Ballygannon, Co. Wicklow; Ecological Report

Ecological Survey of Ballygannon Wood, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow for the Millennium Forest Project

By John Wann MSc.
(September 2000)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Nature Conservation Designations 2
Habitats above the Rathdrum to Laragh Road 3
Compartments 1-2 3
Compartment 3 8
Compartment 4 8
Compartment 5 9
Compartments 6A-6B 11
Habitats below the Rathdrum to Laragh Road 14
Compartment 7 14
Compartment 8 16
Compartment 9 16
Compartment 10 17
Compartment 11 18
Compartments 12A-12B 18
Compartment 13 19
Compartment 14 19
Compartment 15 20
Compartment 16 24
Compartment 17 25
Appendix 1: Flora Recorded at Ballygannon Wood, Co. Wicklow 29
Appendix 2: Fungi recorded at Ballygannon Wood, Co. Wicklow 34
Appendix 3: Vertebrates Recorded at Ballygannon Wood, Co. Wicklow 35
Appendix 4: Invertebrates Recorded at Ballygannon Wood, Co. Wicklow 37
Acknowledgements 38
Bibliography 38

Ecological Survey of Ballygannon Wood for the Millennium Forest Project


The available evidence points to a continuous woodland cover of climax Quercus petraea (sessile oak) woodland in the Vale of Clara at least in part since at least the early 1700s and possibly back to the last iceage. The woodlands of the Vale of Clara are representative of the relatively dry, acid sessile oak woods of eastern Ireland. The well-documented historical record of landuse within the area adds to the interest of the site. The woodlands are mainly on the steep slopes to the east of the Avonmore River and stretch from Laragh forest downstream to Avondale.

Ballygannon Wood (Grid Ref. T 245 990) is situated 1 km north of Rathdrum off the R755 road to Laragh. Until 1940, the lands comprising Ballygannon Wood were part of the Watson Wentworth (Lord Meath) family estate. The oak coppice in the Vale of Clara was used to make charcoal that before 1640 was exported to Wales to smelt iron. Estate records going back to the year 1724, describe how Ballygannon was managed as a coppice oak wood. The coppice cycle varied from 16 to 33 years with a mean of 25 years. Products from the coppice-with-standards at Cronybyrne and Stump of the Castle were used for shipbuilding, cordwood for charcoal, building construction, tanning bark and cooperage. The double ditches at the northern boundary of the survey site above the road and along the Avonmore River below the road were probably constructed to keep out grazing animals from the coppice areas.

After coppicing ceased around 1850, Lord Meath planted sessile oak in order to convert the area high forest. After 1940, the forest under the control of the state Forest Service after the break up of the estates by the Land Commission.

During the Second World War, the sessile oak and birch in the Vale of Clara were felled for fuel and charcoal respectively. Some of the better timber oak trees that were left were underplanted with Norway spruce in 1949. Thus the standards that occur at Ballygannon are the result of the better stands that were left after utilisation of the woodland.

To facilitate replanting as part of the Millennium Forest Project, the majority of the Picea abies (Norway spruce) and a few Fagus sylvatica (beech) were removed by Coillte under what can be described as a shelterwood-like system. In addition, a storm in the same year resulted in the loss of some of the oak standards that were subsequently sold.

The shelterwood system involves heavily thinning the old crop prior to regeneration. As the young crop is established, more of the mature trees are removed. After the young crop is established, all mature trees are removed. The system protects the soil and vegetation complex, in turn ensuring successful regeneration. The system produces a more diverse structure compared to clearcutting while mature trees are present on site for a longer time.

Between 96000 and 106000 trees of local origin will eventually be planted on the site.
As part of the site management regeneration plan, some mature of the sessile oak was left at intervals to act as seed sources to facilitate natural regeneration.

Natural regeneration is not new to the area, for oak in the Vale of Clara was felled for ships during the Napoleonic wars and then allowed to regenerate naturally, indicating that large trees were present at that time that had escaped felling in previous centuries. In the early twentieth century, Lancashire clogmakers settled in the area making clogs from alder and birch. This has been used to explain the paucity of alder in the area today.

The Forest Service managed the woods for timber production until they fell into the ownership of the semi-state body Coillte Teoranta in 1989.

Ballygannon Woods comprise a 56 ha site above the Avonmore River. The woods are surrounded by pastureland to the west and south. The general geology of the Rathdrum area is Ordovician shales, siltstone and sandstone. Soils are generally acid brown earths and brown podzolics, typical of the drier type of sessile oak woodlands in Co. Wicklow. The brown podzolic soil forms acid/moder humus over the mineral soil.

The topography is gently undulating with occasional steeper slopes and rock outcrops. The nearest climate station to Ballygannon is Avondale with a mean annual rainfall of 1160 mm. The mean minimum temperature of the coldest month is 1.2°C and a mean maximum temperature of 19.3°C.

To the north the site extends into the wooded estate of Lord Meath. To the east below the Rathdrum to Laragh road, birch scrub, conifer plantations and mixed woodland occur.

Nature Conservation Designations

The site forms part of the Clara Woodlands Special Area of Conservation (SAC) (Natura 2000 site code: IE0000733; Longitude: W 6°14' 10"W; Latitude: 52°57' 0"N). The SAC consists of 382 hectares of predominantly dry oak (Quercus petraea) woodland with Ilex aquifolium and Blechnum spicant. This is a habitat listed for protection in the EU Habitats Directive as PAL. CLASS. 41.53 EU Habitats Directive: subtype 41.531 Irish Quercus petraea woods - Quercus petraea woods of Ireland, particularly rich in evergreen bushes, including Arbutus unedo.

The SAC also contains sessile oak woodland underplanted with conifers and commercial plantations. Other habitats include running and standing water, old river terraces along parts of the Avonmore Valley and occasional rock outcrops. The river terraces are only a few feet high, poorly drained and liable to flooding.

The Special Area of Conservation stretches from Ballygannon in the south to just south of Cronybyrne Demesne in the north. The altitude range of the site is
from 110 m to 223 m.

The rare migratory bird Phylloscopus sibilatrix (wood warbler) occurs in the SAC but was not found at Ballygannon during the present survey. The wood warbler is a rare breeding bird in Ireland primarily due to the scarcity of suitable habitat, i.e. sessile oak woodlands with little secondary growth and sparse ground vegetation. In the nineteenth century, the wood warbler probably bred regularly in Wicklow. Work during 1988-90 for the New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland (Gibbons et. al., 1993) confirmed it breeding in Wicklow. Records suggest that the highest population in one year is only about 20 pairs but this may be due to under-recording.

Ballygannon Wood also forms part of proposed Natural Heritage Area no. 733 (pNHA).

The Vale of Clara (Rathdrum Woods) was also designated a statutory nature reserve under the Wildlife Act 1976. Two rare plants have been recorded from the nature reserve, Cephalanthera longifolia (narrow-leaved helleborine) and Wahlenbergia hederacea (ivy-leaved bellflower). The former has not been seen in this area since 1970 and is protected under the Flora (Protection Order) 1999 (S.I. NO. 94 OF 1999). The Irish Red Data Book for Vascular Plants (Curtis & McGough, 1988) stated that this white-flowered orchid of damp woodland and scrub on acid soils was apparently declining due to overgrazing and woodland disturbance. However this may be due to under-recording or the fact that many orchids are erratic in their appearance from one year to the next.

The Ballygannon site was divided into two parts for ease of survey. The dividing line between the two areas was taken to be the Rathdrum to Laragh Road. Each area was then divided up into numbered compartments cross-referenced to the survey map. Within each compartment there are one or more distinct habitat types.

Habitats above the Rathdrum to Laragh Road

Compartments 1-2

Compartment 1 consisted of sessile oak woodland with generally a well-developed field and ground layer. Some small areas of Norway spruce remain in this compartment between the sessile oak, e.g. on the south side of the gully (Compartment 3) on the eastern side of the site and along the stream that forms the northern boundary of the woodland. The field layer included coppiced Corylus avellana, Ilex aquifolium, Salix cinerea, Ulex europaeus, Sorbus aucuparia, Pteridium aquilinum and Lonicera periclymenum.

Rubus fruticosus also occurred at intervals. The bramble varied in density depending on light levels. Overall Fraxinus excelsior and Alnus glutinosa were rare in the remnant stands except in a flush near the site entrance above the road. The latter as already mentioned may have been used as raw material for clogmaking.

Mature, semi-mature and young individuals of sessile oak were observed indicating that recruitment of this species into the stands is taking place.

The density of the understorey varies from one place to another. Some areas have a dense understorey of Vaccinium myrtillus and Luzula sylvatica, other areas were more open in aspect due to the dense shade cast by thickets of holly or the occasional beech. The varied density of the understorey is beneficial to birdlife. The former areas are ideal for garden warbler, blackcap and jay while the latter are favoured by redstart and wood warbler.

The ground flora included Dryopteris dilatata, Luzula sylvatica, Digitalis purpurea, Vaccinium myrtillus, Blechnum spicant, Melampyrum pratense, Hedera helix, Carex pendula, Stellaria holostea, Senecio jacobaea, Holcus mollis, Lonicera periclymenum, Viola sp., Oxalis acetosella, Carex remota, Dryopteris filix-mas, Geranium robertianum, Polytrichum setiferum, Agrostis canina and Hyacinthoides non-scriptus.

It was found that species common on acid soils in Laragh and Glendalough were infrequent, e.g. only one patch of Potentilla erecta was found and the same for Melampyrum pratense. Galium saxatile was not found at all. The ground flora of the remnant areas of sessile oak at Ballygannon can be divided into a community dominated by bluebell and one dominated by dense stands of Vaccinium myrtillus and Luzula sylvatica. The former occurs on richer soils.

Past management has probably played a role in the distribution of the two community types. The even aged stands of the remaining ca 20 m-high sessile oak at Ballygannon with their extensive stands of woodrush and bilberry indicate a low grazing pressure that may be preventing a rich ground flora due to the blanketing effect of these species. Although these dry sessile oak woodlands are naturally species-poor, past forest management and agricultural activities such as coppicing and underplanting with conifers has probably had a detrimental effect on the development of a rich ground flora. Overgrazing in some areas may also have had an adverse impact.

Invertebrates observed included the gall wasp (Andricus kollari) that causes the marble galls on sessile oak. In the leaf litter, the millipedes Glomeris marginata and Tachypodoiulus niger and the mollusc Discus rotundatus were observed.

