Our Countryside Management students had the opportunity to go to Ireland on a field trip.
DAY 1: They reached Dublin via the overnight ferry before making their way to Gortin Glen Forest Park. The aim of the field trip was to provide students with the opportunity to learn about additional species and countryside management practices. Whilst walking through Gortin Glen Forest Park, the students and staff discussed woodland management practices and their effects on conservation, all whilst identifying lots of different plants and trees.
From the forest they moved on to explore the hanging lakes of Gortin. They are called 'hanging' due to their geological history being created from the last ice age and location on the hillside. Whilst there they also spotted a hen harrier hunting on the moor.
DAY 2: Heading to the Giant's Causeway, they took a walk along the cliffs taking in common spotted orchids, stonechat, reed bunting, and some amazing views along the path! It was a super windy day to walk on the basalt columns (which make up the Giant's Causeway) so keeping feet on the ground was a challenge!
In the afternoon they explored the sand dunes and rock pools - with lecturer Steve catching a goby!
DAY 3: A day of stairs and steps! They walked the boardwalk trail across the bog and up Cuilagh Mountain which summits at 656m above sea level. Enroute they found sundews, skylarks, cuckoo and a second siting of a hen harrier! They then explored the depths of Marble Arch Caves learning about the geology in teh UNESCO Geopark. They covered a brilliant 15km with a lot of step up and down, so had definitely earned their pizza when they got back to the hostel.
DAY 4: A day of squirrels and sea! Despite a big day the day before the students and staff were up bright and early in another effort to spot red squirrel. They were hugely rewarded with two sightings! They then drove up the mountain through the forest taking in the view at the top.
The rest of the day was spent in Portrush, wandering about the town and headland, finding spring squill and thrift, before heading down to the sea where some of the students even braved the Atlantic for a refreshing dip!
DAY 5: Another early morning was rewarded with more red squirrel sighting before driving through the forest again spotting Irish hare and willow warblers! The rest of the morning was spent exploring Londonderry, where the walled city bastions walked and the Guild Hall explored.
Finally they crossed the boarder to find seals, which unfortunately didn't show this time, however the students still saw shrimp, gobies, anemones, jellyfish and crabs to add to their huge list of species!