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Sunday 31 August 2014

Wild about Wicklow

Published 12/03/2014 | 05:22

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TWO episodes of the new series of 'Living the Wildlife' currently showing on RTE were filmed in County Wicklow.

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Two episodes of the new series of 'Living the Wildlife' currently showing on RTE were filmed in County Wicklow.

The first episode of the much loved show – in which acclaimed wildlife cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson goes in search of some of Ireland's most elusive and spectacular creatures – went to air last night (Tuesday)

In that programme, Colin travelled to the Wicklow Mountains National Park in search of the Goosander, an ornate but rare species of fish-eating duck with a fine, serrated bill. The programme captured - for the first time in Ireland - footage of Goosanders nesting, a feat made all the more difficult by the fact that Goosanders (rare among ducks) opt to nest in trees. The bird is also extremely rare on these shores, having only first been recorded breeding in Ireland at a site in Wicklow in 1994.

Because they typically nest in tree cavities, Goosanders are extremely restricted in where they can breed, and so to help them along, Wicklow wildlife ranger Anne Fitzpatrick installed a number of special nesting boxes, in which Colin placed a video camera to capture the chick's first moments.

Even more remarkable, the chicks, having hatched from their eggs, must then fling themselves from the canopy into the river below in a spectacular leap of fate before making joining their parents.

The second episode - which will be aired this Tuesday - sees Colin return to County Wicklow, but this time in search of dragonflies and bees.

In next Tuesday night's episode, Colin will meet up with Angus Tynan, a man who over the last 15 years has cultivated a wildflower meadow and dragonfly-friendly pond to help both insects survive and flourish.

In the episode, Colin and Angus will show viewers how to identify the many exquisite species of dragonfly to be found in the Garden County. Among these - thanks to Angus' efforts - is the Emperor Dragonfly, a species believed absent from Ireland until it was confirmed breeding in his pond back in 2002.

Angus' daughter Zoe will also show Colin how to differentiate between the numerous honey bee species that have made a home out of their wildflower meadow, leading him to conclude that everyone can add wildlife to their garden if they strive to create the right conditions.

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