NUI Galway Invite the Public to Explore its Unique Biodiversity Trail

Menlo Castle
Jun 26 2018 Posted: 10:43 IST

The West of Ireland is rich in animal and plant life. But did you know that the NUI Galway campus in the heart of Galway city is also home to a multitude of wildlife? The University’s main campus extends along the River Corrib, and its rich biodiversity has been highlighted through the Intervarsity BioBlitz competition, run by An Taisce and the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

To celebrate nature on campus, NUI Galway has launched a Biodiversity Trail, a free trail available to both the campus community and wider public to explore the variety of wildlife on campus. The trail guides visitors through NUI Galway’s natural habitats, which are often also used for teaching and research. The trail takes visitors from the oldest building in the university, the Quadrangle, up along the River Corrib to the northern part of campus. It’s a great way to get outside and enjoy the campus grounds, while finding out a bit more about nature along the way.

The birdlife on campus ranges from Ireland’s smallest bird, the goldcrest, to the largest, the mute swan, as well as the world’s fastest animal, the peregrine falcon. The River Corrib and associated wetlands also play host to many fish, aquatic plants and waterbirds. Mammals, including the badger, fox, otter, stoat, woodmouse and pygmy shrew, also call the campus their home. NUI Galway’s gardeners take great pride in the University’s landscape and invite visitors and the campus community to pick and taste from the many fruit trees, berries, organic vegetables and herb gardens.

Distinct habitats to be discovered along the Biodiversity Trail:

  • College Park in front of the Q uadrangle - sycamore and horse chestnut trees, and pipistrelle bats at sunset in the summer.
  • Eglinton Canal running underneath the O’Shaughnessy Bridge that links to Fisheries Field - trout, kingfishers and otters.
  • Herb Garden outside Moffetts Restaurant at the Orbsen Building - bees and other pollinators visiting flowers in summer.
  • River Corrib along the campus river path - yellow iris and common spotted orchids in summer, mute swans and grey heron year round.
  • Engineering Lawn in front of the Alice Perry Engineering Building - blackbirds and goldfinches, and clover and buttercups in summer.
  • Deciduous Woodland along the river path between the Alice Perry Engineering Building and Corrib Village - woodmouse, pygmy shrew, bluebells and wild garlic in spring.
  • Alluvial Woodland along the river path past the Dangan Park and Ride facility - alder trees, ivy, fox and stoat and haws in autumn.
  • Reed beds between the river path and the river - common reed, meadowsweet, willow warbler and reed bunting.
  • Menlo Castle and Sports Campus on the opposite bank of the river from the sports pitches - barn owl, peregrine falcon and lesser horseshoe bat at dusk.
  • All of Ireland’s nine bat species have been recorded patrolling the night skies above the campus.

The Biodiversity Trail is available in leaflet form from a range of locations around campus including the Information Office at the Quadrangle and the Zoology and Marine Biology Museum in the Ryan Institute, and is also available from Galway Tourist Office. An audio trail is also available in both podcast and downloadable form, which features many of the campus community who are involved in research, teaching and stewardship of biodiversity on and beyond the campus, which takes about 90 minutes to complete.

Funding for the trail was provided by the NUI Galway Community and University Sustainability Project (CUSP), the Ryan Institute and the Climate Change and Environment Section of Galway City Council, as part of Galway City’s European Green Leaf 2017 designation. The trail was produced by Jamie Maxwell, Dara Stanley and Caitriona Carlin, with input from many others around campus involved in biodiversity research and stewardship. The audio trail was recorded at Flirt FM by Padraig McMahon.

Biodiversity Trail and audio trail versions can be found here: http://www.nuigalway.ie/biodiversitytrail/

Video of the Biodiversity Trail, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFC4-QphfTQ

-Ends-

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