Situated in the centre of the Marble Arch Global Geopark, protected from harmful human activity, Corralea is a natural classroom with an abundance of wildlife.
2020 was really the year we took a new look at nature and nature seemed to retake its space. In 25 years here at Corralea, I have never seen so much wildlife coming so close to us...in fact a few metres from our patio door.
Initially bare and boggy, Corralea townland was planted with coniferous woodland about 35 years ago. The wood was harvested when the forest reached its maturity, since then native trees have regained their territory: oak, ash, birch, beech, alder & Scot’s pine.
Bird life is abundant and our old favorite birds are still here: robin, blue tit, blackbird, sparrow, goldfinch, great tit, thrush, wren, jay & magpie. Marius' daily filling of our bird feeders insures they are a delight to watch at breakfast every morning. But our little friends also attract sparrow hawk and kestrel.
These winter months, they are also joined by opportunist red squirrels coming down from the Pine trees and the Hazel trees to feed on the nuts and seeds. Our two regular ones, named by the children, are called “Sammy” and “Acorn”. They have now been joined by “Gingy”.
We never get tired of their antics...and they provide a great distraction from Home schooling in the mornings.
While the forest provides an excellent cover for wood pigeons and other birds, the shore and reeds of Upper Lough Macnean shelter ducks, swans and herons. We have even spotted an otter.
This year for the first time, we were visited by a friendly fox. His coat was a shiny copper colour, his tail was bushy and his face was the cutest. He seemed in the prime of age and very healthy. He came for his breakfast 2-3 days in a row and then vanished as quickly as he appeared. He was christened Mr Tod and he seemed as sophisticated and sly as the polite villain in Beatrix Potter’s world of Peter Rabbit.
The National Trust had a great Peter Rabbit Winter Activity Trail around Florencecourt Gardens this year. The trail is now over but you can still download the activity pack from their website. It was such fun.
But of course, we cherish the most our wild deer.
“Moona” comes everyday for some seeds. We don't pet her but we can get about a meter from her. She has a den on the south facing hill among the pine trees and the bushes, just behind our house and the minute she hears the back door, she comes down for her breakfast. If we ignore her or forget to leave out treats on the wall, she stares at us through the patio door...until one of us breaks down and goes to fetch some food for her. Her belly is growing and we are looking forward to the arrival of her fawn in April or May.
In Spring as nature awakes, the undergrowth grows with moss & ferns. Bluebells, wild garlic and other wild flowers add a touch of colour. We are also fortunate to hear the song of the endangered cuckoo.
So 2020 brought us closer to nature. In 2021, we continue to appreciate and re-connect with its magical power.