend to see some progress.


After that I continued on around to the half-way point which is where I usually release the hounds once I’m well clear of the road. You can see from this face why I don’t like them being free near the road.


It was so dry the last couple of walks that I was able to go through the wettest part of the whole walk. In the winter there can be 30 cm of water at this point but right now it is fairly dry if still a bit muddy. It can be negotiated by keeping to the edge rather than taking the usual short detour.


Anyway, that’s about it. The Ragworths are starting to come into flower now – these are considered a serious pest in open fields but in the forest they are an important moth habitat apparently. I think they are at least a couple of weeks early this year as they don’t normally make an appearance until late July normally.


Evening Light

Day 56

As I was home early and it is summer holidays, we all went for a walk this evening. The fine weather returned after a short break so it was a fabulous hot evening. The group up the forest is almost completely dried out now and it makes for a much more comfortable walking experience.

The view from the top was a little hazy and there wasn’t much new of interesting. I shot this thistle head on the verge of bursting into flower – they really are a fantastic thing.


We continued around the loop without much of note happening. The poor old tadpoles are really struggling at this stage and could seriously do with a bit of rain. The foxgloves which have been fabulous this year are beginning to look a bit the worse for wear.


The light in the forest in the evening is quite stunning at this time of year. I must try to get up a bit later some evening as I should think it would be even better.


It was nice to get out for a walk after a day in the city. I’ve been slowing down a bit over the last couple of weeks and need to get back in the swing of things.