Thursday, 8 October 2015

Heritage Week on the Island

During Heritage week Kathryn and I went back to Inishee Island to finish up work on the fence for the year. We rounded up a great group of volunteers who all worked so hard to get the work done in two days.  

All the birds were gone and it was very quiet – a big change from earlier on in the summer when all you could hear were the calls of breeding Lapwing, Redshank and Curlew and the chipping and drumming of breeding Snipe! 

©K. Bismilla

It was incredible to see how much the vegetation had grown back along the fence! You wouldn’t have known myself and John had spent days trampling it down and cutting it back a couple of weeks earlier!

©K. Bismilla 

The first job we had to do was to open the gaps in the fence. It was nice to see the operation of the fence the whole way through as I had been there when we closed the gaps back in May. The gaps are opened to allow the cattle access to the area outside of the fence for grazing. This stops the river margins from becoming rank, which can be a deterrent to breeding waders, and also gives the farmer back valuable grazing area.

©K. Bismilla 

While half of the volunteers got to work opening the gaps the rest of us commenced work tackling the overgrown vegetation. We had our work cut out trampling it down and cutting it back with hedge clippers. In some places the reeds were growing well above our heads and it was strenuous work!

©K. Bismilla 

Every time we go to the island we bring a voltage checker to check the current that runs along the electric fence. I saw just how important it is to keep on top of the vegetation because when it touches off the electric wire it drains the current.

With the gaps opened, the vegetation controlled and electric fence running smoothly, it was time to leave the island for the last time. It feels good knowing that the work we did on the fence will make a real difference protecting breeding waders on Inishee Island next year and hopefully for many years to come! 

Kathryn and I have also been getting out to some of the other management sites along the Callows where we have seen flocks of post breeding Lapwing and the odd solitary Snipe. There is definitely something special about the farmland of the Shannon Callows… especially knowing that it is one of the last strongholds for our rare breeding waders!

©K. Bismilla 

An old drain, which is perfect chick rearing habitat ©K. Bismilla 

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