EVENTS

               Members Reports and Photos

 

10 MAY 2014                   

knocksink woodlands

LEADER: richard kenny

Nature Walk

On a day heavy with cloud and with rain ever threatening, though never materialising, a very enjoyable walk through Knocksink Woodlands was had by those members ‘long in city pent’ and wanting to commune again with nature.

The walk was led by Richard Kenny who began by giving us a brief history of the Knocksink Woodlands area. It is set in a valley carved out by melting waters after the ice-age and through which the Glencullen River, a tributary of the Dargle, now flows. The valley was inhabited by early man throughout the stone and bronze ages, with evidence of a motte-and-bailey fortification from the early middle ages. Of more recent times it was part of the Powerscourt Estate after which it passed to Coillte who used it for tree production. It is now a special area of conservation.

The Woodlands comprises some 72 hectares and has a mixture of acid and alkaline soils, which allows for a diverse and varied plant life. There is a wide variety of trees in the wood, Sessile Oak, Hazel, Holly, Ash, Beech, Willow and Birch. However, in competition for light some of the Hazel and Ash have grown to great heights and being light and spindly are prone to falling. The woodland fauna includes badgers, red squirrels, and Sika deer, and is home to a wide variety of birds, including the dipper which, unfortunately, we did not manage to see on our walk. Richard explained that up to 70/80 lichens are to be found in the Woodlands.

The Glencullen River itself is one of the main attractions of the site falling precipitously into the valley, its rushing peat-brown waters a delight. From the slopes a number of petrified springs feed into it, their calcareous deposits evident on rocks and stones.
Our walk was a looped one along both sides of the river, crossing at the bridge at the upper end of the Woodlands. Much of the undergrowth comprises of brambles and the invasive Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry Laurel), perhaps planted for game cover, while the lower slopes were carpeted with Allium ursinum (Ramsons) and Allium triquetrum (Three-cornered Leek), which seemed to crowd out Hyacinthoides non-scriptus (Bluebell), though this latter was evident in pockets.

Some of the earlier flowering plants Ficaria verna (Lesser Celandine) and Oxalis acetosella (Wood-sorrel) were noticeable by an occasional straggling petal while the later flowering plants were making most of the light before the tree canopy closed in. Some of these were Geranium robertianum (Herb Robert), Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard), Stellaria holostea (Greater Stitchwort), Gallium odoratum (Woodruff), Sanicula europaea (Sanicle) and Ajuga reptans (Bugle).  

Other plants identified were Lysimachia nemorum (Yellow Pimpernel), though its flowers were closed due to the cloudy conditions, Vicia sepium (Bush Vetch), Ranunculus acris (Meadow Buttercup) with its deeply lobed leaves and Glechoma hederacea (Ground Ivy).  
The fern Polystichum setiferum (Soft Shield Fern) was much in evidence along the slopes, its identifying mark being the pinnule ‘thumb’ which lies parallel with the pinna midrib. Also very evident was Aspenium scolopendrium (Hart’s Tongue Fern) which likes calcareous woodland and lime-rich ground.

Other than the Green-veined White there were few butterflies or indeed bees or bumblebees to be seen as, no doubt, sensing bad weather they had wisely stayed indoors.   
After returning to the car-park Richard led us to a lower part of the Woodlands. Here the landscape changed with the ground completely carpeted with Luzula sylvatica (Greater Wood Rush) with none of the flowering plants seen on the earlier part of our walk now visible. The trees here were more dense, mostly Ash, Birch and Hazel. There were wonderful views of the river as it rushed onwards to meet the Dargle, its brown waters now menacingly dark from the foliage and clouds above it.

Thanks were expressed to Richard for the well-researched, informative and most enjoyable walk he had led us on.

      Tom Miniter

 

   

Glechoma hederacea                    Ajuga reptans                              Hyacinthoides non-scripta              

    Knocksink 

Sanicula europaea                     Geum urbanum                                     Galium odoratum                                 Viola riviniana

   

Woodland  Pool                                                 Woodland                                                             Tufa on rock

  Knocksink     

Allium ursinum                                 A. ursinum                                         A. ursinum                         A. triquetrum

    Knocksink

A. petiolata                                                 Participants                                 Fagus sylvatica

   

Equisetum telmateia                             Polystichum setiferum                                                P. setiferum     

   Photographs © Pat Lenihan

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