In late August, a number of fungi were found on the bare soil of the wayleave including Amanita sp., Boletus pulverulentus and Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca. Many more mycorrhizal macrofungi could be found in the autumn under the mature sessile oak. Standing and fallen dead wood of various tree and shrub species including Quercus petraea, Corylus avellana and Betula pubescens occurred at intervals throughout the stands. The birch polypore (Piptoporus betulina) fungus was observed on a dead standing trunk of downy birch.

Bryophytes recorded in the remnant sessile oak woodland included Rhizomnium punctatum, Mnium hornum, Polytrichum formosum, Calypogeia sp., Hypnum cupressiforme and Lepidozia reptans.

In addition extensive carpets of the liverwort Pellia epiphylla was also seen on bare soil. On the boles of the standing and fallen Quercus petraea, the bryophyte Isothecium myosuroides formed extensive patches.

Towards the river in the northeast side of the site near the Rathdrum to Laragh Road, was a rock outcrop with a good cover of bryophytes. Exposed rock was rare on the site as a whole. Below the rock outcrop towards the stream forming the northern boundary of the site, a glade with well-lit areas and more shaded areas occurred. The flora in the glade included Dryopteris filix-mas, Rubus fruticosus, Blechnum spicant, Pteridium aquilinum and Luzula sylvatica. Two speckled wood butterflies were also observed in this glade.

The entrance of a badger sett was seen on the western side of the site in the embankment of the double ditch. This species is protected under the Wildlife Act 1976. This was one of a number of entrances of badger setts observed throughout the site both above and below the road. These have been marked on the survey map.

A passing glimpse of a squirrel was seen up in the mature oak along the Laragh to Rathdrum Road. It was to far away to distinguish whether it was a red or a grey squirrel. However, red squirrels were seen in the Rathdrum area between three and four years ago by members of the Rathdrum Anglers Association.

On the basis of its very dark colour, it is more likely that it was a red squirrel. In addition, it was sighted high up in the tree canopy, a typical red squirrel location. In contrast, grey squirrels tend to spend more time on the ground than the red squirrel. However, grey squirrels may still be present at Ballygannon. Unknown in Co. Wicklow up until about 5 years ago (Tom Hayden, pers.comm.), they have since moved south across the Wicklow border.

Birds observed or heard in the remnant stands of sessile oak included blackbird, robin, mistle thrush, wood pigeon, jay and pheasant.

Compartment 2 was more open in character than the other remnant sessile oak areas. Among the widely spaced sessile oak, rank growth of bramble and an often dense typical woodland flora occurred including Luzula sylvatica, Blechnum spicant, Agrostis sp., Digitalis purpurea, Lonicera periclymenum, Carex sylvatica, Oxalis acetosella and Dryopteris dilatata.

Grassland species were also apparent including Juncus effusus, Holcus lanatus, Cirsium palustre, Agrostis capillaris, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Potentilla anglica, Carex ovalis, Bellis perennis, Senecio jacobaea and Hypochoeris radicata.

Generally, the woodland edge on the south and western side of the site was well-structured and therefore ideal for wildlife. A dense scrubby growth extended out beyond the fenced woodland into the surrounding fields of rough pasture for as much as 20 m beyond the woodland fence and boundary ditch.

The woody components of the scrub edge included Ilex aquifolium, dense Rubus fruticosus, Prunus spinosa, Pteridium aquilinum, Lonicera periclymenum, Ulex europaeus, Salix cinerea, coppiced Corylus avellana, Rosa canina, Crataegus monogyna and Prunus spinosa. Salix cinerea, Rubus fruticosus, Sambucus nigra and Prunus nigra were locally dominant in places. This scrub edge largely formed a dense canopy over the field ditch with the result that the ditch flora has been shaded out. At least 200 caterpillars of the peacock butterfly were seen on a stand of Urtica dioica.

In the shade of the scrub or in more open areas, herbaceous plants included Cirsium vulgare, Cirsium arvense, Jasione montana, Hypericum pulchrum, Teucrium scorodonia and Digitalis purpurea. The latter species was abundant in places. A fine specimen of Prunus avium ca 18 m in height was observed at the woodland edge, the only specimen of this tree species recorded during the survey. The rough pasture flora in the field included Lolium perenne, Holcus lanatus, Arrhenatherum elatius, Dactylis glomerata and Trifolium repens. The rough grassland in the fields attracted abundant meadow brown butterflies.

The fields were generally dry except for one small area at the bottom of a sloping rushy field. The flora of this area consisted of Lysimachia nemorum, Carex echinata, Galium palustre, Cirsium palustre, Viola palustris, Ranunculus repens, Glyceria fluitans, Angelica sylvestris, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Salix aurita, Lotus uliginosus, Lysimachia nemorum, Stellaria graminea, Cardamine pratensis, Juncus bulbosus, Carex binervis, Potamogeton natans, Myosotis secunda, Dactylorrhiza maculata and Juncus effusus.

On the upper slopes of this rushy field the vegetation graded into a drier sward containing of Glyceria fluitans, Holcus lanatus, Juncus effusus, Cirsium palustre and Ranunculus repens.

A double ditch formed a barrier between the closely grazed sward of the pasture fields and the woodland on the western side of the site. This may have been built to prevent cattle from entering the woodland and causing grazing damage when coppicing was practised in the area.

On the sides of the ditch and on the ditch embankment a dense vegetation occurred consisting of Ulex europaeus, Vaccinium myrtillus, Calluna vulgaris, Ilex aquifolium, Lonicera periclymenum, Luzula sylvatica, Teucrium scorodonia, Hypochoeris radicata, Pteridium aquilinum, Corylus avellana, Rubus fruticosus, Digitalis purpurea, Betula pubescens and Hypericum pulchrum. Polytrichum formosum formed dense mats on the dry embankment.

In the ditch itself on the agricultural field side, the flora included Juncus effusus, Cirsium palustre, Agrostis canina and Urtica dioica.


§ Remove the remaining conifers, e.g. Picea abies and Abies sp. except where they are in inaccessible locations. Careful monitoring of grazing pressure in consultation with Dúchas is required throughout the site if the diversity of the ground flora is to be maximised in the future.
§ In order to maximise the continuity of the sessile oak woodland that is of limited extent in the country as a whole, allow the wayleave to naturally regenerate from the surrounding woodland and keep new rides to the minimum necessary to carry out normal forestry operations.
§ The rock outcrops should be left unmanaged to conserve the bryophyte populations.
§ Avoid forestry operations during the bird-breeding season where possible.
§ Many bat species have been recorded at Avondale not far from Ballygannon. Some of these are probably found at Ballygannon. All bat species are protected under the Wildlife Act 1976. Brown long-eared, Whiskered and Leisler's bats are listed on Annex II of the Bern Convention. It is recommended that a bat survey be carried out at the site prior to any tree felling, as dry rotholes are potential roosting and nursery sites for these mammals. Before any dangerous standing trees are felled, they should be checked for the presence of bats. Sometimes overmature trees can be made safe by minimal surgery rather than being felled outright.
§ Measures should be taken to protect the badger setts from disturbance or damage. The timing of forestry operations should be planned to avoid the badger-breeding season (December to June inclusive). Avoid carrying out forestry operations within 20 m of all sett entrances. Noisy operations may need a buffer zone greater than 20 m. Trees outside the protection zone should be felled away from any sett, badger run or latrine. Use of or storage of chemicals, fuel or oil should not be permitted in the protected zone. No recreational rides should be within 100 m of any sett and dogs kept under control at all times. Potentially noisy activities such as orienteering should be zoned away from the sett or timed to avoid the breeding season.
§ In general, all recreational activities should be monitored and adverse effects on wildlife rectified by incorporating changes in the management plan. This might involve zoning different activities into different areas and banning certain activities at particular times, e.g. during the bird nesting season.
§ Compartment 2 is a good habitat mix of open sessile oak woodland with a typical ground flora and grassland and should therefore be allowed to develop naturally.
§ Ideally the fields surrounding the woodland should become part of the Vale of Clara (Rathdrum Woods) Special Area of Conservation to act as a buffer zone for the wood.
§ At the very least, negotiations should take place between Dúchas, Coillte Teoranta and the landowners to ensure that the well-structured sheltered woodland edge is ideal for birds and invertebrates and should be maintained in its present state.
§ Cattle or other grazing animals should be prevented from grazing the species-rich wet grassland between 1st October and May 1st. Stocking rates for the rest of the year should be worked out between Dúchas and the landowners.
§ Research has shown that leaving a 6-m unsprayed strip at the field edge results in a dramatic increase in numbers of invertebrate including butterflies while effects on crop yields are minimal (in Dunbar, 1993).

Compartment 3

A gully on the south side of the site was devoid of trees on its northern side. Picea abies occurred on its southern side. A remnant woodland flora occurred in the gully including Hyacinthoides non-scriptus, Oxalis acetosella, Digitalis purpurea, Rubus fruticosus, Pteridium aquilinum, Sambucus nigra, Dryopteris dilatata, Athyrium filix-femina and occasional patches of Luzula sylvatica. There were many fallen logs across the lowest part of the gully covered with bryophytes that added to the biodiversity of this area. The dappled shade of the gully attracted speckled wood butterflies.

At the lower end of the gully, a flora characteristic of wetter ground occurred including Chrysosplenium oppositifolium, Carex remota, Poa trivialis, Cardamine pratensis, Athyrium filix-femina, Valeriana officinale and Oxalis acetosella. At its lowermost point, a stream flows in a southeasterly direction under the Rathdrum to Laragh Road to the other part of the site. On the north-facing bank of this stream, two separated patches of Equisetum sylvaticum were observed. This plant is not considered rare but is an indicator of old woodland.


§ Remove the Picea abies on the south side of the gully, as it is an exotic species incompatible with conservation objectives in a seminatural woodland.
§ Keep the gully unplanted to maintain its open sunny aspect and to aid to the visual diversity of the site.

Compartment 4

This compartment consisted of the stream corridor that formed the northern boundary of the site. It was a well-balanced mosaic of open well-lit grassy flushes up to 15 m in width and more shaded areas of sessile oak woodland. The sessile oak woodland that occurred on both sides of the stream had a typical flora of Corylus avellana, dense Luzula sylvatica, Digitalis purpurea, Dryopteris dilatata, flowering Lonicera periclymenum, Corylus avellana, Dryopteris filix-mas, Ilex aquifolium, Blechnum spicant, Crepis paludosa, Carex remota, Oxalis acetosella and Hypericum pulchrum and Vaccinium myrtillus. On Lord Meath's side of the river occasional specimens of Fraxinus excelsior and Crataegus monogyna were observed, these species being rare on the site as a whole.

