Pieces of ‘unused’ land are beautiful places that a lot of people disregard. I know and pass many urban areas that look desolate and barren with supposedly no life whatsoever, but, if you delve further in, it’s a wondrous world. Brimming with life, such grasshoppers, hoverflies, bees, butterflies and birdsong: it is where I can explore and discover, even beside a busy suburban roadside.
Right beside the main Sligo/Dublin road, possibly the busiest road in Enniskillen, nestled beside a busy garage, there is an oasis for wildlife, it is where I ‘mooch’, learn and grow daily as a young aspiring naturalist. It is so full of pollen, I can’t even go without my anti-histamine (the curse of a every nature lover)! I have found some beautiful things there, some might say ordinary, everyday things, but these to me are all extraordinarily beautiful. Here are some of the things I have found over the last couple of weeks.
I absolutely love Hoverflies, the one pictured above is what I believe to be of the Helophilus genus, translated it means ‘Sun liker’, I’m not sure why I see them in Fermanagh so much – it rains here, a lot! I suppose that is why it so lush and beautiful!! Hoverflies are clever wasp mimics who feed on nectar and pollen. Their larvae feed on decaying plant/animal matter and depending on the species, aphids – great for gardeners!! They are important pollinators and are just mesmerising to watch. You can tell they are not wasps because they are silent hoverers, don’t swat them! They love plants such as chamomile, knapweed, cow parsley and yarrow and these are all growing abundantly in my rubble filled sanctuary.
I love to hear the hiss and tick of the Common Green Grasshopper (Omocestus viridulus). Grasshoppers are cool invertebrates and although fantastic camouflage experts, sometimes they can’t escape my beady eyes. When you catch a grasshopper it feels like a coil of energy and amazingly they can jump around 25 cm high and 1m long – that’s the equivalent of you jumping the length of a football field, astounding! It can do this because its catapult like hind legs have a mechanism in the knee which works like a spring, storing up energy; when it relaxes the muscles, they are flung into the air. I wish I could have an easy way to release all my energy! Every time the sun shines, I chase grasshoppers, sometimes they stay long enough so I can photograph them, watch them and listen to their magnificent sound.
Left to right and down; Speckled Wood (Parage aegeria), Green-Veined White (Pieris napi) and Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae). I have spoken about the wonder, beauty and importance of butterflies in a previous post, you can read it here. I have seen Speckled and Green Veined abundantly this summer but I have only seen a handful of Tortoiseshells, the others I saw on White Island (one of the 154 Fermanagh Islands). They love to feed on nettle which grow abundantly in these ‘left-alone’ places. Perhaps it is declining due to tidy gardens, I’m not sure, but noticeably there have been less this year. On the wing between from Spring and all through Summer, it should be abundant everywhere, love butterflies and keep pollinator friendlies, especially nettles! I love butterflies and take great pleasure and love from watching them in awe and wonder, their delicate beauty is a miracle of nature.
Although the car noise is loud here, I can block it out any time I hear bird song. My mind can block out most things if I can tune into the beautiful and resounding song of the Blackbird (Turdus merula) and Robin (Erithacus rubecula). You may think these are common birds, and they are, but for me, they can block out the noise and chatter of a busy world. I can see these birds joyfully hop over the poppy filled rubble of a bygone fly-tip or the scorched grass. There is beauty everywhere.
These mini habitats are everywhere but perhaps are never noticed by the usual passer−by, but if you choose to investigate, you can experience beauty, excitement and the joys of discovery. I have also seen rabbits, pheasant, hoards of gulls and heard the call and searched for buzzards. I hope they never build on this one, if so, I will lose my ‘playground’, my outdoor classroom away from my garden. I will lose my place, to get lost. To me, it is heavenly.
I hope you enjoyed reading.