Lough Beg wildlife attracts locals

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THE RSPB’s work at Lough Beg was put under the spotlight recently when local people were welcomed onto the Lough Beg National Nature Reserve to celebrate World Wetlands Day.

Thirty people were given a guided walk of the reserve with plenty of opportunities to admire the wonderful wealth of wildlife and see the conservation work being undertaken by RSPB in partnership with local farmers and the NIEA.

RSPB’s Lough Neagh Area Manager, Seamus Burns, led the event, along with by Gareth Bareham, Lough Beg Halting Environmental Loss Project (HELP) Project Officer, Catherine Gleave RSPB Youth and Education Officer, Peter McMullen, RSPB Machinery Operator and Ciaran Burns, RSPB volunteer. Gareth and Peter and were able to demonstrate many of the recent major improvements on the site for breeding waders as a result of the conservation work using specialised machinery funded by the Biffa Award.

Large flocks of lapwing and whooper swan were feeding in fields beside the reserve, whilst tufted duck, pochard and coot also made appearances on the flat calm waters of the Lough. Wigeon, teal, mallard and shoveler were on the flooded grassland, so there was plenty to see! The small broadleaved woodland was already showing the first signs of spring as bluebells began to poke their heads up, and grey herons were flying to the trees on the hill to begin nesting.

The walk also included more about the rich history and heritage of this amazing place and looking across at Church Island with its steeple and eleventh century monastery it is easy to see why. Overall it was a fantastic day out with people taking a real interest in the RSPB’s conservation work here.

The RSPB is planning an events programme for the year ahead for local people to visit Lough Beg and learn about the site and RSPB’s work here, such as walks to Lough Beg, a visit to Church Island, and perhaps a boat trip from Lough Neagh up through Lough Beg. The RSPB encourages people to get in touch if they wish to be involved in any events throughout the year, contact seamus.burn@rspb.org.uk for more information or telephone 028 90 491 547.