The flush flora included Galium palustre, Ranunculus repens, Senecio aquaticus, Juncus effusus, Valeriana officinale, Chrysosplenium oppositifolium and Urtica dioica. Dense mats of Isothecium myosuroides and Polypodium sp., occurred on logs and other large pieces of dead wood that had fallen across the stream corridor.

There were a number of acid flushes and seepage areas in the remnant stands of sessile oak.

The flush flora included Chrysosplenium oppositifolium, Ranunculus flammula, Juncus effusus, Carex remota, Ranunculus repens, Valeriana officinalis, Cardamine pratensis, Lysimachia nemorum, Cardamine flexuosa, Juncus articulatus, Viola palustris, Cirsium vulgare, Crepis paludosa, Carex echinata, Oxalis acetosella, Carex binervis, Lonicera periclymenum, Veronica montana, Galium palustre and Urtica dioica. In some of the flushes, extensive quaking mats of the moss Sphagnum palustre occurred.

Sizeable areas of bare wet ground occurred along the double ditch northeast of the stile. The flora of these areas included carpets of Sphagnum palustre, Ranunculus flammula, Juncus effusus, Betula pubescens and mats of the liverwort Pellia epiphylla. Bare wet ground is potentially good for woodcock as this bird feeds by probing in soft mud for invertebrates.

In the drier areas around the flushes, dense scrub with scattered trees sometimes occurred consisting of Fraxinus excelsior, Corylus avellana, Betula pubescens, Salix cinerea, Lonicera periclymenum, Ilex aquifolium, dense Rubus fruticosus, Luzula sylvatica, Blechnum spicant, Dryopteris dilatata and Ulex europaeus.


§ Remove the Abies alba and other young conifers along the edge of the stream forming the northern boundary of the site and replant with Alnus glutinosa, Fraxinus excelsior and Crataegus monogyna using local seed sources or those of Irish provenance.
§ If access is too difficult without damaging the intact sessile oak woodland, allow the conifers to overmature. They will contribute in time to the deadwood habitat.
§ In order to protect the flushes and streams from forestry operations, the new Forest Service environmental guidelines on forestry and harvesting, water quality, biodiversity and landscape should be followed (Forest Service, in press). This would include the establishment of a buffer zone between new plantings and the flushes where forestry operations are strictly controlled.
§ The areas of dense mixed species scrub should be retained as they provide dense cover for nesting birds and provide shelter for the adult stages of the aquatic insects in the flushes. They occupy a very small area compared to the cleared areas or the remnant sessile oak woodland and to a certain extent buffer the flushes from adverse changes.

Compartment 5

The edges of the main formal woodland ride through this part of the site, consisted of a mosaic of damp acid grassland, heath, wasteground and woodland plant species. Dense stands of Pteridium aquilinum and Rubus fruticosus extended to the ride edges in places.

The woodland flora recorded at the ride edges included Rumex sanguineus, Vaccinium myrtillus, Luzula sylvatica, Blechnum spicant, Calluna vulgaris, young Ilex aquifolium, Lonicera periclymenum, Carex ovalis, Digitalis purpurea and Lysimachia nemorum.

Opportunistic species of disturbed ground included Epilobium montanum, Scrophularia nodosa, Holcus mollis, Potentilla anglica, Senecio jacobaea, Sonchus oleraceus, Cirsium vulgare and Sonchus asper.

Heathland species consisted of Hypericum pulchrum, Agrostis canina, Agrostis capillaris, Rumex acetosella, Hypericum pulchrum, Carex binervis, Luzula multiflora and Calluna vulgaris. In the damp grassland the flora included Holcus lanatus, Holcus mollis, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Angelica sylvestris, Leontodon autumnalis, Agrostis capillaris, Hypochoeris radicata, Deschampsia flexuosa, Agrostis canina, Rumex acetosa and Cirsium palustre.

Invertebrates included 7-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata), mottled grasshopper and green-veined white butterfly. On the more gently sloping banks, Calluna vulgaris regeneration was abundant in places. On the steeper banks, bryophytes were starting to colonise the bare soil.


§ The south-facing banks and edges of the main ride running from east to west receive the most sun and are therefore especially valuable for warmth-loving invertebrates. Bramble patches provide nectar and shelter. The well-lit stands of bramble are more valuable for invertebrates than the stands in deep shade under the remnant sessile oak woodland canopy and therefore should be retained.
§ A graded edge from bare ground on the ride, grassland and scrub to a mature woodland edge should be encouraged along all existing and new rides. Suitable shrubs might include Ulex europaeus, Cytisus scoparius and Populus tremula. Berry-producing shrubs such as Sorbus aucuparia, Ilex aquifolium and Crataegus monogyna will sustain winter migrants such as fieldfare and redwing while bramble and Sambucus nigra are a premigration food source for warblers. Where possible all planting stock should be derived from local seed sources. Rideside scrub should consist of a varied age structure as different invertebrates are attracted to the varying growth stages. This can be achieved by cutting on a 3-7 year rotation depending on the rate of growth of the scrub with no more than 10% cut in any one year.
§ A grassy glade with a graded scrub edge could be developed for butterflies at the western end of the ride where it widens out. Alternatively sheltered semi-circular glades can be cut into the cleared areas on either side of the ride at intervals to create open glades for butterflies. These should be no less than 30 m x 20 m. No glades should be made in the vicinity of any of the wet seepage areas to prevent disruption to current drainage patterns.
§ Different butterfly species prefer different sward heights. Therefore a mosaic of different turf heights should be maintained by mowing on rotation. The speed of growth will dictate the frequency of mowing. Frequent monitoring will determine the effects of cutting and adjustments may have to be made. One or two cuts per year will suit most grassland. Cutting should take place between October and February preferably later when butterflies do not need the nectar of flowers. Small areas should be left uncut as dead flower and seed heads offer roosting places for butterflies, seed for birds and overwintering shelter for other invertebrates. A coarse cut of about 8-10 cm is best for butterflies but some plants require a shorter sward to eliminate competition with rank grasses. Remove all mowings from the site allowing the seed to fall from the mowings first.
§ Retain steep bare sunny banks of clay along the ride edge at intervals as solitary wasps use them for nesting sites.
§ The width of the ride can be varied to provide a more varied visual experience to the recreational user. This can be achieved by planting or removing groups of shrubs and trees along the ride edges at intervals. This will also provide varying degrees of shade along the ride as some butterflies such as ringlet and wood white prefer lightly shaded rides or glades (10-40% cover) while other butterflies including speckled wood and green-veined white prefer 40-90% cover.
§ To maximise the continuity of the sessile oak semi-natural woodland, it is recommended that new recreational rides be kept to a minimum. Where new rides are unavoidable, they also should be given a graded edge and run in a west to east direction if possible to capture the most sunlight. The edges of new rides should meander, indent or curve to give better shelter and create suntraps for invertebrates. The narrow rides that are proposed to allow the public to view the new plantings should not be permanent. They should be allowed to close over as soon as possible to maximum the continuity of the sessile oak woodland. The existing traditional mass ride that runs between the two stiles should be maintained.
§ The regular cutting of bracken along rides will allow the weaker smaller plants to flourish but the odd patch of bracken can be left untouched as it supports its own suite of invertebrates.
§ The well-lit bramble along the rides should be retained. A number of species feed on the foliage, the flowers are a valuable summer nectar source. Dead stems are used as nest sites by a number of solitary bees and wasps. Finally, dense clumps provide nesting sites for wasps and birds and safe overwintering sites.
§ Dry bare ground in the centre of the ride can provide nesting sites for solitary bees and wasps and egglaying or hunting ground for other invertebrates.

Compartments 6A and 6B

In 1999, the Picea abies that had been planted under extensive areas of the Quercus petraea was cleared along with a select number of Fagus sylvatica and some of the poorer quality Quercus petraea. This was to facilitate restocking of the sessile oak woodland with Quercus petraea, Pinus sylvestris and Betula pubescens.

Compartment 6A will be restocked by a combination of planting and natural regeneration. Compartment 6B will only be restocked by natural regeneration. Natural regeneration of Quercus petraea and Betula pubescens is already occurring in parts of the site.

The clear-felled areas were planted up this summer with native broadleaf trees at a tree spacing of 1.5 m. All the planted stock was derived from locally collected seed. The ground was scarified twice prior to planting to help create a weed-free seedbed. Some mature Quercus petraea was left standing in the cleared areas to act as seed trees in order to facilitate natural regeneration.

The clear-felled areas contain remnants of the sessile oak woodland flora together with opportunistic plant species of disturbed ground.

Amongst the select number of widely-spaced sessile oak left after clear-felling, the woodland flora included Sorbus aucuparia, Lonicera periclymenum, Ilex aquifolium, Vaccinium myrtillus, Oxalis acetosella, Carex binervis, Dryopteris dilatata, Digitalis purpurea, Blechnum spicant, Pteridium aquilinum, Luzula sylvatica, Hyacinthoides non-scriptus and regenerating Calluna vulgaris. Rubus fruticosus, Luzula sylvatica and Vaccinium myrtillus form dense swards on the scarification ridges in some areas.

Opportunistic species along the old rides and in the clear-felled areas included Rumex acetosa, Stellaria holostea, Agrostis canina, Poa annua, Luzula multiflora, Epilobium angustifolium, Holcus mollis and Hypericum pulchrum. Juncus effusus and Carex remota occurred in wetter areas. The cleared areas already support wren and potentially support nightjar.

Pools associated with streams surrounded by dense scrub occurred in the cleared areas at intervals. The flora in these areas included Salix aurita, Carex binervis, Callitriche sp., Cardamine flexuosa, Oxalis acetosella and Valariana officinalis. Juncus effusus formed extensive swards.


