Wildlife at Strangford Lough
Strangford Lough is one of only three designated Marine Nature Reserves in the United Kingdom and home to a variety of wildlife unrivalled in Europe. Spot marine animals including porpoises, seals, and otters. Look up to watch flocks of sea birds arriving to nest, or head inland to glimpse red squirrels, find rare flora and fauna.
What you can see this Autumn
- Arrival of light-bellied brent geese from Arctic Canada – up to 90% of the global population
- Arrival of waterfowl and waders from the Arctic and Siberia
- Peak time for red squirrel sightings at Nugent’s Wood
- Grey seal pupping on islands within Strangford Lough
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 to look out for
There are over 2,000 different types of marine creatures living in 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 in the rock pools. Some of the best shorelines to explore include Ballyhenry Island and Kearney Village.
Marine mammals at Strangford Lough
Both common and grey seals can be seen here all year round. The best places to spot them are at Cloughy 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 even been spotted swimming through the Narrows at Portaferry.
Exploring the woodland
We care for a number of interesting woodlands around the shores of the lough. Killynether, below Scrabo Tower, has a terrific display of woodland flowers every spring. Nugent’s Wood at Portaferry is a mixed woodland on the shores of Strangford Lough and one of the last refuges for the native red squirrel.
There’s a 1.5-mile path through the 13-hectare woodland with views across Strangford Lough to the Castle Ward Estate. New seating and sculptures have been installed – pull on your wellies, get exploring and see how many of the carvings of woodland and magical creatures you can find.
Strangford Lough is steeped in history spanning back thousands of years. Find out about the Mesolithic hunter gatherers, Vikings and Norman invaders who all left their mark here.
Explore the largest sea lough in the British Isles, home to a variety of rare wildlife. Head out for walk, discover the local towns and villages and soak up dramatic views.
Grab your kit and explore the largest sea lough in the British Isles. Soak up unique views, spot marine wildlife and see the many islands dotted along this part of the coast.
Find out how to spot red squirrels, the best times to see them and how to tell them apart from grey squirrels.
Take a look at our guidelines for responsible seal spotting and top tips for seal watching.