A rare variety of bee has been sighted on the north coast.
The sighting earlier this month, at White Park Bay along the Causeway Coast, has been celebrated by local conservationists.
The National Trust said that Patrick Barton, volunteer butterfly surveyor, was scouring the grasslands for butterflies “when something less flashy – but just as captivating – grabbed his attention”.
Mr Barton said: “I was thrilled to see the bees. I knew something about them was different. I had seen similar in the far north of Scotland on a family holiday years ago.”
The insects were later confirmed to be Northern Colletes bees, a rare type.
They breed from mid-June to late August in coastal habitat such as White Park Bay.
Solitary female bees make burrows in sandy soil before laying eggs within.
They usually nest closely together, but are not social insects and act individually.
Up to half of Europe’s population of the bee is concentrated in the UK – specifically the Province’s north coast, or the Scottish western isles.
Dr Cliff Henry said increased bee sightings were encouraging, and hoped that it was a sign their decline was slowing.
He said: “There are 101 recorded species of bee in Ireland and unfortunately 42 of these are in decline. At White Park Bay the National Trust takes great effort to maintain the habitat in suitable condition for the bee”.
He said grazing is closely monitored and brambles and bracken have been cleared to preserve flower-rich grass.