Discovering Inis Mor's Ecological Treasures

through Species Spotting

Welcome to my ecological blog, a digital oasis where we explore the wonders of our planet and delve into the crucial field of environmental conservation. As stewards of the Earth, it is our responsibility to protect and preserve the delicate balance of nature for current and future generations.


Residential field trips allow students to explore and observe real-world settings and ecosystems, allowing them to directly see the subtle dynamics and the details of natural systems. This personal experience for me, not only helped me in enhancing  the theoretical knowledge about the species and marine life around me but also develops their critical thinking skills and problem-solving talents by allowing us to apply their learning in real-world settings. This experience was very new to me. I got  to observe and identify plant and animal species in the natural settings, enhancing the understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics. Furthermore, field visits give excellent chances for hands-on field research, providing students with critical skills in data collecting, experimental design, and scientific technique. In my opinion, we protect what we love so such experiences allow us to come more closer to the nature, where we can also understand the importance of the ecosystem, these encounters build a strong passion for nature, inspiring people to become environmental champions and contribute to ecosystem preservation.

We went on four days residential trip to Inis Mor, Aran’s Island which is located in Galway Bay.Despite its small dimensions, Inis Mor has a fascinating display of species richness across its different ecosystems, making it an enticing destination for ecologists, wildlife enthusiasts, and visitors wishing to appreciate the island’s natural wonderful things.  The island is also known for its colorful wildflowers, such as meadow cranesbill, bloody cranesbill, and Irish lady’s tresses. The limestone pavements of Inis Mor provide a nourishing environment for rare orchids such as the pyramidal orchid and frog orchid, among others. It is also an important breeding place for a wide variety of seabirds, which contributes to its spectacular bird population. Visitors to the island can see notable species such as Atlantic puffins, European storm petrels, and northern fulmars. Wading birds like curlews and oystercatchers can also be seen along the shores of Inis Mor.

The coastal waters of Inis Mor are teeming with marine life, including cod, pollack, and mackerel, which thrive in the surrounding seas. Grey seals basking on the rocks, as well as the regular presence of dolphins and porpoises, add to the island’s magnificent coastal environment.

Inis Mor’s biological abundance extends beyond its outstanding plant and animal diversity to its peculiar geological qualities. The island’s attraction is further enhanced by enchanting underground caves and striking karst formations, making it a genuinely requiring site. This site was best for our various surveys for butterflies, moth,bats, birds and cetaceans.

The number of various species on the island amazed us on the first day of our field trip to Inis Mor. As we entered the lagoon, we were met by a beautiful variety of bird species. the Swallows showed their elegant flight patterns, while Skylarks’ mesmerizing songs filled the air. The sight of gorgeous shell ducks swimming serenely across the river, their brilliant feathers highlighted by the sunlight, attracted us. Lapwings, egrets, and wall brown butterflies brought a beautiful splash of colour to the scene.

The most exciting part of our trip was spotting the butterflies. For me spotting and identification was very new on the Irish grounds and I was thrilled to look the count of endangered and threatened species of the butterflies on the Island. According to Red list of Irish Butterflies, Wall (Lasiommata megera) is considered as an endangered species but we are privileged to spot a very good number of wall brown in the Island stretch. It was so fun to spot them, as we all gets excited and shouted oh! Oh! Another wall brown. The Wall gets its name from its habit of resting with two-thirds of its wings extended on any bare surface, including bare ground and, of course, walls! Many people would have seen this butterfly before on pathways, particularly in coastal locations where the butterfly flies up when disturbed. According to an article of Uk butterflies,This butterfly’s basking behaviour allows it to benefit from the full warmth of the sun, whose rays not only shine directly on the butterfly but are also reflected back onto the butterfly from whatever surface it is resting on. This behaviour allows the butterfly to elevate its body temperature sufficiently to fly. In exceptionally hot conditions, however, such sunbathing is avoided, and the butterfly may even seek shade to avoid overheating. This species is now found primarily in coastal areas, especially unimproved grassland, wasteland, cliff edges and hedgerows. Conservation efforts are presently underway to restore and maintain the good conservation status of the coastal lagoons within the Inishmore Island Special Area of Conservation (SAC). These lagoons are key habitats for a diverse range of plant and animal species, and they play an important role in the island’s general ecological well-being. The importance of protecting these vulnerable ecosystems has been recognized, leading to the introduction of policies aimed at reducing the challenges they face. These lagoons are responsible to restore many important species. Here we spotted shell ducks (Tadorna tadorna). Shell ducks live in the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) on Inis Mor. These beautiful waterfowl are frequently sighted within the SAC, adding to the island’s variety and ecological health. The presence of shell ducks highlights the importance of the SAC in providing a suitable habitat for this and other avian species. Ongoing preservation and protection activities targeted at protecting the SAC contribute to the conservation of these magnificent birds as well as the preservation of their natural environment on Inis Mor.

