Appeal for volunteers to help protect wildlife in Tyrone

Red Squirrel
Red Squirrel

The River Blackwater Catchment Trust are appealing for volunteers to help in a project to protect and enhance wildlife habitats on Slieve Beagh, on the border of Tyrone and Monaghan.

Slieve Beagh is recognised as an area of international importance and is home to the Red Squirrel, Hen Harrier and Red Grouse.

The site is considered special because it is the third largest areas of blanket bog in Northern Ireland.

The Trust, based in the Old Library, Moy have recently secured funding from the NI Environment Link-Challenge Fund to recruit volunteers to help protect the valuable habitats of these creatures.

The project aims to actively raise awareness amongst the local community and recruit up to 80 volunteers from around Slieve Beagh.

In doing this they hope to train and support volunteers on how to look after the rich wildlife habits to be found right on our doorstep.

Slieve Beagh is considered as an area of international importance and as such is designated as a Special Area of Conservation.

The Catchment Trust are looking for volunteers to help Count and Feed the Red Squirrels, count pairs of Red Grouse and spot the Hen Harriers at their ‘sky dance.’

Red Squirrels are easily recognisable by their distinctive body shape and bushy tail. The red squirrel is a more delicate animal than the grey squirrel.

We are extremely fortunate in County Tyrone to have populations of Red Squirrel in Fardross and Favour Royal Forests and through this project volunteers will be involved in making and erecting squirrel feeders and the RBCT proposes to install cameras in selected areas to monitor red squirrel activity and estimate numbers.

The Red Grouse is a scarce game bird found in heather uplands but we are fortunate to have breeding pairs in Sliabh Beagh and the Trust is actively managing the heather on Sliabh Beagh to improve their habitat.

The Hen Harrier is also at home in the heather uplands of Sliabh Beagh. They feed mainly on meadow pipit and skylark fledglings during the breeding season.

If you would like to learn more about the range of wildlife that make their home on Sliabh Beagh the River Blackwater Catchment Trust would like to hear from you.

There are lots of opportunities to get involved over the coming months. Contact Chris McCartney on 07788249517 or Tom Woods on 07743550804.