Blown over by Ophelia

This is the scene in the Phoenix Park in Dublin less than 24 hours after ex-Hurricane Ophelia had the whole of the island of Ireland on red alert. Along Chesterfield Avenue, the main road through the park, there are many branches and a few whole trees down. Here, in the Oldtown wood area, a small beech tree has fallen to the ground. It doesn’t look to me as though it will pose any danger to anyone where it lies, so it will be interesting to see what the authorities do when they come round to assess it. Nearby, a large Scots pine has lain unmoved for nearly two years, since it fell victim to Storm Frank in December 2015.

People regularly climb on this massive trunk and I’ve even seen dogs running along it. But it’s obviously been left to go through the same process of natural decay as it would do in a normal forest. A good way of increasing the biodiversity in the park.

Meanwhile the park’s resident herd of fallow deer are getting on with what matters to them most at this time of year, which is the rut. A hundred yards from the fallen tree a small group of hinds were hanging out with a single stag. 

The stags started moving over to this side of the park a few weeks ago. Once the stags have sorted out a harem for themselves and mated with the hinds as they come into season, they will up sticks and move back to the other side of the park. By Christmas the all-male bachelor herd will be reformed. At the moment, it’s a bit like a teenage disco as the lads strut about bellowing and locking horns with each other in an attempt to impress the ladeez. The ones who don’t get a date sit around in the long grass looking forlorn.

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