Site description The flood-plain of the River Shannon, the longest waterway in Ireland with a catchment that drains more than 20% of the country. The area lies between Lough Ree in the north (site 128) and Lough Derg in the south (site 130) and is contiguous with the Little Brosna callows (site 132) and the Suck callows (site 129), both of which are tributaries. This complex is one of the few relatively unmodified flood-plains within the European Union. Beside the river are extensive areas of callow (seasonally flooded, semi-natural wet grassland) which is used for permanent hay or silage or for summer grazing, mainly by cattle. The river is used for coarse angling and leisure-boat cruising. The callows were once flanked by raised bog, which is now largely lost due to mechanical peat-cutting.
Key Biodiversity This site is of international importance for wintering waterfowl and regularly supports over 20,000 wintering birds. The Shannon callows are one of the last strongholds for the globally threatened Crex crex in Ireland and are also of importance for breeding waders, particularly Tringa totanus. Additional wintering species that occur in numbers of national importance, include Cygnus olor (575 birds, 1995), Anas penelope (3,135 birds, 1996), Anas crecca (576 birds, 1995), Aythya fuligula (200 birds, 1995), Vanellus vanellus (15,400 birds, 1995) and Calidris alpina (1,250 birds, 1996).