Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday, 26 June 2012 18:55
Firstly, a huge thank you to Niall (above right), Sean and Mary Basquille for their kindness and hospitality that made my first trip to Ireland so much fun (having the loan of a Mercedes for a week was pretty rad, I can tell you). I saw so much in Ireland that I will split it into three posts, this first concentrating on the Burren (thanks to Liam Jones for the above photo).
My first experience of the Burren was nothing other than magical. We pulled over in a completely random place as soon as we hit the edge of the limestone pavement and immediately spotted Bloody Cransebill everywhere. It really is one of the commonest plants there. This was immediately followed by numerous Transparent Burnets. I was photographing this Rustyback Fern when a Microdon mutabilis landed in front of me (a nationally scarce hoverfly).
My head was starting to spin when I spotted Fly Orchids, Mountain Everlasting, Helicella itala (one of the commonest snails there) and what had to be Spring Gentian that had gone over. As I was trying to get a photo of this last, a tiny reddish moth flew past me and landed. Least Minor!
Back to the gentian and I walked right up to a very active Anania funebris (no photos) and then found several Small Plume-moths (again no photos). This was a really amazing hour and was perhaps the only real sun we caught all week. It was the only real chance we had to see any day flying insects.
Perhaps the most beautiful flower I have ever seen is the Spring Gentian. Common enough in the Burren but we were way too late for the vast majority of flowers and we really only found a few right at the end of our stay that were still in flower.
Also mostly gone over is the fantastic Mountain Avens (with Blue Hair-grass in the lower picture).
Other ticks included Shrubby Cinquefoil below and Lesser Meadow-rue (no photo).
And it was great to see species like Northern Bedstraw again after so many years. I must go north more.
During the second day in the Burren, we climbed two peaks and got some amazing views. It's not hard to take dramatic shots of wildflowers with amazing scenery in the background in Ireland. Here we have Hoary Rock-rose.
This Brittle Bladder-fern was also a tick for me.
I added a few new bryophytes, including a small amount of this stunning bright purple-red liverwort, Pleurozia purpurea.
Coming down a series of staggering terraces, each one more dramatic than the last, was a really memorable experience. Out of all the shots I took In Ireland, including all of the wildlife, it's these two that I like the most! I have never seen such a bizarre and strange landscape.
The next exciting instalment sees us head north to Connemara.