The Field: a grassland project in Ballymorran

Grid: J5160

NOT open to the public (privately-owned).

The Field is a field in Ballymorran which was fallow for years before we bought it. It was originally cut for hay in the autumn. We introduced Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) to suppress the grasses; unfortunately this was when I was a lot younger and not really thinking about local genetics so the seeds were from England.

It has since become winter cattle pasture - we have had lovely wee Dexter cattle on it the past 2 winters. I am aiming to more-or-less replicate the plant communities on Darragh, and have been sourcing seeds from there to introduce (extremely local provenance, less than 2km between the two!). I have been successful with Odontites vernus, and I have put in a lot of Succisa seeds and plugs (from many sources but now mostly from Darragh), but the results of that will take longer to judge. Other plants I have sown seeds of include Bitter Vetch (from the hedgerows around Ballymorran) and Ladies' Bedstraw (from various places including Killard Point). Plantago lanceolatus was very abundant for a while, but seems to be decreasing now. It's gone from dominant to sort of co-dominant with some of the grasses, Hieracium, Rhinanthus, some vetches and Greater Bird's-Foot Trefoil in places. So as a system it is fair to call it winter grazing, but parts of it also get scythed by me so it's sort of a mixed meadow system in places too. The diversity in the sward has been successful in bringing in lots of different plant and invertebrate species, so having a few different management regimes going on seems to work well. In 2020 we actually had a marsh fritillary pass through for a few days which was a big surprise! In 2021 I found a Tiger Cranefly (Nephrotoma flavescens) which doesn't have many irish records so it was nice to add another grid square to its distribution map.


June 2021 Yellow Meadow Vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis) surrounded by purple Bush Vetch (Vicia sepium).

June 2021 The Tiger Cranefly (Nephrotoma flavescens), a lovely and unusually colourful species of daddy-long-legs.

June 2021 Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)

April 2021 Violets in the hedgerow (probably Dog Violet, Viola riviniana)

June 2021 Changing Forget-me-not (Myosotis discolor) is a tiny annual that is so hard to find that every year I think it's gone extinct! It flowers in the early summer and is usually brown and dead by July.