Monday, February 7, 2022

Walk on the wild side. Harper's Island Wetlands

Walk on the wild side. 

Harper's Island Wetlands.

I was close to making my exit when I saw these four large white geese strolling on the mud. They stayed a while before flying off (below). Pictures taken w/e 2nd and 3rd Feb 2022.

Harper’s Island Wetlands

The wetlands, open everyday 9.00am to 4.30pm, are a relatively new visit in the Glounthaune area. The entrance, with a small car park, is on the old Cork-Waterford Road, on the left roughly halfway between Glounthaune Village and Bakestone, just beyond the railway station but before the Elm Tree Pub.

Once parked, you make your way over an ugly concrete bridge and soon you are walking  onto the island. To your right, you can see Glounthaune village, straight ahead is the Cork-Waterford dual carriageway (the N25 or the East Cork parkway - its more fancier name), but mostly, including to your left, you see the wetlands and the various bits and pieces of this part of the backwaters of the massive Cork harbour.

Then you reach the first of the hides, a solid timber structure with plenty of openings for visitors to see the various birds. There are another two hides in the map and other points from where you may get close-up views. But nothing’s guaranteed as regards the wildlife and I was about to depart when I spotted the four large white geese in the distance.

What is guaranteed is a good long walk. When you come to the end of the first path (good solid surface, works vehicles have to get around here too, though there is no traffic as such), there is a looped walk that brings you back to this point again. 

Plenty of scope here for sea birds to come and go. Quite a few "land" birds around as well!

Then you walk back to the car park with a view of houses on the slopes to the immediate north and you should be able to see too the house and farm where Killahora Orchards grow some of the earliest-ripening apples in Ireland and produce some very innovative products with their harvest.

If you are staying in the Clayton at Silversprings, Vienna Woods Hotel, Radisson Little Island, Fota Resort, Commodore Cobh or Midleton Park, the wetlands are just a short drive away. Please note that no dogs are allowed. More info here - be sure and check out the video there! If you want to stock up with some food before the walk, Fitzpatricks Foodstore is close at hand. After our walk, we headed for lunch to the nearby Bakestone Cafe, details here.

The island is bounded on the north by the railway, on the south by the motorway.

Handy map mounted at the start.

Killahora Orchards where  fruit trees thrive on the warm south facing slopes

The 2nd hide seen from the first; distances are short enough here.

The hides are generously equipped with openings to view the birds coming and going.
And plenty of illustrative posters as well

Glounthaune (on the left) with Cobh/Midleton to Cork railway immediatly on right.

Glounthaune village, with Fr Matthew Tower high in the trees

Catkins on the island

In the Bug Village

You might strike it lucky and see all these on one visit but I doubt it! Patience and Persistence required.

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