The woods, meadows, wetlands, parks and farms along the Lagan are alive with wildlife.
The incredible variety includes many of the most endangered birds in the UK and Ireland. We're working to protect these birds and other wildlife to prevent further declines and make the Park a safe place for them to feed and breed.
Read more about our project
Which of these adorable birds will bring colour to your garden this weekend? Bright blue tit?
Are the birds acting like it’s spring in your garden? Spend an hour taking part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend and find out!
What a weird winter we’re having! (But I’m not complaining). Sunday along the towpath I saw beetles, sprouting greenery and grass, even dandelions. In my garden the daffodils are blooming and the snowdrops have been up for weeks. While birds are showing all the signs of mating. As I headed to the Bird Feeding Day (Saturday before last) at the Lock Keeper’s Cottage, the birds were in full dawn chorus mode, particularly a song thrush that was announcing his presence very beautifully from a prime perch – for any female thrush within half a mile!
Cuddly long-tailed tit?
The spring-in-January weather and the overall mildness of the winter so far will mean interesting viewing and results for this year’s Big Garden Bird Watch. It’s the world’s largest garden bird survey, as thousands of people across the UK spend an hour observing the birds in their gardens and recording the results. This year it takes place over the weekend of January 27 and 28th.
The results provide a snapshot of how some of our favourite garden birds, as well as more exotic visitors and winter migrants, are faring. The survey is also an opportunity to see how species that are endangered or in decline are coping. Though starlings may seem common, their numbers have diminished greatly, as have house sparrows. So the survey helps the RSPB set priorities for which species most need help to recover and advise on steps we can all take to help.
This year should be particularly interesting. The RSPB has been hearing from people who’ve noted fewer birds in their gardens despite putting out feeders. Are numbers down after the last two severe winters? Actually, there are probably more birds about, as young birds, which are the most susceptible to cold weather, have survived this year due to the mild conditions. They’re just not about in our gardens. Again, due to the unseasonal warmth, there is a greater food supply available in the countryside - berries, worms, even insects. So the need for seed is not so desperate and birds aren’t venturing into town.
Dapper wee coal tit?
Taking part in Big Garden Bird Watch is easy and fun. Simply visit rspb.org.uk to download a counting form, then submit your result online. Kids particularly enjoy nature on our doorstep, which is why schools make up such a big part of the survey every year. You don’t need a garden – your patio, local park, schoolyard – anywhere will do!
Put out food now and watch bird numbers increase for even better watching.
Best to stay indoors and keep the cat in too, so you don’t scare the birds away.
View on a sunny day when the sun is low (morning or late afternoon) and you’ll only see black silhouettes, which makes identification tricky to say the least.
Or a friendly neighbourhood robin? Photos provided by LVRP
So can we breathe a sigh of relief that we’ve made it through winter? Let’s see what February throws at us first. If it finally does turn properly wintery, count on nature to put on the brakes and the birds to forget about romance at least until after Valentine’s Day!
The Laganscape and Lagan Valley Red Squirrel Group have teamed up to investigate how our local red squirrels have been holding up against two fierce winters in a row, aggressive grey squirrel competition and the challenges of being a small, mild mannered picky eater in a big bad world.
LVRP Information and Countryside Officer David Scott tells us about their planned research project:
One of the most frequent questions people ask about Belvoir Park Forest is “are there any red squirrels left?” Well we hope to answer that question soon.
Working alongside the Lagan Valley Red Squirrel Group, the Laganscape scheme is involved in helping to conserve the red squirrel population in Belvoir Park Forest, one of the last strongholds of this native species in Northern Ireland.
As part of the project, expert David Tosh and his team will undertake an extensive survey of the red squirrels. Over the coming months he will observe the red squirrel population with a view to determining numbers and the capacity of the forest to provide a habitat now in and in the future.
This information will be used to develop a conservation management plan to help protect this endangered species both here in Lagan Valley Regional Park and nationally.
Laganscape’s dedicated group of red squirrel survey volunteers, who tirelessly remain committed to the Lagan Valley red squirrel, are supporting this valuable project, going out in all weathers to survey the forest.
Keep an eye out for future postings where I will give an update on our furry friends.
Along with the bluebells and the kingfisher, the red squirrel is one of the most loved and iconic features of the LVRP. We’re all looking forward to a bright future for this adorable and very vulnerable Park resident.
More visible, more hungry at this time of year
Saturday January 14th is Winter Birds Day at the Lock Keeper's
With the lack of tree cover and natural food supplies, our feathered friends become far more conspicuous. And they would certainly appreciate the extra help we can all provide - that means food! The more food you provide, the more birds will come to your garden...and the greater the variety of avian visitors too!
Right now is a great time to learn more about familiar garden birds - how to identify them and their habits too. And of course, the best foods to feed them to help them through winter.
So come along this Saturday to the Lock Keeper's Cottage and find out.
This is your opportunity to have a go at making some seed balls and learn some basics about our winter birds. Why not bring along the whole family for a great morning’s fun? (Kids love making the seed balls, which are easy. And grownups - the suet in the seed balls is great for dry winter skin! It also provides essential fats birds rely on in cold weather)
Meet at Lock Keeper’s Cottage for our Feeding the Birds event at 11.00am (around 2.5 hours). Call 028 9049 1922 to book your place.