Helping kids go in search of local wildlife

A brochure to help youngsters discover Kilkenny’s wildlife was launched on Saturday morning as part of Heritage Week. “Kilkenny Wildlife Detectives,” which includes suggestions on how and where to spot local wildlife, was produced by Kilkenny County Council’s heritage office and Kilkenny County Childcare Committee. Here, 8-year-old James Comerford writes of his experience as a “wildlife detective” over the weekend.

A brochure to help youngsters discover Kilkenny’s wildlife was launched on Saturday morning as part of Heritage Week. “Kilkenny Wildlife Detectives,” which includes suggestions on how and where to spot local wildlife, was produced by Kilkenny County Council’s heritage office and Kilkenny County Childcare Committee. Here, 8-year-old James Comerford writes of his experience as a “wildlife detective” over the weekend.

On Saturday I went to be a wildlife detective in Linear Park in Kilkenny. My cousin Adam and my Aunty Helena came with me. I was never in the Linear Park before, it’s lovely. There are steps down or you can use the ramp. There are pathways alongside the river.

When we arrived we both got hi-viz jackets and a magnifying glass. My magnifying glass was blue and Adam had a red one. The mayor of Kilkenny was there and we all got our picture taken with him. He came on a bike, which was pretty cool because I thought he would be arriving in a fancy car.

We each got a detective badge which had lots of information on it. It had a list of wildlife in Kilkenny and we had to find each one. There were two leaders Lauren and Sennan. Lauren wore a special detective hat so she was the real leader. We went for a walk on the path and stopped to look at the creatures, plants, trees and bushes.

We found a wolf spider that was on a twig. He used his silk to climb up and down the twig, and Sennan said that wolf spiders don’t usually have silk but this one did.

We saw a bumble bee buzzing around the flowers; Lauren told us that we wouldn’t have fruit and vegetables without having bees and wasps because they help them grow.

We saw two big trees, one was an ash tree and the other was a hawthorn. Hurls are made from ash trees, and the lady said that Kilkenny have the best ash trees in Ireland and that’s why we win all our matches. I used my magnifying glass to look at the berries on the hawthorn tree; they were cool and were different colours.

We saw lots of nettles; I knew what they were because I saw them before in my house. Nettles can sting but if you get stung just rub doc leaf on the sting and you will be okay. We saw doc leaves too. You can eat nettles and they are good for you. I don’t think I’d like to taste them though.

There were lots of butterflies in the park, I tried to catch one in the net but I wasn’t able. Lauren caught one in the net at the end and we could see it up close, I helped her release it back to its friends.

I got to hold a snail on my arm, I wasn’t afraid because I did it before, it felt weird but cool.

We were told the names of lots of plants I can only remember some of the names because there were so many; there was ragwort, meadowsweet, stickyback and lots of others.

There was a man there called Pat and he had a machine which had the sounds of all kinds of birds on it, it was brilliant, I loved the sound of the cuckoo, the robin and the wren. He played lots of sounds for everyone. Lauren told me that the peregrine falcon is the fastest bird in the world and Pat even had that bird on his machine and he played it for us.

I really enjoyed the day. It didn’t rain, which was good, and using the magnifying glass was class. At the end we got a free poster each with wildlife in Kilkenny on it. I live in Threecastles and that’s actually on the map, which is awesome.

Lauren gave Adam and me a guide to identify butterflies; I think we were really lucky.

Other events

Meanwhile, events are continuing to take place across the county until Sunday to mark Heritage Week. Among them, “The Book of Pottlerath” exhibition is in the forecourt of City Hall. A complete listing of events can be found at www.heritageweek.ie.