EVENTS

               Members Reports and Photos

 

SUNDAY 31 MAY 2014                   

IRISHTOWN PARK

LEADER: DAVID NASH

General Natural History

On the last day of May and in glorious sunshine David Nash led a large group of members on this outing that started from the Beach Road entrance to Sean Moore Park, originating in land reclaimed from the sea in the early 1900s, along the pathway to Irishtown Park. He was reminded of  characteristic smells in Dublin when he was a student - a ‘Knackers Yard’ where glue was extracted at Ringsend, the pleasant odour from the Guinness Brewery’s malting of barley, the malodour from the  Irishtown Muncipal Dump and more recently the (ob)noxious smell from the Ringsend Sewage Treatment Plant before its capacity had been increased. Much of this area is still derelict including the grossly overvalued Glass Bottle site. Many plants were introduced to the area from the days when Dublin Port saw cargo ships dock there from around the world and others were garden escapes which were dumped.  

There was much to be seen around the entrance itself including Sisymbrium officinale (Hedge Mustard), and Hirschfeldia incana (Hoary Mustard), which members spent some time noting their differences both having elongated pods adpressed to flowering stem. A third crucifer Rapistrum rugosum (Annual Bastard Cabbage) proved to be the most common and is distinguished by its small round pods containing one seed only. Crepis vesicaria (Beaked Hawksbeard), Hordeum murinum (Wall Barley), a plant specific to Dublin, Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort), Smyrnium olusatrum  (Alexanders), Lavatera arborea (Tree Mallow) and Sonchus oleraceus (Smooth Sow-thistle) were also identified. A number of ladybirds were found here including the very common seven-spot, two-spot (clearly smaller than the seven-spot), a ten-spot and a single 22-spot. Bombus lapidarius (Red-tailed bumblebee) was also seen among the profusion of flower-heads. The small Bombus pratorum (early Bumblebee) was also identified.

As we proceeded on our walk Leymus arenarius (Lyme Grass) was in full flower  with anthers hanging out waiting to be wind-borne to fertilize female florets on other  plants. The stoloniferous root system of the plant ensures continuous sand-binding. Beta maritima (Sea Beet), Cakile maritima (Sea Rocket) in white flower, though they can be pink, Conium maculatum (Hemlock) its purple spotted stems and fine feathery leaves making it conspicuous, Fumaria cf muralis (Fumitory), Geranium pyrenaicum (Hedgerow Cranesbill) its flowers in pink profusion, Rumex crispus (Curled Dock) its leaves distinguished by their wavy margins, Chenopodium album (Fat Hen) which likes well-drained ground and Papaver lecoqii (Babington’s Poppy) whose latex turns yellow on exposure to air, were all identified. On the sea shore Honckenya peploides (Sea Sandwort) crept amidst the shingle.

A number of grasses were identified as we walked, Lolium perenne (Perennial Ryegrass) its flowers not yet open, Poa trivialis (Rough-stalked Meadow-grass) which copes well with the polluted atmosphere of cities, Arrhenatherum elatius (False Oat grass) a native plant, Bromus /Anisantha sterilis (Sterile Brome), Bromus hordeaceus (Soft Brome) and Elytrigia atherica (Sea Couch).

To the leeward side of the promontory early growths of Dipsacus fullonum (Teasel) were much in evidence, the dead stems and flower-heads of last year still persisting.  Fallopia japonica (Japanese Knotweed) an invasive species though seemingly contained in this setting and Phormium tenax (New Zealand Flax) not yet in flower, were also to this side.

As we continued making our way towards the Power Station we were delighted to see Medicagi sativa (Lucerne) in flower in short violet spikes and also Melilotus officinalis (Ribbed Melilot) in stalked yellow spikes. We also had the opportunity to see Lamium purpureum (Red Dead-Nettle), Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel) not yet in flower but its feathery pungent leaves distinctive, Centranthus ruber (Red Valerian) in its three colours of red, pink and white and Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard).

While butterflies were not in abundance on the day we did spot a male Orange-tipped, some Common Blues, a Speckled Wood, some Green-veined Whites, Small Whites almost milk-white in colourb when examined when netted, a female Large White (identified by her black spots) and numerous Wall Browns.

At one point we walked along the top of the ridge that runs parallel to the walkway we were delighted to discover a number of Ophrys apifera (Bee Orchid) on the sloping ridge, almost imperceptible to the casual eye.  

We lunched at a piece of waste ground, formerly a coal repository, to the landward side of the ridge where Trifolium dubium (Lesser Trefoil), Trifolium campestre (Hop Trefoil) and Medicago lupulina (Black Medick) were all in flower in close proximity to one another and the pale blue flowers of Linum bienne (Pale Flax) setting off the yellow heads of the former. Listera ovata (Common Twayblade) was also seen here.

Back on the main path and nearing the Power Station we identified Reseda luteola (Weld) its spikes of yellow-green flowers just coming into bloom, Rhinanthus minor (Yellow Rattle),  (Bird’s-foot Trefoil) and Silene uniflora (Bladder Campion). On a dense clump of nettles the caterpillars of Small Tortoiseshells were in abundance, though probably a prey to wasps and birds. Down by the shoreline a nest of Bombus pascuorum (Common Carder Bee) was discovered, which had been destroyed by a badger, most probably. A few forlorn looking bees still haunted its bereft interior. 

It was interesting to discover that Pigeon House Road takes its name from a John Pigeon (and not from our feathered friend). John Pigeon became resident supervisor and caretaker of the block house / store built with the construction of the South Wall in in 1761. Mr Pigeon maintained a restaurant (later converted to a hotel) to cater for the needs of travellers and sea merchants between Ireland and England. The hotel building is still extant, though no longer in such use.  

Members expressed their thanks to David for sharing his extensive knowledge in a very enjoyable and educational way, the above report only giving a flavour of all that that was seen and discussed on the day.

  Tom Miniter

     

Sisymbrium officinale    

       

Hirschfeldia incana

  

Rapistrum rugosum

            

Cakile maritima                   Artemisia maritimum             Ophrys apifera

  

Conium maculatum

                

Lavatera arborea                              Hordeum murinum                                           x2   Medicago sativa    

          

Vicia sativa                  Leymus arenarius         Geranium pyrenaicum

    

                   x2  Melilotus officinalis    

        

Green-veined White (f)                              Smokey Wainscot          Wall Brown

  

2-spot Ladybird                                                  10-spot Ladybird 

   Photographs © Pat Lenihan & D Nash

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