We had a great day on Sunday celebrating (gulp, deep breath) the UN International Day for Biological Diversity (or simply ‘Biodiversity Day’ as I like to call it!).
There were two free events happening at the same time. In west Cork, local expert Patrick Goyverts led 32 people on a tour around the Glengarriff Nature Reserve, taking in the Big Meadow Walk and Lady Bantry’s Lookout Point.
Meanwhile in Cork City, with the help of the Cork Branch of the Irish Wildlife Trust we had a Wildflower Walk around the amazing Beaumont Quarry led by ecologist Jo Goodyear.
The quarry is an oasis for wildlife in Cork’s suburbs. Originally quarried to provide limestone for St Finbarr’s Cathederal and Beaumont House (residence of the Beamish family), it has been recolonised by wildlife over the past 50 years. The steep slopes below the limestone pinnacles support a surprisingly diverse calcareous grassland, including Fairy Flax, Yellow Rattle, Eyebright and Wild Carrot. A taller grassland is found on flatter ground where the presence of anthills and grass tussocks reflects the lack of grazing and mowing. The rocks themselves support the nationally rare Little Robin flower, while the Quarry floor now supports wet grassland and willow woodland and the slopes are wooded with Ash, Sycamore and Oak providing shelter for nesting birds.
During the walk we explored the various habitats of the quarry, paying particular attention to the limestone grassland flowers and to the issue of monitoring and controlling invasive alien species. Japanese Knotweed is abundant at this site – originally a decorative escape from Victorian gardens but now rapidly expanding its range across Ireland. Snowberry and Winter Heliotrope have a similar provenance.
The walk was led by Jo Goodyear, an experienced botanist with a particular interest in grassland ecology. She has worked for the UK’s Institute for Grassland and Environmental Research and as an ecological consultant, as well as volunteering for Irish Wildlife Trust. She is also interested in wild foods and medicines.
We hope to run some more similar events this year and ideas include the Geara in west Cork and the Salt Marshes in Ballycotton, east Cork. Let us know if you have any other ideas for biodiversity themed events (with local experts).]]>