Nature Notes

Highlights and observations of what we are seeing on our Nature Reserves this (very rainy) week - and there has been lots to see!

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.

Glenarm Nature Reserve

A soggy day at Glenarm, our woodland nature reserve in Antrim, today but plenty of wildflowers to be seen along the path at the woodland edge - hedge woundwort, St. John's wort, eyebright, common burdock, common spotted orchid, black medick. Then at the wood cranesbill translocation area there was tufted vetch, meadow vetchling, birds foot trefoil and of course, wood cranesbill.

I also startled an Irish Hare on the path, which then scampered up the road and disappeared into the trees!

The site is peppered with ancient and veteran oaks. In order to protect both the trees and the rich wildlife they support, we remove competitive tree species growing around them – a process known as ‘halo-ing’

I also checked the footage from our camera traps on the Reserve this week - a bit blurry, but it was great to see a jay, pine marten and red squirrel! ~ Deborah

Isle of Muck Nature Reserve

Just one of a dozen Minke whales feeding between Isle of Muck and Blackhead lighthouse this week. Also groups of Harbour porpoise and their calves feeding on the large numbers of sandeels in the area at present ~ Ronald

Minke whale Isle of Muck July 2020

Milford Cutting Nature Reserve

Marsh helleborine flowering beside fragrant orchid at Milford this week. Two plants you wouldn't see everyday and a great display this year ~ Ryan

Marsh helleborine & fragrant orchid Milford

Bog Meadows Nature Reserve

While repairing gates at Bog meadows with the trainees this week we came across a tiny 2 spot lady-bird that was preparing to fly after it reached the end of the grassy stem it had been hunting along, you can just see the wings starting to unfold from under the wing cases. Also had a Zebra jumping spider taking some time-out on the bonnet of the truck. The coot chicks are doing well in the pond, with the parents keeping a close eye on them. Ringlet butterflies are enjoying the Thistle beds ~ Ronald

Box building at HQ

As well as site and maintenance visits to our nature reserves, we also spend several days a month in the workshop. This week I was working with some of our Nature Skills Trainees to construct red squirrel feeders and bat boxes that will be installed out on the reserves and in other key locations across the country - Ronald

Box building at HQ