While walking through the lagoon we also spotted lapwing. The lapwing, commonly known as the Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), is a bird that is frequently seen in the lagoon area. While the lapwing is not currently listed as endangered internationally, it is experiencing population losses and conservation issues in some areas due to habitat loss and changes in agricultural practices. The lapwing has distinctive qualities that support its ecological function. It is easily recognized because of its unique appearance, which includes black and white plumage and a crown of feathers. The lapwing’s long legs and slender bill, which are adapted to wetland habitats like lagoons, enable it to effectively forage for invertebrates in shallow water and dirt, contributing to the ecosystem’s balance. Another interesting characteristic of the lapwing is its breeding behavior. Males use elaborate sexual practices to demonstrate their physical ability and attract possible partners. Activities like nest-building and territorial defense also influence the dynamics of the ecosystem. A healthy ecology depends on the ecological interactions of the lapwing. It contributes to the management of invertebrate populations and their quantities within the ecosystem by feeding on them. Additionally, the lapwing contributes to the complex dynamics of the food chain by acting as a prey item for larger predators. For the sake of both the lapwing’s existence and the ecosystem’s overall health, it is essential to protect its habitat, especially in lagoons and wetlands. Lapwings’ presence in the lagoon area serves as a reminder of the value of preserving these habitats since they sustain the intricate web of life in the ecosystem and supply vital resources.

Small Blue

A species of butterfly regarded as endangered is the Small Blue butterfly (Cupido minimus). It is a member of the Lycaenidae family and is distinguished by its little size and vivid blue coloring. The Small Blue butterfly inhabits particular habitats in Europe, including the United Kingdom, and has a restricted range of distribution.

The loss and fragmentation of habitat are the primary causes of the Small Blue butterfly’s decline. The larval feeding supply for the species is a particular plant species, such as kidney vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria). However, the amount of acceptable habitat for the Small Blue butterfly has significantly decreased as a result of intense farming methods, urbanization, and land development. Their habitat’s destruction and degradation have caused a sharp drop in population size. The Small Blue butterfly also has a high level of host plant specificity. This indicates that egg laying and larvae development are dependent on a particular plant species. The existence of the species is even more at risk if these host plants are lost or damaged.

Restoration and management of the butterfly’s habitat are the main goals of conservation efforts. For the butterfly’s life cycle to be supported, it is crucial to create and maintain patches of kidney vetch and other nectar-rich flowers. For the species to recover, it is also essential to put conservation measures in place to save the few remaining habitats from harm and to promote sustainable land use practices.

Understanding the ecology and population trends of the Small Blue butterfly depends heavily on monitoring and research projects. Information about population size, distribution, and habitat needs can be gathered to help manage populations more effectively. For conservation efforts to be successful and to guarantee the long-term survival of this endangered species, cooperation between researchers, conservation groups, and landowners is essential.

Ireland, notably Inish Mor, is home to the Orange Tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines). It is a member of the Pieridae family and subfamily Pierinae. For its spectacular appearance and fascinating ecological traits, the Orange Tip butterfly is well-known.

It can be found in Ireland in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, meadows, woodland borders, and gardens. Given that the adults depend on nectar from a wide variety of flowers, it flourishes especially well in places with a lot of flowering plants. In this species, sexual dimorphism is noticeable because males have bright orange tips on their upper forewings while females have black specks in their place.The Orange Tip butterfly’s wings are primarily white in color, with the characteristic orange tips fulfilling several functions. These consist of luring partners, fending against predators, and offering camouflage in their native habitats. Because it visits flowers in search of nectar, the Orange Tip Butterfly is crucial to pollination from an ecological standpoint. It helps different plant species in its area reproduce successfully by moving pollen from one flower to another. The lady’s smock plant (Cardamine pratensis) and other cruciferous plant species are the main sources of nutrition for the larvae of the Orange Tip butterfly. For the species to successfully develop and survive, there must be a supply of compatible hosts plants. The Orange Tip butterfly thrives in Inish Mor’s various biological environments and profusion of flowering plants. A variety of favorable habitats and nectar supplies for the species are provided by the combination of grasslands, meadows, and forest edges. The Orange Tip butterfly’s presence on Inish Mor underlines the natural diversity of the island and emphasizes the value of protecting its many habitats.

