by Paul Cormacain
NORTH of Lisburn, near a spot called Buachail Mountain, I used to go roaming when a child. Not much of a mountain was Buachail you understand, not fit to get a mention in Best Mountains of the World, but it just reeks of a happy childhood.
More years ago than I care to remember my Uncle Billy told me it was a twin to Colin Mountain, west of Belfast.
His idea was that Colin was a 'girl' mountain, while Buachail was a 'boy' mountain, but he was unclear about how this came about.
Since I have never heard it mentioned again it seems to me this is an old story hidden in the mists of time, and probably only lingering on in some 'old' heads, like my own.
Anyone out there know anything about this story ? If so, perhaps you could let me know.
Uncle Billy used to catch trout with his hands in a local stream.
So of course, what did I do but catch trout with my hands in the same local stream. Mother was quite happy to cook them, but I had to Behead them and de-gut them first. This was fair enough, and it has to be said that fish never tasted nicer than when caught by the eater.
These thoughts ran through my head as I visited this stream last week and watched a dipper.
Today it was the dipper that was catching fish, as I was more happy to watch than work. This bird would not manage the mighty fish I used to catch so would have to move down-market and catch spricks or trout fry. As the trout are only starting to move up-river to spawn, there would be no fry in the river for at least another couple of months.
Every year I go and watch the trout move up-river. Taking up a good position on a disused road I can look down into a large pool into which a small waterfall drops.
It may only be a metre or so high, but it represents a serious obstacle to trout which would rarely exceed one lb. in weight.
It is so long since I weighed fish that they do not get their weights converted into metric.
The trout take an approach run and hurl themselves out of the water and if lucky will reach the top of the waterfall where the water is running very fast and strong.
They manage to inch their way, (what, more un-metric?) and eventually reach less strong water. Then away with them to the next obstacle.
Frequently the waterfall will prove too high and too strong for them. In that case, when they start to fall back they always fall into the path of the dropping water. Then they will try to actually swim up through the waterfall, but invariably will fall back.
Then they have to try again. Never mind that spider on Rathlin, think about the brave trout near Buachail.
I watched the dipper for a time. It would sit bobbing on a rock for a time then submerge and `walk' upriver under water, on the lookout for breakfast. It would not have caught any small fish in that stretch of water at that time, so it would have been on the lookout for insects.
It takes water beetles, water-boatmen, caddis larvae, dragonfly nymphs, worms and tadpoles. A great human diet if you wanted to lose weight.
If that bird was a parent this year the nest was under the bridge from where I watch the leaping trout. If it was just born this year, it was hatched in the self same nest. I visit every year to watch the dippers nest in spring, and watch the trout jump in the winter.
Too bad Uncle Billy is not around any longer, he could catch some trout for me.