Irish Name: Coll
Latin name: Corylus avellana
A native species with many uses and an ancient history. Hazel nuts are one of the foods associated with the very earliest human settlements in Ireland of Mesolithic man, who also used hazel as the strong flexible timber for his huts. Hazel bushes may be coppiced i.e. cut right back to a stump, and will re-grow. The slender timber poles that result from coppicing were used in the construction of wattle and daub, and fences. Hazel is also a traditional material in the construction of eel and lobster traps.
Hazel grows as an under storey in oak and ash woodlands or as pure hazel woods. Hazel scrub woodland covers extensive areas of limestone.
It is often associated with a rich ground flora of woodland flowers. Hazel is well known for its yellow 'lambs tail' catkins in spring, but the nuts grow from small bud-like structures with a tuft of red - the stigma of the female flowers.
Irish Name: Cuileann
Latin name: (Ilex aquifolium)
The evergreen holly is a native species which forms the shrub layer in some of our oldest woods. The holly and rowan can survive the harsh upland conditions.
It is another visually attractive small tree very suitable for gardens as a specimen tree or as a hedge, slow growing and very dense. Holly trees are either male or female - only the female can bear berries, so it is always worth planting several holly trees together. Both sexes bear small creamy flowers.
Although they drop their spiny leaves all the year round, especially in the heat of summer, they are green all year, and along with ivy were traditionally used for midwinter or Christmas decorations, as a sign of green life to come. In some areas it is considered unlucky to cut down holly, and it may be left as standards along a hedgerow. The hard pale wood is valued for wood carving and marquetry.
Blackthorn or Sloe
Irish Name: Draigean
Latin name: Prunus spinosa
Blackthorn is a native shrub or small tree with produces creamy white flowers in spring and tart black fruit - sloes - in autumn.
The flowers appear before the leaves, which is a key distinguishing difference between it and whitethorn / hawthorn .It is a tough and resilient plant which is most often seen in hedgerows; its sharp thorns make it an ideal choice for a natural stock-proof barrier, and it can be trimmed to keep it compact.
It can cope with many soil conditions and levels of exposure, as well as at the woodland's edge where it makes an attractive small tree up to 4 metres. The fruit is frequently mixed with gin and sugar to make 'sloe gin'. The wood is also the traditional wood of the Shilelagh, a traditional Irish club / walking stick. The Shilelagh, in the past was used in faction fighting.
Irish Name: Sceach gheal
Latin name: Crataegus monogyna
Hawthorn or white thorn was planted in hedges throughout our countryside. Its sweet smelling 'May' blossom is a feature in that month, and in autumn and winter the deep red haws colour the bare twigs. They are among the berries most favoured by birds. Only untrimmed hawthorn can flower and fruit freely, but hedges have to be cut to keep them stock proof.
Hawthorn hedges may be trimmed regularly, or left for several years and then laid by cutting part way through the main stems and laying these horizontally through the hedge. Even old hawthorn hedges will regenerate if trunks are cut back to base and left to sprout again, but these must be fenced off so that farm livestock cannot reach the tasty young shoots and eat them.
Like many other shrubs, hawthorn also grows in woodland where there is enough light - in open glades, along 'rides' through the woodland, or along the edge. A single tree may be left in a field as a 'fairy thorn', especially where there may be an archaeological site.
Irish native spindle
Irish Name: An Feoras
Latin name Euonymus europaeus
The Irish shrub commonly known as the spindle berry or European Spindle (sometimes called Robins' bread) ,is a plain and inconspicuous shrub, which in autumn comes alive with colours you never realised it had within it.
But it is Spindle berry or spindle, a name which harks back to a time when the plants dense, white or pale-yellow wood was regularly used for making wool spinning spindles as well as the accompanying knitting needles. In more recent times, the easily worked wood has also been used in the production of skewers and toothpicks as it can be cut to a very sharp point without breaking.
Native Irish Elder / Elderberry
Irish Name: An Trom
Latin name Sambucus nigra.
Elder is a deciduous (sheds and renews leaves annually) native shrub or small tree, which rarely exceeds 7 metres in height, it is more usually seen as a plant of approximately 3 metres tall with a similar spread.
