Big thank you from

The perfect time for a visit to the Dog's Leap in the Roe Valley

by Paul Cormacain

AFTER the brief mention of binoculars a few weeks ago, there have been other questions. And here are some answers.

If I am travelling abroad I tend to carry a miniature pair of binoculars strapped to my waist. They are very handy, very unobtrusive, and generally do not raise an eyebrow at airport security.

Depending on the destination, I would carry a normal-sized pair of binoculars, or a small telescope, or both, in the luggage. If travelling locally I would take binoculars, and if walking, carry them around the neck. If going to look at, for example, migratory waders, out would come the telescope.

The older type of scope has been superseded by newer, lightweight, smaller telescopes. These can be highly efficient and much more user-friendly.

I know some folk who use a Mighty Midget, as I myself do, and they all recommend this small powerful telescope.

Now for some information from the Department of the Environment, which I am delighted to pass on to you.

Roe Valley Country Park is a wonderful spot near Limavady, otherwise known as Dog's Leap, I was reliably informed by a Scot one day while in England. Regardless of the name, Roe Valley is now being visited by school groups, and this practice is highly welcomed by the Park.

All you parents, school children and teachers who read this column will be glad to hear the autumn is reckoned to the best time of year to visit the Valley.

The trees are changing colour, and if you can arrange to visit when the sun is shining, these colours look magnificent.

If you are not so clever, and go there when it is raining, the trees still look magnificent. But there may not be enough leaves to shelter you.

I remember watching leaves falling in Roe Valley, and was struck by the number of leaves in the air at any one time.

This gives rise to some interesting questions, which you could probably spend the rest of your life trying to answer.

How many leaves are there on a particular tree? When do they start falling? How many fall at a given time? How much more quickly do they fall if a gale is blowing?

When does the first leaf fall? When does the last leaf fall?

If you bring children to Roe Valley they will enjoy the falling leaves, and they will be encouraged to collect seeds to grow their own trees.

In this way they can make a big impact on our environment.

The Department is concerned that "the whole of Ireland has so few trees compared to other European countries".

We have all heard this before, wondered what to do about the scarcity of trees, then went home and promptly forget.

If our children forsee the possibility that they can do something about it, then perhaps our children will not go home and forget about it.

Perhaps they will plant some seeds this year. They will keep an eye on them. Perhaps they will plant some seeds next year. They will keep an eye on them. Perhaps they will plant again, and again, and change the country for themselves, and for their own children.

The Park provides a great opportunity for children to visit the country. They tend to be interested in wildlife, and they can get the tree seeds on the spot. They can watch birds, enjoy a mini-beast hunt, and see a badger set.

Well, I'm off. I think that a trip to Roe Valley Country Park, near the Dog's Leap, is called for.

Coming Events

Monday 27 October - Lisburn RSPB and visitors will hear about Archaeology of the Birds of Ireland, at 7.30 in Friends School. Details from 9260 1864

Thursday 30 October - Birdwatch Morning at Castle Espie, more from 9187 4146

Friday 31 October - Wildlife and spooky stickers at Castle Espie, details from 9187 4146

Sunday 2 November - Gorse Grappling, the Wildlife Trust calls it, and the Trust is looking for help in clearing Inishargy Bog, why not call Malachy Martin on 4483.

Ulster Star