Tuesday, 24th April 2018
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

"Look at me! I’m a Kestrel."

Isn’t nature a wonderful thing? In many ways, a metaphor of our lives. Just when you think you have figured it out, it well and truly turns around and bites you on the backside. There was I and probably thousands of others, thinking that Spring had sprung last week. Then, I put on my new, thinner Lycra to pedal a few more hundred kilometres around our stunning county and suddenly there’s another cold, windy spell of "Unseasonable" weather. Just when will the doubt end?

When will we see a return to the better conditions, which define the Sunny South East?

Whilst out cycling last weekend, I noticed dozens of farmers’ 4x4s, pulling trailers, horse boxes and all manner of load bearing platforms, collecting much needed silage or fodder, for hungry animals, which have been stuck indoors for weeks and months. Judging by the lochs and lakes of water collecting in the fields, it will be sometime before any of these beasties are released out into pastures of green and lush grass. It will take an almighty spell of sunny, hot, dry weather, to get our farmers calendars back on track.

The biting cold wind, of Eastern origin, also returned, making the business of keeping our houses warm, difficult once again. There was many a Dad, having to go out to the shed to bring back the very briquettes, that he had so carefully put away for next Winter. We didn’t expect to be stoking our fires, on the first weekend in April.

Amongst all of this climatic doom and gloom, I spotted a member of the crow family, up near Carrick, probably a Jackdaw (though I am no ornithologist or a twitcher, I have been known to glance at the odd bird or two!). Anyway, this Jackdaw, we’ll call him John, was trying very hard to fly against a stiff Easterly wind. His mates were all perched on a telegraph wire below, beaks pressed directly into the wind, to minimise the chances of being blown over. I could just imagine the conversation.

"Look at me!" John the jackdaw shouted. "I’m a Kestrel! I am hovering." Then all the other Jackdaws, sitting on the wire, looked up and shouted back, "No you’re not, you’re a bloody Jackdaw, nothing more or nothing less!" We come across many people in life who try to convince us they are something they are not. They mimic the mannerisms, the traits of others, in the hope that we can be deceived. Maybe the people representing us are trying to be Kestrels, when in reality they are Jackdaws?

On a brighter note, I also spotted my very first Swallow of the year, showing off some stunning moves and aerial acrobatics, alongside the GAA fields in Portlaw. Some say, "One Swallow does not make a Summer." Well this poor chap certainly took the wrong, cheap-as-chips, Rhino-air flight to Ireland. I swear that he was trying to fly in a wee, woolly, bobble hat and scarf. He must have been freezing cold. After weeks of non-stop travelling, to the Promised Land, his forecaster came up short. He was sold a pup! Despite the rhetoric and supporting documentation in the glossy brochure, there was to be no milk and honey when HE arrived.

Otters are as rare as hen’s teeth and seeing one in the flesh is a very exceptional and infrequent occurrence. Yet, on Friday last, just outside the Tower Hotel, whilst with a group from Waterford Camino Tours and near the Formby and Coningbeg memorial, we saw a big one, hunting for his dinner. He was over three and a half feet long. Not troubled by the crowd who had gathered to watch him chase his fish supper. Whilst observing this majestic animal, he managed to catch not one but two small fish from the muddy tidal flats!

I have only seen a handful of otters in my entire 52 years on this planet, a bit like recounting what game-changing projects have actually been delivered by Government for Waterford - very few over the past number of years! Their infrequency is perhaps what gets us a wee bit over excited.

So there you have it. Nature – a metaphor for life!

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