Strange Year for Crows, Gulls and Bees Knees-Ups

Crows Sept 2015
A typical gathering of crows which was a feature of the year. ©Photograph: John Reidy
Gull 2
A small flock of Gulls spent most of the summer in-land in Castleisland. ©Photograph: John Reidy
Feed the Birds 2
Somethings never change. If you have the space to hang a bird-feeder – now’s your time. It’s therapeutic to watch them – they (people) say. ©Photograph: John Reidy

We should have heeded the behaviour patterns of the birds all year. In November an Egret – a white version of our more common Heron or ‘Crane’ – was frequenting Tom Horan’s flooded field across the river from An Riocht.

Wide Choice
The last few times an Egret put in an appearance here he had a wide choice of lake-like fields in close proximity to each other. And they don’t arrive anywhere on a fool’s errand as their very lives depend on the choices they make.
Did anyone notice the very erratic behaviour of the crows this year? They flocked in greater numbers even on calm days. They lay on roofs of houses all over the place and their carry on was most un-crow like for some mysterious reason.
Then, earlier in the summer a Sea-gull appeared to have taken up residence here. Mini Hughes’ field at the town-side of the Desmonds pitch was his chosen patch.
He was regularly seen on lamp-posts in the St. John’s and St. Stephen’s Park areas and on the parapet of Hartnett’s Bar.

Bullying by Crows
He was eventually joined by four more of his own after putting down an awful couple of months of bullying by local crows.
One fine evening in summer, in a scene that would do justice to High Noon, the five of them glided in directly over the Cordal Road. I followed their flight path – from the ground – and, as if they were bound by the laws of the street, they turned beautifully, gracefully at Hartnett’s Corner and headed off up over Limerick Road. What was that all about and what were they doing so far inland and for so long?
Then, in the autumn, those who tried to recycle bottles and cans – and there are more of us at it than care to be seen – had to run the gauntlet of angry, drunken bees.
The bees in Castleisland have discovered the delights of the green and brown bins at our recycling centres and they put dow a great autumn and the places were knees-up buzzing.
Woe betide anyone who dared to drop a bottle or can in the bins while the party was in full flow. They were met with the heavies of the swarm and had to beat a hasty retreat or pay the price for their intrusion.

Oh to Be a Bee

There were many times in my lifetime when I would have loved to have been a bee.
There may have been an explanation for the behaviour of the bees in that the weather slowed the flowering and eventual harvesting of many plants and flowers this year. Is it possible that this delay in their natural order literally drove them to the drink in the bins as an alternative. And now we’re being told that they’re not hibernating this winter as plants and flowers are beginning to bud and bloom.
Blackberries appeared for only a brief couple of weeks in October when the fruit was fit to be picked. Contrast that with the previous year when they ripened in waves from the middle of September and well into October.
The birds and the bees know all about this and well ahead of us. The patches of footpath under lamp-posts and trees turned purple and encrusted with the tell-tale seeds for only the briefest period last autumn.

Fields and Ditches

That’s my annual trigger to fetch the can and head for the fields and the ditches. The year just gone took it right down to the wire as the briars yearned for the sunlight that never came when it was most needed.
Do keep the small garden birds in mind and a wide range of feeders and food is now available for that very purpose. Browne’s Agri here in Castleisland carries a huge range of holders and fat balls, seeds and nuts.
2015 was a year of strange behaviour in the world of the birds and the bees for sure.