EVENTS

Members Reports and Photos

SATURDAY 29 March  2014            

LEADER: MAURICE EAKIN

GIRLEY BOG AND LOUGH SHESK, CO MEATH  

Girley Bog

Members came prepared, in wellies and raingear, for what looked like would be a wet day but the rain held off for what would prove a very informative and enjoyable outing. Maurice Eakin of the NPWS was our guide and he gave us a brief overview of the bog before setting out. It is 70-80% now owned by the NPWS and is a designated National Heritage Area. It is one of the few raised bog sites in Co Meath (the eastern extreme of raised bogs in the country) and comprises 100 hectares approximately. It is bounded on one side by an esker ridge, which held the water. Until about 50 years ago it was intensively cut for turf (though the turf was never considered high quality) and evidence of this is seen in disused face-banks and in the uneven and undulating cut-over side of the bog. Recently Coillte clearfelled 32 hectares of conifers, not to be replanted, which will allow water levels to rise and allow for sphagnum mosses to re-establish. Already water has risen by 70 cm. Part of the clearance project was that existing drains be dammed. The raised bog is clearly visible from the set-out point, dominating the rest of the bogland. A new loop walk (some of it a boardwalk) with interpretive signage, leads one through the bog and particularly through the raised bog area.

As we set out there was much evidence of Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry Laurel), which is believed to have been planted for ornamental purposes in times past, but is now invasive, and requires remedial action, though Birch, Oak and Holly and some Willow are growing back. We had the opportunity along the way to catch sight of a snipe and a small flock of goldfinch and hear the song of a goldcrest. However merlins (decreasing maybe due to the loss of the conifers), newts, tadpoles, lizards (indoors perhaps due to the overcast sky) were not detected.

The following mosses were identified as we made our way to the raised bog:

Ceratodon purpureus in dense tufts

Sphagnum cuspidatum abundant in pools and drains;

Campylopus introflexus in dense tussocks, an alien species introduced in the 1960s from North America;

Atrichum undulatum in loose tufts. This is a woodland moss, which shows that the area was at one stage woodland which will disappear as water rises;

Fumaria hygrometrica is indicative of burnt ground. Evidence of fire in the area from four years ago was extensive;

Polytrichum commune in tufts and Marchantia ruderalis (a liverwort).

On the raised bog we identified Calluna vulgaris(Common Heather),  Erica tetralix (Cross-leaved Heath), Eriophorum vaginatum (Bog Cotton), Andromeda polifolia (Bog Rosemary) in early flower, Cladonia portentosa (a lichen), Trichophorum cespitosum (Deer Grass) and Rhynchospora alba (White Beak-sedge).

The following mosses were identified: Sphagnum austinii, S. capillifolium, S. papillosum, S. tenellum, S. magellanicum, S. fuscum, Racomitrium lanuginosum, Leucobryum glaucum, S. subnitens, Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus, R. loreus, R. triquetrus. and Cladonia cristatella (a lichen) conspicuous with its bright red heads.           

Lough Shesk

Lough Shesk is an alkaline fen, an area waterlogged by calcareous water supply and with small variation in water levels, even more rare in Ireland than raised bogs. It is set in a post-glacial landscape, overtopped by a ridge not defined well enough to be an esker but more of a kettle landscape.

Here we identified Sphagnum palustre, Aulacomnium palustre (an invasive alien), S. contortum, Campylium stellatum which is usually found where thereís calcareous water and Climacium dendroides. We found to our delight an abundance of Pyrola rotundifolia (Round-leaved Wintergreen) in early leaf. Also in abundance was Succisa pratensis (Devilís-bit Scabious) but no evidence of Marsh Fritillary caterpillars. Cladium mariscus (Saw-sedge), Phragmites australis (Common Reed), Hydrocotyle vulgaris (Marsh Pennywort) were also evident.

Pat Lenihan, on behalf of DNFC, thanked Maurice Eakin for his very enthusiastic and most informative talks throughout the day.
Tom Miniter    

 

   

                Sphargnum austinii & capilllifolium                     S. subnitens                 Dicranum scoparium

     

          S. papillosum                     Andromeda polifolia                         S. fuscum

   

Campylopus introflexum        Marchantia polymorpha ruderalis               Cladonia portentosa

   

            Eriophorum vaginatum          E. vaginatum         Blocked drain

      

    Old oaktree               Embryonic Board Walk           Birch Woodland

 

Prunus laurocerasus                         P. laurocerasus

 

     Bog Road                                                     Lough Shesk

           

Pyrola rotundifolia

         Photos  ©  P Lenihan 

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