02 February 2016

An early morning walk
through fen and marsh

The Newpark Fen is a diverse habitat (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

The Newpark Hotel, where I am staying in Kilkenny during this three-day conference, is proving to be an ideal location for morning walks in this crisp bright weather.

This morning, I went for an early morning in the Newpark Fen and Eco-Park, behind the Newpark Hotel on the Castlecomer Road, beside the grounds of Kilkenny College about 2 km from the centre of Kilkenny City.

The Newpark Fen is a diverse habitat with open water and a rich variety of bird, mammal, plant and insect species. The Newpark Fen Nature Trails are reached through the Wildlife Farm and Adventure Playground at the back of the hotel.

The Newpark Fen covers an area of 9.7 hectares (23.7 acres), and includes a multi-award-winning game and bird sanctuary and well-maintained amenity area, with unique opportunities to see many different species of birds and a wide range of fauna.

The marsh is an area of extraordinary plant and wildlife. It is a natural reserve with 49 different species of birds identified to date and more than 70 species of plants, trees and shrubs.

This was once a lake and became colonised by reeds and floating vegetation, such as pondweed. It is a diverse habitat with open water, tussocks of sedge and a rich variety of wild plants, including Ragged Robin, Lady’s Smock, Yellow Iris, Yellow and Purple Loosestrife.

This has been designated an Area of Scientific Interest and is a proposed Natural Heritage Area (NHA). It is recognised as being of local scientific importance. It includes a bird feeding area, wildlife information boards and a 2km pathway making this a perfect walking trail this morning.

The Newpark Fen provided a perfect walking trail (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

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