While on retreat near Dollymount strand during October, I opened my window each evening. I wanted to listen to the sounds of the sea, the wind and the birds. No matter hard I strained my ears, I could no longer hear the call of the curlew. This plaintive sound had accompanied our daily life as Jesuit novices forty years ago. The curlew was our faithful companion on a lonely spiritual search. It is amazing that the number of breeding pairs could have declined so dramatically inside a bird sanctuary.
I have also been struck by the small numbers of bees, wasps and insects both inside and outside the house. While the sea-gulls, magpies and crows are numerous, the smaller birds, like sparrows, robins, blue-tits, thrushes, starlings, swifts and black-birds are far less numerous than before. At the same time some foxes and badgers have adapted to urban life. We never saw these when we were small. However the hedge-hogs have all but disappeared. (During quarantine in Co. Kildare in August, I rescued one large hedge-hog with a paper cup on its head from running around in circles).
In front of St. Anne’s park, I found a natural flower bed where the bees were busy. Inside the park, I followed a new trail for children. Along the trail, 15 indigenous trees had been planted with plaques to show the young people what Irish native species look like. I felt like I was being led by small steps in the right direction.