Monday, 18 July 2016

July 9th - Bull Island Wildflower walk

On Saturday 9th July, the Dublin Branch went on its by now annual walk to Bull Island to see the amazing variety of wildflowers that can be seen there at this time of year. The day was lovely and warm, and led by Niall Mac Coitir, those attending saw at least twenty different kinds of wildflowers . As well as many members of the pea family, such as restharrow, bird's foot trefoil, kidney vetch, and common vetch (which can thrive in the poor, sandy soil), and the sweet smelling ladies bedstraw, the group saw no less than five different species of orchid.

The orchids encountered were pyramidal orchid, common spotted orchid, some last surviving early purple orchid, marsh helleborine, and in a first for the Bull Island walks, - the beautiful and elusive bee orchid!

Truly a day to remember.

pyramidal orchid

Marsh helleborine

bee orchid

Yellow rattle

July 5th - Green Drinks: "What can be done to keep the bee"

This July the Dublin Branch gathered to hear Kieran Flood, IWT Conservation Officer talking about the important issue of the threats facing our pollinating insects, especially bees, and asking the question: "What can be done to keep the bee?

According to Kieran, bee numbers have been declining in Ireland, Europe and beyond, due to loss of habitat and insecticides. This is a matter of major concern as so many of our plants cannot bear fruit unless they are pollinated, including many important food crops. There is an attempt to tackle this problem with an All Ireland Pollinator Plan - an island wide plan to help protect our bees.

Kieran outlined that while the honey bee is important in pollination, the bumblebee also plays a vital role in the pollination of many wild flowers. The talk then delved a little deeper into the wonderful world of Irish bumblebees, of which there are twenty species in Ireland! Kieran went through some of the more common species, which can be distinguished by their distinctive markings - as shown in the handy diagrams below.