Nature Notes 20 July 2021

Isle of Muck (c) John McLaughlin

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

Fantastic display of Marsh helleborine at Milford Cutting this year. This flower can be found in fens, damp grassland, marshes, and dune slacks, particularly on chalky soils. During summertime, the flower spike can carry up to 20 white-and-pink flowers! But despite its profusion in places, this orchid is declining due to habitat loss.~ Ryan Bradley, Nature Reserves Officer


Marsh helleborine, Milford Cutting (c) Ryan Bradley

Isle of Muck Nature Reserve

A lovely peaceful morning at Isle of Muck last week. This nature reserve is closed to the public as the breeding seabirds need to be protected from any disturbance. As a team, we monitor these birds annually and we also manage the grassland to encourage seabird nesting.~ Ronald Surgenor, Nature Reserves Officer

Isle of Muck (c) Ronald Surgenor

Slievenacloy Nature Reserve

We are having ongoing issues with illegal grazing at Slievenacloy, and cutting fences! This has been happening for the past three weeks. People on motorbikes are riding illegally in the Belfast Hills area in general, and across a section of the nature reserve. It’s been reported to PSNI but they can’t watch the place at all times. ~ Ronald Surgenor, Nature Reserves Officer

Cut fence, Slievenacloy

Cut fence, Slievenacloy