Hidden Gems

 

 

There are a lot of hidden gems to try and find at Sheskinmore. There is the list of qualifying species which the Special Area of Conservation ( West of Ardara/Maas Road SAC) and the Special Protection Area (Sheskinmore SPA) is designated for. Not surprisingly, most of these, especially the rare and tiny, are found at Sheskinmore. There is also the equally interesting and elusive species which are there, but hard to find, and that is what makes them challenging but rewarding to look for.

This is my hit list, based on both the formal list of qualifying interests for the SAC and on the ‘hard to find but I know they are there’. Some I’ve seen and I’d like to see again. Others I’ve seen at other locations and some I’ve looked for and failed to find. Petalwort and the Marsh whorl snail require a hand lens and two of the plants are submerged aquatic species.
Aquatic habitats, the lough, the marsh and the coast are clearly important for a lot of the species listed below. The dunes host the Dense-flowered orchid and the Hoary-whitlow grass and are important for the two of the butterfly species. I like the inclusion of the seemingly incongrous woodland species. Red squirrel, Pine marten and Jay are not whats generally associated with Sheskinmore. I should add Red deer as another surprising visitor to the difficult to explore north side.

The Geese, Lapwing and Chough are not hard to come across and are always a pleasure to see. Several birds of prey hunt here, but the difficult to catch sight of, are the two listed below. Water Rail are easier to hear then to see and Twite are likewise, especially when they are in a mixed flock which is restlessly moving about, then its their voice which distinguishes them. I added Chiffchaff because they are likely to occur but haven’t been recorded and they too, are identified more by voice then by sight.
Stephan Hewitt recently captured a Jay on camera in the woodland. The bird species list which he has drawn up over the years, (which is elsewhere on the website) suggests a few species which have still to be recorded so when I’ve finally ticked off the list below there is plenty more to look out for.

PLANTS

1. Dense-flowered Orchid Neotinea maculate Flowers April –June. Previously recorded at G684 963, G687 961 and G690 960.
2. Petalwort Located G6898 9545 adjacent to a rock outcrop at the edge of a dune slack near the middle gates. It becomes dormant during dry periods.
3. Slender Naiad Submerged aquatic plant. Found at 0.5 metre depth in Sheskinmore Lough between July – September.

4. Water Lobelia Aquatic with flowers above the surface. Flowers July-August.
5. Pipewort Aquatic. Flowers July-September
6. Quillwort Submerged aquatic plant.
7. Hoary-whitlow grass A crucifer found in dunes. Flowers June-July.

ANIMALS

8. Otter
9. Common Seal
10. Red Squirrel
11. Pine Marten
12. Marsh whorl snail Vertigo geyeri Eight Vertigo species occur in Ireland, five are found at Sheskinmore. They are all tiny, Vertigo geyeri is 2mmx1mm. It occurs in the Fen on the west side of the marsh. Inside the predator fence on the west side.

Butterflys and Dragonflies

13. Marsh Fritillary Flying time mid-May – mid-July.
14. Small Blue butterfly Flying time mid-May –June.
15. Dingy Skipper butterfly Flying time May – June
16. Black-tailed Skimmer Found at the edge of Sheskinmore and Sandfield loughs. Flying time June – mid August

BIRDS

17. Greenland White-fronted Goose
18. Hen Harrier
19. Merlin
20. Twite
21. Lapwing
22. Water Rail
23. Jay
24. Chiffchaff
25. Chough

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