§ It is recommended that the development of the field and ground layer flora be continuously monitored in the cleared areas. It is hoped that as canopy closure occurs the remnant woodland flora that has survived the clearing of the Norway spruce will spread.
§ The reestablishment of a woodland ground flora may be helped by the controlling of grazing to prevent the complete dominance of Luzula sylvatica after canopy closure. The wasteground species will eventually be shaded out by the maturing planted trees or by rank grass. In the intervening period they provide increased biodiversity to the site and added interest to the visitor. Some of these latter species could be maintained on site along the broad open rides.
§ The deer fence can be left in place until the trees are established and then removed to allow the free movement of mammals such as the badger throughout the site.
§ The sessile oak in the felled areas is all of one age class. It is recommended that a wide range of age classes be encouraged in the clearcut areas by staggered planting, felling and selective thinning. Some trees can be retained for longer than normal and the time when others are felled advanced.
§ Alder can be planted along some of the minor streams that traverse the wayleave.
§ It is likely that natural regeneration will be spread over a number of years resulting in an uneven age structure. Natural regeneration should be monitored and encouraged throughout all the cleared areas.
§ Some of the remaining oak 'standards' in the cleared areas should be allowed to overmature so as to ensure the continuity of the dead wood habitat for saproxylic invertebrates in the future, e.g. many bat species have been recorded from the Rathdrum area, some of which roost in tree rotholes.
§ Some declining trees on the site have already been retained as part of the deadwood habitat. The oldest trees are valuable for lichens and will have the specialised niches so important for the larval stage of saproxylic invertebrates, e.g. long horn beetles. Larger deadwood that has naturally fallen or that is derived from forestry operations should be left in situ.
§ Dead wood left on the site should be of different sizes, derived from different species and placed in areas of different light intensities (shade, full sun and semi-shade) to cater for the needs of different species. The fallen logs that support a luxuriant growth of bryophytes and such plants as the fern Polypodium sp., and Oxalis acetosella should remain in situ. Thinning within retained patches of older trees may be beneficial, by allowing development of old growth characteristics such as large limbs more likely to produce nest cavities for birds through decay or loss.
§ It is recommended that Ballygannon be used as a research site to monitor the progressive colonisation of birds in a partially cleared broadleaved forest over time so that the results can be used to maximise bird diversity in other broadleaved forests. The research will compliment research that is being carried out at University College Cork on management guidelines to maximise conifer plantations for birds. In the absence of sufficient nestholes in overmature trees, providing good quality nestboxes may help the rarer hole-nesting birds including pied flycatcher and redstart. It is recommended that nestboxes are put up in the remnant oakwoods in conjunction with IWC Birdwatch Ireland until such time as natural nestholes develop in the overmature timber.
§ It is recommended that natural regeneration of native species in the clear-felled areas be encouraged as much as possible. COFORD is funding research by M. Keane and J. Hogan on natural oak regeneration on a site at Coolgreaney (Ballyfad Wood) in Co. Wicklow on an acid brown earth soil. It is suggested that a comparative study between the Ballyfad Wood site and Ballygannon is initiated to help elucidate the optimal conditions for oak regeneration so that it can be applied to the regeneration of other sessile oak areas in Wicklow that have been underplanted with conifers.
§ Resprouts from old sessile oak stumps of large girth tend to be weak. If coppicing is to be encouraged at the site, it may be better to coppice any younger trees at the ride edges to create a varied vegetation structure.
§ The areas of dense mixed species scrub around the flushes and streams should be retained as they provide dense cover for nesting birds and provide shelter for the adult stages of the aquatic insects in the flushes.
§ In order to protect and enhance the flushes and streams in the cleared areas from potentially damaging forestry operations, the new Forest Service environmental guidelines on harvesting, water quality, biodiversity and landscape should be followed (Forest Service, in press). Most importantly it will entail including the establishment of a buffer zone between new plantings and the flushes where forestry operations are strictly controlled.
§ Thinning activities should occur outside the bird-nesting season to reduce disturbance, disruption of nesting activities and losses of eggs or nestlings, largely between April and June. However the requirements of early-breeding birds such as heron, raven and long-eared owl that nest in spring/late winter should be catered for.
§ In the long-term, an individual or group selection system should be considered as it is considered the best system for encouraging the widest range of wildlife. The open areas left after group felling will provide glades, edge habitat and natural regeneration sites.

Habitats below the Rathdrum to Laragh road

Compartment 7

This compartment was dominated by Picea abies that was planted for a growth experiment. The experiment is in two separate blocks on either side of the western ride. The trees were planted in 1940 on a former area of sessile oak woodland on a brown earth soil. Plant diversity and ground cover varied from one part of this compartment to another due to different tree densities (350-1000 trees per hectare) resulting from differing intensities of tree thinning that was carried out as part of the experiment.

The flora included Blechnum spicant, Luzula sylvatica, Hypericum pulchrum, Ilex aquifolium, Corylus avellana, Blechnum spicant, Rhododendron ponticum, Oxalis acetosella, Lonicera periclymenum, Rumex acetosella, Teucrium scorodonia, Vaccinium myrtillus, Potentilla erecta, Luzula multiflora and Pteridium aquilinum. Saplings of Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, Fagus sylvatica, Pseudotsuga menziesii and Tsuga heterophylla occurred at intervals especially near the lower end of the slope near the edge of the eastern main ride where light levels were greater. Bramble formed dense stands in some areas.

Luzula sylvatica was especially dense under the Norway spruce on both sides of the stream that flows through this compartment.

Four bryophytes were recorded on the floor of the Norway spruce woodland. Polytrichum formosum, Rhytidiadelphus loreus, and Isothecium myosuroides formed scattered patches while Thuidium tamarisinum formed extensive mats. The yellow slime mould Fuligo septica was observed on some dead wood. Fungi observed on the leaf litter included the larch bolete (Suillus grevillei) and the dog stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus).

Fox droppings and deer prints were observed under the Norway spruce indicating their presence in the area.

A calling sparrowhawk was seen flying over the Norway Spruce. A dor beetle (Geotrupes sp.) was also observed in this compartment.

The ditch that ran through this compartment supported a remnant sessile oak woodland flora including Blechnum spicant, Dryopteris dilatata, Luzula sylvatica, Lonicera periclymenum, Vaccinium myrtillus, Carex remota, Corylus avellana, Oxalis acetosella, Pteridium aquilinum, Hypericum androsaemum and extensive mats of the bryophyte Thuidium tamariscinum. Ilex aquifolium regeneration and the poisonous Conium maculatum (hemlock) were also observed.

A stream ran through the stand of Norway spruce that was heavily shaded with bramble in some parts. Above the Betula pubescens scrub bordering the eastern ride, a strip of Calluna vulgaris mixed with Luzula sylvatica occurred


§ If red squirrels are confirmed at Ballygannon in the future, there is a case for retention of the Norway spruce as Red Squirrels have a preference for conifer or mixed woodland. There is even evidence that planting broadleaf strips along conifer plantations provides corridors for the expansion of grey Squirrels into the territory of the red squirrel.
§ In addition, a large number of macrofungi are only found under conifer trees. These would be valuable for environmental education activities in the autumn. Norway spruce tends to support more mycorrhizal fungi than sitka spruce. In Britain the relative richness of Norway spruce for mycorrhizal fungi compared to sitka spruce may relate to the fact that it has been in that country longer and therefore has older stands (Hodgetts, 1996). It is recommended that a survey of the fungi under the stands of Norway spruce be carried out in the autumn.
§ If it was decided not to retain the Norway spruce for any red squirrel present, the tree growth experiment puts a constraint on managing this area for wildlife in the immediate future. In the long-term however, after the growth experiment has officially come to an end, the band of Calluna vulgaris could be expanded by removal of the conifers. Heathland regeneration can be easy to achieve from heathland remnants as the heather seedbank has a viability of 50 years or more. The ground could be lightly disturbed to create a seedbed. Young plants grown from locally gathered seed, (e.g. from the plants along the edge of the easternmost ride) could then be planted. The Calluna once established would have to be kept free of regenerating birch to prevent it from being shaded out. A mosaic of different-aged heather plants should be encouraged.
§ Other heathland plants that could be encouraged might include Ulex europaeus and Cytisus scoparius. All planting stock should be derived from locally collected seed. Towards the upper slopes, sessile oak woodland could be reinstated in the long term. Ilex aquifolium, Sorbus aucuparia, Quercus petraea and Betula pubescens is already present in this compartment and this should spread once the Norway spruce was removed. In addition, remnant patches of the original sessile oak woodland flora has survived under the Norway spruce for example along the ditch that runs through the area. Given the chance, this flora would also spread once the sessile oak canopy started to close over.
§ A graded edge from bare ground on the ride, grassland and scrub to mature woodland should be encouraged along the edge of the experimental area of Norway spruce bordering the northern side of the westernmost main ride. It will soften the present hard woodland to ride transition and will result in a well-structured edge that will provide a wide range of niches for birds and invertebrates. The edge treatment will not have a significant adverse impact on the controlled experimental conditions, e.g. by changing the light regime, as the experiment is well advanced and the trees have reached their growth climax.

Compartment 8

This compartment was dominated by 50-60 year old Scots pine with some Picea abies, Larix decidua, Quercus petraea, Fraxinus excelsior and Fagus sylvatica on a slope above the western ride. Some of the Quercus petraea and Fagus sylvatica was semi-mature. There was a very dense shrub understorey and a typical sessile oak woodland ground flora due to the wide spacing and light shade cast by the canopy of the Scots pine. Lower down the slope, Quercus petraea and Corylus avellana become more common among the Scots pine.

The flora included Rubus fruticosus, Luzula sylvatica, Blechnum spicant, Ilex aquifolium, Lonicera pericylmenum, Picea abies, Betula pubescens, Geranium robertianum, Vaccinium myrtillus, Oxalis acetosella, Athyrium filix-femina, Prunus laurocerasus, Juncus effusus, Dryopteris filix-mas, Corylus avellana, Cotoneaster sp., Dryopteris dilatata and Sorbus aucuparia. Vaccinium myrtillus, Rubus fruticosus and Luzula sylvatica formed a dense carpet on the woodland floor in places. On the upper slopes of the Scots pine stand, beds of Pteridium aquilinum dominated the ground flora. Some Betula pubescens and Ilex aquifolium regeneration occurred at intervals. There were also some scattered stands of the non-native plant Prunus laurocerasus.

Where the Scots pine grades into a compartment dominated by a second experimental area of Norway spruce, dense stands of bramble and bracken occurred.

This compartment is a potential breeding site for raven. Raven already breed in stands of Scots pine upstream of Ballygannon on the north side of the Avonmore River.


§ The stand of Scots pine is considered acceptable on conservation grounds and should be retained. The widely spaced trees have allowed a diverse understorey and ground flora typical of sessile oak woodland to survive.
§ Scots pine is also potentially good for mycorrhizal macrofungi. A survey of the fungi under the Scots pine should be carried out in the autumn.
§ Exotic species, e.g. Prunus laurocerasus that have a negative impact on the ground flora should be removed.

