Big thank you from

Summer, and the living is easy

by Paul Cormacain

THE good news from Lisburn RSPB is that the new outreach educational programme is now available in the Lisburn area, and schools. and youth organisations are invited to apply.

This involves an environment programme being taken to schools, after-school clubs, special needs groups and other organisations.

This scheme started last month, and already there is great interest in it, with preliminary results looking very good. The scheme involved artistic inspiration and craft activities, which means that young folk would love it.

The RSPB also tell me that you can -get a free guide to Birds in Your Garden, simply by sending for it. Just drop a note to RSPB, Admail 2068, Freepost; Belfast BT8 4GB. They will be happy to send you a copy.

Italy is a lovely country. The sun is shining here, and it still remains warm in the evening. We had some entertaining to do, so off we headed to Traguarda complete with bow tie and shorts.

Well, it looked different, but not out of place. The strange blend of formality and informality looked good, said he smugly, and the shorts were as much as one could wear, while the bow tie gave it a certain air which the Italians seemed to like.

The fact that my other two family members had' long flowing dresses probably helped, maybe they thought it was some strange Belfast fashion to have the women looking well and the man looking like nothing.

Nearby on the river a pair of swans slowly fed their way along. They felt safe there, with houses and flats stretched along the river with sometimes a suspicion of a small garden.

The river was overlooked by balconies, some small gardens and windows, there was no traffic. We may have been .an hour away from Venezio, but there was nary a gondola in sight.

This river was slow-moving, went through the middle of Padova, and for the most part ldoked green. There was no apparent rubbish in it, no tin cans or plastic bags that I could see.

The green growth did not seem to harm the swans who continued 'to drift. They may have been young, and will breed next year, but this year they had no domestic responsibilities.

At least three families of duckling were in the vicinity. They seemed to be thriving so I had to come to the conclusion that the water quality was good.

Butterflies flew along the banks, swifts screamed along the water surface, under the bridges, then high into the air.

Hooded crows and blackbirds, house sparrows and chaffinches, all lined the river at different times, all feeding quite happily. The water quality must have been good.

In the evening swirling house martins and swifts began to thin out. But then you noticed that other swirling creatures were taking over from them.

In many ways their flight was similar, and you had to look twice during the transitional period to be sure if you were looking at a bat or a bird.

Bats can be difficult to identify here. It usually involves taking measurements of hand and feet and legs. Which can be easy enough. But first you have to catch your bat!

The food here is magical and very healthy. The drink is magical, and one's drinking habits seem to change when over here. Must think about migrating.

Coming Events

Saturday 30 , Sunday 1 July - Sliagh Beagh Walking festival at Clogher, more from Peggy Reilly, 028 67751918 Mourne Mountain Walk, at 10.30. details from 028 4372 4059

JULY-. Every day in July, see the ducklings at Castle Espie, more from 028 9187 4146

Sunday 1 -July - Take a trip to Coney Island, rabbit island, and learn about the only inhabited island on Lough Neagh, at 2pm. Contact 028 3832 2205

Saturday 7 July - Butterfly Conservation and National Trust get together at Mountstewart.

Ulster Star