The elderberry bush, a plant linked to this country through growth, legend and medicine Growing at a fast rate this vertical shooting shrub can be found growing wild on limey, nitrogen-rich soils within hedgerows, scrub/wasteland, woodland edges and throughout many farmyard areas, primarily around the edges of dung pits.
Scientific Name: Falco columbarius
Irish Name: Meirliún
A bird of prey (raptor) with a short hooked bill. A smallest species of falcon, with relatively narrow wings and a medium length tail. Nimble in flight, will pursue its prey for extended periods.. Males and females have different plumages. Adult males have blue-grey upper parts with a wide dark band on the end of the tail and dark outer wing feathers, the underparts are finely barred; the chest is orange-yellow. Females are brown-grey above with a number of dark thick bands on its tail, the underparts are finely barred. Both sexes show a faint moustache like strip.
Scientific Name: Circus cyaneus
Irish Name: Cromán na gearc
This is an amber-listed due to a decline in the breeding population.
A medium sized raptor with long wings and tail. Has, like all raptors (birds of prey) a hooked bill suitable for eating meat. Usually flies close to the ground with its wings held in a shallow V above its back. Male and female adult plumages are very different and males are smaller than females. Adult males are blue-grey above and on the head and breast, white below; they have broad black wing tips to both upper and lower wings and show white upper wing coverts like female birds. Female birds are largely brown with fine markings and have white upper wing coverts; the tail is banded with dark bands and the body is streaked brown on a whitish background, especially on the breast.
Scientific Name:Accipiter nisus
Irish Name: Spioróg
Common resident, with occasional winter visitors from Continental Europe.
A small bird of prey (raptor) with broad wings with blunt wing tips and a long tail. Small hooked bill suitable for eating meat. Tail is banded in all plumages with four or five bands. The sexes are different in size, the female is larger than the male. Sparrowhawks have barred underparts in all plumages, with the barring extending across the under wings, breast, belly and flanks. Males are bluish-grey above and often have orangey-brown barring on the breast, belly and under wing coverts; the rest of the barring is brown. Females are grey above with brown-grey barring on the underparts.
Scientific Name: Corvus cornix
Irish Name: Caróg liath
The hooded crow is a common resident throughout Ireland slightly larger than a Rook.
The head, throat and breast are black, as are the wings and tail. The rest of the body can appear either a rather cold grey or buff-ish grey brown depending on the light. Flight action when relaxed is rather weak, however is quick to pursue raptors from nest site. Frequently glides and performs aerobatics on windy days.
Scientific Name: Phasianus colchicus
Irish Name: Piasún
A large game bird with long legs and long barred tail. Males and females are very different. The males are distinctive with a bottle green head, with red fleshy head sides. The white collar is only present on the male and may not be present if you happen to see the least common race of the two races present in Ireland. Males are reddish brown and have a very long tail, upper parts which are spotted white and finely marked underparts. Females are very different, they are buff- brown with angular spots on the flanks and fine angular markings on the upper parts, the long tail is a give away.
Scientific Name Lagopus lagopus scoticus
Irish Name: Cearc fhraoigh
Local on bogs and upland sites. Red-listed due to significant decline in population.
A heavy set bird with rounded body and wings, a short tail, small bill, small head and sturdy feathered legs. Has reddish brown upper and underparts with very finely marked feathers. Females are lighter in colour with more yellow on the feather edges, males are darker and redder and display a bright red eyebrow in the breeding season. A ground bird, will not usually be seen in flight except when flushed. Takes off explosively and flies with a series of rapid wing beats followed by a short glide. Males can be seen in the breeding season standing on prominences and will allow a reasonably close approach
Scientific Name: Gallinago gallinago
Irish Name: Naoscach
A relatively common wader but not easily seen, unless flushed out of marshy vegetation, when it typically towers away in a frantic zig-zag fashion. The disproportionately long, straight bill is easily visible in flight. If you are lucky enough to see one standing partially or wholly out in the open (usually at the edge of reeds), you will make out the series of dark brown, pale buff and black stripes and bars on the head and body - this produces a good camouflage effect.
Scientific Name: Pluvialis apricaria
Irish Name: Crotach
Smaller than Grey Plover, with narrower, more pointed wings. Golden brown upper parts, which look grey at close range. Males in summer have more black below than females - extends from throat, towards each eye, and ventrally under neck, chest and belly. In winter, males and females similar in appearance, with no black underparts.
