Nature Notes 2 March 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.

Milford Cutting Nature Reserve

We were treated to the highs and lows of managing nature reserves at Milford Cutting on Thursday. We were treated to the sight of 7 Little Egrets on the banks of the Callan river. Gemma, one of our Nature Skills Trainees, also watched a pair of Dipper busy diving on the river.

Then came the lows...The bug hotel on the reserve, built by local young farmers, had been vandalised, uprooted and thrown in the pond along with one of the kissing gates. On pulling the bug hotel out of the pond we noticed a bid of movement in the structure, a newt! Not just one, we ended up recovering 15 newts and ensured all returned safely to the pond.  We also returned two very fat and ready to spawn frogs and a great diving beetle. It just shows the importance of leaving removed pond material at the side of the pond for a day to give the species a chance to make their way back into the water.

The highs continued for the rest of this glorious spring day, the frogs croaked to each other all day and there was a frenzy of frog activity in another pool in the wet woodland as spawning was underway. Lesser Celandine, Primrose and Wood anemone were opening as the day went on and the acid green of fresh hawthorn leaves was just beginning to emerge. Has winter finally passed? We weren't distracted all day and did find the time to stim the paths and remove some dead timber from the trees to ensure the site was safe and ready for you to visit and enjoy a spring walk. ~ Ryan Bradley, Nature Reserves Officer


Umbra Nature Reserve

Karen, one of our Nature Skills Trainees, was installing a solitary bee box at Umbra nature reserve yesterday ~ Ronald Surgenor, Nature Reserves Officer

Slievenacloy Nature Reserve

The first primroses of the year are appearing on the earthen banks at Slievenacloy Nature Reserve~ Ronald Surgenor, Nature Reserves Officer

Primroses, Slievenacloy