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               Members Reports and Photos

 

saturday 23  aUGUST 2014                  

lough ouler, Co wicklow

LEADER: rosaleen fitzgerald

Upland Flora
Lough Ouler is a corrie lake located on the north east flank of Tonelagee Mountain and lies to the east of the R115 from the Sally Gap to Laragh. The outing was led by Rosaleen Fitzgerald and field club members met initially at the ‘Laragh Triangle’ before setting off north up the R115 and parking just above Glenmacnass Waterfall. Heavy black clouds were present in a partially blue and sunny sky, but never quite delivered the threatened inundation.

The first task was to cross the Glenmacnass River. Members choose a variety of stepping-stone routes, with some less arduous, and drier, than others. Once safely on the other side, the initial part of our climb was up a quite steep embankment dominated by Heather Calluna vulgaris in full flower, Purple Moor-grass Molinia caerulea, the Great Wood-rush Luzula sylvatica, Bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus and Tormentil Potentilla erecta underlain by Sphagnum and Polytrichum mosses.

Having climbed up the steep bank we were able to follow a well-trodden path up a more gentle slope, where we found Deergrass Trichophorum germanicum just beginning to adopt its winter hues; the short, wiry-leaved Heath Rush Juncus squarrosus, the one-sided spikes of Mat Grass Nardus stricta, the rose-pink Cross-leaved Heath Erica tetralix, the Carnation Sedge Carex panicea and the little blue Heath Milkwort Polygala serpyllifolia.

Further up, approaching the rim of the corrie, we found species that are better adapted to the harsher conditions of greater altitude: including two species of Cottongrass Eriophorum angustifolium and E. vaginatum, Wavy Hair-grass Deschampsia flexuosa, the black-fruited Crowberry Empetrum nigrum and the Fir Clubmoss Huperzia selago and the Pixie-cup Lichen Cladonia pyxidata both of which preferred the drier conditions of the sides of erosion channels in the peat.

The field club members enjoyed their lunch in bright sunshine, sheltered from the cool wind on the leeward side of quite sizeable peat “hags”. After lunch we descended the north-facing side of the corrie, where we found the Marsh Violet Viola palustris and the Common Butterwort Pinguicula vulgaris growing in the wetter seepage areas on the slope. Down on the bottom near the lake we also found the Common Yellow Sedge Carex demissa and the small Bulbous Rush Juncus bulbosus.

Some of the more energetic field club members scrambled up the cliffs and gullies on the western side of Lough Ouler to search for species that had been recorder in the area by J. P. Brunker in his Flora of County Wicklow, published in 1951. They were rewarded with finds of two rare species: the Alpine Lady’s-mantle Alchemilla alpina and the Starry Saxifrage Saxifraga stellaris.
On the way up, we found a black and orange banded caterpillar of the Fox Moth, whose larval food plants include Heather and Bilberry; and on the way back down we found a Peacock Butterfly, sheltering in a clump of Juncus, on the slope just above the car park. Everyone returned safely, if a little exhausted, from a very rewarding outing.

C. Shier

Lough Ouler

   

       Gullies, Tonelagee                                                           DNFC                             Secondary Gullies,Tonelagee

   

     Alchemilla alpina                                     A. alpina                                         Viola palustris  

  

Empetrum nigrum                                                               Saxifraga stellaris

     

         Sphagnum in fruit                                Fox moth caterpillar                         Juncus squarrosus

   Photographs ©  P. Lenihan

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