From High Arctic to South Africa
In the Autumn and Winter months, Portstewart Strand says goodbye to summer holiday makers and welcomes new visitors from as far as the High Arctic. These visitors are of the flying variety, such as wader birds, wildfowl and gulls. Notable species include sanderling, godwits, dunlin and golden plover. The Bann Estuary is a stop-off point for these migrant birds as they move south for the winter (as far as southern Africa), and is the busiest time of the year here! We also see an influx of Icelandic whooper swans at the start of October, a sight to behold and a photographers dream.
The Bann Estuary is a hidden gem, tucked behind Portstewart Strand. To get here you can access the dunes at post number 10 and walk through the dunes towards the River Bann. From here Castlerock is only a stones throw away. A haven for fish, including sea trout, salmon and eels. This is a popular spot for Fishermen and a great dining spot for our migrant birds, which love the mudflats. During winter it is possible to see as many as four thousand waders and four hundred wildfowl at Bann Estuary – those birds which enjoy our mild winter climate and decide to stay…
For anyone who loves birdwatching make sure you find the bird hide across the River Bann, just off the Barmouth Road. It offers perfect conditions to watch the birds that feed and live in the Estuary. There's something to see whatever the season. Whales, dolphins and seals can be seen from the beach. And the dunes vibrate in colour with late butterflies, moths and wild flowers. We are holding a dedicated ‘Guide in the Hide’ day on 30 October from 11am-1pm for anyone who wants to join us.
Portstewart Strand and the Bann Estuary are designated an Area of Special Scientific Interest. The dunes are 6000 years old and with the river cutting through the dune system, it offers a mosaic of habitats for wildlife.