The Dodder River
Post No 1
The Dodder River is a unique river in that it supports a wide range of natural and built heritage interests within an urban setting. Linking the Dublin Mountains with Dublin Bay, throughout its journey through the rural, suburban and intensely urban areas of Dublin County it provides a home for protected birds and mammals, for fish and insects, and a location for specialised habitat types. It also provides a recreational space for the citizens of the County, offering space for playing pitches, cycling, jogging, strolling, and dog-walking.
The Dodder itself has the reputation of being a turbulent river, subject to flash flooding after heavy rains in the mountains. Its course has meandered back and forth down through the centuries and has supplied water power to the numerous mills that existed along its banks. It also provided drinking water to Dublin City via a link to the Poddle River which diverted off from the main Dodder River at the City Weir in Firhouse.
Along the Linear Park, specialist habitat types of national importance occur such as the lime-rich meadow at Cherryfield (Post no. 3) and the wet, flooded woodland within the Natural Heritage Area between Old Bawn Bridge and the M50 Bridge. Throughout the Park, old unimproved pastures, wet grassland areas, hedgerows, amenity grassland, and pockets of mixed woodland also occur, offering a range of habitats for the numerous plant, mammal, bird and insect species that inhabit this rich biodiversity resource.
Uniquely for an urban area, the Dodder Valley Park hosts 13 butterfly species and 4 bumble bee species, two of which are described as being near-threatened. In the evening time and at dawn, the Park also supports feeding for at least 4 bat species which forage along the dark corridor of the river and its associated hedgerows.
These include the Common and Soprano Pipistrelle, Leisler’s Bat, and the bat which skims across the surface of the water itself, the Daubenton’s Bat. Land mammals such as foxes, rabbits, hedgehogs, shrews, field mice, rats, and a small and diminishing population of badgers also occur, while along the river, the otter, which is a protected species, can sometimes be spotted.
The range of habitat types along the Linear Park offers a haven for bird species. In conjunction with well known garden and woodland species such as rooks, jackdaws, magpies, blackbirds, robins, chaffinches, starlings, wood pigeons, collared doves, song thrushes and mistle thrushes, you might also see goldfinches, greenfinches, meadow pipits and bull finches. With such a range of small birds present, keep your eyes open for top predators such as Sparrowhawks or Kestrels in the area.
Along the river, herons and mallard ducks are frequently seen while if you are lucky, you might get a glimpse of a kingfisher, a dipper or a grey wagtail. The Dodder’s population of dippers is particularly interesting as these birds are more typically found in pristine, upland streams where its food source, water invertebrates, is plentiful. Its presence on the Dodder suggests that the river is of sufficiently high quality for it to reside in the urban setting.
Knocklyon Network would like to acknowledge the assistance and support in this project of the following: A Grant from the Dept. of The Environment through LA21, South Dublin County Council and their Library section, Knocklyon History Society, Ciar Mc Gouran.