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Friday, 26th May 2023

Cuckoo seeks mate, crab loses shell – some of the highlights of Baltray biodiversity walk

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Looking for love, well a mate anyway. A cuckoo spotted at a biodiversity walk and talk in Baltray last weekend. Photos: Mog Downey.

Coastal and marine ecosystems were the focus of a biodiversity walk and talk which took place last Saturday at the Haven, Baltray as part of 2023 Biodiversity Week.    

Nature lovers were lucky enough to be led by renowned coastal expert, Karin Dubsky, founder of international Coastwatch organisation.  

Brendan McSherry, Louth Heritage Officer and Áine Walsh of Louth Nature Trust assisted in directing the walk through the estuary, mudflat, salt marsh, magnificent dune succession through to the shingle beach at the mouth of the Boyne.  

The sun shone, the wildflower carpet specific to dunes and interdune slacks was in full bloom, a cuckoo arrived in the area from Africa and was calling valiantly for a mate.  

The ground nesting sky larks and meadow pipits were in full voice as visitors walked along the trails.  When the group made their way to the beach they were greeted by Dominic Hartigan of Louth Nature Trust and ornithologist Franck le Moenner who explained the arduous journey of the little tern from Gambia to Baltray to breed. The tide was in and there were plenty of terns feeding in the area.  

One of the many highlights of the event was finding an exoskeleton of a crab that had recently been vacated by its owner.  Karin explained this is part of their life cycle, as their shells/ exoskeletons are hard, they don’t stretch with growth, therefore as a crab moves from one size to the next, they need to shed their shell. They then go and hide in the saltmarsh or any available plants for protection while their next size shell grows.  

A snail feeding on Kidney Vetch.

As this area is such a haven for wildlife, visitors are asked to respect this, keep dogs on leads, keep on the established trails, take the earphones out and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of our fabulous coastal habitats.  

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer warden at the Little Tern Project, please do not hesitate to contact Louth Nature Trust.

Biodiversity week runs until 28th May – for info on events around the country please check out  https://biodiversityweek.ie/

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