Having cancelled our previous hike due to inclement weather, we headed out with Conservation Ranger, Irene O’ Brien on 22nd August to explore the wilds of the Nephin Mountain range. We couldn’t have asked for a better day – in the middle of an overcast week, the clouds lifted to reveal the peak of Slieve Carr (known locally as Corslieve) at 721m. After a ramble through the forest at Altnabrocky, we made our ascent of Corslieve and looped back around by Scardaun Lough.
The day was interspersed with short breaks and Irene gave an informative insight into the conservation work currently being carried out by NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service) and rangers in the Mayo area. The threats to the uplands and boglands were discussed in detail looking at the impacts on the landscape such as overgrazing, turf cutting, forestry and land management. This area of the park is also home to the Owenduff/Nephin cSAC (Special Area of Conservation) which is under the protection of the EU Habitats Directive. It is the largest example of intact active blanket bog in Ireland as well as Nothern Europe.
This area of the park is of high ecological value and contains nine Annex I habitats, four Annex II species and four Annex I Bird Directive species. The Greenland White-fronted Geese use the bogland and wetland habitats for overwintering, the site is a stronghold for Golden Plover, it holds a breeding population of Merlin and the cliffs and crags provide nesting sites for Peregrine while the boglands provide the hunting areas.
With a great bunch of hill walkers, a whole pile of snacks and good conversation, the day was a great success. We’re already looking forward to the next one!
Photos: Marina Mulligan