An aggressive sika buck boldly strode across a neighbour’s lawn about 7.30 this morning. In the early hours of last Wednesday or Thursday I heard the sika buck’s triple, whistle-like, mating roar for the first time this year. This will continue until November.
For the month of October the bull-like mating roar of the Irish red deer stag will reverberate in Killarney hills and woodlands. The red deer is the largest native Irish mammal and has survived since the end of the ice age only in the Killarney valley.
Walking the mile and a half from Gallan Eile to the foot of Mangerton Mountain this morning the top of the stone wall is covered in heather in full bloom. The purpely pink ling heather dominates but it is attractively interspersed by the darker purple bell heather and a very occasional, ground-hugging yellow Autumn furze.
The flowering heather gives Mangerton a purple hue. It might be remembering the great battle here in 1262 when the gaelic McCarthys defeated the Anglo Norman Fitzgeralds and kept south Munster in the control of the old order for a further 300 years. The McCarthys were the Kings of south west Munster.
As well this morning a variety of small birds sang and sang. Since mid July they have been silent, hidden away in the bushes during their annual moult. There is no song from blackbird and thrush who are busy raising young.
The smaller birds are not singing to entertain but to warn off intruders. Defending their feeding ground – to the death if necessary. This is a matter of life or death for them and their young who are now most vulnerable.
Along the road to town the leaves of a horse chestnut are a wonderful array of yellow, brown and red. Killarney woodlands will show a rich cloak of Autumn colour from now until late november – weather permitting.
I had my first sea swim this year in Fenit last Saturday – my first in Muckross lake only three weeks ago. As a heron flies overhead here at Gallan Eile all of the signs are good for a great Autumn.
– Frank Lewis