The Great Sleep Over
We have had a terrific frost here in Killedmond. The sun is just coming up over the Blackstairs and the colour of the Beech, Oaks and Walnut are magnificent. But some of our more fragile creatures are not interested in scuffing leaves along a path or saying to themselves how lovely the colours are. They are much more interested in security and a safe place to spend the winter. Some of our more fragile creatures like butterflies have a very snug way out. In particular the Small Tortoiseshell. Small Tortoiseshells survive the winter as adults and seek out a nice warm, dry shed or even a room in a house to await the arrival of spring.
Other species survive only as tiny little eggs.
Our Ladybirds, in particular the seven-spot ladybird – yes there are more spots on some than on others – they cling together to keep warm, sensible little things that they are. They love warm dry places and climbing on top of each other gives them greater warmth.
Greenlanders used to do that, when out fishing in long open boats.They often took turns lying on top of each other to keep warm. But I bet they got the tip from the Ladybirds and not the other way round.
Ireland has recorded twenty species of bumblebees ; four of these are pretty widespread and can be found in most gardens, the other species are rarer and due to habitat problems are getting scarcer. It is only the queen bumblebee that can survive our winters. The males die after mating and it is the fertilized queen who will survive to regenerate a new brood in the spring.
During winter keep an eye out for the lovely prickly teasels. These plants provide great seeds and our goldfinches love them.
Holly is reddening in our ditches and verges and flocks of little Pied Wagtails can be seen, particularly around dusk, as they roost together on the roofs of buildings or in trees in our cities to keep warm.
Everything is trying to keep warm in these colder months so don’t forget to feed your birds, make sure bird baths are not frozen over and get out into the great outdoors and let’s go walking.