Tiger moths, Red Kites, Butterfly orchids and Lizards are just some of the wonderful wildlife that has been spotted in the Belfast Hills during 2016.

 

Forget having to settle down to a night of David Attenborough’s ‘Planet Earth’ to experience some of the wonders of the natural world; grab your binoculars and walking shoes and head to the Belfast Hills!

 

2016 has been a great year for wildlife sightings in the hills. The sightings come from staff, volunteers, Friends of Belfast Hills and amateur naturalists visiting the hills.

 

“We’ve been pushing the idea of local people reporting what they see as they walk and work in the hills”, says Belfast Hills Partnership’s Project Officer Judy Meharg, “and we’re delighted to see all our encouragement via leaflets, social media, talks and events gradually coming to fruition”.

 

A few notable moth and butterfly records included Clouded Magpie, Narrow–bordered Bee Hawk and Garden Tiger moths as well as the Cryptic Wood White butterfly.

 

Mammals reported include Irish hare, badger and stoat and one of the hills’ top wildlife sites. While Slievenacloy, revealed a healthy population of Lizards as well as three scarce orchids.

 

Our top bird sightings were Cuckoo, Red Kite, Hen Harrier, Barn Owl and 92 Black-Tailed Godwits initially reported by a farmer in fields above Glencairn.

 

There are many different ways to record wildlife sightings via websites, social media and apps, however in the Belfast Hills Partnership Offices the new addition of an old fashioned ‘Wildlife Reports’ wipe-board has substantially upped the number of sightings being recorded by volunteers in particular.

 

Many reports are accompanied by photographs which help with verification before records are sent to the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording.

 

Such wildlife sightings are invaluable as they provide an idea of the health of populations, such as Buzzards, and the importance of the Belfast Hills to rarer and threatened species.

 

The Belfast Hills Partnership hopes to continue encouraging people to keep an eye out for wildlife and will provide training in ID and submitting records. So the call is out- if you would like to help please get in touch!

 

To find out more or register your interest, contact Judy at the Belfast Hills Partnership on 02890 603 466 or email Judy.meharg@belfasthills.org