NUI Galway walking trail highlights campus wildlife (not students)

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To celebrate nature on campus, all the wildlife and green spaces you don’t expect to find in the heart of a city, NUI Galway is launching a Biodiversity walking trail.

Bordering on the banks of the river Corrib and the edge of the city, NUIG’s campus has far more room for nature to thrive than many other city universities (looking at you, Trinity).

The rich biodiversity to be found at on the university grounds was recently highlighted at the the Intervarsity BioBlitz competition, run by An Taisce and the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Given our recent weather, now is the perfect time for people to come and find some of that themselves along the new walking trail that runs from the heart of the university Quadrangle, along the banks of the Corrib, and finishes looking across the river at the green-clad ruins of Menlo Castle.

Quick eyed birdwatchers might see the goldcrest, Ireland’s smallest bird, or if you go dip your toes in the river you’ll no doubt see a few white swans. The peregrine falcon, the world’s fastest animal when it dives, can also be found on the trail. Though if you do see one, and it’s getting larger and larger quite quickly, it might be time to move on.

The River Corrib and the wetlands around it are filled with fish, and mammals like otters, foxes, and pygmy shrews also make their homes on campus.

The walking trail is open to everyone, university students and members of the public just looking to enjoy what’ll probably turn out to be our next three summers’ worth of sun.

University gardeners are happy for visitors to pick from the many fruit trees and berry plants, as long as they treat them with respect. This isn’t Tesco people.

Habitats found on the walking trail

  • College Park in front of the Quadrangle – 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.

A map of the trail marking the different habitats and what lives in them can be found on the university website, along with a podcast guide, for something to listen to as you walk.

Funding for the trail was provided by the NUI Galway Community and University Sustainability Project, the Ryan Institute, and 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.