Category Archives: Nature

Lough Neagh Litter Campaign

Lough Neagh Litter Campaign

Lough Neagh Partnership and the Rivers Trust are delighted to support the local community groups around the shores of Lough Neagh who want to change attitudes to litter.  Around Lough Neagh we can see the damage done to valuable wildlife habitats through our careless attitude to litter.  Plastic bottles, straws and single use coffee cups are blown from roads and lanes into streams and into Lough Neagh where we are contributing to killing of sea birds and sea animals.   Lough Neagh Partnership and the Rivers Trust are throwing our efforts behind the Live Here Love Here Campaign to do our bit.

Because we  Live Here beside the Lough

                           We Love Here and do not want our place looking like a skip!

Please join and like our Lough Neagh Litter Campaign on facebook

Next events coming up: –

Saturday 27 July        Derrytresk Community Centre      12noon

Saturday 3 Aug          Newmills at the MACE shop at 10:30am

Student Blog – Aine Cullen

Student Blog – Aine Cullen

Hi everyone! My name is Aine, I am 21 years old, and I am a new student on a 16-week placement with the Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership. I am currently studying Environmental Management at Queen’s University Belfast and have a fond interest in nature and wildlife conservation, so this placement opportunity was right up my street! I applied here with the hopes of expanding my knowledge and experience on fauna and flora, and with only three weeks in, I have learned so much already.

There are currently six new placement students, and we have travelled to different sites learning valuable new information and developing key skills in areas such as Plant Identification with Bob Davidson, Dragonfly and Damselfly training with Robert Thompson, Woodland and Habitat Training with Dermot Hughes, Bumblebee Identification with Geoff Newell and First Aid / Rescue Emergency Care Training.

 

We carried out our first survey with the RSPB at Portmore Lough assessing the Irish Damselfly population in the Montiaghs Moss area. The Irish Damselfly (Coenagrion lunulatum) is thought to be a vulnerable and declining species. However, it is still considered to be an under-recorded species with lesser known information about it, compared to similar species such as the Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) and Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum).

We also shadowed the previous students on their Bumblebee transects where they carry out bee surveys once a month to assess population numbers at Oxford Island, as we will be taking over this survey in the coming weeks. This is to identify the 6 different common bumblebee species including the Common Carder Bumblebee (Bombus pascuorum), the Buff Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), the Garden Bumblebee (Bombus hortorum), the Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum), the White Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum) and the Red Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius)./p

 

Student Blog – Lin Jiali

I am Lin Jiali, studying Environmental management at Queens University Belfast. This year is my second year at Queens, so I need to undertake a placement in the light of the school regulation.  I have many reasons to choose to conduct my placement with Lough Neagh Partnership at Oxford Island. First of all, when I first came here for an interview, this place impresses me by its gorgeous natural view. Thus, I think doing my placement in this beautiful environment will be enjoyable. Secondly, based on the recruitment information from the Lough Neagh, they require the intern have acquired the basic knowledge with regard to the Environmental impact assessment and Geographical information service. I have studied both of them in my second semester in my second academic year at Queens. As a consequence, I am able to meet these two recruiting requirements. Apart from that, I can also reinforce my academic theory regarding EIA and GIS by applying them to the workplace. The last reason is that this placement can provide various training by expert trainers, such as plant ID training, dragonfly training and internship will have the opportunity to carried out the field survey frequently during the placement. That means I will learn lots of new knowledge and gain the practical field survey experience in the period of the placement.  So far, I have attended the three times of plant ID training, once of dragonfly training and bumble bee training, several times of grassland survey and one woodland training. All of these training not only have expanded my current knowledge but also taught me how to solve and prevent the issues that would meet in the field surveys. First aid training is the training provided by the Lough Neagh partnership that surprises me. It is a very considerate decision they made for the interns since working in the field have a higher possibility to get injured than staying in the office. Thus, the first aid training can teach the placement students how to react once they get an injury in the field.

 

As far as I know, I already learnt much new knowledge, which related to the biology and environment subject and obtained useful practical field survey skills in the past two weeks. I believe the following journey will still be exciting and meaningful.

Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership Moss Blog – June 25th 2019

Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership Moss Blog – June 25th 2019

Siobhan Thompson, the project lead for Saving Nature in the Area has been working alongside Bryonie and Gemma from Quarto to explore Community Connect with Moss.

Local community members joined us on two walks through the moss, one along the condemned rampart and one on the ramparts behind Derrytresk community centre.

