David Attenborough’s series ‘sheds light on NI’s wildlife’

Wild Isles is broadcast on the BBC

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

It sheds light on the biodiversity on our doorstep, a biodiversity that wildlife charities have warned could vanish within years.

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

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

For Amy Burns, a property manager for the RSPB in County Fermanagh, she’s shedding 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,” he said.

“We have fantastic wildlife here and some amazing habitats and landscapes, right here on our doorstep right now.”

Amy Burns

Amy Burns says the thought of further loss of wildlife in County Fermanagh is heartbreaking

We’re talking about Humphrey’s Island, a restored marshland just outside Enniskillen, opposite Devenish Tower.

The chill this morning has kept much of the wildlife it supports less active than usual, but overhead a lapwing is flitting back to its nest and noisy gulls are having their breakfast in the waters of Lower Lough Erne.

“You’re just transported to a different place,” Mrs. Burns continued.

“You know, when I think of the stories my grandmother would tell me about the corncrake in Fermanagh, not being able to sleep to the sound of the corncrake and that’s a bird we’ve lost.

“It’s extinct in Fermanagh, but species like the curlew, which we still have, which are very evocative to a lot of people – to see potentially getting lost is just heartbreaking.”

Wild Islands

The RSPB use cameras to monitor wetland wildlife

Curlew and lark can be heard on Humphrey Isle.

Work to protect ground nesters here has included electrified fences to prevent predators and cameras to observe their behavior.

In addition to prairies and wetlands, Wild Isles will also visit woodlands and coasts.

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

Northern Ireland ranks 12th in the world for biodiversity loss.

Wildlife charities have come together for the first time to call to action as Wild Isles hits our screens.

And Mrs. Burns believes that anyone can play a part.

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

“Go out and enjoy nature and find that connection with it so when there’s a loss, you really feel it.

“Through Covid and through lockdown people have started to come out and really started to connect with nature again, a sense of nature in your place and knowing what is local to you.

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

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