Being out and about walking really gives you the chance to observe some interesting things in nature. There is a whole world out there that you may not be aware of and which, if you are willing to dedicate some of your time, can be observed.
As a rule of thumb, if you want to actually observe nature, as opposed to simply traversing it, spend at least 50% more time doing a walk than the ‘guideline’ completion time. So if you’re on a, say, 3 hour loop walk, take it easy and aim to complete in, maybe, 4 1/2 hours.
Mother Red Squirrel and Baby
A while back, in south Mayo, I was unbelievably lucky enough to witness a mother Red Squirrel carrying her young in her mouth. As she was on her way, presumably moving her young from one safe spot to another, she came across me on a forest track. I was crouched down, having heard her approaching through the fern undergrowth. We mutually observed one another for over a minute, until she continued across the track and on her way through the thick vegetation. I decided not to try to pull out the camera, afraid I might spook her.
Sheep and Fox
Look at the photos below. I came across this scene near a cliff top in north Mayo. Given that I approached from down wind, the fox did not seem to notice me for several minutes. This beautiful hunter was 2 metres away from the sheep in the picture, with an additional 3 sheep, including one lamb, no more than a further 2 metres away, just out of shot. Eventually, I needed to continue on and was the first to make a move. The sheep and fox then scampered away, but the former didn’t seem in the slightest bothered by the latter’s proximity.
I found the unfortunate dead Pygmy Shrew, below, the other day. Shrews are absolutely tiny, aren’t they ?
This year I seem to have heard healthy numbers of Cuckoo. But just last weekend, I saw not one, but two of these difficult to spot birds from Africa. Both were observed on telephone wires, both above bogs next to plantation forests, both during the early afternoon on quite warm days, both in NW Mayo, but in different spots.