Welcome to WildWest.ie our new mixture of photography, conservation, observation, sharing and just the joy of being out and about in this little island on the West of Europe. While some people use Golf, or more particularly — Fishing — we use the joy of photography as an incentive to actively research wildlife and habitats, species rare and common, water quality and conservation…
An exploration of wild & interesting places in Ireland and their western European/American flora and fauna…
Now retired, we share a passion for Birds, Plants, a bit of Geology and those small thingsl…. like orchid seeds, and creepy Cyanophyceae that can be natural but have also created harmful blooms in our lakes in the past. We love our country, now live and work mainly in the West but see all of Ireland as our little bit of paradise. Ireland has such a variety of landscape and geography with a range of exciting plants and animals if you know where to find them. While happy working together our years highlights are when visitors come from overseas to see our rare Flora and Fauna. Happy to meet you and show you around! It is important that these treasures are respected, protected and conserved and —we believe — the best way to do this is by sharing knowledge with people who always appreciate it. Hence…WildWest.ie(David and Frances)
A little part of Europe, its western fringe facing across the Atlantic to North America! How do these two continents affect our wildlife and our environment. Firstly, Ireland was separated from Europe much longer than Britain so species that occupied Britain when there was a land-bridge never reached Ireland. So we have fewer species. Also many species we have originate from N. America (Atlantic species) or NW Iberia (Lusitanian). This makes for fascinating studies.
Our Landscape backdrop shows the Navigation aids where the Wild Atlantic yields to the calmer waters of Sligo Harbour. On the RIGHT is one of two surviving Metal Men, cast and painted in the uniform of the British Royal Navy in the 18th. Century. This harbour has little commercial traffic now but it is a base for a Leisure Sailing and for the RNLI Lifeboat covering Donegal Bay. The small lighthouse and associated accommodation is on the small island of…. facing across the channel to Passage West.
TECHNICAL NOTE: This site is designed for desktop monitors and is laid out, by and large, as fixed width pages (1400px). We apologise if this necessitates some scrolling to read articles but it is thought to be the best format to present our information clearly. The site WILL NOT WORK ON SMARTPHONES but should be OK on larger tablets and laptops. Use Ctrl + and - on your Browser to scale your view. For any specific technical issues please CONTACT US.
We are torn between two goals of presenting original surveu material to a technical audience and also attracting people into the joys of Natural History. It’s not just on TV, it’s all around us.1.Major Articles. These take the form of very long pages presenting, typically, the results of a seasons work (e.g Spiranthes romanzoffiana work) Hopefully, over a number of years this will provide a record of the status, distribution and health of a species. To date we have produced 5 of these reports listed in the REPORTS box above.2.Habitat Reports. We also like this format as it makes an attractive report and focuses on all that is in a place, plants, animals, geology, etc. It works best with a discreet area like Lough Allen or The Burren. Only 3 such studies have been done to date; see Habitats box. We would like more.3.Photo Stories. We have many more photographs highlighting the natural beauty of this area. Some have been included in Blogs and we hope to develop a new format where days’ outings with worthwhile results can be quickly uploaded. Maybe a Noticeboard with links to an expanded article?
Ceis Corraun, Bricklieve area, Co. SligoSPRING 2016: A local free standing Hill with many caves and a spectacular cairn… interesting Botany and Geology.The Burren, Co. ClareSPRING 2017: One of our regular visits to this wonderful place… Scenery, Geology, Geomorphology, stunning and rare ORCHIDSEAGLES Rock, Dartry Mountains, Co. SligoSUMMER 2016 Impressive and visual rock formations, folding and glaciation along with many ‘Sligo’ alpine plants.
