Ecos Nature Park

Ecos Nature Park is situated east of Ballymena, between the town and the motorway. The entrance is signposted from the motorway. There is an excellent network of public paths and car parking spaces are available.

Ecos is an extensive mosaic of meadows, wet grassland, open water and recently planted woodland. The site was developed from semi-improved grazed grasslands as a Millennium project. The land lies along the River Braid and is a natural floodplain that floods several times a year, turning large areas into temporary ponds and making some paths impassable. Water is a dominant feature and at Ecos Island there is a permanent lake where cormorant, mute swan, greylag goose, mallard, teal, tufted duck, moorhen, coot, heron and gulls can be seen. Herron, dipper, grey wagtail and kingfisher are regularly spotted along the Braid.

Some of the grasslands are managed by grazing with Irish rare breeds of cattle and other areas are cut annually for silage. There has also been extensive planting of broadleaved native trees in areas less likely to flood and willow plantations in wetter areas. Plants to spot in the grasslands include purple loosestrife, angelica, yellow rattle, ragged robin, yellow iris, common spotted orchid, northern marsh orchid, lesser celandine and water mint. One plant of Irish lady’s tresses orchid was recently discovered.