Celebrating International Bog Day in Clara

CLARA Bog Visitor Centre celebrated International Bog Day recently. National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff were on hand to give a fascinating introduction to the world of moths.

CLARA Bog Visitor Centre celebrated International Bog Day recently. National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff were on hand to give a fascinating introduction to the world of moths.

Moth traps had been placed on Clara Bog and on the grounds of the Clara Bog Visitor Centre on Saturday night (July 30). By the morning these traps were full of moths. Visitors were able to view the seventeen different species of moths that had been trapped up close. These included the colourful Garden Tiger moth and larger moth species such as the Poplar Hawkmoth. NPWS staff gave a talk on the moth surveys being carried out on bogs all over Offaly, and explained how the moths were trapped.

The aim of the moth survey is to monitor moth species diversity and abundance and to record and identify rare moths. It is hoped that as our knowledge of moths and their habitats increases, it will be possible to measure the health of local environments by analysing the moth species present.

Moth traps are placed on the bog before dusk and collected a half an hour before dawn. The moth trapping system that is used to conduct the survey is a portable moth trap known as a Heath Trap with 15W Actinic bulb. The trap operates by emitting light from the bulb to lure night-flying moths. Regularly spaced fins provide support for the bulb and also direct moths into the dark storage container area below. The moths are subsequently released unharmed after they have been indentified and counted. The results of the moth survey are now on display at the Clara Bog Visitor Centre for all to view.

International Bog Day at Clara also featured a guided tour of a section of high bog on Clara Bog East. During the course of the tour bog habitats, bog vegetation and plant life associated with turf faces were identified. The local wildlife ranger gave an overview of the conservation management measures that are currently in progress on Clara Bog. In the space of twenty years peat dams constructed on the bog have stopped water flowing from old drains.

As part of National Heritage Week children aged 7-12 years are welcome to participate in Mini Ranger Day taking place on August 24. This free event will provide young people with an opportunity to be a Wildlife Ranger for the day. Children with get to meet the Wildlife Rangers at the Clara Bog Visitor Centre and then head out on a field trip to Clara Bog.

On the bog the mini-rangers can have a go at some field study techniques used by a Wildlife Ranger, followed by a nature inspired art and craft session back at the Visitor Centre. All children must bring a packed lunch, wellies and waterproof clothing. The event runs from 11am to 3pm and booking is essential as places are limited. For more information contact the Visitor Centre on (057) 93 68878 or email claraguides@environ.ie