Scientific Name: Numenius arquata
Irish Name: Feadóg bhuí
Winter visitor to wetlands throughout Ireland, as well as breeding in small numbers in floodplains and boglands. Red-listed species due to decline in population..The largest wader - very distinctive with long legs, bulky body, long neck and long down-curved bill. Fairly uniform greyish brown, with bold dark streaking all over.
Scientific Name: Vanellus vanellus
Irish Name: An Philibín
Red-listed species. Residents, summer visitors from the Continent (France & Iberia) and winter visitors (from western & central Europe). Some overlap between all three groups. Greatest numbers occur in Ireland between September & April
Distinct black-and-white, pigeon-sized wader, with wide rounded wings and floppy beats in flight. Wispy crest extending upwards from back of head and green/purple irridescence seen at close range. Pink-ish legs.
Scientific Name: Alauda arvensis
Irish Name: Fuiseog
Common resident throughout Ireland in uplands and areas of farmland.
A rather nondescript species, with much brown and black streaking. Adult Skylarks have a prominent white supercilium and frequently raise their crown feathers to form a little crest. Juveniles have much of the black streaking replaced by spotting and lack the crest. When flushed from the ground, keeps close to the ground unlike the similar Meadow Pipit which typically rises straight up.
Scientific Name: Ardea cinerea
Irish Name: Corr réisc
The grey plumage and stature of Grey Herons make them unmistakable. It is a very familiar species being widely distributed and a year-round resident in Ireland. Single birds are often flushed when posed motionlessly at the edge of water bodies, coiled ready to strike out at unsuspecting prey with its formidable spear-like bill. It feeds along the edge of a wide range of wetland habitats from coastal waters and estuaries to loughs, streams and marshy ground. They are usually encountered as solitary birds and sometimes as a pairs, although if observing breeding colonies numbers can be in the 50s
Scientific Name: Anthus pratensis
Irish Name: Riabhóg Mhóna
A small, brown, streaky bird, it is the commonest songbird in upland areas and its high, piping call is a familiar sound. In flight it shows white outer tail feathers and in the breeding season it has a fluttering 'parachute' display flight. In winter they are quite gregarious and gather in small flocks, often invisible among the vegetation, suddenly flying up with typical jerky flight. Very widespread breeding species in Ireland. Found in bogs, uplands and areas of scrub and pasture.
Often moves in winter to lowland areas from breeding sites in uplands. Significant numbers of European birds move to Ireland in winter.
Scientific Name: Emberiza schoeniclus
Irish Name: Gealóg ghiolcaí
Sparrow-sized but slim and with a long, deeply notched tail, the male has a black head, white collar and a drooping moustache. Females and winter males have a streaked head. In flight the tail looks black with broad, white edges.
Typically found in wet vegetation but has recently spread into farmland and, in winter, into gardens. When singing the male usually perched on top of a bush, or reed. They feed on seeds and insects.
Irish Name: Loscann Coiteann
Latin Name: Rana temporaria
One of the most common animals that occurs in boggy areas is the common frog. Most people think of frogs as aquatic creatures, but in fact they spend most of their lives on land, only returning to the water in order to breed. They are smooth skinned, tailless amphibians with powerful hind legs that are particularly well suited to jumping. The upper surface of the skin is variable in colour – ranging from a light yellowish brown to dark olive green.
Males tend to be slightly smaller than females and can be distinguished by the dark bluish-black nuptial pads – which are swellings on the first finger of their forelimbs.
These swellings become much more pronounced during the breeding season and help the male to get a firm grip on the female’s smooth skin during mating.
Common frogs usually begin to emerge from hibernation in early spring and head straight for their freshwater breeding grounds. Males usually arrive before females and start croaking to attract a mate. Once females start to arrive the males start croaking in earnest and wrestle with each other to gain access to a potential mate.
Eventually the female will lay 1000 to 4000 eggs which are fertilised by the male as they are released. This frog’s spawn floats in clumps protected by a jelly-like coating until the tadpoles emerge after 30-40 days. The tiny tadpoles feed on the remains of the frogspawn for the first two days before they switch to a diet of algae.
