Wild and Wintery Walks

I know the clocks haven’t gone back yet but Winter is  getting closer. In Killedmond we have had our second morning of frost. Not much, but enough  that when you scrape your finger along the top of the car, you can push the frost away in long silvery slivers . Now that the days are getting shorter and the weather getting colder we are going to start our Wild and Wintery Walks.  We plan lovely walks around the foothills of the Blackstairs  and the River Barrow area. A lot of the Spring, Summer and Autumn vegetation has gone but in its place we have the stark beauty of birches, Scots Pine, Bare Beech and majestic oaks. We will see our winter migrant birds and on the River Barrow we will see duck, herons, shags and who knows what winter rarities might show up.

Beautiful Blackstairs

Blackstairs in Winter

In the upland areas we will have a chance to see birds of prey. Hawks, such as the Sparrow Hawk, Kestrels, Buzzards and maybe even a falcon or two. We will look for Winter Chanterelles and in sheltered places marvel at the mosses and lichens on trees and stones.

 Underfoot will crackle and ice will  cover puddles. We will walk along green lanes looking at the great hump of Mount Leinster and the smaller more benign  shape of Tom Duff Hill. We will watch clouds of swirling Starlings as they  tumble in the colder skies looking for a place to roost and we will marvel as small flocks of finches seek food together as they try to survive the colder months.

It is often  during November, December and January that  you have an opportunity to see  flocks of birds feeding together, surviving together ,during these harsher periods of weather. This morning for the very first time ,I saw a flock of Fieldfares. Our migrants from Scandinavia have arrived and very soon there won’t be a windfall left as the Fieldfares and Redwings  clean up the natural larder.




Fieldfares have a loud chattery call  and it is amazing how they discover juicy fruits left over in the garden .They will  strip apples and pears down to nothing  and then move onto the next local source of food.









I haven’t seen any Redwings yet but it won’t be long till they arrive.

These birds are members of the Thrush family and we only get to see them during the cold months of winter. But along the foothills of the Blackstairs they will be there ,scavenging Hips, Haws, crab apples and the remains of the Guelder Rose berries. The Redwing is quite like our Song Thrush but it has the notable red stripe on the wing and they feed in small flocks as they move through the countryside.
So our Wild and Wintery walks will start at the usual time of 12pm. With log fires blazing and fortified by  hot tea , coffee and warm scones and well-wrapped up ,we will  walk for two hours and then  back to the blazing fires and a sumptuous afternoon tea. Hot chocolate and even cocoa will be on the go, so let’s go walking  right through the winter.



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About Mary White

Mary White is a keen hill walker and nature observer and intimately knows the Blackstairs Mountain-River Barrow valley area in the scenic and unspoilt area of south Carlow, Ireland. She has led tours for all age groups in the area over many years. With her husband Robert she leads the Blackstairs Eco Trails 2h Tours

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