Killymoon Walk 11-05-2018C.W.T met at Killymoon on a pleasant dry Friday evening to view the Bluebell Wood. Bluebells are late this year, and unfortunately, we were around a week too early to see them at their best . The deer, usually seen grazing below the wood were also unusually absent. Nevertheless, the walk proved interesting, and eagle-eyed Jackie managed to find a quite rare fungus, Thimble Morel, and a small ladybird, the 22 Spot.We found the beautiful flowers of Bird Cherry (Prunus padua) in the wood. Our group looked at a suspected and unrecorded chambered cairn in a yew coppice, and close by examined one of the largest and oldest oaks in the estate (around 300 years old).22 Spot Ladybird from Jackie. A perfectly shaped young oak.
Thimble Morel from Jackie-a good find.
Our group at Killymoon bridge.
Bird Cherry-Prunus padua
..and of course-we went to see the bluebells
Springhill Outing-24/05/18It was a beautiful May evening for our nature walk around Springhill, led by Sophie assisted by Jackie and Ronnie on plant identification.We dandered along a favourite woodland path at the front of Springhill ,finding Bird’s Nest Orchid, Wych Elm, Early Purple Orchid and Woodruff before reaching the wildflower lawn.Springhill’s extensive wildflower lawn was full of interesting plants including Bistort, Bugle, Lady’s Mantle, Germander Speedwell, Thyme Leaved Speedwell and Wood Speedwell. On the way Sophie explained the cutting routine for the lawn. A Sweet Cicely plant in one of the walled gardens provided a discussion on it’s use in Victorian kitchens as a sweetener in pies (a few of us tasted the stems). We didn’t walk up to the old windmill, but Sophie explained how there was once a long line of mature beech trees on either side of the grass avenue, and pointed out one remaining original tree. Replacement plantings has been carried out and these trees are doing well, atll beeches except for two hornbeams.Our leisurely walk continued through various gardens attached to the house. Sophie showed us fig trees growing against the walls in one of the gardens, and explained how the roots could be constricted so that more figs would be produced.Springhill has an abundance of bats, with one of their roosts in a gatehouse. Counts of the bats entering and leaving are taken in an attempt to find their numbers. During our walk we were also shown different nesting boxes for owls and tits.On such a fine evening, numerous swifts were in action, flying low over the house. Springhill,with all its spaces underneath numerous eaves, is ideal for swifts to launch from.Finally we visited the allotments, rented out to locals to grow their own plants. Jackie, of course, had one of the neatest and best kept of all the allotments.Throughout the walk Sophie kept us informed of work and developments taking place in Springhill and we all realized how lucky National Trust and Springhill are to have such a capable, enthusiastic and organized person in charge of their local properties.Thank you, Sophie for conducting us around Springhill, and explaining the dedicated nature work which needs to be done on a constant routine to keep this this beautiful estate. Thank you also for the privilege of granting us entry on such a fine evening.
Bird-song at Drum 20/05/186.30 AM is not my usual time for a morning stroll-but I was up, dressed and ready to go when I received a telephone call from Ernie. “Are you coming”? We are all here and waiting.” Maybe with just a touch of perverse pleasure in his voice!“5 minutes Ernie, leaving,there in 5 minutes”.When I got to the lay-by beside Drum, I was quite surprised to find a reasonable group of around a dozen ... and the birds hadn’t quite started singing, perhaps they too, were waiting for me!Sophie plus dog and Sebastian, Jim Rutherford, Ernie and Ruth... and many others already there. All bright, so early in the morning!It was grey, with a hint of rain, possibly not the very best morning for birdsong-even in spring.We did however hear quite a selection, some of us had knowledge of more common birdsongs, and a few people had aps. on mobile phones... used with discretion as the birds might begin to answer back!Among the birds we heard and recognised were:Woodpigeon, Chaffinch, Bluetit, Chiff Chaff, Blackcap, Wren, Rook, Blackbird, Robin, Songthrush and Great TitErnie, particularly interested in birds, and with a better knowledge than the rest of us, kept the group right on what we heard, and provided useful snippets of general information on birdsong.After a pleasant relaxed dander we made our way back to our cars to drive home for breakfast, or in my case, a nice soak in the bath.
Erinus alpinus (Fairy foxglove)-often on walls of old estates
Creeping comfrey (Symphytum grandiflorum)was the first plant we came across.
By the comfrey patch.
What have we found?
On a beautiful Saturday morning, a considerable number of our members joined Belfast Field Naturalists on a visit to Walls Garden. Experienced botanists there included Ian McNeill, John Faulkner and Margaret Marshall.Beside the lake, magenta spikes of purple marsh orchids were developing nicely. Damselflies, including Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum), Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) and Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) were all flying amongst the reeds, and at least one 4-spot Chaser seen over the pond.It has been a cool spring, so the flowering of Purple Looserife, Yellow Looserife, Cowbane and a number of other mid-season flowers is somewhat late, so these plants could only be identified by foliage,nevertheless a wide variety of plant species were noted,including Scirpus sylvaticus,a fairly rare Woodrush.An interesting stop beside a drainage ditch from the lough produced two species of pond snail and a less common water weed-Water Milfoil.
Naturalists on the prowl.
Common Red Damselfly.
Great Pond Snail.
Common Blue Damselfly
Teal Lough nature walk Thursday 29 June 2108During the warmest spell of June weather for many years, a small group from Cookstown Wildlife Trust visited Teal Lough. The journey across the bog was not an easy one, and bare feet were probably the best option!!The little lough was formed from a block of ice left behind after the ice-sheet melted at the end of the ice age some 10,000 years ago. A hole (known as a kettle-hole) remained filled with melt-water. this one was situated within an extensive shallow ice-gouged depression which eventually became the bog. Teal Lough lies within one of the finest and most extensive hummock and pool systems in Northern Ireland.ThepoolcomplexsupportsaquaticSphagnummosses,alongwithstandsofbogbean. SubmergedLesserBladderwortisfoundinmanyofthepools.TherareOblong-leavedSundewDrosera intermedia also occursfrequently,alongwithBogAsphodel,BogAsphodeland White Beak-sedge.A large colony of Large Heath Butterflies is known from the intact bog area.Black headed gulls nest in the reserve, so do Teal duck (although I have never seen them there) …and so the small lake takes its name. A wide range of other wildfowl frequent the lough in winter.The group were fortunate to find both of the rare plants of Teal Lough, Long -leaved sundew and bladderwort.Bladderwort Cranberries Round-leaved sundew. Long-leaved sundew Bog Ashpodel
Bladderwort and Sundewsare both insectiverous ,as the bog does not supply sufficient nutrients for plants.Bladderwort has lots of little inflatable sacs designed to act as a trap ,sucking tiny insects in and absorbing them with digestive juices.Bog Ashpodel is common in bogs..but poisonous to both sheep and cattle, causing serious kidney problems and affecting sensitivity to light.