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We are fortunate to have a wealth of wildlife and biodiversity on our doorstep, with a myriad of species to be seen and encountered.
With farmland, hedgerows, wooded demesnes and protected coastal areas beside us we have a wide selection of mammal species in the area – Badger, Fox, Rabbit, Stoat, Otter, Irish Hare, Hedgehog to name but a few. Bats and grey seal are common; harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphin are spotted from time to time.
Well over 100 species of bird can be seen in the wider Kilcoole area. Geese, ducks and waders spend the winter, while little terns, swifts, swallows and passerines come in summer. We are very lucky to get so many species of birds of prey in the area – Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine, Red Kite, Barn Owl, Long-eared Owl and Short-eared Owl to name but a few.
There are 33 species of butterfly that are resident or regular migrants in Ireland. 14 species can be seen with relative ease during the summer months in Kilcoole, with several other species a possibility if you are lucky.
Of the 20 species of bumblebee recorded from Ireland, 6 species are easily found and relatively common in our village. In addition to the Honeybee, there are 77 solitary bee species to be found in Ireland. We get 11 damselflies and 17 dragonflies in Ireland. Common Darter, Common Hawker and Migrant Hawker are just 3 of the species that can easily be seen in the Kilcoole area.
Common Frog and Viviparous Lizard can be found locally. Smooth Newt is likely to also be present. It has been recorded at East Coast Nature Reserve.
The above might paint a wonderful picture, but in fact there are huge pressures and challenges for the wonderful biodiversity we have on our doorstep. An ever expanding urban area, hedgerows and grass margins being cut too severely and at the wrong times, increasing human population using our wild areas for recreation, a huge level of dog activity in the area, hunting, pollution from plastics and other sources, an increase in wild foraging and much more besides. And that is before we even look at larger challenges such as climate change!
We can all do small things to help, for example provide food and shelter for wildlife in our gardens (bird feeders, nest boxes, insect hotels, and bat boxes). Put in a small pond – brilliant for frogs, newts, damselflies and dragonflies. When deciding on plants for your garden, use species that are good for our pollinators – bumblebees, wasps, hoverflies and solitary bees – or plants that provide fruits, nuts, or berries. Avoid using weed-killers and slug pellets. If there are hedgehogs in your area feed them with cat/dog food and cut a small hole in your fence/gate so they can easily travel from one garden to the next.