Today I’ll venture outside the city to the town of Blarney which lies about twenty minutes drive (or bus ride) outside Cork city. The castle within its grounds is world renowned and visited by rather a lot of tourists yearly who like to get their picture taken whilst they kiss a stone. No I’m not mocking the place I’m just poking fun at a tourist industry that adds a somewhat whimsical dimension to genuine archaeology (I understand the need for reservation and safety, but adding concrete floors to a castle, really!?). Ahem...anyway, this place is not just a castle but also has a large wooded area that surrounds it full of interesting creatures.
The presence of a large lordly house and extensive gardens make the whole place feel like a miniature model version of Killarney national park. Plenty of rooks, jackdaws, hooded crows (below), magpies, rock doves and wood pigeons to be found all around the place this time of year.
Additionally an impressive amount of songbirds can be found enjoying the scattered trees of the gardens. Robins, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, blackbirds, song trushes, house sparrows and linnets can all be seen regularly around the grounds and can be quite approachable. The aged walls of the castle too allow for tree creepers, goldcrests and tits to nest (blue tit on right).
Again, like Killarney, the grounds are surrounded by a mixture of farmland and woodland with various paths running through them. The forest path is quite an enjoyable twenty minute stroll, (not sure why the sign says an hour and a half ??) and has an impressive variety of vegetation including deciduous, pine and even some very fancy looking ferns. These trees are filled with the sounds of songbirds going about their routines, especially robins and blackbirds but also the occasional blackcap warbler (left).
Notably a lot of rabbits live in the forest and can regularly be glimpsed from the path.
The forest eventually opens out to a small lake surrounded by forestry. This time of year only the occasional moorhen, heron, warbler or mallard can be seen from the lakes limited access points but an impressive number of insect species can be seen here. Several species of butterfly and damselfly can be seen here and are so common that photographing them is relatively easy.
The forest and lake walk can be done as one circular journey which takes about an hour to complete, it may not be the largest place but the fact that it’s close to the city, its picturesque views and its varied flora and fauna certainly make it worth visiting for a photograph or two or just a day in the sun!
(Please note, bird photographs weren't actually taken in Blarney but are rather indicative of actual sightings)