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22/10/2021

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: The season of autumn berries is here

With the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: The season of autumn berries is here

Almost-ripe blackberries. Picture: Nuala Madigan

It is berry season! Looking around at the hedgerows in your community this week, you will discover a new burst of colour brought by autumn berries.

As wildlife, including birds and mammals, prepare for the winter ahead, autumn berries are a valuable source of food for them. But what berries can you expect to observe this week in your community?

Blackberries, the fruit of the bramble (dris as Gaeilge) are still plentiful. The solid core of the fruit is surrounded by a number of shiny purple/black druplets. While our local wildlife will enjoy a tasty feast of these blackberries still today, a popular seasonal activity by many families is blackberry picking as tasty jams and pies will be made in the kitchen following the outing.

It is important to say the berries of a plant are the protective structure for the seeds. While some, like blackberries, have been collected and eaten by people for years, I don’t recommend you pick and eat wild berries unless you are familiar with them.

Another fruit that has emerged this week are rose hips, which are the fruit of the native dog-rose (feirdhris as gaeilge).

Each rose hip is oval in shape, and usually red-orange in colour. They are very easily identified as rose hips can still be seen on the branches of the plant, even after the leaves have dropped to the ground.

The small red berries of hawthorn (sceach gheal as gaeilge) can be found growing in clusters on your local hawthorn trees. Hawthorn is a native tree that is often used in local hedging — however, if allowed to grow, can reach a height of up to 10 metres.

The bright clusters of orange berries belonging to rowan (caorthann) and the early green berries of ivy (eidhnéan), which will later turn black, and the black clusters of berries of elder (trom) are just some other examples of the berries in your hedgerows. How many will you find this week?

If you would like help identifying local wildlife or indeed to share your images of local wildlife encountered to be used in a future Wildlife Watch, contact me on 045 860133 or bogs@ipcc.ie.

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