Common Butterwort

Watch out if you are an insect!
Watch out if you are an insect!

Common Butterwort– Pinguicula vulgaris

Spotted this little flower in the Cooleys today coming around the Foxes Rock on our way back to the car park at the Long Woman’s Grave. Appearances can be deceiving…apparently this delicate looking little plant is carnivorous!!

The light green leaves are in a basal rosette, consisting of several sticky, oblong, almost pointed leaves with their margins rolled inwards. When an insect lands on a leaf it sticks fast, the leaf margins roll in further and the leaf exudes an enzyme that aids digestion of the insect. In this way the plant supplements its diet.

It blooms from May to August and grows on nitrogen deficient bogs, wet rocks and mountain heaths. It is a native plant belonging to the Lentibulariaceae family

Common Butterwort 3

The Cuckoo


In April I open my bill
In May I sing night and day
In June I change my tune
In July far, far, I fly
In August away I must


Description:The adult birds usually have blue-grey head, breast and upperparts, and horizontal barring on the underparts and white spots and tips on the tail.

Voice:The female has a rich bubbling chuckle, but the male’s call is the very familiar “cuckoo”. Generally, if you hear a Cuckoo singing you will probably not see it until it stops singing, and flies away.

Feeding: Caterpillars and other insects such as beetles and ants form the major part of the Cuckoo’s diet. Many of the caterpillars are the hairy or brightly coloured poisonous ones, but their digestive system is specially adapted to cope with the hairs and toxins. The female will also sometimes eat the eggs and nestlings of the host bird.

Nesting: The Cuckoo is a brood parasite, it lays its eggs in other birds’ nests and leaves the host birds to incubate and rear its young. Dunnocks, Robins and Meadow Pips are frequent host birds. Each female Cuckoo specialises in using a particular host species and will lay eggs with similar markings to the host bird’s eggs, and the young Cuckoo will imitate the begging calls of the host’s chicks.

When the Cuckoo nestling hatches, it instinctively pushes the other eggs and nestlings out of the nest.

Movements: They are a summer migrant, arriving around April and returning to central and southern Africa from mid-July to August. The juveniles follow in August and September.


Lesser Celendine

Lesser Celandine- (Ranunculus ficaria)-


On our recent walks we have seen lots of this low growing, hairless perennial plant with its distinctive, bright yellow flowers and fleshy dark green, heart, shaped leaves. A member of the buttercup family, it is found throughout Europe and west Asia. It prefers bare, damp ground and is known as an early harbinger of Spring, apparently making an appearance each year on the 21st of February, more generally it flowers from early February through to May.

The word “Celandine” comes from Latin meaning “swallow” as it was said that the flowers bloomed when the swallows returned and faded when they left. The name “Ranunculus” is Latin for “little frog or tadpole, perhaps referring to its being found near water, or to the fact that the unopened flowers resemble tadpoles.

The plant used to be known as Pilewort because it was used to treat haemorrhoids, as the knobbly tubers of the plant were thought to resemble piles! In German it is known as “Skorbutkraut”- scurvyherb because of the use of its leaves which are high in Vitamin C to prevent scurvy, but beware the plant contains protoanemonin a mild toxin and medicines made from the plant should be extracted either from the dried plant or through the use of heat.

The flower is mentioned by a number of literary greats in their works: J. R. R. Tolkein, C. S. Lewis, D.H. Lawrence and most notably, William Wordsworth all make mention of it.  Wordsworth was so inspired by the little flower, that he wrote three poems about it. On his death it was proposed that a lesser celandine would be engraved on his tombstone, but unfortunately a mistake was made and the greater celandine, a member of the poppy family was used instead.

Check out the link for a copy of one of his poems:

The Common Frog- Rana temporaria


Last time out in the Cooley’s we saw evidence of frog life with sightings of both adults and frogspawn. Find below information about their life cycle,  taken from the Irish Peatlands Conservation Council website.

Frog Life Cycle

When the adults emerge from hibernation they migrate to congregate at various breeding sites. They may travel up to half a mile to find a site where they gather in large numbers. The males always arrive first and strike up a chorus of loud croaking to attract females. Frogs do not have any elegant courtship rituals; the eager male simply grabs the nearest female as she arrives at the spawning site. Jumping onto the female’s back, the male wraps his fore limbs around her body and grips using nuptial pads, on the fore limbs – a position called amplexus.

Spawning itself can take place any time during amplexus and lasts only a few seconds. The female lays over 2,000 black eggs while the male releases sperm. The eggs are fertilised immediately and before their gelatinous capsules absorb water, swell and rise to the surface. After spawning the female usually leaves the pond, while the male often goes on to search for another mate.

Both male and female frogs return to the same pond year after year, probably recognising it from the smell of the water and algae.

Eggs & Frog Spawn: Each frog egg is 2-3mm in diameter and is enclosed in an envelope of jelly. When the egg is deposited in the water the jelly swells to a diameter of 8-10mm insulating the eggs from the water. The egg develops into a tadpole in 10-21 days (the higher the temperature the shorter the development time).

Tadpole: The tadpole digests the spawn jelly using a special secretion and hatches. Specific adhesive organs fasten the newly hatched tadpole to other spawn or plants in the pool. At this early stage tadpoles have no mouth, and until its mouth organs form it feeds on an internal yolk sac attached to the stomach. At approximately 2 days old the external gills, mouth and eyes are formed. At this stage it moves like a fish and begins to eat algae. At 12 days spiracles and internal gills are formed. At 5 weeks the hind legs are showing and the lungs are forming. It then has to swim to the surface of the water to gulp air. The tadpole has fleshy lips with rows of teeth for rasping away at water plants and by seven weeks it also eats insects and even other tadpoles.

Froglet: At 10 weeks the forelegs are growing. The hind legs are fully grown and the tail is reducing. At 14 weeks the tail is nearly fully absorbed. At this stage the froglets are usually starting to spend time on rocks or in nearby damp grass. Young frogs usually double in size by the following autumn and they reach sexual maturity in their third year. They can live for 7-8 years. Scarcity of food or severe cold may delay metamorphosis and overwintering tadpoles are not uncommon in northern countries.