A SMALL NATURE RESERVE
Booterstown Marsh, a Nature Reserve, is located in Booterstown, County Dublin, between the coastal railway line and the Rock Road. It is an area of salt marsh and muds, with brackish water. It includes the only salt marsh, and the only bird sanctuary, in south Dublin Bay. It lies just outside the boundary of Dublin city, and just north of Booterstown DART station and its car park.
The marsh belongs to the residual Pembroke Estate, and An Taisce administer it, having acquired a lease in 1970-1971 and having designated it a bird sanctuary. It is part of both a proposed Natural Heritage Area (NHA) and a proposed Special Area of Conservation (SAC), and of the South Dublin Bay and River Tolka Estuary Special Protection Area (SPA).
The marsh is immediately adjacent to the Rock Road, the main coastal route from Dublin city to Blackrock, Dún Laoghaire and Dalkey, and close to the N11. There is paid parking at the DART station. Some Dublin Bus routes pass along the road also. It can be viewed from all sides, although viewing from the DART platform requires a train ticket, and there is a small viewing area with seating at the northwestern corner, opposite the end of Trimleston Avenue. An overhead view can be obtained from the footbridge across the railway line.
Oil spills in 1982 and, more severely in 1985, led to de-oxygenation of the marsh. The vegetation came to be dominated by Bolboschoenus maritimus, a rush that could withstand the salty conditions, though the re-discovery of a rare species of grass following some works on the drainage enhanced the conservation status of the marsh. In response the flap valves were removed, allowing a free flow of salt water that is rich in oxygen.
Aside from the formation of the two mud islands for birds in 2006, no major work has been performed on the marsh in recent years, although a viewing area was made on a small pocket of land just to the north.
There are three main habitats ranging from near-freshwater in the north-western corner to near-saltwater by the DART station, with a graduation between.
In recent years, the condition of the mud and water have improved, and birds have returned in large numbers. The scirpus growth has significantly reduced, and the many other species of plant occurring in the marsh have recovered. One of these, Puccinellia fasiculata, commonly “Borrer’s saltmarsh grass,” is protected, along with its habitat. Other flora include salt-tolerant species such as sea milkwort, false fox sedge, and sea spurrey.
The marsh area attracts moorhen, common teal, reed bunting, coot, mallard, sedge warbler, common snipe, little egret, northern lapwing, Eurasian oystercatcher, bar-tailed godwit, common redshank, dunlin, knot and brent goose. Additional species breeding in the marsh or visiting from nearby breeding locations include blackbird, dunnock and wren. Rarer visitors but sometimes sighted are grey heron, spotted redshank, ruff and little stint, Eurasian sparrowhawk and pied avocet. A short-billed dowitcher was present at the site from 2004-2005. Along the Nutley Stream kingfisher appear, and greenshank and water rail are seen in the south eastern corner. From the shore, common gull, herring gull and black-headed gull visit.