We looked at how the moss has changed and altered over the lifetime of local people, and to get a sense of what is important for you as community and how we could help move this forward.
We had a lot of good discussions with people and have collated insights from those that came along, from local place-names to stories of using special moss shoes and the right way to stack the peat. There were a lot of photos taken and there will be a final workshop on Wednesday the 26th June at Washing Bay Community Centre @ 7.30pm which we hope as many local people will get along to as possible… Children are also welcome to come along and take part…

The curlew have been very active, and our Ornithology team on the ground (which consists of Kendrew Colhoun and Kerry Mackie) have been out monitoring and watching – as well as getting lots of cups of tea, and pieces of cake – they tell me this element is particularly vital and an integral part of the hard work they are doing – and actually it is, as the information they get from you is massively important and helps us shape our project for the current and future benefit of the Curlew and other wildlife.

We are well into the season, the Curlew arrived mid-March and have been busy courting one another, setting up nests, guarding their nests from aerial/ground predators, and trying to get their eggs to the hatching stage.

Hatching

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From our monitoring we have observed one pair has managed to get their eggs to hatching point – as they are ground nesting birds many of the eggs in nests are predated by other birds, or by ground predators, and never get to hatch.

We watched with great excitement as the pair we know got the eggs to hatching stage, but sadly we suspect the chicks that hatched have already been predated.

These birds as ground nesting birds have a lot of contend with and we hope that in years to come we can help manage this local landscape with your help for their benefit. Future funding will include how we can create a benefit for the community as you have been integral in shaping this landscape to date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosalind Lowry our project artist has been working with Kingisland Primary school, and together with the students and staff, has created and painted the beautiful mural you can see on the gable wall… it shows the wonderful wildlife you have in the area, from Curlew, Cuckoo, Meadow Pipits, to Large heath butterfly and insect eating plants known as sundew which are a wonderful plant found on bogs. If you get the chance pop along to see it, it blends in very well with the colourful school grounds. We have also delivered some workshops to the students on Curlew and local wildlife and have been very impressed by the Curlew calls the kids can make…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We will be meeting with Anne Reid the Access and Recreation officer for Mid Ulster Council in the next week – to progress discussion around access and recreation across the site, across ramparts and through the moss – from discussion with many of you we know that this is something that local community would like to see happen – the roads are busy in the area and it’s good to have routes you can take that avoid traffic and lead you through beautiful areas.

We will also be raising the matter of the walk way between Kingsland primary school and Derrytresk community centre – though we have been told this is a matter for the Department of Infrastructure
We are in the final stages of working with the Department of Education over the lease. As with all legal processes it is proving to be one thing that requires patience, and we will keep the community committees informed as to what is happening with this aspect. So please feed any questions with respect to this either directly to me or to your local community committee members and they will pass it on to us.

Upcoming Workshops, and information talks:

  • Wednesday 26 June – Exploring community connection to the moss – for all members of local communities to attend at washing Bay Community Centre at 7.30 – 9.30 pm (approx.)
  • Wednesday 3rd July – Painting the land – Derrytresk Community Centre – 7.30 – 9.00 pm
  • Wednesday 10th July – A Conversation in Clay – Washing Bay Community Centre – 7.30 – 9.00 pm
  • Meet the Ornithologist – Update on the moss Curlew & other birds – Date & Venue TBC
  • Access & recreation – Consultation with Community – Date & Venue TBC

We welcome feedback on the timings of our workshops – we could hold the last two towards end of July but understand a lot of people may be away – please let us know your thoughts, or ideas for info talks/workshops you would like.

One of the discussions we were having on one of the community walks on the moss was how you do make a peat creel… Has anyone any idea of the local design used? Would you in interested in trying to build couple with us?

Any thoughts and comments let us know… Either on Facebook or by sending email to Siobhan.thompson@loughneaghlp.com

Student Blog – Aine Mallon

Student Blog – Aine Mallon

Guest Blog by Aine Mallon

Hello, my name Is Aine Mallon, I am 20 years old and have just finished my second year at Queen’s university studying Environmental management with professional studies. I am currently undertaking a year’s placement at Oxford Island.

I wanted to spend my year out of university based somewhere that broadens my horizon on the environmental aspect and awareness we face today. I enjoy being outside collecting data and being able to work amongst a team, team work here at Oxford Island is a vital part. Also, learning new skills and information regarding the diverse range of different habitats that exposed us to plant species and invertebrates that are situated within these different nature reserves we visit. I want to be in a work-based environment that aims to prevent the degradation of the natural environment. Protecting al living creatures is a key aspect I want to learn more about.

Since I have started placement at Oxford Island, we have been introduced to plant identification training with Bob Davidson. Plants are a fundamental part of our work here at Oxford Island because they sustain clean air which we are dependent on. Being able to identify the broad diversity of plants is to understand the positive and negative indicators for assessment on their ability to effectively carry out photosynthesis for the surrounding landscape. I can now also distinguish the difference between sedges and different types of grassland.

