Guest Blog by: Nicole Feenan
Hi, my name is Nicole Feenan, I am an Environmental Science Student at Ulster University Coleraine. I am currently a placement student with the Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership at Oxford Island Nature Reserve. I chose to complete my placement year here to widen my knowledge of my local areas environment as I have lived less than six miles from Oxford Island and have visited many times. During my second year at university I attended a field trip to the Ballyronan site to investigate the quality of the water in Lough Neagh’s basin. From starting this placement, I have gained a wealth of knowledge thus far. The main aim of the year-long placement is to produce management plans for sites around Lough Neagh. In order to achieve this a breadth of training from various professionals has been provided in the fields such as: bee training to set up the first bee transect for Oxford Island, a dragonfly and damselfly course with Robert Thompson at Brackagh Bog and the Montiagh’s Moss. Bob Davidson has also been providing training in botany of various sites around the Lough including: Brackagh Bog, Rea’s Wood, Lough Beg and Peatlands Park. This has aided me in seeing what the effect of different environments has on wildflowers and the differing species at each site.
I also attended Chris Packham’s Bioblitz at Murlough Beach, a Bioblitz is an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time, with the help of students, experts, families and community members who all share an interest. At this event we were provided with a range of guided walks and talks with professionals from various fields within conservation, I had the chance to take part in both the marine mammals talk with Andy Carden and birds of Murlough walk with Dot Blakely. This event helped me to further widen my knowledge within these areas and to see the breadth of knowledge that both Dot and Andy had in their respective fields. Another main skill I have gained through this placement is the ability to confidently use the GPS device known as the Trimble, this device can give GPS readings as close to centimeters from its location. I have had many chances to use this skill at both Brackagh Bog and Gosford Park where I was part of the tree risk assessment for the new trails.