Ballygilgan (Lissadell) Nature Reserve

Site Details

County
Sligo
Location
A large grass field sloping south-westwards from the public road from Carney to Lissadell to the shore of Drumcliff Bay.
Area
29.5 ha
Established
1986
Coordinates
Latitude: 54.341
Longitude: -8.549
Ownership
State-owned

The Goose Field!

In Summer an ordinary improved pasture grazed by cattle and sheep, managed by NPWS. In Winter essential grazing site for a large flock of Barnacle Geese (c. 3000), the winter freshwater pond also attracts other waterfowl and waders, and a cereal patch at the east end attracts wintering finches and buntings.

Machaire na nGéanna!

Sa Samhradh bíonn eallach agus caoirigh ag innilt ar an talamh féaraigh feabhasaithe seo atá a riarú ag an NPWS. Sa Gheimhreadh is suíomh riachtanach é do scuaine mhór géanna giúrainneacha (timpeaall 3000). Bíonn éanlaith uisce eile agus lapairí ag tarraingt ar uisce úr an locháin agus meallann an leadhb thalún coerce glasáin agus gealóga.

Welcome

About 3000 Barnacle Geese arrive in October to spend the winter in North Sligo. The Ballygilgan Nature Reserve is one of the best sites in Ireland for seeing these geese in winter. The geese breed in Greenland in the summer and spend the winter in Ireland. They graze in Lissadell – Maugherow area every winter until April, spending every night on the island of Inishmurray.

Fáilte

Tagann thart ar 3000 gé ghiúrainn I mí Dheireadh Fómhair chun an gheimhrid a chaitheamh anseo I dtuaisceart Shlighigh. Tá Tearmann Dúlra Bhaile Uí Ghiollagáin ar cheann de na suímh is fearr in Éireann chun na géanna seo a fheiceáil sa gheimhreadh. Poráionn na géanna sa Ghraonlainn sa samhradh agus caitheann said an geimhreadh in Éirinn. Bíonn said ag innilt I gceantar Lios an Daill – Mhachaire Rua gach geimhreadh go dtí mí Aibreáin. Caitheann said gach aon oíche ar oileán Inis Múírigh.

Where is the ‘Goosefield’?  . . .

The goosefield or Seafield, as it’s known locally, is 30 hectares of improved pasture beside Lissadell, about 10 kilometres north-west of Sligo town. The Reserve is west of the village of Carney on the shore of Drumcliff Bay, Special Area of Conservation, between the road and Lissadell Strand.

 “At dawn and dusk, large skeins (V shape) of geese fly from and to Inishmurray. “One of the most spectacular sights imaginable on a fine winter’s evening”.

The Ballygilgan Nature Reserve was created for the protection of Barnacle Geese which have wintered in the area for centuries, but whose numbers had dwindled. These strikingly handsome “black and white” geese breed in eastern Greenland and migrate each autumn (via Iceland) to winter in Ireland and Scotland, returning along the same route back to Greenland in the spring. Sometimes up to 100 Brent geese, usually coastal feeders, join their ‘cousins’ on the goosefield.

There is a seasonal pond in the Goosefield Nature Reserve, which is used for bathing and drinking by the Barnacles. In addition, the ponds attract a large flock of Teal and Wigeon, as well as regular Shoveler and Pintail. A wide range of waders use the ponds and field, such as Redshank, Greenshank, Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwits, Golden Plover, Lapwing and Dunlin. At the eastern end of the Goosefield, a small areas has been planted with seed-bearing crops for wild birds such as oats & linseed, as well as brassicas and wild flowers. One October, around 600 Chaffinches, 50 Brambling, 100 Greenfinches and Goldfinches were counted.

Cá bhfuil ‘Machaire na nGéanna’? . . .

Is 30 heicteár talaimh féaraigh feabhsaithe in aice Lios an Daill 10 gciliméadar ó bhaile Shligigh Machaire na nGéanna nó ‘Seafield’ mar a ghlaotar air go haitiúil i mBéarla. Tá an Tearmann suite taobh thiar de shráidbhaile Fhearann Uí Chearnaigh ar chladach Bhá Dhroim Chliabh. Is limistéar speisialta caomhantais é suite idir an bother agus Trá Lios an Daill.“Le breachadh an lae agus ag titim na hoíche eitlíonn scataí móra géanna i bhfoirm V ó agus go Inis Muirígh. Ceann de na radharcanna is suntasaí le feiceáil ar tráthnóna breá geimhridh.”

