Rathmullan Wood National Nature Reserve
Rathmullen Wood is a National Nature Reserve as well as a candidate Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive. Extending to over 33ha it is a fantastic example of the old oak woodland. The other main tree species are holly, hazel and downy birch. However, on first entering the woodland you are stuck by the extent and individual size of the beech trees. Considered a non-native species this beech plantation does not support the biodiversity that the rest of the woodland contains.
Ground flora is varied throughout the woodland and changes with soil and habitat type, common species include wood rush, bilberry, hard fern, wild garlic, bugle and bluebell.
Birdlife in the wood is very diverse from the colourful Jays to the agile Tree-creepers. Raven, Buzzard and Sparrow-haw all breed within or close to the woodland, while Wood Pigeon and Blue and Long Tailed Tits are regularly encountered on a walk.
A 1km loop trail takes you from the car-park through a section of the Beech plantation and through areas of mixed native woodland.
Rathmullen Wood is a good place to explore some of our native mammal species. Deer visit the woodland occasionally during the winter months, while evidence of fox and badger can be found by their tracks and trails. Regeneration of beech trees outside of the main beech plantation area is managed through selective removal and ring-barking. A quick growing species, beech soon out competes oak for light and space thereby probably becoming the dominant tree species over time.