NATURE

SOUTH DUBLIN COUNTY COUNCIL PLANS TO DEVELOP A MAJOR TOURIST ATTRACTION IN OUR WILD AND BEAUTIFUL HABITAT IN MASSY’S ESTATE AND THE HELLFIRE!

We are very fortunate to have a diverse range of well established bird and animal populations including the red squirrel, kingfisher, brown hare and woodpeckers. We have a rich and diverse microcosm of some of natures most beautiful offerings! The development will change forever this fragile ecosystem.

Sika Deer

The slopes of the Hellfire Club are home to a population of Sika Deer, and they forage across the Montpelier Hill, following set paths, and visiting the same locations day after day. Deer are ruminant herbivores like cows and sheep, with cloven hooves and complex stomachs for breaking down grasses and vegetation. Males have a set of antlers which are regrown every summer.

Sika Deer are not native to Ireland, coming originally from Japan (sika is Japanese for deer). They were introduced to Powerscourt Estate near Glencree in 1859. The female (hinds) live in small herds, whereas the males are more solitary. No predators in Ireland and have spread widely causing much damage to forests where populations are high. Sika deer have interbred with our native red deer and most are now hybrids in this area. Sika deer are protected under the Wildlife Act, but are subject to a hunting season and a licence is required.

For more information visit:
http://www.dublinmountains.ie/activities/watchable_wildlife/sika_deer

Red Squirrel

Red squirrel are native to Ireland (grey squirrel were introduced to Co. Longford in 1911 and have since spread through much of the east and midlands of Ireland). They do not hibernate, but store up cones and nuts in caches throughout their territory. Their nests are made from a ball of twigs about 30cm in diameter and called a drey. They are sited in the fork of a branch near the trunk. Conifer plantations are the most important habitat.

We are honoured the red squirrel has made the Hellfire Club and Massy’s Wood their home as they have disappeared from large areas especially in the east of Ireland due to competition from grey squirrels.

For more information visit:
http://www.dublinmountains.ie/activities/watchable_wildlife/red_squirrel/ 

Brown Hare

There are two species of hare in Ireland, the Brown Hare, which was introduced from mainland Europe and the native or Irish Hare. The Brown Hare is only found in the lowland areas of the northeast of the country, whereas the Irish Hare is present all over the country. The hare lives out in the open from the moment of birth. Young hares are called leverets and they have a coat of fur and are soon fully mobile. Hares rest up in a form which is usually orientated so that the animal can sit with its back against the wind. Hares are commonly observed in early spring, often careering around the countryside, "boxing", apparently oblivious to danger. The hare's large eyes have a very glassy appearance which enhances the idea that there is madness in the stare. The male is called the Jack and the female, the Jill.

Although a protected species, hares may be captured, under licence, for coursing by muzzled greyhounds in accordance of the rules of the Irish Coursing Club. Hares used for coursing must be tagged prior to release and not used for coursing again. ​

For more information visit:
https://www.npws.ie/sites/default/files/publications/pdf/IWM30.pdf

Woodpecker

Over the last five years woodland on Ireland’s east coast has started to reverberate with the drumming of a very welcome blow-in. A number of these handsome black and white woodpeckers have not only been heard “drumming” in several woodland locations during spring, but they have lingered on into the breeding season.  Drumming is the loud, rapid-fire tapping created by the bird beating its bill off a dead branch – the sound carries some distance and it is a woodpecker’s way of claiming territory and it is one of the best ways to locate them in a wood. 

Although a striking and noisy bird, it can be remarkably secretive too, especially when the trees come into leaf.  Unfortunately, no nests were found, so breeding could not be proved in 2008.

For more information visit:
http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/News/GreatSpottedWoodpeckersNewtoIreland/tabid/568/Default.aspx

Frogs

The Common Frog (Rana temporaria) is the only species of frog found in Ireland and is listed as an internationally important species. Frogs are protected under the European Union Habitats Directive and by the Irish Wildlife Act.Frogs are amphibians which means they can survive in the water and on land. Their body is well adapted to this dual life. Their large eyes bulge out of the top of their head so the frog can keep a sharp lookout for food and danger. The eyes are very sensitive to movement. When frogs leap they draw eyes their back into their sockets to protect them from damage. Frogs have an ear drum behind the eyes and their hearing is good. Nostils in front of the eyes are used by frogs to breathe when they are on land. A frog’s skin is loose on its body and moist. Under the water they breathe through their skin. Skin colour and markings vary enormously. The basic colour ranges from a pale green-grey through yellow to a dark olive-coloured brown.

The only regular markings are the dark bars across the limbs, and streaks behind and in front of the eyes. The colourful patterns on the frog’s skin help to disguise it from enemies such as rats, herons and hedgehogs. A frog can also make its skin become darker to match its surroundings. This colour change takes about two hours. Frogs have four fingers and five toes. The webbed feet are like flippers and help the frog to swim away from danger very fast. The frog’s hind legs are very muscular which helps it to swim in the water and leap on land. Each time the frog croaks, the loose skin on his throat expands. Frogs make lots of different sounds, especially in spring during the breeding season when they return to the wetland in which they were born to breed.   

Frogs feed on slugs, insects, worms, spiders and similar prey, but do not predate aquatic organisms. In winter frogs hide in frost-free refuges, under tree stumps, in stacks of turf, or in rock piles where they enter torpor until the following spring.


For more information visit:
http://www.ipcc.ie/a-to-z-peatlands/frogs/