Cabragh Wetlands - detectives in the wild are needed
I was assailed on a lovely May morning, the sun already high in the sky over Killough Hill and a soft breeze blowing across the wetlands.
The sheen of the water on the pond peppered here and there with white blobs of emerging native water lilies, the incessant machine gun chatter of small birds brought a faraway conflict to mind-perhaps not enough young men or indeed older men had taken time to stop and stare, relish and revere such a world as this and be at peace with themselves.
The bobbing head and red beak of the water hen, totally ignoring my presence, wove its way through the prehistoric mare’s tail which was reaching once again for the god given light as it has done now for hundreds of millions of years.
The grassy path beckoned me through alder, birch and rowan and it was here ,beyond the small footbridge, that the assault occurred. Against the backdrop curtain of the multi specied willow on the river bank so many impressionist dabs of colour littered the canvas. To my left, a Fort Knox load of gold gleams-Mary’s Gold or Marsh Marigold lights up the dense green grasses spurting into growth following a full day’s incessant rain.
My head bobs to and fro as I pick out clumps of that rare but beautiful Summer Snowflake in its First Communion dress , wandering giddily across the wetland. The soft paler green of the yellow iris seems to heighten the impact of the colours.
As I inch closer for a better look, the oh-so-delicate purple of the cuckoo flower or more romantically Our Lady’s Smock is playing host to that real harbinger of summer-the orange tip butterfly. Everywhere they flit and twist and dive, lodging to lay a single egg on the soft purple petal.
I am so entranced that I momentarily forget the cannibalistic tendencies of their caterpillars.
The artist has somehow overlain the whole area with a type of deeper purple tinge of thousands of mint plants. Later on, when crushed beneath our feet, they will, like the present dark green of the meadowsweet, further the assault on our senses with that unique scent of a summer wetland.
In the distance, towards the town and the floodlight pylons of Semple Stadium, the tall bulrushes peer above the reedbed now in its fading glory. Once standing tall to attention with dark brown heads like sentries at Buckingham Palace, they disintegrate before my eyes in a feathery mush. An egret rises gracefully in the distance while near at hand on a hawthorn bush, the stonechat coughs out his “throaty” song.
This total assault on my senses must be investigated. Let’s wait awhile, observe, take notes and see how the case develops. Then, in the second week of July, with a host of young inquisitive minds, we will metaphorically peel back the layers and delve into the mysteries as Detective in the Wild Summer Camp returns to Cabragh Wetlands after its Covid lapse.
In truth, we don’t expect to solve the case, it’s been recurring now for aeons but, as always, the joy will be in the searching.
Pick up a form at your local library and book your place for the week July 11 - 15
This riot of colour will continue with the pinks and purples not alone in the wetlands but in woodland, hedgerow, meadow and bog.
Join us! Bí linn!
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