Saturday, May 20, 2017

Fascinating 'Life in the Liffey' afternoon

There was a very good turnout of children and their parents at today's National Biodiversity Week event in Kilcullen, as which the Mayor of Kildare, Cllr Ivan Keatley, officially opened the county's schedule of events for the week, writes Brian Byrne.

The talk and demonstration of the 'Life in the Liffey' was given by Dr Jan Baars of UCD, a local resident and expert in river biology. It is the third year he has given this talk, in association with Kilcullen Community Action/Tidy Towns.

Cllr Keatley, who was introduced by County Kildare Heritage Officer Bridget Loughlin, noted that Kildare has a rich and diverse national heritage with a wide variety of wildlife habitats, including peatlands, grassland, woodland, hedgerows, rivers and canals.

"Even urban areas have wildlife in parks and green spaces, stone walls and bridges," he added, "and this week is a chance to explore it all, with a little help from experts such as Dr Baars."

He thanked KCA/Tidy Towns for organising the event, and noted the efforts of the group through the year in keeping the town looking well.

Dr Baars said it was great to see how many had turned out, especially the children. He had earlier provided worksheets so that they could identify the various examples of river insect life which had been caught and placed in trays around the riverside nature trail point at Bridge Camphill.

"We're very lucky to have such a big river in such good condition, teeming with life," he told his audience, adding that the good state of the river was down to 'unseen' hard work by a number of state bodies and landowners whoe property bordered the waterway.

For the next hour or so, those present were able to get up close and personal with white-clawed crayfish — 'a protected species in Ireland, and if we protect them, we are protecting a lot of other things'.

Other specimens temporarily lifted from the river included baby salmon, trout, and minnows. As part of the demonstration, the children were shown what the fish had eaten in the last while, and could see the links between the insect life they had seen earlier and what the fish fed on.

Ray Kelly, chairman of KCA/Tidy Towns, reminded people of the second Kilcullen event of National Biodiversity Week, on Tuesday 23 May — a Dusk Chorus Walk setting out from the Town Hall at 6.45pm.

In conjunction with Kildare BirdWatch, it will begin with a presentation on the birds of the area including their songs and calls, followed by the Dusk Chorus walk in the locality.

The talk will be presented by Neil Bourke and Tom McCormack, Chairman of BirdWatch Kildare.

All the Diary's pictures of this afternoon can be seen here.