Some local Damselflies. Some species from Shannon/Boyle RiversLOGS: On LoughAllenBasin.com we used Logs to record daily boat trips around the Lake over several years. With WildWest we are covering a larger area and focus on Species and Habitats reflecting the natural diversity of Ireland and especially the West of Ireland. Short reports of certain species can be found in Blogs below:WW Log 2018Whimbrel / Black-tailed Godwits / Sweet Violet / Whoopers at L. Gara / Golden Plover / Redshank / Fossils & Glaucous Gulls / Barnacle Geese / Winter Pond, Whoopers and Lapwing WW Log 2017 Great Crested Grebe / Bee Orchid / Birdsnest Orchid / Small White Orchid / Demoiuselles / Common Scoter / Summer Snowflakes / Toothwort
Calendar and Events 2018 - 2019
Conservation of Irish Lady’s Tresses in Ireland _ a scoping Exercise!
Spiranthes romanzoffiana has never occurred in most of Eurasia. It is an American species. Its occurrence in Ireland and Scotland is most likely a botanical marvel and a meteorological phenomenon. Its seeds are light enough to fly and modern understanding of the upper atmosphere JetStream provides a magic corridor to quickly transfer such seeds from Labradror and Newfoundland to the west of Ireland and Scotland. We are convinced this is the appropriate working thesis to adopt. It explains the way they appear and disappear and it means that our major conservation goal should be to protect these seeds when they arrive! (http://www.wildwest.ie/spiranthesmigration.html)What to do?This years research work (http://www.wildwest.ie/spiranthes2018.html) indicates what the threats to a viable population remaining in Lough Cullin and Lough Conn are. One side of L. Conn is heavily grazed and the once health populations of this orchid have been largely eliminated. To protect this significant part of our biodiversity all that is needed is a restriction on cattle or other livestock grazing on the shore. A few years ago cattle were rarely seen on the east shore and were kept back behind secure fencing. There are merits in this apart from protecting a small but rare flower; it is healthier for the cattle and it avoids pollution of L. Conn. Of course Cattle need water and this can readily be provided from the lake by various means but it is probably best to bring the water to the cattle than the cattle to the water. Fenced off access to the water’s edge only increases the risk of deteriorating water quality.Who to do it?We would see WildWest.ie as providing the distribution data and research around both lakes. Also, we won a concession from the Dept. of Agriculture (when trying to do a similar project on L. Allen) that the presence of S. romanzoffiana on land would automatically qualify the Farmer for GLÁS eligibility. Such funding might go some way towards defraying the landowners costs involved in protecting this species. We fully appreciate that Farmers are anxious to do right by the environment. We have talked to many about this. However, they sholus suffer no loss or increased expenses entailed in such a project. We would be preserving this species to show Ireland is a clean and pleasant country to live in, to come to for holiday, and to show an example other more heavily developed parts of Europe. Many people from there are keen to visit our plants!
We had hoped pollution, an issue affecting our work in Lough Allen, would not be an issue further west. It has NOT done any harm to the Orchids and during the Summer one had to look hard and long to find any build up of pollution. When does it occur?To our amazement one of the more striking conclusions is that hot dry weather does not make these blooms worse. This was a specific observation recorded frequently around L. Allen. But surely warm temperature makes all bacteria multiply? (Cyanophyceae are a distinct life form and they are akin to bacteria, but they are unique in also photosynthesising. Hence the green colour) But there is one other factor of greater importance to them — they need phosphate to grow and this, typically comes from detergents, water softeners, run off from fields. When we have a long dry Summer, like 2018, there is little drainage of contaminated water into lakes and trhese lakes may remain pristine in even the hottest of weather. In L. Allen some of the worst instances of Cyanophyceae Blooms occurred from Autumn up to Christmas. We have pictures of Mussels being stunned by Cyanoblooms in an inlet of L. Allen. Their migration reaction to falling water had been blocked by the nerve poison released from the blooms. The local Otters had a field day with shredded Musselk shells left all alonbg the retreating water. Happily no sign of dead Otters was seen and rescued Mussels kept in clean water did recover and were re-introduced to the lake later.How to stop it?We need to empower Irish Water to quickly upgrade and make all treatment facilities state of the art and we should be all prepared to contribute to the cost of this. Clean water and a pristine environment should be a goal of a modern European country. There do seem to have been certain improvements in water quality in recent years but as the Autumn moves on we are noting much more pollution and Cyanoblooms in lakes that seemed clear all Summer. Some are near local sources of sewages; with other cases there is no ready source of contamination. We also all can try an reduce the amount of soap products we use and minimise the amount of suds that leave our premises. This will reduce the load of treatment plants and septic tanks.
