In preparation for the Enniscoe BioDiversity Blitz (29th & 30th September) a number of leading experts from various fields have been monitoring and recording the flora and fauna of the area. The last time that a detailed survey was undertaken was in the mid 70s by the Forestry Service.
“This survey has been the starting point for the BioDiversity weekend”, according to Hugh Trayer, Manager of The North Mayo Heritage Centre. “From the document we had a benchmark fro, which to reference what was here nearly 50 years ago.”
Taking part in the Biodiversity Blitz are members of the National Parks and Wildlife Service who have been monitoring the woods with a series of camera traps located in the woods and along the lake shore.
“It’s a waiting game”, said James Kilroy (National Parks and Wildlife Service). “You set up the cameras and hope for the best – sometimes you get lucky sometimes you don’t. You just can’t rush these things.”
There had been a number of recent possible sightings of red squirrels in the woods but none of them were ever documented. Eventually after many weeks word came through they had been spotted again in two different locations on the estate. This was quickly followed by a number of confirmed sightings and the video footage from the camera traps of the red squirrels in the woods.
“This is so exciting”, continued James Kilroy, “as this is the furthest confirmed sightings from Belleek Woods where they were first introduced. They have made their way over land and are now establishing a new colony here in Enniscoe.”
Of course this will come as great news to the team in Belleek Woods and the NPWS who started a pilot project in 2007 to re-introduce the endangered Irish red squirrel to the region.
As well as many first recordings of mammals there have also been many recordings of rare and endangered species of butterfly. The bee population is also thriving at Enniscoe with almost every variety of Irish bee having been seen over the summer. Plants too have been recorded for the first time. The presence of the bulbous, blood-red heads of Great Burnet is an indication of a rare group of plants and flowers flourishing together in a floodplain meadow. During the weekend Howard Fox, a botanist with the National Botanic Gardens will be undertaking the first full survey of the fungi and lichens on the estate.
Birdwatch Ireland has undertaken a number of bird watching sessions and have reported on a family of very noisy Jays who live near the Organic Garden. One of the reasons for this location is their fondness for fresh apples. Also recently spotted are a pair of breeding sparrowhawks in the woods.
“Biodiversity is extremely important to us at Enniscoe House” said owner Susan Kellett. “The North Mayo Heritage Centre has arranged a very exciting weekend of events at the Enniscoe Biodiversity Blitz, especially for families of all ages. Best of all it’s FREE!”
Click here to see the full programme for the Enniscoe Biodiversity Blitz.