We celebrated National Tree Week at Booterstown Park on March 7 th. We were ably assisted by the third class from Our Lady’s School. Mairead Meighan and Rebecca Meighan welcomed the class. Councillor Victor Boyhan gave horticultural advice to the diggers advising that they would enjoy the beech tree in years to come. Afterwards Alison Carter brought them bird watching to the Williamstown Creek where they were delighted by the close proximity of several teal, green shank and godwit.

March 9 th was a beautiful spring day at Booterstown. Our first walk kicked off with leader Katherine Duff, our youngest follower was just 8 years old. We viewed the Williamstown Creek and sluice gate which facilitates the flow of water both into and out of the nature reserve.

Crossing the railway bridge we walked along the intertidal area of the beach looking at different seaweeds, molluscs, crabs and the ubiquitous litter and embankment graffiti. When we crossed the Trimleston stream outflow we realised that the embryonic dune system had been greatly reduced due to the December and January storms. The dunes had been flattened and a great amount of sea shells had been deposited there.

We traced our way along the shore returning to Booterstown Nature Reserve to start the botanical walk led by Sara Rublacava. Being the only saltmarsh in south Dublin the reserve is a special and unique place for a wide variety of diverse plants in particular the EU protected annual grass Puccinellia fasciculate.

As it is tidal the marsh is alternatively full and relatively empty of water. In this brackish water the plants must endure not only salty conditions but constant wetting and drying which makes survival difficult in this harsh environment. We looked at the Nutley stream which is the main source of fresh water to the marsh where birds come to drink.

It was this steam which suffered an oil leak last October from an oil release from a road culvert back. Prompt action by the Dun Laoghaire Association and Dublin County Council prevented serious damage to the marsh and its wildlife.

Our final walk on birds was with Sean Hogan from the Bootestown reserve committee. He both informed and entertained us with his great knowledge of the identification and habits of land, sea and marsh birds. Unfortunately no light bellied Brent geese were present but sizeable numbers of godwit, sanderling, teal, knot and greenshanks were and one little egret. All could be seen busily foraging in the rich mud for small crustaceans and worms.

Land birds sang from the trees even their song could be identified by Sean who told us about the great migrations of birds, their eating habits, selection of mates and the seasonal changes of birds’ genitalia!

So if you want to know more come to our next bird walk on Heritage Sunday August 24 thor in May for National Biodiversity Week. Our thanks to those led our walks which were funded by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government through the Local Agenda 21 Environmental Partnership Fund

Booterstown Spring Clean will take place on April 27 th at 2pm. Meet at Booterstown DART carpark. This year we will be joined by the Irish Wildlife Trust Dublin Branch and students from the Dublin Institute of Technology. This year our event is part of International OCEAN Initiatives 2014 raising awareness of the problems of waterways litter. All welcome, tea afterwards. Info: R Jeffares 087 9537959