Compartment 9

A more extensive area of beech occurred in the southwest corner of the site. This had a sparse ground flora including Luzula sylvatica, Dryopteris dilatata, Hedera helix, Blechnum spicant, Larix decidua, Vaccinium myrtillus and Ilex aquifolium.

Around the edge of the picnic area, beech regeneration covering a few square metres occurred. A line of beech also extends along part of the Rathdrum to Laragh road. There was a relatively diverse ground flora near this roadside beech that extended
20 m out from the wall. The flora included Hypericum androsaemum, Luzula sylvatica, Dactylis glomerata, Dryopteris filix-mas, Hedera helix, Athyrium filix-femina, Rubus fruticosus, Ilex aquifolium, Blechnum spicant, Geranium robertianum, Oxalis acetosella and the bryophytes Thuidium tamarisinum and Rhytidiadelphus loreus. Extensive carpets of Oxalis acetosella and Hypericum pulchrum also occurred.


§ Although Fagus sylvatica is not a native species, a good mast year sustains great tit, brambling and chaffinch during the winter. Beech is also potentially one of the best species on the site for supporting a diverse range of mycorrhizal macrofungi that add to the biodiversity of the woodland. A fungal foray should be carried out under the beech in the autumn. The overhanging roadside beech also gives a scenic edge to the Rathdrum to Laragh. For these reasons, the mature stands of open beech should be retained.

Compartment 10

This compartment consists of another area of Pinus sylvestris with a little Larix decidua and young Fagus sylvatica and Quercus petraea. The understorey and ground flora included Ilex aquifolium and Betula pubescens regeneration, Vaccinium myrtillus, Corylus avellana, Dryopteris dilatata, Luzula multiflora, Blechnum spicant, Hyacinthoides non-scriptus, Stellaria holostea, Geranium robertianum, Dryopteris dilatata, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Hypericum pulchrum, Oxalis acetosella and Lonicera pericylmenum. Pteridium aquilinum, Vaccinium myrtillus and Luzula sylvatica covered extensive areas of this compartment. Coal tits were numerous in this compartment. A dor beetle (Geotrupes sp.) was also observed on the woodland floor.

In the centre of this compartment, an extensive area of scrub consisting of Corylus avellana and Prunus laurocerasus occurred.


§ The stand of Scots pine is considered acceptable on conservation grounds and should be retained. The widely spaced trees and the light shade cast by the Scots pine and European larch have permitted the retention of the original understorey and ground flora of the sessile oak woodland. In addition, if red squirrels are present at Ballygannon, then the Scots pine is probably providing suitable feeding habitat.
§ Scots pine is also potentially good for mycorrhizal macrofungi. A survey of the fungi under the Scots pine should be carried out in the autumn.
§ Remove non-native species, e.g. Prunus laurocerasus that have a negative impact on the ground flora.
§ The existing ride through the area that runs from the road to the western ride should be used for recreational purposes. It may need to be widened slightly and drainage installed as it is very muddy in places. The edges of these rides have a rich flora that is becoming shaded with bramble. Minimal clearance of the shaded bramble along this ride is required.

Compartment 11

Towards the site entrance below the Rathdrum to Laragh road, a mixed stand of conifers and broadleaves that was planted in 1940 occurred. Trees and shrubs included Larix decidua, Fagus sylvatica, Picea abies, Quercus petraea, Pinus sylvestris, Ilex aquifolium, Corylus avellana and Betula pubescens. Quercus petraea, Ilex aquifolium, Fagus sylvatica, and Sorbus aucuparia regeneration were also observed.

The ground cover varied in density. The ground flora of the densest areas included Blechnum spicant, Vaccinium myrtillus, Dryopteris dilatata, Dryopteris filix-mas, Pellia epiphylla, Luzula sylvatica, Rumex acetosa, Teucrium scorodonia, Lonicera periclymenum, Hyacinthoides non-scriptus and mats of the bryophytes Thuidium tamarisinum and Pellia epiphylla. Stands of Rubus fruticosus, Pteridium aquilinum and Luzula sylvatica dominated large areas of the woodland floor.


§ This area should be left to develop naturally as it already has a number of regenerating native species and a diverse dense ground layer.

Compartments 12A and 12B

These compartments consisted of generally even-aged dry and wet downy birch scrub respectively that colonised an area cleared in 1988 to facilitate new tree planting. The birch varied in density throughout the compartments. The flora of the birch scrub consisted of Alnus glutinosa, Ilex aquifolium, Quercus petraea, Dryopteris dilatata, Sorbus aucuparia, Oxalis acetosella, Fraxinus excelsior, Salix cinerea, Lonicera periclymenum, Blechnum spicant, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, Luzula sylvatica, Hyacinthoides non-scriptus, dense Rubus fruticosus. Ilex aquifolium and Sorbus aucuparia regeneration was also observed. Bryophytes included Polytrichum sp. and Pellia epiphylla. Fungi included Marasmiellus ramealis on the abundant fallen wood and Omphalina griseopallida on the leaf litter.

Flushes occurred on either side of the ditches that traversed the wet birch scrub on the eastern side of the site. The flush flora consisted of Ranunculus repens, Carex remota, Callitriche sp., Ranunculus flammula, Galium palustre, Valeriana officinalis, Sphagnum palustre, Juncus bufonius, Juncus effusus, Cirsium palustre and extensive stands of Carex remota.

The fauna of the birch scrub included blue tit, robin (adult and juvenile), willow warbler, chiffchaff and fallow deer. A woodcock was also flushed when walking through the wet birch. The fungi observed included the slime mould Fuligo septica and the dog stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus).


§ Large fallen timber can be left in situ throughout these compartments to benefit saproxylic insects and wood decomposing fungi.
§ Do not plant within at least 15 m of the flushes. To protect the same, the new Forest Service environmental guidelines on forestry and water quality should be followed.
§ New rides should be kept away from the wet birch scrub so as not to disturb the natural drainage patterns.
§ The wet areas of deep bare mud should be left undisturbed as woodcock favour these areas for feeding. This bird feeds by probing in the soft mud for earthworms and insect larvae such as leatherjackets with its flexible bill. They will also use the dry birch areas for nesting.
§ Some areas of the birch scrub should be allowed to overmature as this species potentially supports a number of macrofungi, e.g. those in the genera Cortinarius and Leccinum. A search of the birch scrub for macrofungi should be undertaken in the autumn.
§ Old scrub has a higher conservation value than newer scrub as more time has elapsed for it to recruit new species. The birch scrub is presently of one age class and of recent origin (ca 12 years old). To maximise the conservation value of the birch scrub, a more even age-profile should be encouraged by felling small areas of the dry birch and allowing it to regenerate naturally from the uncleared areas. This will result in increased light in the cleared areas and a more diverse flora until canopy closure occurs.
§ Regenerating exotic species in the dry birch scrub including Tsuga heterophylla, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Picea sitchensis, Rhododendron ponticum, Picea abies and Prunus laurocerasus are incompatible with the objective of maintaining the wildlife value of the existing semi-natural habitats on the site and should be removed.

Compartment 13

This compartment consisted of young sessile oak surrounded by dense scrub that extended from the roadbridge to the site entrance and then along the main ride to the start of the new bus lay-by. The scrub consisted of dense Rubus fruticosus and Pteridium aquilinum, Lonicera periclymenum and Ilex aquifolium. Scattered trees among the scrub included Fraxinus excelsior, Betula pubescens, Fagus sylvatica and Quercus petraea. Herbaceous plants under the scrub included Dryopteris dilatata, Luzula sylvatica, Hedera helix, Juncus effusus, Oxalis acetosella, Vicia sepium, Geranium robertianum, Geum urbanum and Brachypodium sylvaticum.


§ Many of the semi-mature trees should eventually mature naturally into high forest. While the area is maturing, the well-lit scrub provides abundant nectar sources, shelter and basking sites for invertebrates and should be left untouched. Minimal clearance around some of the young sessile oak may be necessary to bring them on to a stage where they can outcompete the scrub and grow to maturity.

Compartment 14

The external woodland edge below the road on the south and east sides of the wood was well-structured with dense scrubby growth extending out into the surrounding fields of rough pasture for up to 6 m from the boundary fence and embankment in places. Some of the fields were lightly grazed by horses and were cut for hay in late July. This well-structured edge is ideal for nesting birds and the warm south-facing well-lit sheltered edges with abundant nectar sources encouraged butterflies, e.g. speckled wood.

Ulex europaeus, Pteridium aquilinum and Rubus fruticosus were the main species in the scrub. Salix aurita and Salix cinerea also occurred. Some of the fields had wet flushes. The flora of these flushes included Galium palustre, Cirsium palustre, Glyceria sp. and Carex remota.

A diverse flora occurred along the ditch and embankments bordering the fields
including Fagus sylvatica, Ilex aquifolium, Lysimachia nemorum, Blechnum spicant, Lonicera periclymenum, Rumex sanguineus, Hypericum androsaemum, Teucrium scorodonia, Oxalis acetosella, Luzula sylvatica, Hyacinthoides non-scriptus, Hypericum pulchrum, Quercus petraea, Pteridium aquilinum, Vaccinium myrtillus, Betula pubescens, Stellaria holostea, Dryopteris filix-mas, Ulex europaeus, Athyrium filix-femina, Dryopteris dilatata, Rubus fruticosus, Dactylis glomerata and Salix cinerea.

In the more open areas of rough grassland, Poa trivialis, Holcus lanatus, Arrhenatherum elatius, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Agrostis sp., Stellaria graminea, Rumex acetosa, Lolium perenne, Rumex obtusifolius, Juncus effusus and Hypericum pulchrum occurred. The fauna included blue tit, pheasant and wood pigeon. Meadow brown butterflies were common in the rough grassland.

Wet grassland occurred along the stream that flows into the Avonmore River at the northeastern corner of the site. The flora in this area included Cirsium palustre, Senecio aquaticus, Glyceria fluitans, Ranunculus flammula and Juncus effusus.


§ The woodland edge bordering the fields below the road has a well-structured vegetation due to a lack of intensive grazing pressure. Ideally the fields surrounding the woodland should become part of the existing Special Area of Conservation to act as a buffer zone for the wood. At the very least, negotiations should take place between Dúchas, Coillte Teoranta and the landowners to ensure that the well structured sheltered woodland edge that is ideal for birds and invertebrates are maintained in its present state. A strip of scrub and rough grassland a few metres wide may be all that is required to maintain the edge habitat and should not impact adversely on agricultural income to any appreciable extent.

