Diary – Day 2

Completed day 2 of Wild Ireland Tour – taking me from Whitegate to Courtmacsherry. Began the day at Roches Point where we met Paul Whelen of Lichen.ie and Biology.ie fame. Paul introduced us to some of the characteristic lichens of the area including Ramalina cuspidata, Caloplaca marina and Lichina pygmaea – all a mystery to me, I have to admit.

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Paul Whelan showing us lichens at Roches Point

But Paul has managed to tackle this difficult group and has completed the first systematic survey of lichens of rocky shores. We also talked about biological recording and what spurred him on to develop the Biology.ie recording facility. Having an early background in education highlighted for him the need to have IT supports like Biology.ie and Lichen.ie.
Next we called to the Coastal & Marine Research Centre in Haulbowline to meet Damien Haberlin and hear about the fascinating world of jellyfish. He tells us there is still a great deal to learn about the ecology and behaviour of jellyfish. And the aquaculture industry is interested in this, because jellyfish can destroy millions of euro of farmed salmon, something which has happened sporadically over the years. Interesting to hear they were geared up to tag some jelly fish this year in Cork Harbour but the usual swarms didn’t occur this year, so they are looking to carry out the research elsewhere. Absolutely stunning setting for a marine research centre – there were a dozen or so Common Seals hauled out on the slipway just beside the bridge as we passed. 

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Damien Haberlin on the mysterious world of jellyfish

It was off then along the Cork coast taking me past some small, beautifully lush coves and bays, many with tiny settlements looking out onto the beautiful blue Atlantic – idyllic setting on a sunny day like today.

They say that cycling is the best way to experience the unfolding landscape; certainly is as you see it with your eyes and feel it in your legs. Headed into a stiff north-westerly all afternoon so was glad to arrive to Courtmacsherry and to the wonderful hospitality of Peter and Fran Wolstenholme.

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Peter Wolstenholme in the gallery at Courtmacsherry

Ended the night by hearing about some of the wonderful wildlife of west Cork and having a tour of Peter’s stunning paintings, influenced by his love of the landscape and knowledge of wildlife.