Wednesday, 13 June 2012

A Summer Flood

Poor weather in summer puts everybody in bad form, but for the Callows farmers and its wildlife it has a real impact.

Flooding on the Callows 2012 ©  H. Denniston

Last week it rained for over 48 hours straight, in some parts three inches falling in just a day. Wader chicks would have been unable to feed, the adults having to brood them constantly to keep them dry and warm. Young chicks would have suffered the most and anything unlucky enough to be hatching during this period is unlikely to have survived.

Anyone who saw the BBC’s Spring Watch on Monday would have seen the devastation that prolonged heavy rain can have on young Lapwing.

Flooding on the hay meadows 2012  ©  K. Finney
The river Shannon drains a fifth of Ireland and when heavy rain is experienced nationwide, as was the case last week, much of the water makes its way into the river system. The Callows are now under a summer flood, its true extent hidden by the long meadow grass. Nests will have been flooded, chicks displaced and the farmers have lost their grazing land, in a year when grass has been in short supply. If the flood persists, they are in danger of losing their winter fodder – the grass in the hay meadows will simply rot.

It may be weeks until we can assess the extent of the damage. Some sites are inaccessible and we have been unable to survey them, while on others we can only carry out a partial survey.

Thankfully the Corncrake meadow is not yet under flood, although there is a risk of further flooding as more heavy rain is forecast.

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