At this time of the year the most valuable thing in your garden is the bird table/feeder. At the moment the garden is alive with little and medium sized birds swooping in and enjoying the grub left out for them. I spend ages each day watching the antics that unfold. Especially the feisty robin trying to claim all the territory and grub for himself!
The Birdwatch Ireland Survey is still running. The link is as follows http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/OurWork/ResearchSurveys/GardenBirdSurvey/tabid/121/Default.aspx
There you can fill it out online or print out a sheet for whatever suits your needs. Get all the family involved.
If you are out for a walk, some of the hedgerows and trees are now bare of foliage, sometimes you can be lucky enough to see nests that were used during the spring and summer breeding season. Many of the small birds have neat rounded nests, whereas the crows, rooks and jackdaws have incredibly messy nests high up in trees.
Even more birds are visiting our wetlands and shores at this time of year. Duck, waders and swans are to be seen now, many drakes displaying magnificent plumage before the mating season starts. If you cannot get to the shore try the Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre in Tralee for an abundance in birdlife.
As Christmas approaches many of us bring the traditional foliage into our homes. The holly with the bright red berries (female one only) is often considered unlucky to bring indoors but I have always brought some in from the bush in my garden to put over the fireplace. I also bring in ivy, sometimes to the dismay of others as the odd spider gets brought in too! I have never found mistletoe yet, I understand it likes to piggy back on certain fruit trees like apple and lime or hawthorn and poplar too. Maybe a walk in the National Park in Killarney might help me see it in its natural habitat. The Park is featured in the Winter edition of Irish Wildlife Magazine.