DNFC Outing to Farm of Anthony and Mary Rose Mooney near Maynooth

On July 15 2017 about twenty DNFC members visited the working farm of Anthony and Mary Rose Mooney near Maynooth, Co Kildare. This 200 acre farm is mainly given over to young dry stock rearing in ten fields. The management of the pastures and adjoining wooded areas is done in a nature sensitive manner so that birds, bees and butterflies abound. In particular clumps of Nettles and Thistles are tolerated and a wide variety of grasses grown. Grazing is relatively free range.

On the day of the visit temperatures ranged from 20 to 24 degrees C and although at first rather cloudy and misty, numerous butterflies were to be seen, especially nectaring on the Creeping Thistles. In the five fields visited 100+ Small Tortoiseshells were seen, mostly pristine and some 50 Meadow Browns. Some half a dozen Green-veined Whites, Ringlets and Small Whites were noted as well as at least one Large White. Near the house dozens of Small White and Large White eggs and tiny caterpillars were seen on Brassicas and Nasturtiums. Anthony said earlier there had been lots of eggs but they were mostly predated. He also had seen some of the small yellow cocoons of Cotesia glomerata around the dead body of a fully grown Large White larva.

100+ Small Tortoiseshell larval nests were noted widely distributed on nettle clumps through the fields. Peacock larvae had mainly pupated but a small number of final instar black larvae were seen representing three larval nests.

Three final instar Painted Lady larvae were seen on Creeping Thistles as well as at least six Red Admiral larval tents on Nettles.

Bumblebees seen were B. hortorum, B. lapidarius, B. lucorum, B. pascuorum, and B.terrestris. Several dead bumblebees were seen in the fields.

Birds heard include Jays and Yellow Hammers.

Lunch was provided in the house with freshly baked scones and a variety of homemade jams. DNFC President P J Walls thanked the Mooneys for a most interesting day and their generous hospitality. He noted that this outing had attracted the largest number of participants for any DNFC outing this year.

Bob Aldwell