David Attenborough series illuminates NI wildlife

Wild Islands

Wild Isles is broadcast on BBC

Sir David Attenborough’s new series Wild Isles, filmed over a period of three years, has been described as unmissable, breathtaking and spectacular.

It sheds light on the biodiversity on our doorstep – a biodiversity that animal rights groups have warned could disappear within years.

The Open University, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) collaborated on the five-part series examining the different habitats of the UK.

And the hope is that it will inspire people to appreciate and protect their surroundings.

For Amy Burns, an estate administrator for the RSPB in County Fermanagh, it sheds light on something she sees every day.

“We don’t have to go to the Serengeti, we don’t have to go to the Arctic,” she said.

“We have some amazing wildlife here and some amazing habitat and scenery right here on our doorstep.”

Amy Burns

Amy Burns says the thought of more wildlife losses in County Fermanagh is heartbreaking

We’re speaking on Humphrey’s Island, a restored wetland just outside Enniskillen, looking across to Devenish Tower.

The cold this morning has caused many of the wildlife it supports to be less active than usual, but overhead a lapwing flaps back to its nest and noisy gulls take their breakfast in the waters of Lower Lough Erne.

“You’re just being transported to another location,” Ms. Burns continued.

‘You know when I think of stories my grandma would have told me about the corncrake in Fermanagh, not being able to fall asleep to the sound of the corncrake and that’s a bird we lost.

“It’s gone extinct in Fermanagh, but species like curlew that we still have that are very impressive to a lot of people – to see that they might be lost is just heartbreaking.”

Wild Islands

The RSPB uses cameras to track wildlife in wetlands

Curlew and Skylark can be heard on Humphrey’s Island.

Work to protect the ground nests here included electric fences to prevent predators and cameras from observing their behavior.

In addition to grasslands and wetlands, Wild Isles will also visit forests and coasts.

Only 0.04% of Northern Ireland’s land cover is ancient forest and work continues to preserve what remains.

Northern Ireland ranks 12th in the world in terms of biodiversity loss.

Wildlife charities have joined forces for the first time to call to action when Wild Isles hits our screens.

And Ms. Burns believes anyone can play a role.

“What people can really do is get out,” she said.

“Get out there and enjoy nature and connect with it so that when there is loss, you really feel it.

“Because of Covid and the lockdown, people started to get out and they really started to reconnect with nature, to get a sense of nature where you are and to know what is local to you.

“And once you’re really passionate about it, you won’t want to lose it.”


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