Nature Notes 13 October 2020

Fly Agaric (c) Andy Crory

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.

Straidkilly Nature Reserve

This week, the team was busy with woodland glade clearance at Straidkilly - cutting and removing this year's growth to reduce nutrient levels for the benefit of plants and invertebrates, like the speckled wood and silver-washed fritillary butterflies.

In the top glades sheep, rather than machines, carry out the clearance work but this is not always possible on other parts of the site. We'll be able to compare the difference from next year ~ Andy Crory & Ryan Bradley

Woodland glade clearance at Straidkilly before and after

Woodland glade clearance at Straidkilly - before and after (c) Eduardo Fernandez

Ballynahone Bog Nature Reserve

Take a look at the holly leaf below from Ballynahone Bog. These purple blotches are created not by a moth, but by a fly. As a rule, I don't like fly mines but I do like this one as it's easy to tell. Holly leaf miner Phytomyza ilicis is the only insect that does this on holly ~ Andy Crory

I mostly see fly agaric near birch, although it can be found in pine woods. It gets its name from when people used it to kill flies, adding some pieces to a saucer of milk. It's not really poisonous, as in it's not deadly, but it does have serious side effects. I wouldn't like to try one! ~ Andy Crory

Holly leaf miner at Ballynahone Bog

Holly leaf miner at Ballynahone Bog (c) Andy Crory

Fly Agaric

Fly Agaric (c) Andy Crory