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Wildlife and Conservation

The Lough’s variety of habitats gives rise to exceptionally rich and varied marine life. Over 2000 marine animal and plant species have been found. Recognition has been given to the importance of the flora and fauna of Strangford Lough with national, European and international designations including: Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area, Ramsar site, Areas of Special Scientific Interest and Marine Nature Reserve.

The Lough has many wildlife attractions throughout the year:

Winter
Sept - Feb is the best time to see the huge flocks of overwintering and migratory birds particularly at North End Shores, Castle Espie and Greyabbey. They are attracted to the mud and sand flats to feed on the rich shellfish, worm and plant life. The Lough supports up to 25,000 wildfowl and 50,000 waders. The arrival of the light bellied brent geese is of particular note.


Spring /Early Summer

Many wild flowers are at their best in spring and early summer. This is a very good time to visit Killard.

Summer
Look out for the terns which come to the Lough to breed. Watch their spectacular dives for food.

All  year
Seals can be seen swimming or hauled out at any time of year, particularly around the Narrows. Common seals pup in June / July. Visit Cloghy Rocks at low tide for the best views.

Evenings are particularly special on the eastern shores of the Lough as the sun sets in the west, turning the water and the sandflats to magnificent shades of red, magenta and gold.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the National Trust and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust all undertake conservation work, from monitoring species to habitat managment,  on and around the Lough.

Pictures courtesy of _______ and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.