Butterfly Sanctuary at Aughinish
This disused quarry is Ireland’s first sanctuary for butterflies with a habitat management programme specifically for the benefit of our native butterflies. It has a carpet of bird’s foot trefoil and kidney vetch. These are the food plants of the Dingy Skipper and Small Blue butterflies. Bee orchids are common here while ravens nest on the cliff ledges. NB No catching butterflies here
This habitat has areas where the grass is kept short to attract various thrushes and wintering curlew and this habitat is now rare in Ireland. Grasses, herbs and wild flowers grow in abundance giving a colorful display during the summer. The constant singing of the Skylark can be heard along with the Meadow Pipits and Cuckoo. Small heath butterflies can also be found.
Walk along the River Shannon Castleconnell
Along the banks here you can discover wild flowers, feed the Mallard ducks and Greylag geese. There are places to go fishing. From the car park walk along the river or head into the town and turn left at the T-junction and soon you will see the woods, continue along this route at Charco’s Pub turn a sharp left bringing you back along the river. This walk is suitable for a buggy. Look out for kingfishers as this is one of the best places to see one in Limerick.
Situated between Condell Road and North Circular Road Limerick City, the Westfield Wetlands is a great place to go. Signposts tell you about the birds and insects you can find in the sanctuary.
There is a viewing area to look out on the wetlands. Don’t forget to bring bread to feed the ducks and swans although I think they must be the best fed birds in Ireland!
You may also see swans and cygnets in the springtime.
Ballylanders Wildlife Bog
Ballylanders Wildlife Bog is situated at Griston Bog on the west side of Ballylanders village. It is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, bees and insects and different types of water life, some of which are now in danger of extinction in many parts of the world.
To facilitate easy viewing of the park, a special wooden walkway has been put in place which visitors can use as they guide themselves through the peatland with the help of the informative interpretative boards.
Things to bring with you on a nature walk
- Baby wipes – after all it is a nature walk and they are going to get their hands dirty – searching and digging with loads of touching and feeling
- Snacks and drinks – to keep their energy level going
- Wellingtons – all kids want to walk into puddles or streams and maybe a towel
- Raingear, gloves and hats, change of clothes or even suncream
- Bags/buckets for bringing home their treasures.
- Magnifying glass to examine the bugs, insects, leaves
- Fish net for ponds or catching butterflies (where appropriate)
- A nature book / bird book /insect book for the parents to answer those all important questions and to help with identifying! Here are 5 great Nature Books for Kids.
- A notebook to record what you cannot identify to check out at home
More Nature Ideas
- Treasure Hunt – this can be varied each time – make up a list of items to find, e.g. how many different leaves, rocks, fungi, insects, how many red items. Or download our free Nature Scavenger Hunt sheet.
- Leaf or bark rubbings
- Collect leaves and make a collage
- Collect items for a nature table
- Collect conkers make a hole through the centre thread a string through it for conker fights
- Collect pinecones and dry them out by the heat for instant Christmas decorations
- Find out how how old a tree is
- Find some wild flowers (that are not protected) and press them between kitchen paper and some heavy books to preserve them or make cards and pictures with
- Measure the height of a tree
- Heritage Ireland has a lovely download “Wild Things at School” which covers local plants, animals and insects with games to play and interesting facts for kids.