Winter birds at Murlough

Little egret at Murlough National Nature Reserve

Dundrum Bay is an important wintering area for quite a few different birds who travel from inland rivers and lakes, as well as some who travel from Iceland, Scandinavia and the Artic regions beyond.

Most of the wintering birds in the bay obtain their food by diving for it, surviving on the shellfish and crustaceans which live on the shallow sea bed as well as the fish in the bay. Important species for the diving ducks include cockles, muscles, tellins, clams, shore crabs and heart urchins. For the fish eaters, food items include sand-eel, herring and flatfish.

The team at Murlough counts the winter birds each year to keep an eye on the populations and feed into wider research on wintering birds in the UK and Ireland.

Brent Geese over Strangford Lough
Flock of birds on Strangford Lough
Brent Geese over Strangford Lough

As well as the varied winter ducks, Strangford Lough hosts around 75% of the world’s population of light-bellied Brent geese each year. Waders like curlews and oystercatchers can also be spotted, along with our resident herons.

See a wide variety of wildlife this winter
A heron at the floodgates on Strangford Lough
See a wide variety of wildlife this winter

Download our Winter Fowl Spotter Sheet to find out what to look out for on our shoreline. If you’re keen to find out more about birdwatching, join one of our walks with Jo Whatmough who has a lifetime of knowledge of keeping an eye on the wildlife around Murlough National Nature Reserve.

A misty morning on Strangford lough

Which winter birds can you spot on a walk at Murlough National Nature Reserve?