The Blackstairs Biodiversity Calendar


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Jan
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Feb
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Mar
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Apr
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May
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Jun
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Jul
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Aug
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Sep
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Oct
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Nov
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Dec

January

7 Spot Ladybird


Coccinella septempunctata

The 7 Spot ladybird is Ireland’s most abundant ladybird and can be found across all habitats. The species overwinters as an adult and can often be found hibernating in large numbers in the spikes of gorse or around the stems of Heather during the colder months.

Irish Mountain Hare


Lepus timidus hibernicus Giorria

The Irish Mountain Hare is one of our larger native mammals and is considered a distinct sub species. It can be found in a mix of habitats including woodland, heath and agricultural land. They are capable of moving at great speed.

 

Crossbil


Loxia curvirostra Crosghob Crosghob

The Crossbill is a species of finch. It is adapted to feed primarily on pine cones and this can be seen with its distinctive overlapped bill. This species can be found in the pine plantations around The Blackstairs. It is best searched for by listening for its call and keeping an eye out for dropping cones.

 

Februrary

Buzzard


Buteo buteo Clamhán

The Buzzard is one of Irelands few raptor success stories. Having been absent from much of southern Ireland for decades the species has now recolonized most of the country. They can be seen regularly in The Blackstairs and are often spotted in groups soaring high on thermals. Main prey items include Rabbit, Rat, young Crows and earthworms.

Common Frog


Rana temporaria Ioscann

The Common Frog can be found throughout damper areas of the Blackstairs. Frogs are small amphibians that spend their time both on land and in water where they hunt invertebrates. The sight of frogspawn is seen by many as an early sign of spring.

 

Otter


Lutra lutra Madra uisce

The Otter is a predominantly aquatic mammal the feeds mainly on salmonids and eels although diet can vary. They are found in watercourses of various sizes and are known to move into upland areas to feed on frogs during spawning season.

 

March

Lesser Celandine


Ficaria verna Grán arcáin

Lesser Celandine is one of our earliest spring flowers first appearing in late March. It is often found in large numbers in woodland, along roadside verges and by rivers between February and May. The rosettes of long-stalked, glossy, heart-shaped leaves often have paler or darker patches on them.

Peregrine Falcon


Falco peregrinus Fabhcún gorm

The Peregrine falcon is one of the most famous birds on the planet. It can reach speeds of over 320 km/h when diving after prey. These birds can occasional be seen hunting over heath and are known to breed in the Blackstairs. They are present year round.

 

Wheatear


Oenanthe oenanthe Clochrán

The Wheatear is another migratory species associated with the arrival of spring. They are among the first migrants to return to Ireland each year and often among the last to leave. They are a small song bird around the size of a Robin and are found in The Blackstairs throughout the summer months. They have a distinctive white rump which combined with their feeding behaviour make them easier to identify at distance than many other species. Numbers begin to build from late March onwards.

 

April

Comma


Polygonia c-album

The Comma is one of the most recent butterflies to colonise Ireland with Carlow being a stronghold for the species. The species displays a naturally indented wing edge almost resembling a broken leaf and is orange in colour. Its distinctive shape makes it very recognisable. They can be found in wooded areas and along river banks. The over wintering generation usually appears in early April.

Bluebell


Hyacinthoides non-scripta Coinnle corra

Bluebell is one of the most recognisable of our spring flowers. Deep blue carpets of Bluebells can be found in deciduous woodlands, hedgerows and areas of heathland across the Blackstairs from April each year.

 

Common Lizard


Lacerta (Zootoca) vivipara

The Wheatear is another migratory species associated with the arrival of spring. They are among the first migrants to return to Ireland each year and often among the last to leave. They are a small song bird around the size of a Robin and are found in The Blackstairs throughout the summer months. They have a distinctive white rump which combined with their feeding behaviour make them easier to identify at distance than many other species. Numbers begin to build from late March onwards.

 

May

Green Hairstreak


Callophrys rubi Stiallach Uaine

The Green Hairstreak is a small butterfly and is found in areas of wet heath and bog around the Blackstairs usually where gorse is present. The underwing of the butterfly is a striking green colour. It has a large range of food plants and all though a scarce species nationally it can be abundant in areas of suitable habitat.

Greater Stitchwort


Stellaria holostea Tursarraing mhór

Greater Stitchwort is often abundant along roadsides, hedgerows and woodland margins. Flowering from April to June it often forms extensive patches growing tangled through the grass. The 5 white petals of Greater Stitchwort are split nearly to their base creating the illusion of twice as many petals.

 

Skylark


Alauda arvensis Fuiseog

The Wheatear is another migratory species associated with the arrival of spring. They are among the first migrants to return to Ireland each year and often among the last to leave. They are a small song bird around the size of a Robin and are found in The Blackstairs throughout the summer months. They have a distinctive white rump which combined with their feeding behaviour make them easier to identify at distance than many other species. Numbers begin to build from late March onwards.

 

June

Whitethroat


Sylvia communis Gilphíb

The Whitethroat is a member of the warbler family and is a migratory species arriving to Ireland each year from as far away as North Africa. It is a grey and brown song bird with a distinctive white throat patch and a scratchy song. It is found in areas of scrub and hedgerows around the Blackstairs.

Small Heath


Coenonympha pamphilus Fraochán Beag

The Small Heath as its name suggests is found in heath dominated areas of the Blackstairs with and an association with Sheeps Fescue. They are quite a small butterfly and are often seen when disturbed from grassy areas around heath.

 

Bog Asphodel


Narthecium ossifragum Sciollam na móna

Bog Asphodel is locally abundant in areas of bog and wet heath in the Blackstairs. Flowering during July and August Bog Asphodel’s bright yellow star-like flowers provide great colour in late summer across the Blackstairs.

