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Neither Sweet nor Sour

Our Lady' Island3My friend has been busy with his camera again! He has recently taken some snaps of the annual draining of a local lake.The weather has been so bad lately that it was essential to have the work done.

Our Lady's Island, a village a few miles from me, has a brackish lake, technically a back-barrier seepage lagoon, separated from the Atlantic Ocean at the southern end by a 200m wide sand and gravel bar. Salt water seeps through the barrier, while fresh water flows into the lake from run-off from the land around the lake. This means that the lake is neither fresh nor salt water but somewhere in between. Every so often, storms break through the sandbar and salt water flows in from the sea, increasing the salt levels considerably. Wildlife in the lake must therefore be able to cope with variable levels of salinity. It is the only such lake in Ireland. Each year it is partially drained at the southern end into the Atlantic. This is achieved by cutting a channel through the sand bar and letting a portion of the water flow into the ocean.

The 'island' itself has been joined to the mainland by a causeway, so it is actually a peninsula sticking out into the lake from the village. The village and the island have been a place of pilgrimage to Our Lady for hundreds of years. Just to the left of the lake is Tacumshane, birthplace of Commodore John Barry (1745-1803) founder of the United States Navy.

The lake itself is an important breeding ground for terns. It is estimated that the lake is home to over 1,200 breeding pairs of Sandwich Terns and, more importantly, to 76 breeding pairs of the rare Roseate Tern.

 channel2 channel3roseate tern
     Channel cut                 Fresh water meets the ocean         Roseate Tern


There is a beach like that where I grew up, in Massachusetts. Once the channel is cut there is a tidal flow back and forth from the pond to the ocean. Great fun to float in, and swim.
Nice to look at. Swimming at this time of year would be something else!