 

 

We have been introduced to the importance of bumble bees, the world’s most important pollinator of food crops. At Oxford Island, we have followed a transect around the area to collect data on the numbers and types of bumble bees present here. Knowing the different populations of bees is essential to be able to understand their dynamics and how these change overtime. As well as bumble bees, we have been brought out to a range of areas including Brackagh and Portmore to study dragon flies.

I am also a qualified first aider, as we have all attended classes and been assessed on our ability to perform first aid on people and what do in these situations.

Student Blog – Aoibhe McCarron

Student Blog – Aoibhe McCarron

Guest Blog by Aoibhe McCarron

My name is Aoibhe McCarron, I’m 19 and I’ve just completed second year of Biological Sciences at Queen’s university Belfast. I chose to do my placement with the Lough Neagh Partnership at Oxford island because I knew I wanted to work outdoors and in this area from previous experiences at field courses at university and I want to expand my knowledge of the environment and get some hands on experience.

So far, we’ve learned a lot. On week one, we went to an Carn where we had botanical training with Bob Davidson, we also had a continuation of this the following week back at oxford island. We’ve learned how to identify different species of grasses, sedges, rushes and wildflowers. On week one we also carried out a bee transect. We learned how to identify the most common species of bees and came across around five of these on our transect. We also went to Brookend on week one, where we assessed the habitat and what species were there. We drew up a map of Brookend so we could assess the site. We saw some interesting things at Brookend such as badger sets and also lapwing, we found some lapwing eggs which we think were predated on by something like a badger or a fox.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We started off week two with first aid training in Portadown, the course took us two days to complete and we are now qualified first aiders. Later in the week we met with Robert Thompson, who took us through dragonfly and damselfly training. He showed us a presentation on how to identify the different species by their colours, markings and size etc. We then went to a site called Brackagh with Robert where we caught and identified several different species of damselflies. Yesterday we visited Rea’s wood in Antrim where we had woodland training with Dermot Hughes. We were able to put our plant ID skills into action as we identified different plants in the habitat and we learned to identify invasive species such as Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam.

SAVING NATURE AROUND LOUGH NEAGH PROJECT LAUNCHES

SAVING NATURE AROUND LOUGH NEAGH PROJECT LAUNCHES

Lough Neagh Partnership has launched the ‘Saving Nature Around Lough Neagh’ project to conserve the Curlew. This iconic species has declined by 96% within the last ten years and the team is working with local communities to ensure it remains part of the Lough Neagh landscape. The project also aims to restore peatland habitat and wet grassland for birds, breeding waders, over wintering birds and other wildlife that live alongside the community in and around the Lough Neagh shoreline.

The project is focused on South West Lough Neagh on the area known as “Department of Education” lands and will deliver conservation of the Curlew through practical works such as restoration of its habitat and working with local landowners and farmers to support Curlew using their lands. This will be delivered alongside more community focused elements such as improving the recreation and access through the lands for locals and the collection of local histories and memories through workshops which will be delivered this summer.

Lough Neagh Partnership and partners have identified the monitoring of the breeding Curlew population in the area as being an integral part of the Saving Nature Around Lough Neagh project. Ornithologists from KRC Ecology will help increase the understanding of how the Curlew is using the area to build a positive profile for them. This work will then contribute to management plans Lough Neagh Partnership will develop to conserve the Curlew in the future.

The partnership is seeking to involve local people and communities through a series of workshops and art engagements to afford local people the opportunity to voice what they would like to happen with the lands and how they would like to be involved in this.

A summary document will be delivered in Autumn 2019 reflecting the outcome and this, and the works Lough Neagh Partnership will do with landowners and farmers through the Lough Neagh Environmental Farm Scheme, which has just opened its third tranche offering financial incentives for breeding waders and other habitat works, will help conserve Curlew and other priority species around the Lough.

Lough Neagh Partnership will represent the local community’s perspective by exploring the relationship that exists between the people and their landscape, collecting stories and memories that local people have of the Curlew and other breeding waders that use the landscape. These bogs have been part of the consciousness of the landscape for centuries and stories from locals may include memories of family days out, Corncrake calling or reflections of cutting turf. This will result in a sense of empowerment for those who have clearly expressed their wants and needs. The engagements will be delivered by the team at Quarto who have delivered previous projects exploring community connecting with nature and how this can result in a sustainable healthy landscape.

The workshops delivered by Quarto will focus on adults in the community and local children will have the opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions through working with Rosalind Lowry on art pieces.

Siobhan Thompson of Lough Neagh Partnership said: “Our Saving Nature Around Lough Neagh project aims to involve all the community in helping the Curlew to survive, their extinction is happening right here under our noses and we have the chance to do something to help them. We hope that these works alongside others ensure that Curlew remain in Ireland and our children hear their beautiful call echoing plaintively across our landscape. By working collectively we can achieve a shared vision for the area we live and work in and I hope that local people will join us in helping to conserve the Curlew and the restoration of their habitats.”

