Tuesday 21 November 2017

River serves up full Irish to young heron

Kevin Keane

A YOUNG heron had its first full Irish breakfast in two large gulps yesterday when it came across some discarded black and white pudding in Dublin's Dodder river.

The river, which runs through the busy Ballsbridge area, is a haven for wildlife in the middle of the city.

But urban life sometimes intrudes on the idyllic stretch of water, as was the case yesterday when the heron found the makings of a cooked breakfast in the shallows.

How the puddings, which were still in their wrappers, came to be there is a mystery, according to wildlife photographer Paul Hughes, who took these pictures.

"I was down there shooting the heron as he hunted for fish, then the next thing he went over to the pudding, which must have fallen into the water from the bridge above, and just swallowed them down whole, wrapper and all."

Mr Hughes has been shooting wildlife on the Dodder for more than seven years and believes Dubliners would be amazed if they knew the variety of animals living beside them.

"The Dodder is astonishing, up and down the river you have foxes, badgers and otters. It's rich with fish, there are herons, kingfishers and gold finches. All the time the animals are hunting, hiding and catching each other," he said.

"You can read so much in the books but when you spend the time down there it's extraordinary."

In his time taking photographs on the river the Donaghmede man has seen some unusual sights.

"I did a piece with the Irish Independent three years ago, which was a grey heron catching rats but the most unusual thing I've ever seen was a young fox who caught a rat and played with it for about 20 minutes.

"He threw it up in the air, caught it, tried to get the rat to run away again to hunt him. In the end though he ate him."

Irish Independent

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