Welcome to our Fermanagh outpost

At Allen and Mellon we are fortunate to have a base in County Fermanagh which provides us with space and accommodation in the heart of Ireland's north-west.  This gets us closer to our projects in this part of the world.  In fact the Teiges Mountain wind farm site where we are engaged as Ecological Clerk of Works and undertaking bird monitoring is just five minutes away.

Eshywulligan (Mulligan's highland) is located in the low hills between Fivemiletown and Rosslea - a heavily forested landscape which is nevertheless rich in biodiversity.  The building is a vernacular tin-roofed stone cottage which has been present in some form since the 1840s according to the OSNI 1st Edition maps.  Thankfully the interior has now been renovated and provides us with all the necessary comforts!

There are ten acres of land supporting a range of habitats including semi-improved grassland, rush pasture, wet heath, woodland, scrub and fen.  Grasshopper warbler, reed bunting and spotted flycatcher all nest here and the call of both cuckoo and curlew can still be heard in early spring.

The property is entirely within the Slieve Beagh - Mullaghfad - Lisnaskea SPA and hen harriers can be seen on foraging flights during April and May. A small stream which is a tributary of the Cooneen River flows along the northern boundary and here signs of otters and white-clawed crayfish have been found.  Marsh fritillary and wood white butterflies have been recorded and an impressive moth list is developing.  We are sure that many other discoveries are yet to be made.

 
 Meadowsweet in June

Meadowsweet in June

Maurice Hughes

Just over a year ago, on Wednesday 18th January 2017, we learned with great sadness that our friend Maurice Hughes had passed away. Maurice was the first regional officer for Butterfly Conservation in Northern Ireland and was hugely influential for all of us at Allen and Mellon.  It was Maurice who introduced Dave and I to the joys of finding and surveying Marsh Fritillary larval webs. Following that we worked together on many Marsh Fritillary projects across Ireland, forming a formidable team along with Anna Hart and Will Woodrow.

Maurice worked tirelessly to champion the Marsh Fritillary and its conservation in Northern Ireland with decision makers, landowners and the public.  His efforts have resulted in this being one of our most high profile butterfly species and his work has been carried on by BCNI through Catherine Bertrand and others.

Maurice played a major role in the discovery of the Cryptic Wood White in Ireland, working with Brian Nelson to obtain valuable data on this species.  He was also at the forefront of the huge surge of interest in moth recording here.  Micro-moths in particular were so poorly recorded before Maurice stepped in, securing funding for the first micro-moth checklist for NI, which was compiled by Ken Bond and published in 2009.

Maurice enjoyed moth trapping and we had many exciting moth-ing sessions together.  On our more ambitious expeditions we all benefited from his technical expertise and ability to organize complex logistics. Most memorably, Maurice was a member of the team that re-discovered the White Prominent moth in County Kerry in 2008.  The video of that discovery can be viewed on this website and provides a poignant reminder of happy days in the field with a real gentleman and a true friend.

Another new species for Ireland is found

Allen and Mellon Environmental have once again been involved in the discovery of a species new to Ireland.  Clive Mellon trapped a specimen of the micro-moth Cochylidia implicitana during a bioblitz at Copeland Bird Observatory on 11th June 2016.  Clive was on Lighthouse Island to record moths over a two-day period along with John O'Boyle, Chair of Butterfly Conservation NI.  The moth was in a heath trap with 6W actinic bulb which had been set near the shoreline.  It was not familiar to Clive and so the specimen was retained.  The identification of the moth was confirmed in the past few days after it was dissected by the Northern Ireland micro-moth recorder John McClean. 

  By Donald Hobern - Flickr: Cochylidia implicitana, CC BY 2.0

By Donald Hobern - Flickr: Cochylidia implicitana, CC BY 2.0

The confirmation was particularly timely as it brought the Irish micro-moth list to the landmark total of 900 species, with 673 of these recorded in Northern Ireland.  In the UK, the species occurs mainly in southern England where it is associated with waste ground and roadside verges.  Its main larval food plant is mayweed (either Matricaria or Tripleurospermum) and sea mayweed (Tripleurospermum maritimum) was common where it was taken.  This plant is common around our coasts, raising the possibility that the moth may be more widespread.

  Cochylidia implicitana  habitat at Copeland Bird Observatory

Cochylidia implicitana habitat at Copeland Bird Observatory

 Dissection plate of  Cochylidia implicitana  by John McClean

Dissection plate of Cochylidia implicitana by John McClean