Strangford Lough winter wildlife

Light bellied Brent Geese on the water at Strangford Lough

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

What you can see: December - February

  • Waterbird assemblage on Strangford Lough – 80,000 wintering birds including internationally important numbers of brent geese, knot, and redshank
  • Raptors such as peregrine, merlin, and short-eared owl
  • Large flocks of linnet and skylark at Ballyquintin
 
The mild winter climate, sheltered shores and rich feeding all combine to make Strangford Lough the perfect over wintering location for more than 70,000 seabirds that migrate here from northern latitudes. These include over 75% of the entire population of light bellied brent geese that make the journey from Arctic Canada.
 

Marine life

There are over 2,000 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.

Habitats

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

Woodland

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. While the big estates of Mount Stewart and Castle Ward, deserve a day’s exploration in themselves.

A konik pony at Cullintraw, County Down

Farmland

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.