Images of Events held in 2023
Rocks of Cave Hill 15th April
Members had a wonderful Geology walk on 15th April with Kirstin Lemon, learning about the formation of Cave Hill and the geological development of Belfast Lough, the Mournes, Lagan Valley, Northern Ireland and, well, the world. There were 10 of us in total, the weather was perfect and Jack was waxing lyrical. The walk took us along the Cave Hill trail past the Devil's Punchbowl, the caves, McArt's Fort and the Limestone Quarry. Many thanks to Kirstin and to the members for an enjoyable morning. We had perfect weather conditions for the walk. A gratifying dander and some knowledge gained on the way.
John O’Boyle led a small group of members, just after dawn, around the Park. The walk was from 5.00 until 8.00 am and was especially suited for early risers, eight of whom gathered at the gates to the park at the top of Innisfayle Park. There was an enormous variety of birds, from warblers to those which flew here from distant parts of the world. It was a windless but dull day so we were better able to hear the large number of birds singing and calling. John, our expert, identified the songs or calls of Blackcaps, Willow Warblers, Chiff-chaff, Robins, Wrens, Great Tits, Song Thrush, Blackbirds, Magpies, Hooded Crows, Wood Pigeons, Collared Doves, Chaffinches, Whitethroats and many. To our disappointment, we did not hear the Woodpecker that morning! Thank you John for your company and for sharing your vast knowledge!
Birds of Cave Hill
Continuing the theme of birds from earlier in May, 28 supporters met on Saturday 27th May at the Castle to join bird expert Aidan Crean. Alan told us how birds navigate their way to faraway places with accuracy and are able to return to the same locations they had started out from. He told us about the habits of different species of birds, how they adapt to predators and other challenges and cooperate to increase their chances of survival. He also told us what's can learn from birds and what we can do to help them. We observed Aidan ring and release a blue tit and a dunnock. Those present really got involved, asking lots of questions and swapping their own stories. Alan also gave us some useful tips for bird feeders and boxes. A big, big thanks to Aidan for a truly fascinating session.
Botany Walk, Ballyaghagn Nature Reserve
Seven of us met on 17th June at the Ballyaghagn nature reserve on the southern side of Cave Hill. Despite the damp and misty conditions, there was an abundance of botanical plants and flowers; all being presented to us by Dr Jim Bradley of the Belfast Hills Partnership. We slowly meandered through the long and damp rush’s discovering many wildflowers including the Cuckoo flower, Common spotted orchid, Butterfly Orchid, Tormentil, Ragged-Robin, Bilberry, Bugleweed, Yellow Rattle, Self-Heal and Elderflower. We were all fortunate to discover some species of moth which included the Latticed Heath and the Six-Spotted Burnet.
The morning's walk was very interesting and everyone was engaged in the activity.
We would like to thank Jim Bradley for his willingness and sharing his wealth of knowledge to us all.
We had made an early start to gather at the Castle at 3.30 am on Saturday 24th June in celebration of the Solstice. It was still dark as we made our way to McArt's Fort in time to greet the sunrise at 4.45 am. The entire top of Cave Hill was shrouded in a thick mist so we did not manage to see the sun! However, despite the mist, we had a great walk. The temperature was in the mid-teens and we were comfortably warm. The craic and chat fwas great and we went home happy in time for a rest before the world woke up!
A Bugs Bonanza
Although a yellow weather warning had been issued for the morning, to include heavy rain and thunder, twenty brave souls gathered at the Castle ion the morning on15th July. We joined Debbie Nelson, who has worked for many years in animal rescue, wildlife education and in fostering injured birds and animals, to look for bugs and other invertebrates. Debbie is a fount of knowledge about these and she led us on a most interesting and informative walk through the woods surrounding the Castle. As can be seen in the pictures below, we had four young explorers with us and their enthusiasm was contagious! Everybody enjoyed the event and, as luck would have it, the weather remained dry and calm.
Forage on Cave Hill
The foraging walk on Saturday 19th August began in the rain but that didn't deter 27 of our members from gathering with our expert guides, Phil Simpson of Buzzard Bushcraft and his daughter Lisa. Phil and Lisa make a great double act; together they gave us a wide range of information, not only on what plants are good to eat but also told us about their medical and practical uses. The rain at last stopped and the sun came out. At the end of the walk, Phil's colleague, Davey prepared a delicious outdoor feast featuring a lot of the food we had foraged.
It was wonderful.
Twenty-four members and three children turned out on an overcast Autumn morning to meet Debbie Nelson and find out about the fungus growing on Cave Hill.
We took the trail north of the Castle up to the Volunteers Well, returning the same way, but stopping for a visit to the Maze where orange/brown mushrooms grow. Debbie found an interesting fungus, in the compost heap outside the Maze, which she called the milky mushroom because of the white liquid dotted on its gills. She told us that by putting a dab of the liquid onto the tongue it would give a taste similar to hot chilli; a number of people were delighted that this proved to be true.
Debbie discovered more than 30 different species, naming and describing them in detail. She promised to supply more information about the different types we had found. The group, still dry, returned to the Castle after a most interesting forage, grateful that the weather held and it had not rained.