Wildlife and habitats
The Mournes contains wonderfully diverse and important habitats including mountain scree, wet and dry heath, montane heath and bog pools to name a few. These habitats play host to some breathtaking flora and fauna all year round.
Habitats and Species
The Mournes have been home to species such as ravens, red grouse, sky lark, meadow pipit and peregrine falcons, as well as the Irish hare and on a winter's day you may be lucky enough to spot a beautiful snow bunting. Spring sees the arrival of wheatear and in particular two more scarce species, the ring ouzel, which is a very rare breading summer visitor to Northern Ireland and the red grouse, which had been recorded on Millstone Mountain in some years, though there is no proof of breeding. Wet springs and flushes are home to some unusual invertebrates, including the keeled skimmer, a nationally rare dragonfly. Eagle Rock is said to be the last known breeding site in Northern Ireland for white-tailed sea eagle in 1917 with both sea and golden eagles still common place in the Mournes until the mid-nineteenth century.
Wet springs and flushes are home to some unusual invertebrates, including the keeled skimmer, a nationally rare dragonfly.
On a sunny day the common lizard is often found basking in the sun or darting amongst the rocks and vegetation, this is the only native reptile found in Ireland.
The Montane heath vegetation, a Northern Ireland Priority Habitat, on the summit of Slieve Donard with a small area also on Slieve Commedagh includes some interesting and first recordings for Northern Ireland of the dwarf willow, feeding sawfly and two predatory ground beetles.
To manage vegetation and more dominant species taking over, light grazing of sheep allows more sensitive heath to thrive.
Upland flushes, fens and swamps including extensive areas of wet heath and mire communities, pale butterwort, black bog-rush, bot asphodel and star sedge can be found along with notable and rare specimens such as starry saxifrage, and scarce beetles.
Several noteworthy butterfly species have also been recorded, including the green hairstreak, the dark green fritillary and the grayling. This area's dry heath habitat of western gorse and bell heather is recognised as being of European importance.