1. Conservation:Much of the work to date has been recording and monitoring. This is important in conserving a species but too often too many people count a species until there are no more to count! We would like to move into Conservation Work and the species in most obvious need of this is the Irish Lady’s Tresses (Spiranthes romanzoffiana). We have years of data and while the species is very vulnerable in Lough Allen it is still in quite a strong position in the North Mayo lakes. NOW is the time to put in place some obvious and uncontroversial Conservation measures. We would love to work with other Organisations and Agencies and individuals to design and implement such a strategy and hope to lay out proposals over the Winter.
2. Pollution:Pollution came to dominate a lot of our research in Lough Allen over many years. From about 2010 onwards Cyanophyceae (AKA Blue Green algae) Blooms became more common around L. Allen with green specks streaming through the lake and along shores and deposits turning to bright cyan on the shore. Fatal to Mussels and Dogs, unpleasant for Humans and disastrous for tourism. (Swimming Bans!)
Also, why not have a look at our older Site… www.LoughAllenBasin.com That Site will open ina new Tab leaving the WildWest site still open. Use that site’s ‘Contact Us’ link for any enquiries concerning LoughAllenBasin. (Please do not try and contact us through our old site; just use this one!)
One budding Irish Lady’s Tresses was found last week. With warm weather, some gentle rain, and little disturbance, these remarkable Orchids should soon be in bloom around the north Mayo lakes and elsewhere.Go to our SPIRANTHES LOG for updates or contact us for details.
NEWS Items… Further Information.
Weather and Biodiversity
Filed: 6th June 2019
Linked to: Home Page
Weather and Biodiversity; Summer 2019
6th June 2019Last year Ireland was sweltering in a 3 month heatwave; this year has been traditionally cool, misty and with long periods of little sunshine. Particularly this month, June, has been remarkably wet and cool and dull. When there is a break in the cloud cover the warm Summer sun is welcomed. But regularly this year day time temperatures have struggled to reach 14°C with night time temperatures around 5°C. These chilly conditions have often been accompanied by very strong steady winds from various quarters but universally cold.Many plants and animals are impacted by these unseasonable conditions as are humans. However, trees are doing well with pollen also a problem. We have gone through a whole series of tree pollens with associated respiratory problems, starting with Willow, then Alder, Beech, various coniferous species, Oak and Ash. Now, we are starting into the grass pollen season with many lush fields being cut for silage. Grass growth seems to have been little impacted with the grass green and growing well. They say that a temperature of 12°C is needed for this?Some of the wetter Orchids like Marsh Orchids and Early Prurple Orchids are doing well but the more climate sensitive (i.e. Lusitanian flora) seem to be held back by this long cool spell. The Small White Orchid (Pseudoorchis albida), shown on the LEFT is dispersed in small clusters on hills with a sunny disposition, un-improved pasture with low walls, and is known from svereal different locations. This year it has been hartd to find them and the specimen shown was the only one found on a wide area of suitable small fields in north Cavan foothills of The Playbank mountain — a normally reliable site. This photograph was taken two days ago and is of a good tall plant but it was the only one found in over a killmoetre of walls walked. (This species in Ireland typically seeks out low broken down earth or stoney walls with enough earth to seed in but not too much vegetation to prevent them emerging. Only this specimen was found. Similarly, another site in south Sligo yielded no specimens when searched on 25th May. This was probably a bit early as this species is at its best normally in the first 2 weeks of June. So, hopefully, with a bit of warmer weather this popular may yet recover. However, note the weather damage on the lower flowers of the specimen shown. This was not heat damage but this plant was undoubtedly exposed to cold drizzle, driving rain, and very strong winds over many days. This plant is probably only a week old and if conditions prevail others may not emerge.
Spiranthes romanzoffiana is back. Yes, another year starting.
Links to WildWest pages on Spiranthes romanzoffiana