I’m just in the door from my morning walk. As I walked along the road a familiar sight greeted me. Familiar, but I haven’t seen it since last June. The cuckoo. It’s a surprisingly big bird, and resembles a sparrow hawk in colour and shape, but its looping flight and unmistakeable call is the first real sign that Summer is here. It calls for barely a month. Its visit is fleeting. It comes all the way to Coore in West Clare from West Africa to call, mate and lay eggs. It then returns to West Africa. It is one of the last Summer migrants to arrive, and must be the first to leave, given that it subcontracts its child rearing to all the tiny warblers and pipits that live in the boggy land surrounding my home and studio.
It was just lovely to walk along the road with the cuckoo looping along in front of me, flying from perch to perch, calling like mad. It is a haunting call that takes me back to childhood summers lying on the grass, surrounded by daisies and listening to bumblebees and cuckoos. Cuckoos and bumblebees are both desperately in decline. In the case of bees, it is becoming clear this is due to habitat loss, a determination by farmers and gardeners to eliminate weeds and the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. The Bumblebee researchers at Biodiversity Ireland and the Irish Wildlife Trust are urging gardeners not to kill dandelions – often the first plentiful food source for bees in the Spring. In celebration of this I took this picture this morning of a dandelion proudly growing slap bang in the middle of my road. Dandelions are seriously tough, but their value as a food source is huge.
As for the decline in numbers of cuckoos, habitat loss is definitely a factor, with the loss of nesting sites for their host species in the bog lands and moors of Western Ireland. Burning of bogs in April and May destroys the nests of their hosts and the cuckoo eggs, eradicating a whole generation of cuckoos and other baby birds. But given that the majority of the cuckoos’ life cycle is spent on the wing and in Africa, there are no doubt other causes in these countries too. Take a look at this website for some fascinating insights into the routes taken by these unique birds.
OK, I hear you say. Enough about your wildlife. What about the bags? Well, I’m sewing away. I’m enjoying the fabrics I’ve recently sourced, like Funky Slate, the Paisleys and the French fabrics like Pink Leaf and Camellia. I’m attending a large Craft Festival in Dun Laoghaire at the Marine Hotel on Sunday May 22nd, so I want to have lots of choices for the people of South Dublin on my first visit to the Big City! It’ll be my first time at this event, so I’m really looking forward to my trip East. It’ll be a test of my navigational skills, having never been to Dun Laoghaire before.
I’ve also had some AMAZING news! I have been selected to be one of three Irish craft businesses from the western counties to attend a music festival in Sweden in early August. The festival is called the urkult Festival and it celebrates the return of the darkness to the forests and lakes of this area of northern Europe as the period of 24 hour daylight comes to an end. The festival has music, arts, crafts and a very strong green ethos. There is a Night of Fire which sounds completely breathtaking. It is a part of the world I have never visited before, so I am hugely excited. My bags will fit right in with their strong element of recycling, longevity and environmentally conscious acrylic coatings.
This Messenger Bag and its companions will be looking forward to travelling across Ireland and beyond this Summer. Here’s to sunshine and safe travels.
PS I’m in Chapel Lane Market in Ennis the next few Saturdays 7th, 14th and 21st May!