Members Reports and Photos
SUNDAY 25 MAY 2014
LEADER: MARGARET NORTON
Woodland and Shoreline Flora of the Blessington Lakes Area
select group of
members braved the unpromising weather on Sunday 4th May 2014 to explore
the shoreline and adjoining woodlands at Russelstown (N9610), located on the
west side of the Pollaphuca (Poulaphouca) Reservoir. The leader Margaret Norton
gave a short account of the formation of the reservoir as described in
Beneath the Poulaphuca Reservoir:
The 1939 Poulaphuca
Survey of the lands flooded by the Liffey Reservoir Scheme (Corlett, 2008).
Unfortunately the 1939 Poulaphuca Survey did not include any scientific
study of the flora, save for a single photograph of a water buttercup taken at
the request of Eoin MacNeill. However much of the flora is recorded in the
Flora of the County Wicklow (Brunker,1950) including records from the
Ballinahown Bog, an area now submerged under the reservoir.
The formation of the Pollaphuca Reservoir (also referred to as the
Blessington Lakes) in 1940 created a clearly defined geographical unit, bordered
on the west by gravel ridges and on the east by the Wicklow Mountains. The
meandering shoreline stretches for a distance of c.80km, the exact distance
varying with the fluctuating water level of the reservoir. The field trip
leader, who has botanised much of the shoreline and reservoir environs over the
past twenty years, was intent on convincing the members of the Dublin
Naturalistsí Field Club that the area deserves further investigation. The high
water level on this occasion meant that much of the pebble shore was submerged.
However the varied nature of the shoreline was clearly seen during the outing,
in particular from the viewing point where members paused for lunch.
Plants observed in the
area adjoining the carpark at Russelstown included the garden escapes
Meconopsis cambrica (Welsh poppy), Tellima grandiflora
(Fringe-cups), Polygonatum multiflorum (Solomonís-seal), Arum
italicum (Italian lords-and ladies) and Hyacinthoides non-scripta
x hispanica (Hybrid bluebell). Geum rivale (Water avens) was
also recorded, a species which is established at several other sites within the
vicinity of Russelstown.
The distinguishing features of Alnus
glutinosa (Common alder) and Alnus incana (Grey alder), both of
which grow at this location, were examined.
Further southwards along the shoreline, the
group encountered several species of Salix (Willow) including S.
cinerea (Sally), S. fragilis (Crack willow) and S. alba
(White willow). Several trees were identified as possible Salix
hybrids, to be re-examined later in the season.
The outing provided the
opportunity to revise the fern identification skills acquired during the recent
fern session at the Praeger Centre.
Species encountered in the vicinity of the
Pollaphuca Reservoir included Athyrium filix-femina (Lady fern),
Dryopteris dilatata, Dryopteris filix-mas and a member of the
Dryopteris affinis complex. Of particular interest was the occurrence of
Polystichum aculeatum, itís growth beside the more common P.
setiferum allowing the diagnostic features of the two species to be
compared. The outing also provided the opportunity to examine some common
grasses as a prelude to the forthcoming Praeger Centre session on grass
The outing was not limited to matters botanical! A small but active population of Wood White butterflies, expertly photographed by Pat Lenihan, joined the group as they Ďdined outí by the lakeside.
Only the Dublin Naturalistsí Field Club could provide such a pleasant interlude to a morningís fieldwork!
Lake Scene 1
Lake Scene 2 Lake Scene 3
Aegopodium podagraria Cryptic Wood White Arum italicum
Meconopsis cambrica Tellima grandiflora Chrysosplenium oppositifolium Geum rivale
Fallopia sachalinensis beneath Poulaphouca Reservoir Fallopia japonica
Salix alba Salix alba Salix fragilis
Polystichum aculeatum (above and below) Polygonaum multiflorum Polystichum aculeatum
Photographs © Pat Lenihan
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