Nature Notes

Highlights and observations of what we are seeing on our Nature Reserves this week. We hope you enjoy getting closer to the wildlife and wild places we manage!

Nature reserves may look completely wild, but our 18 reserves across Northern Ireland are actually carefully managed by a dedicated team. We protect, restore and create a mix of habitats where wildlife can thrive.

Observations From Our Nature Reserves

This week’s Nature Note is from Deborah McLaughlin, Nature Reserve Officer at Bog Meadows in Belfast, an urban nature reserve right beside the M1 motorway.


It’s all about the ladybirds!

The warm weather at the end of last week brought out the ladybirds. We saw lots of 7 spot adults and larvae everywhere, particularly on nettles. Ladybirds are beneficial insects, managing garden pests and will turn up anywhere there are aphids for it to feed on.

Ladybird on nettle

Ladybird on nettle

Interesting Insects

Thursday’s heatwave brought out Tortoiseshell butterflies, Ringlet butterflies and the Common blue damselfly. The male is pale blue with bands of black along the body; the female is either blue or dull green, with distinctive black 'torpedo' markings. 

Common blue damselfly

Common blue damselfly

Busy Birds

Cuckoos have been spotted at our Nature Reserve in Umbra on the north coast. These illusive birds and are easy to hear but very hard to spot. The Meadow pipits helps us find one. They were harassing it until it dived into the hawthorn for cover.

The Sparrowhawks are back at Balloo Woodland. We had a pair that nested and raised two young there last year. They have been heard calling away this week and we caught site of the male nipping through the trees.

Our nature reserves help wildlife to thrive. They also connect people with wildlife in our increasingly nature-depleted world.


Tortoiseshell butterflies