Lullybeg Nature Reserve is a Bord na Móna rehabilitated cutaway area, managed since 2010 by Butterfly Conservation Ireland. It is listed in the Bord na Móna Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2021. This is an important conservation location (rated Nationally Important in the Kildare County Development Plan) as it is home to a population of Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia, the only protected species of butterfly (and the only protected invertebrate) in Ireland (protected under Annex II of the Habitats’ Directive 1992). Other important butterflies present are Dark Green Fritillary Speyeria aglaja (ranked Vulnerable), Wall Brown (ranked Endangered), and Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus (ranked Near Threatened). Twenty-six butterfly species have been recorded on the reserve. The rewards of conservation management and scrub removal/control are evident as the already impressive list of flora and fauna recorded on site is increasing. The site is used as a transect for the Irish Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (IBMS) run by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, with 12 years of IBMS records underlining the site’s importance for Lepidoptera. Moths that are present on the site include species ranked Near Threatened on the macro-moth Red List published by the National Parks and Wildlife Service in 2016 (Allen et al. 2016), such as Small Chocolate-tip Clostera pigra, Dark Tussock Dicallomera fascelina, Small Purple-barred Phytometra viridaria, and species ranked as Vulnerable, such as Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet Zygaena lonicerae. Teal (Amber-listed), Woodcock (Red-listed), Snipe are among the breeding birds present. Merlin (Amber-listed), Buzzard, Kestrel (Red-listed), Sparrowhawk, Jay, Raven and Linnet (Amber-listed) occur here.
One of the pleasures of being in an area of high biodiversity is encountering the sheer range and abundance of invertebrates. Yesterday, for example, there were hundreds of young grasshoppers, their abundance a reassurance of the health of the habitats at Lullybeg. Recording what is observed using a camera is a great way to build memories of what is present, and a great way to record species one is unsure of for identification later, using reference texts on online resources. The quest for that perfect photograph, capturing a wild animal at its best, is another motivation for many nature lovers.
Here are some images from the reserve taken this week. Enjoy!
All images copyright J. Harding