Compartment 15

The internal woodland ride edges and glades supported the most diverse flora on the site. A damp grassy glade occurred where the western and eastern rides meet. The glade had extensive areas of bare ground that was colonised with ruderal plant species. The glade drops 2 m on its northern side to the dry and wet downy birch scrubs (Compartments 12A & 12B). Widely-spaced Salix cinerea and Corylus avellana and shade-tolerant herbaceous species occurred on this side of the glade including Luzula sylvatica, Rubus fruticosus, Rumex sanguineus, Alliaria petiolata and Veronica chamaedrys.

On its southern edge, the glade was bound by a narrow strip of remnant sessile oak woodland with a typical understorey and ground flora including Corylus avellana, Betula pubescens, Rubus fruticosus, Carex remota, Lysimachia nemorum, Pteridium aquilinum, Blechnum spicant, Geranium robertianum, Ilex aquifolium, Carex sylvatica, Luzula sylvatica and Oxalis acetosella. Other trees and shrubs included Pinus sylvestris, Salix cinerea, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana and Picea abies.

The disturbed areas in the glade consisted of wasteground species interspersed with those typical of a more grassland habitat.

The flora included Rumex obtusifolius, Tussilago farfara, Potentilla anserina, Epilobium montanum, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Holcus lanatus, Lotus corniculatus, Hypochoeris radicata, Cirsium palustre, Ranunculus repens, Juncus effusus, Carex ovalis, Ranunculus acris, Trifolium pratense, Rumex acetosa, Senecio jacobaea, Crepis sp., Bellis perennis, Potentilla reptans, Centaurea nigra, Centaurium erythraea, Juncus bufonius, Epilobium brunnescens, Agrostis stolonifera, Poa annua, Juncus articulatus, Veronica serpyllifolia, Lepidium heterophyllum, Petasites hybridus, Sonchus asper, Geranium dissectum and Cardamine flexuosa. Lepidium heterophyllum and Centaurium erythraea were common in places. The garden throwouts Aquilegia vulgaris (blue-flowered form) and Geranium versicolor were also recorded.

On the bare ground of the eastern ride that floods in places after rain, the flora included Lotus corniculatus, Lotus uliginosus, Plantago major, Trifolium repens, Trifolium pratense, Gnaphalium uliginosum, Centaurium erythraea, Juncus effusus, Juncus articulatus, Euphrasia agg., Senecio jacobaea, Juncus bufonius, Hypericum humifusum, Sonchus asper, Agrostis stolonifera and Aira caryophyllea.

The edges of the eastern ride consisted of a mosaic of dense birch scrub, bramble thickets and more open areas of dry and damp grassland. The flora of the dry birch scrub included Ilex aquifolium, Fraxinus excelsior, Calluna vulgaris, Ulex europaeus, Pteridium aquilinum, Vaccinium myrtillus, Lonicera periclymenum, Fagus sylvatica, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, Cytisus scoparius, Digitalis purpurea, Luzula multiflora, Stachys sylvatica, Rubus fruticosus, Luzula sylvatica, Hyacinthoides non-scriptus, Calluna vulgaris, Hypericum pulchrum, Carex remota, Alliaria petiolata, Ranunculus repens, Carex sylvatica, Deschampsia caespitosa and Salix cinerea.

Pinus sylvestris, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Quercus petraea and Tsuga heterophylla regeneration was also observed along the ride edges. In dense bramble, a nest of the wasp Dolichovespula norwegica was seen.

The grassland flora included Lotus corniculatus, Cirsium palustre, Ranunculus acris, Holcus lanatus, Ranunculus repens, Hypericum tetrapterum, Alchemilla sp., Cerastium fontanum, Euphrasia agg,, Vicia sativa, Stellaria holostea, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Cynosurus cristatus, Lotus uliginosus, Vicia cracca, Carex flacca, Hypochoeris radicata, Dactylis glomerata, Carex ovalis, Juncus effusus, Centaurea nigra, Galium mollugo, Festuca rubra, Potentilla anglicum, Bellis perennis, Juncus effusus, Stellaria graminea, Rumex acetosa, Trifolium dubium, Trifolium repens,Trifolium pratense, Luzula multiflora, Deschampsia caespitosa, Senecio jacobaea, Prunella vulgaris, Cerastium fontanum, Polygala vulgaris, Centaurium erythraea and Veronica officinalis.

Two species of grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus and Myrmeleotettix maculatus) were recorded in the grassland. Meadow brown, common blue, speckled wood and green-veined white butterflies were also seen along the ride edge or in the grassy glades.

The edges of the western ride at the time of survey also included dense scrub with associated shade-tolerant herbaceous species and more open areas of grassland. Most of this edge except for the section between the site entrance and the bus lay-by was subsequently removed when the ride was resurfaced in July. The scrub that sometimes reached the ride edge consisted of Ulex europaeus, Corylus avellana, dense Rubus fruticosus and Pteridium aquilinum and saplings of Betula pubescens and Salix cinerea. Pinus sylvestris, Larix sp., Salix aurita, Ilex aquifolium, Picea abies and Abies alba were also observed. These were probably a result of natural regeneration.

Under the scrub, shade tolerant species occurred including Carex sylvatica, Carex remota, Luzula sylvatica, Geranium robertianum, Hypericum androsaemum, Juncus effusus, Calluna vulgaris, Vaccinium myrtillus, Blechnum spicant, Luzula multiflora and Dryopteris filix-mas.

The flora of the dry sometimes rough grassland included Cynosurus cristatus, Holcus lanatus, Plantago lanceolata, Lotus corniculatus, Rumex acetosa, Dactylis glomerata, Trifolium pratense, Hypochoeris radicata, Centaurea nigra, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Ranunculus acris, Cirsium palustre, Lotus uliginosus, Veronica officinalis, Carex ovalis, Carex flacca, Juncus effusus, Trifolium repens, Plantago lanceolata, Lysimachia nemorum, Veronica chamaedrys, Luzula campestris, Senecio jacobaea and Lathyrus pratensis. Heathland species included Hypericum pulchrum and Potentilla erecta.

The flora of the damper areas included Juncus effusus, Deschampsia caespitosa, Carex ovalis, Cirsium palustre and Poa trivialis. The common hawker dragonfly (Aeshna juncea) was observed hunting along the main rides.


§ The glade with the garden throwouts should be maintained as open space as it contains flora not found elsewhere on the site, e.g. Lepidium heterophyllum. The northern edge of this glade is gappy and therefore facilitates dumping. Remove the dumped material and create a graded woodland edge by planting Corylus avellana, Crataegus monogyna, Populus tremula, Ulex europaeus, Betula pubescens, Pteridium aquilinum, Cytisus scoparius, Sorbus aucuparia, Prunus spinosa and Rubus fruticosus. All planting stock should be derived from locally collected seed.
§ Bare disturbed ground that has arisen as a result of trampling by walkers, site workers and pony trekking occurs along the damp rides. These areas add to the biodiversity of the site as annual plants favouring disturbed ground have colonised these areas. The ground in the glade and along the eastern ride has a diverse suite of plant species and should not be intentionally disturbed. Visitor traffic will maintain areas of disturbed bare ground that will act as a seedbed for the annual plants. Bare ground is also used as nesting sites for solitary wasps and hunting and as a basking area for warmth-loving invertebrates.
§ Maintain the balance between dense scrub and open grassland areas along the eastern ride and near the site entrance by cutting back the encroaching scrub when necessary. The well-lit Bramble is good for invertebrates providing nectar sources, nestsites for birds such as wren, robin and blackbird and the wasp Dolichovespula norwegica and overwintering and hibernation sites for many invertebrates. This bramble should largely be retained at the edge of the glade at the northern end of the eastern ride except where minimal cutting back will be required to enlarge the glade for butterfly conservation. The scrub can be cut back to the ditches bordering both sides of the eastern ride in places in order to allow a grassland sward and Calluna vulgaris to spread. In these instances the scrub on the other side of the ditches will become the scrub edge. The rides and glades should be cut on rotation every 3-7 years depending on the growth rate of the vegetation with no more than 10% of the length of any ride cut in one year.
§ A few of the regenerating Pinus sylvestris in the scrub patches along the eastern ride edge can be allowed to grow to maturity to add visual interest along the rides. However the Scots pine that is encroaching on the open areas of grassland should be removed.
§ Develop a well-structured edge of scrub and grassland along the northern side of the widened and resurfaced western ride. Native trees could be planted including Sorbus aucuparia, Pinus sylvestris and Quercus petraea. Shrubs could include Corylus avellana, Ilex aquifolium, Crataegus monogyna and Prunus spinosa.
§ A sunlit glade of grassland and scattered scrub could be created by cutting a glade 20 m x 30 m into the woodland on the south side of the western ride for butterflies and other invertebrates. The experimental Norway spruce area precludes the creation of glades on the north side of the ride for the foreseeable future. However this could be considered in the long term. Sections of the 2-m high clayey banks on the south side of the western ride can be left unmodified at intervals as they may attract solitary bees and wasps that excavate their nestsites in such substrates.
§ An area of grassland and scrub near the site entrance was not altered when the western ride was resurfaced. These areas form a valuable edge habitat that should be retained. The scrub is starting to encroach too much on the open grassland area and should therefore be cut back.
§ Recreational users should be encouraged to stick to the rides especially during the bird-breeding season.

Compartment 16

This compartment consisted of the stream that forms the northern boundary of the woodland that flows into the Avonmore River. The Eastern Regional Fisheries Board considered the stream unsuitable for salmonids at the time of survey due to a poor stream substrate, the steepness of the stream channel and low water flows.

The Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is protected under the EU Habitats Directive (Annex II) and also under the Bern convention (Annex III). Salmon have been recorded by the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board as far upstream as Trooperstown Wood and also in the Ow catchment.

Fry and parr have been known in the Ballygannon stretch of the Avonmore River since 1989. Most recently they were caught by electrofishing carried out by the Eastern Regional Fisheries Board in 1999. Agricultural activities are not considered to be having an impact on water quality along this stretch. Another point source that has the potential to impact on the Avonmore River is the Sheering-Plough plant that is situated just upstream of the roadbridge. The enhancement of the river as a whole for salmon is considered to rely on the control of other activities in the Avonmore catchment for example control of discharges from the Avoca mines.