Understanding the geographic range, behavioural patterns, and habitat needs of the Orange Tip butterfly in Ireland and Inish Mor advances our scientific understanding of the ecology and conservation of butterflies. Investigations into population dynamics, habitat preferences, and responses to environmental changes can benefit from ongoing research and monitoring. This information can help guide conservation efforts, such as habitat management and restoration.

Orange Tip

Moth Trap

Moth traps are very important in ecological research, particularly in the entomology and biodiversity disciplines. These advanced traps are made to entice and catch moths, providing crucial information for numerous ecological research subjects. For taxonomic research and species identification, moth traps yield useful information. The term “moth” refers to a wide variety of insects, including many species that are difficult to distinguish in the field because of their nocturnal habits, camouflage, and physical similarity. Scientists can carefully study the physical traits of specimens obtained through the use of moth traps, perform DNA analyses, and contrast them with existing taxonomic references and museum collections. Understanding species distributions, ecological interactions, and assessing conservation status all depend on accurate species identification.

Moth traps are also useful tools for examining moth behavior, including its flight patterns, migratory patterns, and mating habits. Researchers can learn more about the timing and length of moth activity, identify their favorite habitats, and investigate how they react to environmental cues by examining the trapped individuals. This information advances our understanding of the dynamics of pollination, insect behavior, and the ecological functions of moths in ecosystems.


Moth traps can also be used in biomonitoring investigations and serve as indicators of environmental conditions. Moths are good bioindicators of ecosystem health because they are highly sensitive to changes in their environment. Scientists can identify early indications of environmental disturbances, pollution, or habitat loss by keeping track on moth populations in various habitats or areas. This enables them to implement conservation and management measures at the appropriate time.

Bat Trap

Bats on Inis Mor, from an ecological perspective, play a significant role in maintaining the balance and functioning of the island’s ecosystem. Bats are a group of mammals known for their nocturnal behavior and unique ability to navigate and forage using echolocation. Their presence and activities contribute to various ecological processes and have important implications for the island’s biodiversity.


One key ecological role of bats on Inis Mor is insect control. Bats are voracious insectivores and can consume a substantial number of insects each night. By preying on insects, bats help regulate populations of potential pests, reducing the need for chemical pesticides and promoting natural pest control. This ecological service is particularly valuable for agricultural areas on the island, as bats can help protect crops from insect damage, benefiting both the environment and local farmers.


Furthermore, bats also play a role in pollination and seed dispersal. Some bat species are specialized pollinators, visiting flowers at night and transferring pollen between plants. This nocturnal pollination can be important for sustaining the reproductive success of certain plant species on Inis Mor. Additionally, bats are known to disperse seeds by consuming fruits and then excreting the seeds at different locations, contributing to plant diversity and the regeneration of vegetation across the island.


Bats also occupy a unique position in the food web of Inis Mor. As predators of insects, they are part of a complex network of interactions and dependencies. Their presence helps regulate insect populations, which in turn can affect other organisms such as birds, reptiles, and amphibians that rely on insects as a food source. Thus, bats indirectly contribute to maintaining the overall balance and stability of the island’s ecosystem.

In terms of conservation, bats on Inis Mor deserve attention and protection. Many bat species worldwide face numerous threats, including habitat loss, disturbance, and the spread of diseases such as white-nose syndrome. Preserving suitable roosting sites, such as caves, trees, and buildings, is essential for the long-term survival of bat populations on the island. Additionally, raising awareness about the importance of bats and implementing measures to minimize human disturbances, such as excessive artificial lighting at night, can help ensure their conservation.


In conclusion, bats on Inis Mor have ecological significance as natural pest controllers, pollinators, seed dispersers, and participants in the island’s food web. Recognizing and conserving these unique mammals is crucial for maintaining the ecological balance and biodiversity of Inis Mor’s ecosystem.

The acoustic signals that bats emit to find and catch their prey in flight are referred to as “bat trap calls.” Bat echolocation, a remarkable talent that enables them to navigate and detect objects in their environment, including insects, depends heavily on these cries. The trap cries, which are high-frequency noises made by bats and reflected off of objects, are used by bats to gauge the size, shape, and nature of their surroundings. Researchers can learn more about identifying different species of bats, their foraging habits, and their ecological functions in ecosystems by examining the timing, duration, and frequency features of these trap calls

Common Seals

The marine ecosystem surrounding Inis Mor is significantly influenced by common seals (Phoca vitulina). They are frequently seen in the seas close to the island and around the beaches where they are also known as harbor seals. These seals play a significant role in many ecological processes and the island’s biodiversity.


Common seals are mostly found in coastal seas and along rocky shorelines, where they feed mostly on fish, particularly herring, sand eels, and flatfish. Their presence and eating patterns assist in controlling fish populations and preserving equilibrium in the marine ecosystem. Common seals can affect the distribution and abundance of their prey by feeding on specific fish species, which affects the dynamics of the entire food web.