As they grow bigger they start to include aquatic insects in their diet. Hind legs develop at between six and nine weeks, the tadpoles lose their feathery gills and develop lungs – forcing them to the water’s surface to gulp air. Front legs are fully developed by about 11 weeks and the tail begins to be absorbed. At 12 weeks the metamorphosis is practically complete and the tiny frog will leave the water, spending most of its time hiding in the vegetation on the water’s edge.
Frogs don’t feed during the breeding season, but once breeding is over they will eat practically any moving invertebrate. Adult frogs feed almost exclusively on land, but youngster frogs will also forage in the water. In winter frogs hibernate beneath compost heaps, under stones and logs or buried in the mud at the bottom of a pond where they survive by extracting oxygen from the water through their skin. They will not emerge until breeding time comes around again the following spring.
Irish Name: An Coinín
Latin Name: Oryctolagus cuniculus
Rabbits were introduced to Ireland by the Normans in the 12th century and are now common throughout the country. Rabbit love to make burrows (dig holes) which is why their Latin name, cuniculus, means underground. Rabbits have up to 10 babies in every litter, which are born without fur and are blind. Most wild rabbits don’t live beyond the age of two.
Irish Name: An Giorria Rua
Latin Name: Lepus timidus hibernicus
The Irish Hare is a medium sized plant eater (herbivore), measuring up to 50cm long and weighing about 4-5kg. It has a reddish-brown coat, long ears with black tips and powerful back legs. They feed mostly on grasses, but also eat heather & bilberrys.
They feed mostly at night, resting during the day in hollows called 'forms' .The Irish Hare is larger than a rabbit with black tips on its ears. Its coat is reddish-brown in summer and grey-brown in winter and it moults twice a year. Their eyes are large and set in the sides of their head so they have nearly 360 degree vision.
In good conditions females produce two or three litters a year and the litter size is usually 2-3. The young are called leverets. The hare eats its food twice in order to get all the nutrients out of it. Soft faeces produced during the day are re-eaten and excreted as hard pellets.
They are very fast and can reach speeds of up to 60km/hr and change direction suddenly to outwit their predators. Fights in the breeding season may involve boxing with the fore-legs or kicking with the hind-legs.
Irish Name: Sionnach/ Madra Rua
Latin Name: Vulpes vulpes
Red foxes live in an earth or den, the male is called a dog and the female is a vixen. They live 2 to 4 years in the wild. They usually have 2-3 cubs once a year in spring. They are solitary hunters and are largely nocturnal but can be seen during the day. They stalk their prey with stealth and patience. They feed on Rodents, insects, worms, fruit, birds’, eggs and all other kinds of small animals. They can reach a speed of 48 km/h. Foxes have erect ears providing very good hearing and their large bushy tail is used for balance when hunting.
Irish Name: An Broc
Latin Name: Meles meles
The badger has a grey coat with a white and black striped head. Badgers are great diggers. Their home consists of tunnels which lead underground to a main living chamber and smaller sleeping quarters.Badgers, like hedgehogs, sleep during the day and emerge at night to search for food. Badgers eat almost anything, from rabbits and frogs to earthworms and beetles.
Irish Name: Easóg
Latin Name: Mustela ermine
The stoat is sometimes incorrectly called a weasel, of which there are none in Ireland. Its long body is orange-brown above and white underneath, with a distinctive black-tipped tail. Some individuals turn white in winter, retaining their black-tipped tails. Rabbits are its favourite food.
Irish Name: Cat Crainn
Latin Name: Martes Martes.
Ireland's most elusive land mammal, it was probably far more widespread in Irish Woodlands but loss of its natural habitat which, combined with persecution by gamekeepers, forced it to retreat to rocky and remote areas west of the Shannon. It is suggested that it was introduced to Ireland by the Vikings and that it is probably the 'cat' referred to in Irish poetry and placenames. Cat Crainn (tree cat) suggests the pine marten is quite at home in the branches where it is capable of catching a squirrel in a tree and often robs nests of their eggs and chicks. On open ground it darts around with zig-zag movement tracing potential prey by scent.
An omnivore - the menu might include earthworms, beetles, frogs, lizards, bees, earwigs, snails, small mammals, birds and their eggs, berries, nuts and crab apples. The scrubland is more attractive habitat than mature woodland. The largest males may weight up to 1.5kg, its length may reach 53Omm. The female's length is 45Omm.