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Habitats

A phase 1 habitat survey of the reserve was carried out in March 2000. Habitat classifications follow JNCC (1993).

The northern end of the reserve comprises a mixture of broad-leaved woodland, tall herb vegetation and swamp. Tall Alder, White Willow and Crack Willow and shrubby Rusty Willows dominate the woodland. While Crack Willow and White Willow are not Irish native species, they are widely naturalised, and the woodland does not appear to be of plantation origin; therefore, the woodland has been classified as semi-natural. The upper section of woodland is quite dry and well-drained with an open ground layer of Common Nettle, Cleavers, Lesser Celandine, Common Couch, Creeping Buttercup, Smooth Meadow-grass, etc. Lower down, the ground becomes waterlogged with Hemlock Water-dropwort, Remote Sedge, Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage, Yorkshire Fog, Marsh Bedstraw, etc in the woodland ground flora. This waterlogged zone also holds open areas on both sides of the stream. On the north side, the open area holds tall herb vegetation with patchy Common Reeds mixed with Hemlock Water-dropwort, Common Nettle, Willowherb, Meadowsweet, Soft Rush, Yorkshire Fog, Creeping Bent, Creeping Buttercup, etc. Scattered willow bushes occur and an artificial pond (approximately 20 m diameter) has been excavated in this area. On the south side of the river, Common Reed becomes dominant (causing the habitat to be classified as swamp). Along the eastern edge of this zone, on the north side of the stream, around 0.6 ha of the floodplain has been planted with conifers; these are now around 3 m high.

The northern and south-western sides of the lake are fringed by marginal Phragmites reedswamp. Behind the reedswamp at the northern end, areas of inundation vegetation occur either side of the stream channel. These comprises a mixture of drier habitat with Creeping Bent, Yorkshire Fog, Rough Meadow-grass, Marsh Bedstraw, Hemlock Water-dropwort, etc. and waterlogged areas with Water Forget-me-not, Floating Sweet-grass, Remote Sedge, Yellow Iris, Meadowsweet, Cuckooflower, etc. An area of wet Alderwood occurs, just outside the reserve boundary, adjoining this area.

An embankment runs along the eastern side of the lake with a dense tangle of Alders and willows. At the south-eastern corner of the lake, a small area of plantation broad-leaved woodland occurs on the lower slope of the hillside. This holds a mixture of tall mature Horse-chestnut, Sycamore, Oak, Ash, and Beech with an understorey of Holly. The ground layer is dominated by Bramble.

At the southern end of the lake, an open meadow of unimproved neutral grassland occurs to the east of the outlet channel. The lower part of the meadow, adjoining the lake shore and the channel has a high saltmarsh-type vegetation with Red Fescue, Creeping Bent, Common Couch, Curled Dock, Sea Club-rush, Sea Orache, Saltmarsh Rush, Sea Plantain, etc. The interior of the meadow is on slightly raised ground with species typical of rank neutral grasslands such as Cock's-foot, Common Knapweed, Meadow Vetchling, Ribwort Plantain, etc. An area of low Gorse, Bramble and Blackthorn scrub is developing here. On the western side of the channel Phragmites reedswamp is developing (none was recorded here during the 1991 botanical survey) backed by rank tall herbs and grasses and scrub along the roadside.