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Busy week with school field trips to Annacotty weir

After two great weeks on the Bilboa River and having catered there for over 160 school children from seven different local schools, MulkearLIFE’s Environmental Education Programme moved on to the Mulkear River this week and held field trips at Annacotty weir and surrounds all week. In total seven schools, including two all Irish schools, enjoyed the beauty of the Majestic Mulkear on their individual half days field trips. Over 180 students and their teachers participated in the seven field trips this week.

Fish faces – Galescoil Caladh an Treoigh in the woods (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)

Thankfully the weather duly obliged and we were again blessed with warm sunny days. The Mulkear River itself was looking particularly beautiful in the warm sunshine. The salmon, eels, trout, river lamprey,tens of thousands of invertebrate, mute swans, sand martins, grey herons, dippers and even a sparrow-hawk but in a performance on site yesterday.

Sparrowhawk flies over Annacotty weir, on the Mulkear River, May 2013 (Image: RÓC)

The field trips undertaken this week at Annacotty weir are designed to help students put theory into practice as the school children learn about the wonderful natural heritage of the Mulkear River.

Students prepare for research work at Annacotty, May 2013 (Image: Patrick Lenihan)

This is done through real practical research; kick sampling for invertebrates, assessing water quality, electro fishing, assessing the impact of invasive weeds, habitat survey work and general fun of exploring rivers and riparian zones while learning about Leave No Trace.

MulkearLIFE’s Glen Wightman outlines the fish species of the Mulkear (Image: RÓC)

The students also get to review the “Mural of LIFE” site and go on a walk through an exceptional riparian zone on the St. Vincent’s Special needs school side of the river. Here students learn about Leave No Trace, river connectivity, the importance of riparian habitat, soil fertility and otter habitat.

MulkearLIFE’s Patrick Lenihan oversees kick sampling (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)

The Project’s Environmental Education Programme targets primary and post primary schools within the Mulkear catchment. To date the programme has reached out to over 1,700 school-children and their teachers. The field trips focus on the work of MulkearLIFE and the importance of riparian habitat and the connectivity of rivers and wildlife corridors. The field trips highlight in a fun way the significance of Atlantic Salmon, Sea Lamprey and European Otter in the Mulkear and the conservation issues which surround them in the catchment. The field trips also focus on wider biodiversity and how this can be enhanced and protected.

Invertebrate ID, on the Mulkear River, May 2013 (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)

The EEP gives the schoolchildren involved a heightened sense of "environmental ownership" and recognition of the importance of the river catchment as an important natural resource. In particular, it promotes awareness of the catchment and the habitats and species in the rivers and streams. The Programme highlights the significance of Atlantic Salmon, Sea Lamprey and European Otter in the Mulkear and the conservation issues which surround them in the catchment. The work also focuses on the wider biodiversity surrounding us all and how this can be enhanced and protected.

Students review the “Mural of LIFE” at Annacotty, May 2013 (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)

The field trips will continue at Annacotty next week with the last few remaining schools eagerly anticipating their day down by the river.

An Mhodhscoil, cathair Luimní paistí ag baint sult as an lá (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)

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Mulkear LIFE, Inland Fisheries Ireland, Ashbourne Business Park, Dock Road, Limerick, Ireland
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