August 21st - Banagher Glen Nature Reserve


The sun was shining as we arrived at Banagher Glen, a great relief to all organisers of butterfly outings as – no sun, no butterflies! A small group of Field Club members made it to this remote location and were quickly rewarded with Silver-washed Fritillary butterflies (Argynnis paphia) as we gathered in the car park.  Ian Irvine, warden for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency was our leader for the day.


He took us up a steep path to a wildlife meadow NIEA maintain and manage by grazing with their own live stock. On the way up we saw more Silver-washed Fritillaries feeding on Marsh Thistle (Cirsium palustre), Speckled Wood (Parage aegeria) and the path and grass were full of small frogs. Over the meadow we watched another Silver-washed Fritillary, Large Whites (Pieris brassicae), Green-veined Whites (Pieris napi), Ringlets (Aphantopus hyperantus), Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) and a Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas). There also were large grasshoppers and a female Common Spreadwing Damselfly (Lestes sponsa) in the area.


We watched and heard Buzzards (Buteo buteo) circling and mewing in the distance and four Jays (Garrulus glandarus)chattering as they flew slowly through the treetops.


Reluctantly we left the meadow as clouds covered the sun and walked up to Altnaheglish Reservoir for lunch, seeing more Silver-washed Fritillaries on the way.


A pleasant walk of for kilometres up the road through the following the valley, passing the deep pool where the Altnaheglish and Glenedra streams meet. Legend has it that a monster water serpent lives there, St Patrick was supposed to have driven all the snakes from Ireland but this beast escaped his attention!


The day ended as we arrived back to the cars just as rain began to fall.  A successful outing in a beautiful spot that was well worth travelling to visit.


Pamela Thomlinson















 
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Buzzard (Buteo buteo)

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

Silver-washed Fritillary (underside)

Silver-washed Fritillary

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