Strangford Lough summer wildlife

A common blue butterfly

Strangford Lough is a unique place to visit at any time of the year, and in summer there's a wide variety of wildlife to be found by the shore or in the wider countryside.

What you can see: June - August

  • Nesting terns (internationally important numbers of Sandwich and common terns), gulls, cormorants and waders on islands throughout Strangford Lough
  • Nesting terns and small gulls on Cockle Island
  • Common seals pupping
  • Harbour porpoises
  • Nesting little egret
  • Common spotted orchid at Gibbs Island
  • Nesting Manx shearwater (almost 1% of the global population) and Arctic terns on Lighthouse Island where puffins are also present in small numbers
  • Common blue butterfly at Kearney
  • Yellow-horned poppy flowering at Kearney
  • Peak time for otter sightings

Marine life

There are over 2000 different types of marine creatures living within Strangford Lough. If you venture down to the shore at low tide, you will be amazed at the diversity of life you can discover lurking within the rock pools. Some of the best shorelines to explore include Ballyhenry Island and Kearney Village.

Marine mammals

Both Common and Grey Seals can be seen here all year round. The best places to spot them are at Cloghy Rocks and Granagh Bay; on either side of the entrance to the lough. Other marine mammals to keep an eye out for are porpoises and otters. Previously, a humpback whale has been spotted swimming through the Narrows at Portaferry.


Nugent's Wood in Portaferry on the shores of Strangford Lough


Around the shores of the lough, the National Trust manages a number of interesting woodlands. Killynether, below Scrabo Tower, has a terrific display of woodland flowers every spring. Nugent’s Wood, at Portaferry, is one of the last refuges for the native red squirrel.

A konik pony at Cullintraw, County Down


We ensure our farmland is managed in a way that encourages wildlife. At Gibbs Island, you will see a meadow of wild flowers, teaming with butterflies, bees and other insects. Ballyquintin is one of the best places to spot Irish Hares and flocks of farmland birds such as finches, linnets, tree sparrows and skylark.