Nature Notes 20 April 2021

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.

Balloo Wetland Nature Reserve

We planted some plants that will be beneficial to pollinators into the new flower bed at Balloo WetlandOxeye daisy, Common knapweed, Teasel and Meadow crane's-bill – four native plants that would look good in any herbaceous border and provide a source of nectar from June to October. Knapweed and teasel will also provide seed for birds later in the year too.

We also planted rosemary which, when flowering, is a magnet for bees, as are many of the Mediterranean herbs we use for cooking. Lastly, we planted a Geum – we do have native Geums, but this one is a garden cultivar. – a sterile hybrid that produces masses of nectar-rich flowers, but will not set seed, and goes on flowering for months, if deadheaded.

We will continue to fill this bed with beneficial plants, as and when we can get our hands on some, and if you have any plants that you are dividing or growing from seed this year, and would like to donate to us, we would love to hear from you ~ Ryan Bradley, Nature Reserves Officer

Slievenacloy Nature Reserve

Slievenacloy has started to wake up now, with spring flowers such as primroses on the field banks and skylarks in full song overhead. 

I heard the first common snipe giving its distinctive chipping song last week, and the summer migrants are back in the bushes with lots of Chiffchaff and Willow warblers singing. Hopefully, this week, we will see the swallows and house martins arriving in decent numbers and cuckoos won't be far behind.

Willow warbler (c) Ronald Surgenor

Willow warbler (c) Ronald Surgenor

Fencing work is continuing at pace at Slievenacloy Nature Reserve as we try to get the remaining sections finished up before the summer jobs kick in. The Nature Skills trainees are putting their skills to good use with replacing posts and re-tensioning the barbed wire ~ Ronald Surgenor, Nature Reserves Officer

Bog Meadows Nature Reserve

Our team had a good workout at Bog Meadows while installing new water troughs in the fields, getting ready for our cows coming back on site in May. We've kept the old troughs and will repurpose them as mini wildlife ponds and planters in our outdoor education area to let nature in. Want to let nature into your garden? Find out more and get your FREE 'Let Nature In' Guide  ~ Deborah McLaughlin, Bog Meadows Community Engagement Officer