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Tree Survey 2013

12th April 2014 - A Spring Woods experience with Phil Simpson


We had a successful start to this year's programme of walks when Phil Simpson of Buzzard Bushcraft took fifteen of us on a ramble in the woods. It went so well and Phil's knowledge was so fascinating that a three hour walk lasted well over four hours.

Phil identified a wide range of plants and told us, not only whether they could be eaten (or not!) But also illustrated other medicinal and practical uses. He also had a fund of stories and folklore attached to the plants. Most intriguing of all, we practised making fire using flint we picked up from the ground and natural kindling.



Phil will be back in August when we will repeat the walk with a very different range of plants on show.(See our events guide for details)



Sean, can you mention that the photographs show the group assembling at the Castle and then Phil talking to us about the many uses of wild garlic. Also that there are other photos of the walk on our Facebook site.



3rd May 2014 Dawn Chorus walk with Larry Toal

Our biggest crowd ever - around 50 people - gathered at the gates of Cave Hill Country Park at the top of Innisfayle Park at 6 o'clock on Saturday morning 3rd May 2014. Larry Toal was waiting for us and he guided us around the Park, right up to the caves, stopping at times to listen for and identify the birds. The photos show the crowd assembling at the gates of Cave Hill Country Park at 6 a.m. and also gathered above the Castle.


We heard the usual culprits - blackbird, song thrush, chaffinch, robin, great tit, blue tit and wren, as well as summer visitors such as the chiffchaff and the grasshopper warbler. If we didn't get any rarities, it was still great to be out; the weather was gentle and the crowd was keen. One conclusion, though. Our timing was not great; we should have been out even earlier! So we'll plan it for 5 o'clock next year. See you then!



17th May 2014 Birds event with Aidan Crean!

On Saturday 17 May, Aidan Crean took 26 of us to a site not far from Belfast Castle where he had put up mist nets a half-hour previously. Aidan is recognised as a bird ringer by the British Trust for Ornithology and he proved to be an enthralling expert.  We spent a fascinating two hours looking closely at a range of birds - a jay, a tree creeper, blue tit, coal tit, great tit, robin, male and female chaffinch and a wren while Aidan ringed them and recorded the birds' statistics. The photos show Aidan addressing the crowd at the start, Aidan with the jay and also a close-up of the wren, the last bird we caught.


21st June 2014 Butterflies and Beasties event with Catherine Bertrand


Over 55 people across all ages gathered at Belfast Castle at 1000 on Saturday 21 June for a morning's exploration of the butterflies, moths, bumblebees and other insects in the Park. We were guided by Catherine Bertrand, the Head of Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland and some of her helpers. The weather was nigh perfect for butterflies and we found 8 varieties: green-veined white, cryptic wood white, meadow brown, small heath, speckled wood, common blue, small copper and ringlet along with caterpillars of the small tortoise shell. There were also various species of daylight-flying moths and bumblebees. A wonderful event!


19th July 2014 Ballyaghagan Nature Reserve event with Cormac Hamill

On 19 July, 30 walkers turned up to take part in our July walk, led by Cormac Hamill over Ballyaghagan Nature Reserve at the back end of Cave Hill Country Park. There was a heavy mist so we couldn't see any views. That meant, however, that we concentrated mainly on the flowers. And there was a rich variety: we saw early purple orchids in plenty and some butterfly orchids. We also identified about twenty flowers. A meadow pipit flew by and we could hear larks in the mist.We also stopped at various archaeological sites. And to crown it all, about twelve o'clock as we were leaving the top, the mist cleared and we got the views after all. All-in-all, a lovely walk! The picture below shows some of the participants at the top end of the new quarry path.


16th August 2014 Foraging Walk with Phil Simpson


Phil Simpson of Buzzard Bushcraft (in the hat) and his friend Davy Mould talking to about 37 people, young and old, who took part in a foraging walk in the Park on Saturday 16 August. Both were very informative and it was amazing what they both knew. They talked of the medicinal, practical and culinary uses of a great number of plants and also told some of the folklore attached to some of the plants. They also showed how to make a fire with only a piece of flint, a steel and some birch bark. Who needs matches?


18th October 2014 Industrial History Walk with Henry Bell


On Saturday 18 October, 29 people assembled at the entrance to Carr's Glen, on the Ballysillan Road where Henry Bell met us and took us on a guided walk to the remains that are still evident in Carr's Glen.


Henry is an acknowledged expert on the industrial history of the area and has collected lots of visual resources over the years. He brought us first to the remains of the old flour mill and then to what's left of the beetling mill and from there up to the top of the glen where he pointed out the remains of the old quarry settlements, Mammystown and Daddystown. We then visited near the source of the Carr's Glen river, an important source of water for 18th century Belfast.

2014 Events

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2013 Events