Saturday, June 9, 2012

Great Sugar Loaf, Fancy.

Climbed 2 Wicklow peaks today, the Great Sugar Loaf and Fancy mountain (Luggala).
Both pretty easy and I say that as someone who is as far away from a mountain goat as you can get.
From carpark to the top of the Great Sugar Loaf it only took about half an hour and that was me stopping, looking, taking pics etc.
Lots of Skylarks and Meadow pipits and one Wheatear, no raptors that I saw.

The Great Sugar Loaf, view from the carpark

horses on the Great Sugar loaf

The last third of the climb is all stone underfoot, memories of a film we watched last week, Picnic at Hanging Rock, I didn't find any Time warps though.

Magnificent views of the Wicklow and Dublin mountains. The white building in the middle of the photo is Powerscourt estate.

Looking towards Wicklow head from the top of the Great Sugar loaf

Looking towards Dalkey and Howth head in the distance.

The N11 going through the Glen of the Downs, the splodge of water you can see up further is actually Kilcoole. I could see the caravans from the mountain, so gave Niall a call. Still no Terns nesting yet, but they seem to be going through the motions and should lay again, hopefully this week.

Once back down and still with energy for the day, I decided I'd try climbing to the top of Fancy mountain.

I've walked around the bottom of this area quite a bit, seen an Irish Hare, heard a Red Grouse and a few years ago saw a Peregrine here - taking a Skylark in flight.

The climb up Fancy was incredibly boggy, I guess the rain during the week added to the bog pools.
It was slow going, but I was in no rush.
No raptors again, but plenty of Skylarks at the bottom and Meadow pipits at the top.

The top of Fancy mountain is the peak on the left. Knocknacloghoge in the middle and (I think) the Scarr to the right.

I didn't hear or see any Red Grouse but I saw quite a few of their droppings. All these photos were taken with my small point and shoot so you can't see the detail of the white tip to the dropping in the foreground, this is diagnostic of Red Grouse - for a full explanation as to why, ask Sinéad Cummins next time you see her.

A non fancy way of marking the top of Fancy Mountain (Luggala)

View of Lough Dan from the top of Fancy mountain. Meadow pipits were going gung ho around here, display flights, landing on rocks, calling, more display flights. It was silent apart from the Meadow pipits, beautiful. I was quite glad I didn't see a Peregrine or a Merlin around.

Breathtaking, the view of Lough Tay from the other side of Fancy mountain. You could see the the Arklow wind farm from here and basically you could see for miles. I stayed up here for about an hour and had the place all to myself. Well, me, the midges, the ants, the butterflies, the beetles and the spiders.

The views of Wicklow and Dublin today were amazing rewards for relatively easy climbs.
I mention it a lot, but I don't want to take for granted, the ease in reaching these places from Drimnagh, well so long as you've got a car, is incredible.
I was at the Sugar loaf in less than 30 mins from home (via M50/N11), I can be at the Sally Gap in 40 mins (going N81 way), the coast is 30 mins and the woodland and acres of Phoenix park is 10.
It's what I love about Dublin, you can set off and within 40 mins you can be coastal, woodland, farmland, bogland, moorland, fresh water, canals, rivers, lakes, anywhere you liked, often the hardest bit of the day is choosing where to go!

I didn't want to say anything until Niall had, but for those who don't already know, there was a full on tragedy at the Kilcoole Little Tern colony last Sunday. A 4.2m high tide combined with strong Easterly gales resulted in the tide repeatedly crashing onto the shore and taking with it most of the Little Tern eggs. The 6 nests which were spared were eaten by Hooded Crows, scavenging the washed up seaweed.
So the 85 nests dropped to 0 nests and 0 eggs within an hour.
For a full report you can read Niall's blog here Kilcoole Little Tern blog.