Summer at Murlough

Family playing on the dunes at Murlough National Nature Reserve, Co. Down

The summer at Murlough is like a nature lovers paradise - there are just so many wild things to stimulate the mind and bombard the senses. A floral heaven with vetches, trefoils, sea-spurreys, spurges, oraches, hawkweeds, catsears, gentians, all center stage, and filling the vista with a purple haze are the bell and ling heathers.

All summer long the subtle and riotous blooming colours adorn a canvas whose background is the ever changing sea, dune and sand scape. There at the end of the long arc of magnificent beach sweeping down to the sea stand the lofty mountain peaks of Donard and Comedagh. Late summer sees a harmony of mountains go purple with upland heather.
The seasons warmth triggers a world of insect life, best on calm sunny days which will delight with butterflies as if dancing from sugary flower to flower. Butterfly visits spread over the seasons revealing a sequence of species - peacock, speckled wood, painted lady - followed by whites, blues and meadow browns.

Wildlife abounds

The specialty at Murlough is the marsh fritillary, on the wing in June and July its caterpillars depend on the plant devils-bit-scabious. Look also for the spotted burnet a day time flying moth which is very common in July and August.
As summer progresses young rabbits are every where, signs of fox and badger are evident. With patience look for the only reptile, the commond lizard bathing in the sun. Opposite the Murlough channel on the sandy beaches of Ballykinlar, pick low tides and see the common and grey seals hauled out resting and socialising. The common seals have their pups from July and then the grey seals from September.