The Islands Project

This summer I am cataloguing the flora and plant communities of twelve islands [EDIT 20/11/22: it ended up being eleven islands!] in Strangford Lough, with the help of a BSBI Plant Study Grant. The goal is to have a complete species list of each island and a map showing all of the plant communities and where they occur. I have been kayaking to these islands and doing a thorough survey, and also quadrats in each distinct plant community. I hope to publish this in a suitable journal, under the (working) title The Vascular Flora of Darragh and nearby Islands in Strangford Lough.

This project has been a huge opportunity for me to improve my skills as an all-round botanist and ecologist, and challenge myself with groups like grasses and sedges that I have mostly ignored before.

Darragh Island, the most diverse and species-rich of the twelve

One thing I hadn’t appreciated about fieldwork before beginning this project – it generates a huge amount of data! Finding time to actually ID difficult specimens I brought home and enter and analyse all my data, then create figures based on it has been exhausting! On the other hand, working hard on figures and being really satisfied with the results is a great feeling, and I think my maps are going to turn out really well.

my (work in progress) plant community map of Darragh – light green is grassland, grassland/scrub mosaic, saltmarsh, iris and rush pasture communities (obviously those all need split up still!), dark green is scrub, brown is mature scrub, pink is H7b heath, grey is rocky shore

It has also been nice to spend a lot of time kayaking and exploring the islands, seeing the wildlife that lives there, particularly birds and insects. Sharing the wildlife I encounter here has been great, especially with the people who live and work in the area.

me and my friend Ashley spent half a day surveying Shamrock – her first time kayaking and her first time doing botanical fieldwork!
a Humingbird Hawkmoth larva (Macroglossum stellatarum) on Darragh, a rare sight in Ireland as the migrant moths rarely lay eggs
a Six-Spot Burnet moth (Zygaena filipendulae) nectaring on Sneezewort (Achillea ptarmica) on Darragh





2 responses to “The Islands Project”

  1. Insta: BelfastBanters avatar
    Insta: BelfastBanters

    Cool project!

    Is the information online?


    1. Jake Dalzell avatar

      The records are being added to the BSBI database, and will show up on the maps available at At some point I will write this up as a paper and make all the data publically available – I will post about that here at some point next year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *