Despite the very wet and unsettled weather, the signs of Spring are visible throughout the Mulkear catchment. Overall it has been an extremely mild winter with only very limited periods of prolonged cold.
While the land is still super-sutured grass growth has continued almost without interruption and now plant growth is taking life. Signs of new life abound. Trees along rivers in catchment are budding new shoots and many are in the early stages of leaf.
As we enter the first week of March 2014, the Lower Shannon is experiencing a massive spring tide and the Mulkear catchment is experiencing some welcome sunshine. Spring is an extremely busy time for a great many throughout the Mulkear catchment. Farmers involved with MulkearLIFE are busy calving, while others in the upper catchment are busy lambing. Given the level of rainfall over the eight weeks, many cattle are still indoors as the land is simply too wet to take them. It is hoped with a good dry spell cattle will be out of their winter housing within a matter of weeks.
Birds and wildlife are busy with young. Birds are busy searching for mates, food and nest materials. Along rivers and riverbanks dippers, grey wagtails and kingfishers are equally busy.
Unfortunately, the mild weather has also greatly assisted the early emergence of non-native invasive plant species.
It is expected that work on non-native invasives will recommence within the next two weeks. This will be spearheaded by Limerick County Council and the Office of Works.
In the coming months, normal or near normal spring and summer rainfall levels, and corresponding normal or near normal waters levels in the Mulkear River and tributaries will be key to MulkearLIFE achieving its objectives this year, the final year of operation of the project.
Deer at dawn (Image: Clodagh Blake)