Nevertheless, the stream corridor consisted of a good mix of well-lit and shaded areas. The dappled shade cast by the overhanging Ilex aquifolium and Corylus avellana attracted speckled wood butterflies.

On the damp soil of the streambanks, the bryophyte cover consisted of Pellia epiphylla, Rhizomnium punctatum and Plagiochila porelloides. Bryophytes formed an extensive cover on the wet instream and bankside rocks further adding to the diversity of the site.

The stream corridor had a flora characteristic of damp streamsides including Carex remota, Crepis paludosa, Galium palustre, Chrysosplenium oppositifolium, Cardamine flexuosa, Senecio aquaticus, Athyrium filix-femina and Valeriana officinale. Mixed woodland with a well-developed ground flora extends down to the stream banks on both sides. The woodland flora included Fagus sylvatica, Acer pseudoplatanus, Blechnum spicant, Luzula sylvatica, Dryopteris filix-mas, Corylus avellana, Pteridium aquilinum, Lonicera periclymenum, Oxalis acetosella, Rubus fruticosus, Dryopteris dilatata, Fraxinus excelsior, Ilex aquifolium, Juncus effusus, Hedera helix, Lonicera periclymenum, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Geranium robertianum and Betula pubescens. In disturbed areas, Galium aparine and Urtica dioica were observed.

Alnus glutinosa occurred where the stream entered the Avonmore River but was otherwise rare in the site as a whole.

Dead wood is abundant throughout the stream corridor. Several oak and hazel trunks have fallen across the stream. These form a vital part of the deadwood habitat.

The long horn beetle Strangelia maculata was observed on the dense sunlit areas of bramble near the roadbridge.


§ Although the stream is unsuitable for salmonids at least during low flows, it is still important for its wetland flora including semi-aquatic bryophytes while the sunlit areas are attractive for invertebrates including long horn beetles. No management is necessary in this area and the stream corridor vegetation should be left to develop naturally. However the corridor should be monitored at intervals to ensure that the balance of sunlit and shaded areas is being maintained.
§ Dead wood should be left in situ along the stream corridor, e.g. the larvae of most species of long horn beetle complete their long lifecycle (2-3 years or more) in dead wood. The spreading of disease from deadwood is not considered to be a major problem in a non-commercial forest. At a minimum, the standards laid down by the new Forest Service environmental guidelines on forestry and biodiversity with regard to leaving deadwood on site should be followed (Forest Service, in press).

Compartment 17

This compartment comprised the Avonmore River corridor. A number of instream and bankside habitats were identified along the Avonmore River. Instream habitats included scrub-covered river islands, runs, bare shingle, vegetated shingle, riffles, bryophyte-covered (e.g. Fontinalis antipyretica) instream boulder beds, beds of aquatic submerged vegetation (Ranunculus peltatus), seasonally flooded river gravels with Salix cinerea and Alnus glutinosa scrub and open-ended backwaters. On the drier parts of the boulder beds, swards of Oenanthe crocata were prevalent.

Riverbank habitats included eroding earth cliffs, rough damp grassland, Pteridium aquilinum swards, tall herb and marsh communities of waterlogged ground, woodland remnants and dense scrub. Tall herb and marsh communities included Senecio aquaticus, Stachys palustris, Angelica sylvestris, Viola palustris, Juncus effusus, Tussilago farfara, Caltha palustris and Ranunculus flammula.

The flora of the open rough damp grassland areas consisted of Holcus lanatus, Stellaria holostea, Dactylis glomerata, Senecio aquaticus, Angelica sylvestris, Deschampsia caespitosa, Poa trivialis, Festuca rubra, Galium mollugo, Valeriana officinalis, Arrhenatherum elatius, Agrostis canina, Agrostis capillaris, Galium aparine, Ranunculus repens, Rumex obtusifolius and Rumex acetosa, Hyacinthoides non-scriptus, Conopodium majus and Lithospermum officinale. In some areas, Pteridium aquilinum was colonising the grassland. The banded agrion damselfly (Calopteryx splendens) was observed hunting among the riverside vegetation.

Dense scrub occurred at intervals parallel to the river extending up to the ditch for most of its length. This double ditch was probably constructed to keep out grazing animals from the formerly coppiced areas. The scrub flora included dense stands of Betula pubescens, Ulex europaeus, Rubus fruticosus, semi-mature Fraxinus excelsior, Ilex aquifolium, Pteridium aquilinum, Luzula sylvatica, Teucrium scorodonia, Lonicera periclymenum, Rubus idaeus, Salix cinerea, Calluna vulgaris, Deschampsia caespitosa, Digitalis purpurea, Sorbus aucuparia, Corylus avellana, Cytisus scoparius, Juncus effusus, Stellaria holostea, Blechnum spicant, Oxalis acetosella and Hyacinthoides non-scriptus.

Occasionally young specimens of Quercus petraea, Alnus glutinosa, Ilex aquifolium, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana and Picea sitchensis were also observed.

Semi-open areas with dappled shade occurred at intervals between the dense scrub consisting of dense bracken, Lathyrus montanus, Vicia sepium, Potentilla anserina, Holcus lanatus, Urtica dioica and Digitalis purpurea. In 1988, Quercus petraea and a little Picea sitchensis were planted in these areas. The sessile oak has become overtopped by the bracken in some areas but eventually should push through to maturity. The speckled wood butterfly and the banded agrion damselfly were observed in these areas.

Ulex europaeus formed pure stands in some areas notably opposite the river bluff on the northern side of the river. The rare plant Orobanche rapus-genistae was found underneath the gorse.
The discovery of a population of Orobanche rapus-genistae along the Avonmore River is a significant record. It is a parasitic plant on the roots of Ulex europaeus and Cytisus scoparius.

Since records began, this plant has been recorded from only twenty-eight 10 km squares in the whole of Ireland. It is currently known from only nine localities in eight 10 km squares including sites in botanical vicecounties Cork, Offaly, South Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow. The most recent Wicklow sites are at Kilbride-Ballysmuttan, Arklow Head and at the head of Lough Dan and the present site at Ballygannon.
It was not listed on the Flora Protection Order 1999 (S.I. No. 94 of 1999) but it nevertheless is considered to be very rare (Webb et al., 1977). It was formerly fairly frequent near the south and east coasts but has declined due to land clearance and reclamation of its Ulex europaeus-dominated heath. It may be that it is more common than records suggest due to the widespread distribution of its host species. However until its distribution has been confirmed it is recommended that all the patches of Ulex europaeus along the Avonmore be retained.

The vertical clay banks on the north side of the river are potential breeding sites for sand martin and kingfisher. On the 28th July 2000, members of the Rathdrum Anglers Association saw a pair of kingfishers near Rathdrum. Sand martins are already known to nest 1 mile upstream of Ballygannon Wood in the Vale of Clara. The grassland areas provide seeds and shelter insects for birds and nesting cover for mallard.

Riverside trees included scattered individuals of Acer pseudoplatanus, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Pinus sylvestris, Picea abies, Fagus sylvatica, Quercus petraea, Fraxinus excelsior, Corylus avellana and Sorbus aucuparia. Fishlife benefits from the invertebrates falling into the water from the bankside vegetation and trees. In addition, the dappled shade cast by these trees maintains a lower summer water temperature suitable for certain types of fish. The original sessile oak woodland flora survives near the river in small areas including dense stands of Luzula sylvatica, Oxalis acetosella and Dryopteris filix-mas.

There were two large river islands along the surveyed stretch of the Avonmore River. The largest was approximately 10-15 m x 5 m. The river island flora consisted of damp grassland and marsh species including Senecio aquaticus, Dactylis glomerata, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Valeriana officinale, Lotus uliginosus, Carex ovalis, Ranunculus flammula, Mentha aquaticus, Oenanthe crocata and Galium palustre.

The fauna included otter (Lutra lutra) whose prints and droppings were observed where a drain enters the river (see map). Mallard, grey wagtail, a pair of herons, frog (Rana temporaria), cranefly (Tipula sp.) and the banded agrion damselfly (Calopteryx splendens) were also observed. The frog is protected under the Wildlife Act 1976. It is also listed under Annex V of the EU Habitats Directive. It is recommended that a management plan is drawn up if Annex V species are going to be exploited.

The Dublin Bat Group downstream of Ballygannon at Avondale has recorded a number of bat species. Some of the same species could be found at Ballygannon.


§ There are no obvious threats to these habitats from such activities as angling or overgrazing damage by cattle. However scrub encroachment on the open grassland areas may be a problem in the future. It is recommended that the existing pattern of scrub and grassland along the river be maintained. The scrub should be cut back every 3-7 years depending on growth rates to prevent it from taking over the grassland areas.
§ The otter is protected under Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive. No additional rides should be installed along the river as this may result in excessive disturbance to the otter population.
§ The freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) is also considered a priority species for conservation under Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive as it is threatened in Europe as a whole. The closest recorded site for this species is the Aughrim River at Woodenbridge. This is however an old record from 1928 (Dúchas, pers. comm.). The acid well-oxygenated oligotrophic clean waters of the Avonmore River at Ballygannon have the potential to support Margaritifera margaritifera. Any sedimentation due to forestry activities and eutrophication from agricultural discharges will negatively impact on the habitat of this species and should be adequately controlled. Likewise good water quality is required for the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus). The Eastern Regional Fisheries Board caught a specimen 2 Ib in weight in the Avonmore River in 1999. This species is listed for protection under Annex II of the Habitats Directive. In order to preserve water quality in the Avonmore River, the latest environmental guidelines on forestry and water quality should be followed (Forest Service, in press).
§ Many of the trees along the river are semi-mature. These should be allowed to reach maturity to enhance the riverside landscape. In addition, as they overmature rotholes that develop in the trunks and larger branches will provide potential nesting sites for mallard and possibly goosander. There have been a series of reports since 1993 of the fish-eating Goosander on Wicklow lakes especially on the Avonmore system.
§ Overmature trees with dry rotholes also provide roosting and breeding sites for bats. In addition, dead wood on over-mature trees support saproxylic insects. To maintain the continuity of the deadwood habitat in the future, riverside trees should be planted. All tree plantings should be derived from local stock. Suitable species include Fraxinus excelsior, Quercus petraea, Alnus glutinosa and Salix spp.
§ A number of measures can be taken to minimise disturbance of any bat species that may be present. Some bats rely on hollow trees for winter hibernation sites and summer roosts. Retain any old hollow trees throughout the site except where they must be felled for reasons of public safety. If a tree must be felled for reasons of public safety, first check for the presence of bats. Maintaining the existing pattern of scrub and rough grassland along the Avonmore River will provide suitable feeding areas for bats, e.g. the whiskered bat likes open areas and woodland especially with rivers and ponds, Natterer's bat likes woodland adjacent to rivers and Daubenton's bat hunts over open water. It is recommended that a bat survey be commissioned at Ballygannon Wood as soon as possible so as to draw up a bat conservation plan if necessary.
§ Rathdrum Anglers Association plan to create a ride for walkers and access for anglers on the north side of the river in conjunction with Coillte Teoranta and Lord Meath. Fishing occurs along the Avonmore River on the Ballygannon side, access being by a riverside ride that generally affords a clear passage along the riverbank apart from a short overgrown section. Providing access for anglers and walkers on the Ballygannon side of the river would require minimal scrub clearance to facilitate access and the lopping of the lower branches of a few trees to facilitate casting. When carrying out this work it is recommended that the areas of dense gorse be avoided as they hold a population of the rare plant Orobanche rapus-genistae. The existing riverside ride could link up with the main eastern ride above the river to provide a more varied walking experience to visitors. Cutting back of branches to facilitate access or to provide a view down the river should be minimal as overhanging branches shade fish and may also provide fishing perches for kingfisher.
§ A sign depicting the wildlife and history of the Avonmore River may raise awareness of the sensitivity of this freshwater ecosystem.
§ Cattle are at present excluded from the Avonmore River corridor by farm fences and ditches. If cattle enter this corridor as a result of a breakage in the fence, they should be removed as soon as possible.


