TIPPERARY NATURE

Tipperary's River Ara Wildlife Festival is up and running today and tomorrow

BY ALBERT NOLAN

Reporter:

BY ALBERT NOLAN

Tipperary's River Ara Wildlife Festival is up and running today and tomorrow

Rivers are one of our most interesting and precious habitats. I remember as kids heading off with our jam jars and an old pair of tights to pond dip. There was great excitement as we caught tadpoles, large diving beetles and the occasional stickleback. These were proudly taken home until our parents got the chance to release them back into their watery home.

Many adults will remember doing these activities, but for today’s generation this is an unknown experience. 

On August 23 and 24, Tipperary Tidy Towns with Knockanrawley Organic Garden are running a River Ara Wildlife Festival, with lots of fun activities and workshops for young and old. This festival continues the social, educational and environmental investment in the River Ara. 

Local schools have been previously brought on river walks where they learnt about the creatures that inhabit the river and how to protect water quality. Timmy Whyte leads a weekly social, horticultural and therapeutic walk that explores the river wildlife, and we look forward to the development of the River Ara walk. 

Starting on August 23 at 7pm in Knockanrawley Organic Garden, you can learn how to create a small pond, in your garden, and how to conserve water. Ponds are an important habitat for creatures, like frogs and insects, and this is an excellent project, for tidy towns, under the biodiversity and sustainability sections, of the tidy town’s award. Most ponds have disappeared, from the landscape, so gardens and communities, are now a vital refuge for pond wildlife.  

At 8pm there will be presentation, on the wildlife found along the River Ara. From kingfishers to elusive otters, bumblebees to bats, the Ara is home, to an amazing diversity of wildlife, throughout the year. Discover the hidden lives of these creatures, and how we can help to conserve them. The wildlife of the Ara has been surveyed over the summer, and information signs are been developed.    

This wildlife presentation will be followed by a bat and moth walk at 9pm. These is a growing interest in bats and moths, and we will run the moth trap in the Organic Garden to capture some moths and use bat detectors, to explore the hidden story of bats. Bats don’t fly into your hair, eat your cables or smell, and on the night we will discuss all these myths that surround bats. Wear warm clothes and a high vis vest.                               

Saturday kicks off at 10am, where we will empty the moth trap, in the organic garden. Moths come in a diverse range of shapes and colours, and are a vital part of the diet of bats and birds. Dispel some of the myths that all moths, are brown and only eat your clothes.  

From 10.30-11-30am, we will don the wellies and armed with nets head to the River Ara and search for water scorpions, fish, beetles, leeches and many more marvellous creatures. If you have a net bring it along and a spare change of clothes might be necessary for this fun activity.     

Back in the Organic Garden for from 12-1pm, we will make seed bombs that you can take home or scatter along the riverbank. These seeds will grow and provide pollen and nectar for bees and butterflies. A messy but fun workshop, for all the family and adults.   

Our festival will end with a wildlife safari from 2-3pm to discover birds, bees, bugs and flowers found along the Ara. We will also point out ideas, for projects for tidy towns groups. This will be followed by another session of pond dipping. 

Tipperary Tidy Towns gratefully acknowledges funding from the County Council under the Festival Grant scheme. 

All events are suitable for families. Register your place by contacting albert.nolan@rocketmail.com or 089-4230502