Big thank you from

Marvellous idea becoming reality

by Paul Cormacain

ANYONE with an interest in conservation is invited along to a marvellous idea becoming reality, at Glenarm on Sunday 13 October.

The idea is that the Wildlife Trusts are organising a seed collection programme, and the necessity is that only Irish stock seeds are suitable.

As a spokeperson said, the local stock make the subsequent trees 'more suitable for our climate and soil conditions, and therefore better for local wildlife'.

In theory this idea is brilliant. In practice, there is a need for volunteers to work hard. Could you pick a half kilo (one pound) of fruit off a tree? You could. Good! Go along, then.

It would be a marvellous thing for parents and children alike to partake of this visionary idea and help to put it into practice.

You could pick some seeds from local oak and hazel, and these seeds will be planted in conservation projects across the province over the next few years. Sounds good? (I think it is absolutely brilliant) Then call Ulster Wildlife Trust on 4483 0282 and let them know you are going.

Outdoor clothing would be a must, bring a packed lunch, and meet at the Glenarm shore car park at, 10.30. If you want a lift, this can be arranged with the Trust, and the rendezvous is the Ormeau Bakery, the time is 9.30. Happy seed collecting!

We were struck by the large number of pochard at Leathamstown Dam last week. And the large amount of litter.

This is a great spot for fishing folk, and these people usually are interested in conservation and the appearance of the countryside in general.

Sadly they do not all know this, and some dump their empty tobacco packets and their empty cans and bottles.

Why pick on the fishing folk? They are the ones who use this area the most, and one of them actually dumped half a pair of long waders in the undergrowth! We were picking blackberries at the time, for jam making, when we came across the wader (singular of waders).

It is still a lovely spot, made even nicer by the appearance of the pochard. These are gregarious birds favouring inland waters, and they regularly end up at Leathamstown. Nice location, safe, good feeding, what more could these birds want?

The pochard would be a rare breeder here, but is mostly a winter holiday maker. Birds come from Britain, and others come from the continent, to sample our delightful winter weather!

One place where very many birds end up every winter is Lough Neagh, and if you want to see this bird a trip there would almost guarantee you a sighting.

There were not as many mallard there as there were pochard. This in spite of the fact that the mallard is our most common duck, and is more easily identifiable than is the pochard. They have the merit of being present all year round.

The only other type of duck on Leathemstown was the tufted duck. Another gregarious creature, it used to be a winter visitor, now it breeds here quite commonly. But numbers visiting here in winter far surpass the numbers of local birds. Again, Lough Neagh is one of their favourite spots, an as many as 50,000 have been counted there in winter

Ulster Star