Nature Notes 13 April 2021

Observations from staff 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.

Balloo Woodland Nature Reserve

A big thank you to Sharon Morrow, from Ballygally, for donating some native primrose from her garden to be planted out in Balloo Woodland, in response to our primrose theft story last week. An act of kindness that will help improve the diversity of the ground flora in this nature reserve. ~ Ryan Bradley, Nature Reserves Officer

Primrose (c) Vaughn Matthews

Primrose (c) Vaughn Matthews 

Straidkilly Nature Reserve

We have a squirrel feeder and camera up in our nature reserve at Straidkilly to monitor the local population of red squirrels. Every now and then we get a surprise on the camera. This long-eared owl was perching nicely on top of the feeder looking for a wood mouse to snack on. In this picture its characteristic ear tufts are not visible but the dark wing patch and barring of the feathers give it away~ Katy Bell, Senior Conservation Officer

Long-eared owl

Milford Cutting Nature Reserve

The Wood anemone are looking at their best at this time of year in our woodland nature reserves – a flower of simple perfection in my eyes. To see them growing en masse at Straidkilly and Milford Cutting is something I look forward to every year. 

You can see in the picturebelow the wood anemone growing around toothwort at Straidkilly. Toothwort is an unusual parasitic plant that 'steals' it's nutrients from the roots of hazel; it therefore does not need to produce chlorophyll and doesn't photosynthesize, hence it's pale colour ~ Ryan Bradley, Nature Reserves Officer