Flora & Fauna
The bedrock of Old Red Sandstone has a significant influence on the flora and subsequently the fauna of Bonane. The Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current that washes across the Atlantic from the Gulf of Mexico, extends a warm moist influence to our climate.
When examining the flora of an area the main influences are going to be Bedrock, Sunshine, Temperature and Rainfall
Sunshine: Records would indicate that we have at least some sunshine for 290 days during each year
Temperature: The annual average air temperature is 10.5 C. The temperatures usually vary between 6.6 C and 15 C
Rainfall: While many visitors would say that rainfall is our most memorable climatic feature, there is much local variation with the summit of the Caha mountain receiving something in the region of 3,400 millimetres annually and the parish floor receiving 1,700 millimetres of rainfall.
The above climatic conditions combine to give Bonane a unique floral carpet.
Much of our hills are covered with blanket bog that can be up to two metres deep in places. The wetter areas of the blanket bogs are covered in Sphagnum Mosses, these mosses can be recognised by their lush green colour and you would be ill advised to walk in these areas.
In the drier hillsides you will find heathers, the three main types are ling heather, bell heather and the cross-leaved heather. The heather gives the mountains a purple hue on an autumn evening. Also the drier sections of the hillside can sometimes be covered with bilberry, this low growing shrub produce an edible fruit in Autumn.
The moderately wet areas of the hillside are covered with a mixture of rushes, deergrass and bog cotton.
The hills are usually low in nutrients and nature has given rise to a variety of plant which traps and digests insects to supplement their meagre diet on the hillside. The Butterworth is our most striking of insectivorous plants with its yellow-green leaves which secrete insect dissolving enzymes and it’s attractive purple flower.
There is an abundance of fern’s, lichen and gorse. Our hills also support a number of orchid varieties.
The common trees in the valley are oak, birch, ash, mountain ash, sally and alder.
Along our streams, rivers and ditches we can boast all the common varieties of flowers, buttercup, bluebell, daisy, herbrobert, louseworth, speedwell, and forget-me-not.
Bonane is home to some of the “Lusitanian” family of plants. The most abundant species of the “Lusitanian” family are the Irish spurge (bainne caoine) with its bright yellow green tufts and its habit of excreting a milky substance when the stem is broken. The second species is the saxifrage, this plant prefers shaded walls and ditches and provides a dramatic display of reddish/white flowers along the roadside. The fuchsia another introduced species colour our hedgerows with red pendulous flowers from May to August.
The raven and common crow are numerous along the valley while the Grey Crow has earned himself a bad reputation with the farmers, occasionally attacking young lambs in the fields.
Our rarest crow is the Chough, their most distinguishing characteristic is their reddish / orange legs.
The woodcock and pheasant are birds of the gorse and briar while the snipe prefers the wetlands.
Our rarest bird is the red grouse and there are still small pockets of grouse in the hills around Bonane
The heron is a regular sight along our streams and we have healthy populations of finches, tits, siskins, wagtails, robins, thrushes, woodpigeons and blackbirds.
The white tailed sea eagle can once again be observed in Bonane following a re-introduction programme in south Kerry.
The largest wild mammal to be found in Bonane is the Sika deer, they were introduced to Killarney in 1865 from Wicklow.
Our most widespread mammal is the fox, they can be found in all areas and are usually opportunist feeders but will attack lambs and poultry when hungry cubs are to be fed.
Badgers are less often seen, primarily because they are nocturnal creatures. Their diet consists of earthworms, fruit, carrion and small invertebrates.
Our newest naturalised mammal is the mink, originally introduced in 1951 from North America for fur breeding they escaped and are now widespread all over Kerry.
Our scarcest mammal is the otter, they are nocturnal and very wary of intruders in their domain. You will sometimes see their droppings along the rivers and this is the more usual evidence of their presence.
The rabbit was introduced to our shores by the Normans between 1274 and 1301, they are now probably our most abundant mammal.
Our smallest mammal is the pygmy shrew, their diet consists primarily of insects and because of their small size they must eat continuously, if they are deprived of food for more than a few hours they would die.
The frog, while a threatened species in parts of Ireland, we are fortunate to have an abundance of the amphibians and from February onward you will find frogspawn in most wet areas.
On hot summers days you may be fortunate enough to see our only native reptile, the viviparous lizard. Being cold-blooded they usually start their day by basking in the early morning sun.
Another unique resident in the parish is the Kerry Spotted Slug, they can vary in colour but are usually beige in colour with dark brown spots.