Biodiversity and the City
We're wild about May in Dublin! It's the month we celebrate the wealth of biodiversity in the city. Even in a capital city there are plenty of habitats where nature can flourish: our parks, gardens, graveyards, coastline, rivers and canal banks, trees, even walls and footpaths provide a home for creatures great and small! We are lucky in Dublin, we don't have to go far to enjoy nature and wildlife. If sea birds and waders are your thing, St Anne's Park, Dollymount and North Bull Island are a must visit. If it's the iridescent blue flash of the Kingfisher you're after, Dodder Valley is the place to visit. Ducks, swans, herons and water hens abound in Herbert Park, Blessington Street Basin, Bushy Park and along our canals and rivers. And anyone who is up early enough (or out late enough) will have spotted one of our urban foxes on the prowl. Get out there and explore! You'll feel better too, getting your dose of green can help reduce stress, aid relaxation and improve your mood.
Did you catch RTÉ Radio 1’s ‘Mooney Goes Wild Show’ live international broadcast of the Dawn Chorus from the lovely Herbert Park on May Day, international Dawn Chorus Day? If not, you can listen back on the Mooney Goes Wild Show podcasts. Also don't miss Dublin City Council's Biodiversity team talking about the wildlife we can all enjoy in the city on the ‘Mooney Goes Wild Show’ throughout May. The Biodiversity Village at the Battle for The Bay will be well-worth a visit this weekend (28 - 29 May 2016).
Go wild reading...
We have so many books about nature and wildlife for children. Here are two new books to get you started:
Nature's Hidden Adventures is the new book by Shane Casey, Dublin's Biodiversity Officer. As we head into summer, this book is the perfect accompaniment for young nature detectives and explorers, aged 6 years and older, and is also suitable for dyslexic readers. Meet Senan, the young swift who’s scared of flying, Hazel and Roland, the two young hedgehogs looking for somewhere safe to hibernate, and Bombus Reilly, a most unusual bumblebee.
If you know any young nature enthusiasts or would like to foster a love of wildlife, Naturama by Michael Fewer, illustrated by Melissa Doran is highly recommended. This book is well written and informative, interesting facts are enlivened with poetry quotations and snippets of folklore. Melissa's colourful illustrations really capture the charm and beauty of wild Ireland. Organised by season, the book will help "open your eyes to the joys of nature" to be enjoyed in both park and countryside. I was at the book launch in the Botanic Gardens on Saturday and on a walk around the Botanics afterwards I was rewarded with my first encounter with a scarce Garganey Duck as she shepherded her 12 (yes 12!) ducklings across a stream. A win for nature and biodiversity there!
Here are some general guides to wildlife, organic gardening:
- Collins complete guide to Irish wildlife. This text describes almost all the mammals, birds, fish and butterflies of Ireland likely to be encountered by the keen amateur naturalist, as well as all the common and widespread flowers, trees and shrubs. Over 1000 photographs illustrate the species described.
- The Wildflowers of Ireland by Zoë Devlin
- The Birds of Ireland by Jim Wilson, Mark Carmody
- Ireland's trees: myths, legends and folklore by Niall Mac Coitir illustrated by Grania Langrishe.
- Dublin City Biodiversity Action Plan 2015 – 2020 is a great resource to learn more about the wide variety of wildlife and habitats around Dublin.
- Books on the subject of Organic Gardening
- Books on the subject of Biodiversity
Would you like to encourage wildlife into your garden? Or get involved with biodiversity and conservation? Here are a few small tips to get you started:
- How about leaving a patch of your lawn unmowed? Clover and wild flowers will keep bees happy
- Build a bug hotel. Tree stumps, a little pile of branches, bamboo stick are very attractive home for our smaller friends
- Bees get thirsty. Help them drink safely by filling a shallow tray with water and lining the edges with flat rocks.
- Free the weeds! Let some nettles grow and you may be rewarded with some of our most beautiful butterflies, the red admirals and tortoiseshells - nettles are their caterpillars' favourite food.
- Some birds are in decline in Dublin. If you spot a swift, kingfisher, dipper, grey wagtail, sand martin, roof-nesting gull, light-bellied brent goose or house sparrow, log it on birdwatch Ireland and Dublin City Council's Urban Birds Project