This blog was a birthday present from my daughter Lucy – what a present! She had previously kindly allowed me to piggyback on her cool blog http://thegrownetwork.blogspot.ie/ and painstakingly transferred all my old posts over. Then, with the help of her brother Colin they came up with the name – I like it. This time last year I was in the middle of my chemo treatment. I remember saying to Lucy that all I wanted was to be back walking the canal come summer recording butterflies – I don’t have a bucket list. I had my operation in the first week of March and by the first week of April I had extended my walks to the full length of my Royal Canal transect, just in time for the new season – it’s good to have a target.

I’m still learning the basics of WordPress and am going to have fun over the winter digging up some old material. But meanwhile there’s plenty going on even at this time of year what with bird surveys, evening events and energy activities not to mention the Comma article. As of now this is the structure.

The first section BUTTERFLY ADVENTURES covers various field trips including some organised by Butterfly Conservation Ireland and Biodiversity Ireland. ‘Butterfly Projects’ includes ‘Comma Expansion’ which hopefully will produce that article (with three co-authors) and is examining the amazing expansion of the Comma butterfly up four river corridors. This is linked to my many walks on ‘The Barrow Way’ (mostly in Kildare) and in my other project ‘Trainspotting’ I plan to visit various butterfly locations around the country by train and hopefully meet some local enthusiasts along the way (this will take a few years). I have two transects in the Irish Butterfly Monitoring Scheme which is a great example of citizen science and I will monitor them in ‘Recordings’. ‘Foreign Affairs’ (with a nod to Tom Waits) will cover some of my foreign trips; a country like Italy has over 200 species of butterfly compared to our 30 plus, so identification is a challenge. Nevertheless, I would like to go butterfly spotting in an Alpine summer meadow, preferably in Italy – is that a target or a bucket list?

Under GARDEN DELIGHTS the main category is ‘Biodiversity Garden’; this includes ‘My Butterfly Garden’, ‘Garden Bird Survey’ and ‘Other Garden Wildlife’ – the first two are self-explanatory (more recordings) and the latter will cover all other wildlife that comes into my garden such as moths, dragonflies, damselflies, frogs … My ‘Edible Garden’ these days is mostly fruit (over 20 types) with most of the vegetables (and willow) now being grown on our ‘Stacumny Allotment’.

The WILD AFFAIRS section covers my non-butterfly related wildlife activities with the likes of ‘Birdwatch Kildare’ and ‘Kildare Bat Group’ as well as various outings that don’t have a specific focus in ‘Eco Trails’.

As my area of professional interest is sustainable energy there had to be a section on this (LOW CARBON HOUSE). I focus on the transformation of my house in ‘Low Carbon Home Renovation’ and there is a specific category dealing with my ‘Photovoltaic System’.

Pat Bell, December 2015.



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