Cruthaíodh Tearmann Dúlra Bhaile Uí Ghillagáin mar chosaint do ghéanna giúrainneacha a bhíonn ag caitheamh an geimhridh sa cheantar se oar feadh na gcéadta bliain ach bhí a n-uimhreacha ag dul I léig de réir a chéile. Poraíonn na géanna áille dubha agus bána seo in oirthear na Graonlainne. Déanann said imirce tríd an Ioslainn go hÉirinn agus go hAlbain gach fómhar chun an gheimhridh a chaitheamh san tíortha seo. Déanann said an turas céanna ar ais go dtí an Ghraonlainn san earrach. Uaireanta bíonn suas go 100 gé dhubh a fhaigheanna a gcuid bia ar an gcosta le feiceáil lena gcolceathracha ar mhachaire na ngéanna.

Tá lochán séasúrtha ar Thearmann Dúlra Mhachaire na nGéanna, a n-úsáideann na géanna giúrainneacha le folcadh agus le hól. Chomh maith le sin, tarraingíonn an lochán scuaine mhór praslachan, agus lachain rua, chomh maith le spadalaigh agus gnáth-bhiorearraigh. Bíonn réimse leathan lapairí ag baint úsáisw as na locháin agus as an Mhachaire. Ina measc siúd bíonn glúinigh dearga, laidhríní, roilligh, guibnigh, feadóga sléibhe, pilibíní agus cearca gainimh (breacóga). Ag an taobh thoir de Mhachaire na nGéanna, cuireadh barraí ar limistéar beag I gcóir na n-éan fiáin. Tá coerce, ros, maraon le brassicas agus bláthanna fiáine. I mí Dheireadh Fómhair amháin comhraíodh thart ar 600 gealbhán cátha, 50 breacán, 100 glasán darach agus Iasair choille.

Ballygilgan NR Barnacles - long Ballygilgan NR birds in flight

Farm Management

The Barnacle geese which winter in north Sligo from October to April is Ireland’s biggest mainland flock. It increased from a vulnerable low of 250 around 1970 to over 3000 today, due to improved winter nutrition and protection from hunting, and possible climatic changes on the ecology of the breeding grounds in Greenland. The improved pasture is grazed by cattle and sheep in summer. Good grassland management ensures the sward is in optimal condition for the geese when they arrive. The grazing livestock are removed in autumn and the geese have the Reserve to themselves for the winter. There is a bird hide for viewing them in the Coillte Woodland at the West (Lissadell) end of the field. The flock generally spends the early winter at the goosefield and some of the later winter in the Ballyconnell/Ballintemple Special Protection Area for birds 6 km to the west, north-east of Raghly Point.

Bainistíocht feirme

Is iad na géanna giúrainneacha a chaitheann an geimhreadh I dtuaisceart Shligigh ó Dheireadh Fómhair go Aibreán an scuaine mórthíre is mó in Éirinn. Mhéadaigh said ó lion íseal 250 sa bhlian 1970 go níos mó ná 3000 sa lá atá inniu ann. Tharla seo de bharr cothaithe geimhridh feabhsaithe, de bharr cosanta ó shealgaireacht agus b’fhéidir athraithe aeráide ar éiceolaíocht na gceantracha poraíthe sa Ghraonlainn.  Bíonn eallach agus caoirigh ag innilt ar an talamh féaraigh feabhsaithe sa samhradh. Má bhíonn bainistíocht mhaith ar an talamh féaraigh is fearr leibhéal an fhéir do theacht na ngéanna. Cuirtear an eallach innilte amach san fhómhar agus bíonn an Tearmann oscailte do ghéanna amháin i rith an gheimhridgh. Tá bothán folacháin ar Thalamh Coille de chuid Coillte ag taobh thiar (de Lios an Daill) den mhachaire chun breathnú ar na géanna. De ghnáth caitheann an scuaine tús an gheimhridh ar Mhacaire an nGéanna agus ag deireadh an gheimhridh ar Limistéar Speisialta Cosanta d’éanlaith i mBaile Chonaill/Baile an Teampaill, 6 chiliméadar siar agus soir aduaidh ó Ghob Reachla.

Please remember that they are wild geese, and easily disturbed or flushed. For Further information contact National Parks & Wildlife Service Office Tel: 071 9666700. Cuimhnigh le do thoil gur géanna fiáine iad seo agus is furasta cur as díobh nó iad a scanrú chun siúil.Chun tuilleadh eolais a fháil dean teagmháil le Oifig Sheirbhíse Páirceanna Náisiúnta agus Fiadhúlra.  Fón: 071 9666700.