Common seals have also been observed hauling out or relaxing on Inis Mor’s rocky and sandy beaches. For the seals, these haul-out locations offer crucial resting and breeding grounds. The beaches and rocky areas provide safe havens for raising their young while the females give birth to their pups on land during the breeding season. For common seal populations to successfully reproduce and survive, these haul-out locations must be safeguarded.


Additionally, common seals support the marine ecosystem’s nutrient cycling. They transfer vital nutrients from their excrement, known as guano, into the nearby seas. This nutrient enrichment can promote the growth of marine plants and algae, which will benefit a variety of creatures and serve as the foundation of the food chain.

During our survey, we have come acrossed many tourists who were disturbing the seals, by coming very close to them. We being an ecological students felt very bad about the species presence. Human activities have the potential to disturb ecosystems, including those on Inis Mor. Habitat loss, pollution, overexploitation of resources, introduction of non-native species, and climate change are among the ways in which human actions can disrupt the balance and functioning of these natural systems. Recognizing these impacts and adopting sustainable practices is essential for mitigating the negative effects and promoting a harmonious coexistence with the environment.

Ideas to restore ecosystem :-

  1. Safeguard and Revitalize Natural Environments: Enforce measures to safeguard and revive the natural habitats on Inis Mor, encompassing coastal regions, wetlands, and native flora. This could involve thoughtful land-use planning, limitations on development in sensitive areas, and initiatives to restore degraded habitats.
  1. Foster Sustainable Tourism Practices: Advocate for sustainable tourism practices that minimize ecological impacts. This entails encouraging responsible behavior among visitors, enforcing waste management guidelines, restricting visitor numbers in vulnerable zones, and supporting eco-conscious accommodations and tour operators.
  1. Preserve Marine Resources: Implement measures to safeguard marine ecosystems and fisheries surrounding Inis Mor. This encompasses establishing marine protected areas, regulating fishing practices to prevent overexploitation, and promoting sustainable fishing methods among local communities.
  1. Mitigate Pollution: Undertake actions to minimize pollution and waste generation on the island. This includes enhancing waste management systems, promoting recycling and composting, reducing the use of single-use plastics, and raising awareness about the ecological consequences of pollution.
  1. Manage Invasive Species: Develop strategies to prevent and manage invasive species on Inis Mor. This involves early detection and rapid response programs, public education on the impact of invasive species, and implementing measures to prevent their introduction and proliferation.
  1. Adapt to Climate Change: Formulate and execute strategies to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects, such as rising temperatures, sea-level rise, and altered precipitation patterns. This encompasses initiatives like coastal protection, promoting sustainable agricultural practices, and supporting efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  1. Promote Environmental Education and Awareness: Facilitate environmental education and awareness programs for residents, visitors, and local communities. This includes organizing workshops, guided nature walks, and educational campaigns to foster a deeper understanding of Inis Mor’s ecosystems and the significance of their protection.
  1. Encourage Collaboration and Partnerships: Foster collaboration among diverse stakeholders, including government agencies, local communities, conservation organizations, and researchers. By working together, sharing knowledge and resources, and coordinating conservation endeavors, the protection of Inis Mor’s ecosystem can be strengthened.


Remember, safeguarding the ecosystem necessitates sustained commitment and collective action. By implementing these ideas and cultivating a culture of environmental stewardship, Inis Mor can flourish as a sanctuary for biodiversity and a model of sustainable living.


It was a very nice journey for me so far. For someone who just has a theretcical knowledge about the species distribution, this residential trip has given a very good platform to come closer to the nature by understanding their importance and need to conserve. We as humans are so selfish that we entirely forget about the nature and ecosystem. But we should always keep in mind that nature will also hit back and then nothing would left but regret!!

 let us carry with us the memories of the island’s natural wonders, the knowledge gained from ecological exploration, and a renewed commitment to preserving and respecting our environment. Together, we have witnessed the delicate balance of ecosystems and the interconnectedness of all living things.With all the species we spotted, with all the tracks we cover, with all the fun we had at the Glamping sites knowing more about each other and celebrating our Professor’s such a important birthday, I built a different vision to look to a tourist place. Now a scenic view of a beach won’t excite me much but a butterfly will! Now music won’t add melody to my soul but sound of sky lark will. May this experience inspire us to be responsible stewards of the Earth and advocate for its conservation. Farewell, Inis Mor, until we meet again in our continued journey towards a sustainable future.


Ohh! See another wall brown 🙂 🙂