Members Reports and Photos
Federation of irish field clubs meeting in co Wexford, 24-27 May 2015 - Summary Report
On Sunday afternoon the participants from different parts of the country travelled to Wexford and, after settling comfortably into White’s Hotel, tucked in to the first of three hearty dinners. Following the meal we enjoyed a very informative walking tour of historic Wexford Town, led by Alan McGuire and Chris Wilson from the Wexford Naturalists’ Field Club.
Monday dawned bright and dry and we travelled the short distance to the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, where Michael O’Donnell had set out a number of moth traps the previous night. The stars of the show were the large Poplar Hawk-moth and the colourful Elephant Hawk-moth. Following the release of the moths we walked through the reclaimed grasslands and canals of the Slob to the Pump House, where Dominic Berridge, NPWS gave an illustrated talk on the development of the North Slob, and its importance as an over-wintering location for migrant wildfowl.
After lunch Chris Wilson led
the group on a ‘butterfly trail’ through The Raven Nature Reserve. Inevitably,
such a large group became broken up into a number of grouplets that could be
found scattered around the ponds; in the woods; down in the dune slacks or
enjoying the beach. Butterflies on the wing at the Raven included the Small
White, Cryptic Wood White, Green-veined White and a myriad of Common Blues.
Of more interest to the botanists were the rare Round-leaved Wintergreen (Pyrola rotundifolia ssp. maritima), Wild Pansy (Viola tricolor ssp. curtisii) and the vivid yellow-flowered Evening Primrose (Oenothera sp.). The Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus), which is not reported north of Dublin, was found close to one of the the ponds, and the Hairy Shieldbug (Dolycoris baccarum) and the Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina) elsewhere. The well-stripped pine cones provided plenty of evidence of the presence of Red Squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris), their sighting proved quite elusive.
After dinner on Monday evening the participants enjoyed an excellent talk by Jim Hurley on the geology, soils, plants, birds and marine life of the Hook peninsula, which set the tone for the following day’s outing.
Tuesday morning was dull, slightly windy but dry as we set off to visit the ruins of Tintern Abbey. Barrie Hartwell, BNFC, acted as our guide for the historical elements of Tuesday’s itinerary and, even though the headsets refused to operate on the coaches in convoy, Barrie made sure everyone was well informed. We enjoyed guided tours of both the Abbey and also of the adjacent Colclough Walled Gardens, which have been restored by a group of hard-working but very knowledgeable volunteers.
Green and Paula O’Meara were on hand to lead walks through the woodlands at
Tintern, which were underlain by a white and blue carpet of Allium ursinum
and Hyacinthoides non-scripta; while the salt marsh at head of the
estuary contained English Scurveygrass (Cochlearia anglica), Sea
Milkwort (Glaux maritima) and the edible, and quite subtle tasting, Sea
Arrow-grass (Triglochin maritima).
After Tintern we travelled down the Hook peninsula, passing the ruin of Fethard Castle, the ‘haunted’ Loftus Hall and the remains of the former chapel at Churchtown to reach the Hook Lighthouse at the tip. While part of the group climbed up the spiral, intra-wall steps to reach the viewing platform below the light, the remainder either lunched in the sunshine or went fossil hunting with Jim Hurley for brachiopods, crinoids or bryozoans out on the rocks below the lighthouse.
In the afternoon we travelled north to Dunbrody Abbey, where the participants were treated to a guided tour of the extensive remains of the Cistercian Abbey; visited the ruins of Dunbrody House; got lost in the full-sized yew maze; or simply sat and enjoyed afternoon tea or ice cream in the sun. After dinner we enjoyed a very comprehensive overview by Ronan O’Flaherty of the successive invasions and settlements that have contributed to the culture, language and customs that we find in Wexford today.
Wednesday morning was dull
but calm, so one part of the group departed for Kilmore Quay where they boarded
boats for a trip out and around the Saltee Islands. The remainder travelled to
Johnstown Castle Estate where they were able to stroll around the extensive
gardens and lakes, and also visit the Agricultural Museum housed in the former
estate farm buildings. Both groups made it back to Wexford on time for
participants to board the early afternoon train back to Dublin, and on to
Poplar Hawk-moth The North Slubs Moth Trap Inventory
Coreus marginatus Dolycoris baccarum
Pyrola rotundifolia Viola tricolor
Tintern Abbey Woods Triglochin maritima Colclough Walled Garden
Wattle & Clay Panel Tintern Abbey
Hook Head (fossil hunting) Horn coral etc
Johnstown Castle Pavo cristatus
Photographs © Photographers & DNFC
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