Siobhan is appealing for local people to engage and join her in the delivery of the project and should you wish to get involved or obtain further information, please email Siobhan at: siobhan.thompson@loughneaghlp.com

It is envisaged that the Saving Nature Around Lough Neagh project will take two years to complete and it is being made possible through Lough Neagh Partnership’s Heritage Lottery funded Landscape Programme.

Further information on the Environmental Farm Scheme which is open for application until the beginning of May is available at https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/environmental-farming-scheme-efs-higher-level or by calling the EFS Advisory Service on tel 0300 200 7848.

www.discoverloughneagh.com

www.twitter.com/loveloughneagh

www.facebook.com/loughneaghlandscapepartnership

https://www.loughneaghlp.com/information-evening-derrytresk/

Saving Nature Project – Department of Education Lands

Saving Nature Project – Department of Education Lands

My name is Siobhan Thompson and I am Natural heritage project officer for Lough Neagh Partnership Ltd.

Siobhan Thompson

We have secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to deliver the Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership Programme which aims to address the heritage needs of the Lough and its shoreline on a holistic integrated landscape basis. The Programme will deliver 27 projects that relate directly to the conservation of the Lough’s natural, cultural, and built heritage.

The primary objective of the overarching Saving Nature project is to restore the peatland habitat and wet grassland for birds, waders and other wildlife that live alongside the people and community, in and around the Lough Neagh shore. Alongside this we would like to explore the relationship that the community and its people have with the landscape – from their memories of family life in the area through to their aspirations for the land and how it is used in the future. The programme aims to reinforce the connection the local community has with the surrounding lands and natural heritage

The saving nature programme not only aims to contribute to the protection of both cultural and natural heritage landscapes but encourages partners and local communities to recognize that the future of their regions depends on finding synergies between preserving the cultural and natural values and the sustainable management of both. Communities and social groups experience place through real and imagined facets, to make sense of the world and the stories told therein. The visualisation methodology we hope to apply to the landscape, and in particular the peatlands, of southwest Lough Neagh will be used to join up the dots of the factual and imaginary that form affective networks of identities, which in turn shape local memory, sense of self, community and sense of the past. The project will bring people together to examine how our 21st century sense of place, livelihood and community has been moulded by our links to the environmental, especially processes of water and peatland. It is through these environmental connectivity’s that local actions will be linked to the natural heritage protection and conservation. This work will be delivered in conjunction with Quarto a team of four sisters from Northern Ireland.

We will also be monitoring the Curlew population in the area. Curlew are one of the fastest declining birds in the UK and Breeding populations are becoming increasingly rare – with numbers decreasing in the island of Ireland by 80% in the last ten years – We have employed a team/Curlew Monitoring Officer (CMO)  to monitor the breeding population on The Department of Education lands –  Starting Tuesday 26th March 2019, the focus of the CMO will be to monitor the area for Breeding Curlew and engage with the local landowners/businesses to raise the profile of the Curlew within the local community. Positive outreach is an integral part of the role and this will be carried out alongside the LNLP team.

Department of Education Lands

We have also engaged an artist Rosalind Lowry to work in the area with different groups and we envisage strong community interest and engagement from different parties and landowners in the area – we will be keen to work with all and will hold some information nights at a number of locations in the area for locals – including Derrytresk Community Centre to let you know what is happening and when – we will advertise these on our facebook page and locally in the communities of South West Lough Neagh.

We are keen to work with all in the community and there will be plenty of opportunity for engagement over the next year – if you have any questions or would like to know more about the project please get in touch – siobhan.thompson@loughneaghlp.com

Blogs and Bugs – Brackagh Bog

Blogs and Bugs – Brackagh Bog

Blogs and Bugs – Brackagh Bog

Guest blog by – Sarah Galloway

This month we have started the practical conservation work on Brackagh, yes, we are back at Brackagh. The practical conservation work we are undertaking is scrub and tree removal of the fen and pools areas within Brackagh. This involves cutting the trees with bow saws, using loppers on smaller trees, scrubs and brambles.

Brackagh

Tree stumps are then painted with Glyphosate which is a herbicide, this then kills the tree right down to the root to prevent it from regrowing. Through this work it will help maintain the fen and prevent it from succeeding to a dense wet woodland. This is necessary as a result of the trees growing here it is drying out the soil. This then negatively impacts the wetland species which originally grew here and the insects and dragonflies which live in the vegetation. Through doing this it will prevent the fen from succeeding to a wet woodland but it will require consistent management to help prevent it from succeeding to woodland again.

View Sarah’s previous blogs here:

Blogs and Bugs – October

Blogs and Bugs – September