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Ballinrobe Robin on home turf


HOME TURF The five robin eggs in the nest at the top of the bag of turf some weeks ago.

Edwin McGreal

Anyone in the west of Ireland knows the draw of sitting in front of a warm turf fire on a cold, winter’s evening.
But for one mother robin in Ballinrobe, turf was an enticing home for her to build a nest and lay her eggs.
But she went for what she thought would be a safer environment than a fire – laying her eggs on top of a bag of turf in a shed outside the town.
Helen McHugh spotted the nest at her late brother Peter’s home and sent us in the pictures some weeks ago.
The five eggs since hatched and the robin chicks filled the shed with their songs, not knowing the peril they were putting themselves in.
A ‘do not disturb’ notice was put in the bag for fear anyone would come by and borrow a bag of turf and disturb mother robin’s offspring. It might be May but there’s still an odd day when the turf fire beckons.
All was well with the world until last week when mother robin’s innovative home proved to be fatal for her chicks.
Helen happened upon the bag of turf fallen on its side. There was no sign of the chicks and no sign of a perpetrator either.
But the local cat, Edna, is the chief suspect. The evidence, thus far, is circumstantial but locals are confident there is enough there to send a file to the DPP. The cat family have form for this kind of deed. Failing prosecution, the locals anticipate a guilty verdict at the local kangaroo court. It is expected the cat’s defence will focus on being illiterate and not being able to read the sign.
Poor mother robin, meanwhile, will have to find a safer site for her next nest.