The annual Prehen Bluebell Walk drew its largest ever crowd last weekend as people gathered to see and learn more about one of the region’s last remaining ancient woodlands.
The event was organised by the Prehen Historical and Environmental Society and George McLaughlin, from the society, said that over 100 people came along to the event last Sunday.
Mr. McLaughlin said: “It is very satisfying for the organisers,The Prehen Historical and Environmental Society, to see such an interest in our natural environment.
“Hopefully the large attendance at our walk is an indication of an increased awareness of the important role that our trees play in the well being of everyone in our community.”
During the event, local wildlife expert Christine Cassidy was praised for doing an excellent job in identifying and describing the wide range of wildlife and birdlife existing in the Prehen woodland, while Damian Martin provided an entertaining account of the trees and varied plant life to be found in the woodland.
Mr. McLaughlin. meanwhile, gave a potted history of Prehen and, in particular, described how the ancient woodland has been and remains an asset and a resource for the local population of the area over the ages.
Spring officially began last Sunday according to the calendar. But for Mother Nature, Springtime has already been blooming and sprouting for weeks in Prehen Wood.
After a very mild winter and the hottest February on record, according to the Met Office, the woodland Spring flowers in Prehen Wood started to bloom a month earlier than usual.
Prehen Wood, which is owned and managed by the Woodland Trust, is one of Northern Ireland’s rare and irreplaceable ancient woods, dating back as far as 1600.
Mr McLaughlin, said: “This year is the earliest that Bluebells have ever been spotted in Prehen Wood. They usually make their debut around mid-April so it was surprising to spot them in early March.
However, this does mean that we get to enjoy one of nature’s most magical sites sooner than expected. When Spring hits and the flowers begin to bloom, Prehen Wood is a sight to behold and I encourage people to pop by and enjoy its natural beauty.”
The Woodland Trust is calling for the Northern Ireland public to record sightings of early flowering Bluebells and other wildlife as part of its Nature’s Calendar survey. Recording the changing seasons through Nature’s Calendar helps wildlife experts to better understand the effects of a changing climate on flora and fauna. To become a Nature’s Calendar recorder, visit www.naturescalendar.woodlandtrust.org.uk