Nature Notes 11 May 2021

Lizards (c) Ronald Surgenor

Observations from staff, volunteers and members on our Nature Reserves this week.

Nature reserves may look completely wild, but our 19 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.

Milford Cutting Nature Reserve

Here is a wee video of a smooth newt at Milford Cutting Nature Reserve. Did you know that the Smooth Newt is also called a Common Newt and is is Northern Ireland's only native newt? These amphibians are grey-brown and have an orange belly as well as neat black spots all over ~ Ryan Bradley, Nature Reserves Officer

Balloo Wetland Nature Reserve

Not such a nice story from Balloo Wetland this week. Unfortunately our new information panel has been vandalised. The panel has now been removed and will be repaired, but will this happen again?~ Ryan Bradley, Nature Reserves Officer

Balloo Wetland information panel vandalised

Balloo Wetland information panel vandalised 

Slievenacloy Nature Reserve

When the sun appeared, between the snow showers, the common lizards came out to get a quick bit of heat. Slievenacloy Nature Reserve is waking up slowly from a cold spring~ Ronald Surgenor, Nature Reserves Officer

Slievenacloy Nature Reserve

Fantastic bumblebee sighting today at Slievenacloy by our ESC volunteers. This is Bombus sylvestris, one of the cuckoo bumblebees, and not commonly recorded in Northern Ireland. As the name suggests, cuckoo bumblebees lay their eggs in another bumblebee’s nest and leaves the workers of that nest to rear its young. 

How to identify them? Like all cuckoo bumblebees, the main difference is the absence of pollen baskets on their rear legs, as they have no offspring to feed. Female Bombus sylvestris can be identified by a white tail and yellow band at the top of the thorax, while males have a white tail with a ginger/red tip and a smaller yellow band at the base of the thorax ~ Katy Bell, Senior Conservation Officer

(c) Eduardo Fernandez

Glenarm Nature Reserve

Glenarm is looking fantastic right now, with its carpet of beautiful bluebells – well worth a visit! Other great sites to experience this springtime spectacle include Milford Cutting, Straidkilly and Balloo Woodland.~ Dawn Patterson, Project Officer, Grassroots Challenge Project Officer