Bogtastic wildlife year for Girley bog


7th November 2017

Bogtastic wildlife year for Girley bog

The Irish Peatland Conservation Council are delighted to report a bogtastic wildlife year for Girley Bog in Co. Meath. Early in 2017 IPCC were awarded a funding from the Heritage Council through the Community Heritage Grant Scheme to carry out a survey of the cutover areas of the reserve which cover 70ha. We discovered a treasure trove of wildlife and special features on the bog.

We came upon a “lagg zone” during the survey. This interesting feature is the area where the bog wetland meets the dry farmland. Here water from the bog mixes with water from the land with some interesting results. Although the lagg was extremely wet and quaking, there was the most impressive old oak tree literally growing out of the water with branches opening up like arms to the heavens. It must have been growing there for years judging by the size of it and in such a difficult environment.

As the survey month was June we were lucky to see the rare Large Heath Butterfly in flight which was identified by the local champion of Girley Bog – Timothy Sullivan.  And our discoveries did not end there. We recorded beautiful birch woodlands growing on the cutover and purple heather-covered heathlands.  Besides all of those treasures we unearthed the bog moss Sphagnum growing on some parts of the cutover bog. This gives great hope for the future of Girley as this peat forming moss will be the start point for new bog growth with a little conservation management work.

Throughout the season IPCC were keen to encourage the local community to come out with us and help with the survey. We organised a training day for citizen scientists focusing on butterflies. These good people will be able to help with surveys of the butterflies of Girely  Bog next year which is an exciting development given that the rarities that occur there.

Although winter is approaching, the wildlife of Girley Bog still delivers. Earlier this month whilst measuring water levels in the bog we flushed many snipe from the wet areas of the cutover. Snipe wait until the last minute before they rise from the bog taking off in a characteristic zig zag flight and they really do give you a fright each and every time they rise up! Last but not least four whooper swans flew over our heads honking, winter visitors to Ireland from Iceland.

Girley Bog is  a treasure trove for wildlife and all things bog. The results of the IPCC cutover bog survey have been presented to Girley Bog Meitheal the locally based stakeholder group who take a hands-on role in the protection of the site and the promotion of  its special attributes.


Contact Details: Dr Catherine O’Connell and Miss Katie Geraghty of the Irish Peatland Conservation Council conducted the survey of Girley Bog Cutover 2017 and are available for interview or to provide further information. Please contact tel: 045-860133 or

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