by Paul Cormacain
DID I say that the Lisburn RSPB has been on the go for 25 years ?
One of the leading lights who played a major role at that time was Lawrence Adams, sadly no longer with us, but a man who had a great love for wildlife. Thanks to Lawrence, a Wildlife Garden has just been opened at Port Mor Lough Nature Reserve.
The thinking behind a wildlife garden is that a small area is more attractive to wildlife, especially birds, when no poisonous materials are used, and weeds as well as flowers are allowed to grow without constraint.
The thistle heads I saw, for example, will soon be visited by charms of goldfinches, and they will thrive, both the thistles and the birds, and the human visitors will be delighted.
Gardeners would love to have goldfinches visiting their gardens regularly, but not many gardeners would encourage thistles.
In similar fashion, if we were brave enough to encourage nettles to grow in our gardens it would result in much larger numbers of butterflies visiting. But how many gardeners do you know who would settle for nettles?
There arc sun flowers growing in the wildlife garden, but this is a flower I would associate with France, not the delightful shores of Lough Neagh or Port Mor. Then I remember seeing sunflowers recently in a Cedar Avenue garden, and they must have been three metres high. Perhaps Lawrence had suggested this, or again his widow or their two daughters may have anticipated the beauty of these flowers.
After the official opening of the garden, performed bv David Trimble, we went out to sample the many delights of Port Mor.
We saw a small frog not too long afterwards. It was out for a walk, and we were out for a walk, when our paths crossed.
If that frog was about seven or eight months old it has not done much growing, because it would not have been much smaller when it left the water.
We always associate frogs with water, but this particular creature was far from water, in the grass. But this is part of Nature's plan, for the frog thrives away from water most of the year.
It will be about the New Year that the creatures will return to water, to perform the annual ritual of propagation.
Then we will see frogs acting amorously, we will see frog spawn, followed by tadpoles, and eventually young frogs.
Warden Eddie Franklin told of regular visits by large raptors, buzzards, so we were happily on the lookout for this large bird. We saw not a one of them , and they seemed to have decided to boycott the place while we were there.
The sightings by Eddie bear testimony to the expansion of buzzards in the country. The distribution maps which show that the buzzard only lives on Rathlin Island, or that buzzards only live in a small area of north-east Antrim, are now securely rendered obsolete.
The great raptor has been thriving, and expanding its range, for years. I have seen buzzards in all counties of northern Ireland, and have seen some also across the border. Reports I get now tell us of the bird spreading to the very south of Ireland.
I wrote about small tortoiseshell butterflies, and how we only saw one at Leathamstown. It was a different story, as I predicted it would be, a short time later. The short time later corresponded to our visit to Port Mor, where there were loads of butterflies, including small tortoiseshells.
I am sure that Lawrence would have been pleased. His efforts, and the efforts of his family have helped us all to enjoy more butterflies than usual.
The wildlife garden is a great encouragement to butterflies, and helps explain why we saw so many small tortoiseshell, large, small and green-veined whites, ringlets and speckled woods.
Saturday 6, Sunday 7 September - The justly famous Green Living Fair is at Castle Espie and is always well worth a visit.
Sunday 7 September - The local Wildlife Trust works for the conservation and preservation of local wildlife, and to raise awareness of same. Taking this to a natural conclusion, you are cordially invited to the Umbra nature reserve, to cut hay! Do your bit! Phone them on 4483 0282
Sunday 14 September - Are you up to a Newry Canal Cycle Ride, at 10am? Contact Oxford Island on 3832 2205
Monday 22 September - Lisburn RSPB will hear about the Re-introduction of the Golden Eagle from Lorca O'Toole, the project co-ordinator. Members and public are all warmly welcomed.