This August, Kylemore Abbey launched a biodiversity and sustainability stewardship programme with NUI Galway. This programme is a major step in understanding and protecting the environment around Kylemore.
Kylemore Abbey and NUI Galway, Centre for Environmental Science, have set up a Biodiversity Stewardship Programme. In light of this programme NUIG students have started research projects on Kylemore estate. Here are just some of the work that is currently underway on the Kylemore Estate.Ken – Invasive species study focused on Common rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum)
On a sunny February day, NUIG student Ken and his assistant Alan visited Kylemore to do a drone survey. The survey aims to map out the Common rhododendron infestation. The fast little drone took footage of vast areas of the estate at a furious pace. However, as the survey moved to higher sections on Dúchruach hill, the crosswinds proved to be too strong for the light weight drone. Ken and Alan found time in June to return and complete the survey with a bigger, heavier drone. That same day, Ken undertook several field surveys to get an up and close picture of the different species of flora on the estate and how the Common rhododendron affects them.
One of the main finds was the catastrophic extend of the rhododendron infestation; it has taken a foothold in almost every nook and cranny of the estate and nothing else can establish itself underneath. We are looking forward to Ken’s survey results and recommendations.Declan and Hugh – Small mammal and bat survey
Declan and Hugh, two other NUIG students, visited Kylemore over several evenings in July to complete a mammal and bat survey on the estate of Kylemore. Declan – Small mammal survey
Declan set out humane traps and wildlife cameras to catch a glimpse of the mammal wildlife. The first kind of trap set out by Declan can be left for several days. They consist of open pipes with bait inside to lure mammals to walk through them. The smaller pipes have tape on either side to catch some of the animal’s hairs. The bigger pipes have an inkpad and paper that catches their pawprints. In the lab, hairs and pawprints are analysed to determine the species of mammal that passed through the pipe. The second kind of trap that Declan set out were “life traps”. These traps need to be re-checked within 24 hours to make sure no animal is held captive for too long. The bait consists of a slice of pear (to make sure the animal stays hydrated), some peanut butter, oats and straw to keep warm overnight. A caught animal is first released in a translucent bag
before letting it back into the wild. This avoids handling the animal and enables a quick assessment of what species is caught. Declan also placed several wildlife cameras with night vision on promising spots to photograph the larger mammals of the estate.
The wildlife camera picked up the presence of a badger and, at the same location, a fox. Several pipe traps came back with pawprints and fine hairs. The life traps only caught two plump looking mice. We do know of other species of mammals that roam the estate, such as the stoat, deer, and pine marten.Hugh – Bat survey
As the sun sets around 10 pm in July, the bat survey had to take place late in the evening. There are nine bat species in Ireland. Bats, depending on what species, emerge from their roosts between sunset and 1 hour and a half after sunset. Hugh surveyed the bats over several evenings on different locations with a bat detector. He recorded the sounds to research and confirm the species. A bat detector is a small hand-held device that picks up ultrasound (sound at frequencies too high for us to pick up) and convert it into audible sound. By analyzing the frequency and the pattern of the sound, the bat species is determined. A calm, dry night is perfect to go “bat hunting”, but be willing to brave one of the bats food sources: the dreaded midges!!
Hugh still has to analyse the recordings, but he is confident he picked up pipistrelle bats at the Neo-Gothic Church and the Daubenton’s bat skimming the water surface of Pollacappul lake and the Dawros river.
Again we are looking forward to the final results of the two surveys, and we will keep you updated!