Flora Recorded at Ballygannon Wood, Co. Wicklow

Abies alba
Acer pseudoplatanus
Agrostis canina
Agrostis capillaris
Agrostis stolonifera
Aira caryophyllea
Alchemilla sp.
Alliaria petiolata
Alnus glutinosa
Angelica sylvestris
Anthoxanthum odoratum
Aquilegia vulgaris
Arrhenatherum elatius
Athyrium filix-femina
Bellis perennis
Betula pubescens
Blechnum spicant
Brachypodium sylvaticum
Callitriche sp.
Calluna vulgaris
Caltha palustris
Calypogeia sp.
Cardamine flexuosa
Cardamine pratensis
Carex binervis
Carex echinata
Carex flacca
Carex ovalis
Carex pendula
Carex remota
Carex sylvatica
Centaurea nigra
Centaurium erythraea
Cerastium fontanum
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana
Chrysosplenium oppositifolium
Cirsium arvense
Cirsium palustre
Cirsium vulgare
Conium maculatum
Conopodium majus
Corylus avellana
Cotoneaster sp.
Crataegus monogyna

Flora Recorded at Ballygannon Wood, Co. Wicklow (contd.)

Crepis paludosa
Crepis sp.
Cynosurus cristatus
Cytisus scoparius
Dactylis glomerata
Dactylorrhiza maculata
Deschampsia caespitosa
Deschampsia flexuosa
Digitalis purpurea
Dryopteris dilatata
Dryopteris filix-mas
Epilobium angustifolium
Epilobium brunnescens
Epilobium montanum
Equisetum sylvaticum
Euphrasia agg,
Fagus sylvatica
Festuca rubra
Fontinalis antipyretica
Fraxinus excelsior
Galium aparine
Galium mollugo
Galium palustre
Galium saxatile
Geranium dissectum
Geranium robertianum
Geranium versicolor
Geum urbanum
Glyceria fluitans
Gnaphalium uliginosum
Hedera helix
Holcus lanatus
Holcus mollis
Hyacinthoides non-scriptus
Hypericum androsaemum
Hypericum humifusum
Hypericum pulchrum
Hypericum tetrapterum
Hypnum cupressiforme
Hypochoeris radicata
Ilex aquifolium
Isothecium myosuroides
Jasione montana
Juncus articulatus
Juncus bufonius

Flora Recorded at Ballygannon Wood, Co. Wicklow (contd.)

Juncus effusus
Larix decidua
Lathyrus montanus
Lathyrus pratensis
Leontodon autumnalis
Lepidium heterophyllum
Lepidozia reptans
Lithospermum officinale
Lolium perenne
Lonicera periclymenum
Lotus corniculatus
Lotus uliginosus
Luzula campestris
Luzula multiflora
Luzula sylvatica
Lysimachia nemorum
Melampyrum pratense
Mentha aquaticus
Mnium hornum
Myosotis secunda
Oenanthe crocata
Orobanche rapus-genistae
Oxalis acetosella
Pellia epiphylla
Petasites hybridus
Picea abies
Picea sitchensis
Pinus sylvestris
Plagiochila porelloides
Plantago lanceolata
Plantago major
Poa annua
Poa trivialis
Polygala vulgaris
Polypodium sp.
Polytrichum formosum
Polystichum setiferum
Potamogeton natans
Potentilla anglica
Potentilla anserina
Potentilla erecta
Potentilla reptans
Prunella vulgaris
Prunus avium
Prunus laurocerasus

Flora Recorded at Ballygannon Wood, Co. Wicklow (contd.)

Prunus spinosa
Pseudotsuga menziesii
Pteridium aquilinum
Quercus petraea
Ranunculus acris
Ranunculus flammula
Ranunculus peltatus
Ranunculus repens
Rhizomnium punctatum
Rhododendron ponticum
Rhytidiadelphus loreus
Rosa canina
Rubus fruticosus
Rubus idaeus
Rumex acetosa
Rumex acetosella
Rumex obtusifolius
Rumex sanguineus
Salix aurita
Salix cinerea
Sambucus nigra
Scrophularia nodosa
Senecio aquaticus
Senecio jacobaea
Sonchus asper
Sonchus oleraceus
Sorbus aucuparia
Sphagnum palustre
Stachys palustris
Stachys sylvatica
Stellaria graminea
Stellaria holostea
Teucrium scorodonia
Thuidium tamariscinum
Trifolium dubium
Trifolium pratense
Trifolium repens
Tsuga heterophylla
Tussilago farfara
Ulex europaeus
Urtica dioica.
Vaccinium myrtillus
Valariana officinalis
Veronica chamaedrys
Veronica montana


Flora Recorded at Ballygannon Wood, Co. Wicklow (contd.)

Veronica serpyllifolia
Vicia cracca
Vicia sativa
Vicia sepium
Viola palustris
Viola sp.


Fungi Recorded at Ballygannon Wood, Co. Wicklow

Birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus)
Sulphur tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare)
Larch bolete (Suillus grevillei)
False chanterelle (Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca)
Dog stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)
Marasmiellus ramealis
Omphalina griseopallida
Boletus pulverulentus
Amanita sp.


Vertebrates Recorded at Ballygannon Wood, Co. Wicklow
(s) Denotes record from secondary sources

Otter (Lutra lutra)
Fallow deer (Dama dama)
Sika deer (Cervus nippon) (s)
Badger (Meles meles)
Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) (s)
Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
Hare (Lepus timidus hibernicus) (s)
Fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Mink (Mustela vison) (s)

At the end of 1999, the Dublin Bat Group recorded the following species of bat downstream of Ballygannon Wood at Avondale:

Pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) (s)
Long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus) (s)
Leisler's bat (Nyctalus leisleri) (s)
Daubenton's bat (Myotis daubentoni) (s)
Whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus) (s)

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Raven (Corvus corax)
Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Wood pigeon (Columba palumbus)
Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)
Magpie (Pica pica)
Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) (s)
Sand martin (Riparia riparia) (s)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Robin (Erithacus rubecula) (adult and juvenile)
Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Blue tit (Parus caeruleus)
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) (s)
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) (s)
Wood warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) (s)
Coot (Fulica atra) (s)

Vertebrates Recorded at Ballygannon Wood, Co. Wicklow (contd.)
(s) Denotes record from secondary sources

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) (s)
Goosander (Mergus merganser) (s)
Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) (s)
Coal tit (Parus ater)
Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus)

Minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus) (s)
Salmon (Salmo salar) (s)
European eel (Anguilla anguilla) (s)
Brown trout (Salmo trutta) (s)
Sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) (s)

Common frog (Rana temporaria)


Invertebrates Recorded at Ballygannon Wood, Co. Wicklow


Coleoptera (beetles)
Wasp beetle (Clytus arietis)
7-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata)
Geotrupes sp.
Strangelia maculata
Rhagonycha fulva

Andricus kollari (gall wasp that causes marble galls on Quercus petraea)
Bombus lucorum

Heomyia capreae (gall on leaves of Salix cinerea)

Common field grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus)
Mottled grasshopper (Myrmeleotettix maculatus)

Glomeris marginata
Tachypodoiulus niger

Mollusca (molluscs)
Discus rotundatus

Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria ssp. tircis)
Peacock (Inachis io)
Meadow brown (Maniola jurtina ssp. iernes)
Common blue (Polyommatus icarus ssp. mariscolore)
Green-veined White (Pieris napi ssp. britannica)

Holly blue (Celastrina argiolus) may have been sighted but this awaits confirmation. It has been recorded in the Vale of Clara

Tipula sp.
Episyrphus balteatus

Banded agrion (Calopteryx splendens)
Common darter (Sympetrum striolatum)
Common hawker (Aeshna juncea)


The author is indebted to the following people for invaluable comments and advice during the course of this survey: Dúchas research and administrative staff - John Cross, Mike Wyse-Jackson and Tom Curtis; Coillte research, technical and administrative staff - Declan Little, Kevin Collins, Ted Lynch, Barry Code, Michael Doyle, John McLoughlin, Pat Noonan, Mick Kane, Aileen O'Sullivan. The author would also like to thank Brian Keeley (Dublin Bat Group), Rathdrum Anglers Association, Jim O'Brien (Eastern Regional Fisheries Board), Justin Ivory (Wicklow Branch of IWC Birdwatch Ireland), IWC Birdwatch Ireland Head Office, Nick Mulloy and Ger O'Byrne (Wicklow Town Local Office, Department of Agriculture), Michael Almore (Teagasc Local Office, Wicklow Town), Tom O'Neill (Heritage Officer, Wicklow County Council), Diarmuid McAree (Forest Service), Des Crofton (National Association of Regional Game Councils), Mary Kelly-Quinn and Tom Hayden (Dept. of Zoology, University College Dublin) and Michael Bulfin (Teagasc, Kinsealy, Co. Dublin).


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Bibliography (contd.)

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*Please note that it was not possible to reproduce figures for inclusion on the website version of the reports.