2021 County Report for Co. Laois

Mark McCorry and Fiona MacGowan

In general 2021 was a "good year".  Botanising for this vice-county recorder helped in relation to issues of the Covid Pandemic.  You forget completely about Covid when you are searching through the long grass for orchids.  Fiona and I took the opportunity to investigate some new sites to us and re-visit some old sites.   Cranney's Fen was one of the highlights.  An small un-recorded fen with old tufa springs located near Abbeyliex.  The owners were delighted to hear that their field, while filled with "rushes" actually had some scare rushes - that being Juncus subnodulosus .   Laois still has small pockets of un-recorded rich fen habitat.  Another site to the north of Laois and owned by Coillte also has rich fen habitat and while degraded by drainage, yielded Narrow-leaved Marsh Orchid.   Other sites visited included a small section of infilled canal, which has some diverse calcareous grassland.

Other events included Fiona delivering a talk to The Irish BSBI Spring conference on-line about plants associated by medieval buildings inspired by a study of Lea Castle in Co. Laois.

Fiona also has also been working with Tidy Towns Groups and encouraging measures to promote wildflower diversity.  One such measure was a "Don't mow, let it grow " initiative developed by Church of Ireland Abbeyleix Parish, which led to hay meadow management in Abbeyleix by Abbeyleix Tidy Towns and the Parish. Fiona continues to talk to various groups throughout Laois who manage various grassland areas and it is heartening to see the "Don't mow, let it grow mantra" yielding positive results with Cowslips,  orchids and other species appearing in previously mown areas.

Fiona organised a BSBI grassland training event in the summer with Paul Green to a diverse grassland site at Talbots Farm, Loughabarra, near Ballacolla.   Eight people attended and got to see a diverse range of grasses and other species.

The Laois BSBI field event to Clonaslee Esker was a real success.  We had a great attendance with some new members and had unfortuantly to turn some people down.  The weather was great and we explored some lovely grassland and fen habitat.

Acinos arvensis

First record for recorders in Laois.  Seen at Clonaslee Eskers during BSBI field trip

Euphorbia exigua

First record for VC recorders in Laois.  Not recorded in Co. Laois for some time.  Spotted by Paul Green on the Laois BSBI field trip.

Populus nigra

Black Poplar along the Trigue River to the north of Portlaoise.  This is a rare tree species in Laois

Urtica dioica ssp. galeopsifolia

Fen Nettle recorded at Loughabarra grassland.

Ophioglossum vulgatum

Adders-tougue Fern – recorded at Loughabarra grassland