 

July

Dark Green Fritillary


Argynnis aglaja Fritileán Dúghlas

The Dark Green Fritillary is found in a mix of habitats in The Blackstairs where its main food plant Violet is found. Open forestry paths and areas of dry grassland in mosaic with scrub and bracken are often good places to look. It is quite similar to the Silver-washed Fritillary and is often found in the same areas. It is a large species of butterfly and a striking gold to orange colour.

Pale Butterwort


Pinguicula lusitanica Leith uisce beag

Pale Butterwort is a small, easy to overlook insectivorous plant which is found in areas of wet heath in the Blackstairs. The plants leaves are coated in slime and tiny glandular hairs which trap insects, enabling them to thrive in nutrient-poor habitats.

 

Fox moth


Macrothylacia rubi

The Fox Moth is a large distinctive moth rustic brown to pale brown in colour. They are a fast flier and can be seen regularly during the day. Both the adult and larvae can be found in areas of dry heath across The Blackstairs. The caterpillar is large black and orange and quite hairy.

 

August

Small Copper


Lycaena phlaeas Copróg Bheag

The Small Copper is a small butterfly found in a variety of habitats and is found frequently across the the Blackstairs. However where they occur they are found in small numbers. Their size and distinctive copper/orange colourations make them readily identifiable when at rest, however they are quite strong fliers.

Round leaved Sundew


Drosera rotundifolia LeithDrúchtín móna

Round-leaved Sundew is our commonest sundew and is easily identified by its round leaves. Sundews are insectivorous. The sticky hairs on the leaves trap small insects and then excrete enzymes to digest the victims. The resultant “nutrient soup” is then absorbed by the leaf. Round-leaved Sundew grows in areas of bog and wet heath across the Blackstairs.

 

Hen Harrier


Circus cyaneus Cromán na gearc

The Hen Harrier is bird of prey that can be found hunting in areas of heath and scrub during the summer and are occasionally spotted while on passage. The Hen Harrier population is in decline across Europe but birds are occasionally reported from the Blackstairs. The is a striking difference in plumage between sexes with the male being pale grey in colour with dark wing tips and the female/juvenile being a warm brown colour. All sexes and ages possess a white rump which can help separate the Hen Harrier from other species.

 

September

Swallow


Hirundo rustica Fáinleog

For many the sight of as Swallow is the first spring. Swallows are a migratory species breeding in Ireland and returning to southern Africa for the Irish winter. They are found in the Blackstairs throughout late spring and into early autumn. Large numbers can be seen hunting over heath and bracken towards the latter part of their stay as they stock up on food before making their return flight.

Brimstone Moth


Opisthograptis luteolata

This species is bright yellow moth that has several broods throughout the year. It is often disturbed while walking in bracken or near scrub. Its colourful appearance often leads to the assumption of it being a butterfly when observed from distance.

 

Speckled Wood


Pararge aegeria Breacfhéileacán Coillee

This species is bright yellow moth that has several broods throughout the year. It is often disturbed while walking in bracken or near scrub. Its colourful appearance often leads to the assumption of it being a butterfly when observed from distance.

 

October

Red Squirrel


Sciurus vulgaris Iora Rua

The Red Squirrel is a member of the Rodent family. It is dependent on woodland and has a scattered population throughout The Blackstairs where it is found primarily in conifer plantations around the base and on the slopes of the range.

Angle Shades


Phlogophora meticulosa

Angle Shades is a very distinctively shaped and marked moth. Despite this however the patterning makes this moth very well camouflaged. It can be found in a variety of habitats and is often found resting on foliage during the day.

 

Kestrel Falco


tinnunculus Pocaire gaoithe

The Kestrel is the most frequently encountered bird of prey in The Blackstairs. It can be found across many habitats where it hunts for small mammals, Lizards and occasionally beetles. It can often be identified by its distinct hovering style.

 

November

Snow Bunting


Plectrophenax nivalis Gealóg shneachta

The Snow Bunting is a migratory species that arrives in Ireland for the winter. In recent years the bird has been recorded at the summit of Mount Leinster on numerous occasions as well as on several other slopes. They are a small songbird that usually has large amounts of white in their plumage.

Atlantic Salmon


Salmo salar Bradán

The Atlantic Salmon is a fish species recorded throughout Irish folklore. They are a large fish that return to rivers in The Blackstairs during the spring and summer having spent most of their adult life at sea. During the winter they travel up into small rivers and tributaries to spawn.

 

Irish Stoat


Mustela ermine hibernica Easóg

The Stoat in Ireland is a distinct sub species. It is one of Irelands few native mammals and is fast moving predator. Although small it is noted for taking down prey, such as Rabbits, considerably larger than itself. The majority of Stoat sightings are of one darting across a road or path. They can be found throughout The Blackstairs but are notoriously elusive.

 

December

Red Fox


Vulpes vulpes Madra rua

The Red Fox is one of Irelands best known predators. They are opportunistic hunters and scavengers feeding on a variety of items including Rats, Rabbits and even fodder beat. They can be found across all habitat types.

Raven


Corvus corax Fiach dubh

The Raven is one of the species most frequently found and associated with upland habitats. They are a large black bird that can often be seen soaring and tumbling in the sky. Their large size and wedge shaped tail help distinguish them from other corvids. They are carrion feeders.

 

Hard Fern


Blechnum spicant Raithneach spicant

Hard Fern grows on moist acid soils in cool, humid places, especially in woodland and north-facing heaths across the Blackstairs. Hard Fern is easily identified by its tufts of long, narrow, stiff, glossy fronds or leaves with undivided and untoothed side lobes.