Members Reports and Photos
SATURDAY 11th OCTOBER 2014 DJOUCE WOODS
LEADER: MARY CARSON
We assembled in warm sunshine at the monument in the centre of a busy Enniskerry before driving five kilometres southwards to the lower car park at Long Hill in Djouce Woods, the starting point of our walk. The latter is now the only parking area in the woods, whereas formerly there were three points of access for cars.
The woodlands were once part of the Powerscourt Estate whose owner commissioned the construction of numerous roads and drives in the area in the 1830s. Some of these now form part of the forest tracks and trails. Mary reminded us that ponds, the water source for the Powerscourt fountains, were also constructed here and remained in situ until 1986 when the dam was destroyed by Hurricane Charlie. Nowadays the woodlands are managed by Coillte and are a popular recreation destination.
The outing consisted of a walk from the car park to the Dargle River. As we made our way downhill on a steep sided path towards the river in the valley, we were surrounded by dense stands of coniferous trees: Picea sitchensis (Sitka Spruce), Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir), Pinus contorta (Lodge Pole Pine) and Larix spp. (Larch).
Broadleaved trees such as Castanea sativa (Sweet Chestnut), Fagus spp. (Beech), Betula spp. (Birch) and Quercus spp. (Oak) occupied the less shaded areas on the edges of the coniferous forest. All bore heavy crops of fruit, a welcome harvest for the local wildlife. A member of our party was fortunate to spot a Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) gathering beech mast, a welcome sighting as this species of squirrel is now threatened with extinction in many areas of the country by its American cousin, the Grey Squirrel. (Sciurus carolinensis).
The bank edges and path margins were populated by Vaccinium myrtillus (Bilberry), Luzula sylvatica (Great Wood-rush), Calluna vulgaris (Heather), Erica cinerea (Bell Heather), Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove), Teucrium scorodonia, (Wood Sage), Oxalis acetosella (Wood-sorrel), Blechnum spicant (Hard Fern) and Rubus fruticosus agg. (Bramble). In addition, a nice area of tufa was seen on one area of bank. The more open areas were dominated by extensive growths of Pteridium aquilinum (Bracken).
We were hoping to see a wide range of fungi but, apart from a group of Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Inkcap), notable specimens were in short supply. However, their lack was more than compensated by finding numerous insects and, lurking in the undergrowth, the caterpillars of the Pale Tussock Moth (Calliteara pudibunda) and Fox Moth (Macrothylacia rubi). Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) butterflies were also much in evidence as they patrolled the woodland rides. The Dor beetle (Geotrupes stercorarius) is a member of the Scarab group and one of the dung beetles believed to have declined due to the use of anthelmintics in agriculture, although there is little knowledge of its Irish distribution. The Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus) has been seen as late as the 23rd of December - where does it spend Christmas? The outing ended shortly before the barrier to the car park was closed at 4.00 pm.
Forest Fungi DNFC Coprinus comatus
Fagus sp. Erica cinerea
Dor beetle Field Grasshopper
Pale Tussock moth Pale Tussock moth Fox moth
Luzula sylvatica Tufa deposit
Pteridium aquilinum Oxalis acetosella Ulex europaeus
Photographs and Report © P. Lenihan
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