Theme : Take a trip on the Wild Side
While in the Ards Borough it is a must to take time and enjoy the sights around you. With Strangford Lough at its heart, one of the largest inlets in the British Isles and the Irish Sea on the outside coast stretching from Donaghadee to Portaferry with long strands of sandy beaches ideal for walking and wildlife spotting, you have the best of both worlds.
The Lough is the most important site in Ireland for breeding Common seals and internationally it is important as in October a large percentage of the world's Pale-bellied Brent Geese come from Arctic Canada while in the summer about a quarter of all Ireland's Terns nest on the islands of the Lough.There are plenty of vantage spots to stop dotted around the miles of outstanding coastline.
Island Hill Nature Reserve & Rough Island – Comber
This area is part of the most extensive and least altered example of mud and sheltered sandflats in Ireland. The mud and sand is rich in wildlife including plants, worms, shellfish and other small animals. These provide a vast food resource for the tens of thousands of migratory wildfowl and waders in winter.
September & October sees the arrival of the geese, they are attracted to feed on the abundant eelgrass and stay until February/March. Please avoid disturbing the birds on the shore as they need to feed as much as possible in order to breed successfully once they return to their Arctic nesting grounds. Huge flocks of other waders can also be seen.
During the winter months the best place to walk is along the causeway from Island Hill to Rough Island, which is the ideal spot to see the enormous flocks of birds feeding at low tide.
Summer is the best time to walk on and explore the sand-flats. Be careful as the tide can come in very fast. The shallow waters of this sandy area provide an ideal nursery for a number of different flat fish species.
NB Areas of mud can be dangerous
There is a Totem Pole at Island Hill this is part of the Ards Arts Trail and is a symbolic link with Northern Canada - the breeding ground of the light-bellied brent goose.
Exploris - Portaferry
The peaceful tranquillity of Strangford Lough's shores is in sharp contrast to the bustling activity beneath the waves where over 3,000 marine animals have been found. This environment is very effectively recreated at the Portaferry-based Exploris aquarium offering a hands experience with regular touch tank sessions.
There are all manner of shellfish, sea anemones, scallops, star fish, octopus, wolf fish, crab and lobster. Exploris also nurses back to health injured marine animals including sea turtles and seals.
Cloughy Rocks - Strangford
Just south of Strangford village is Cloghy Rocks, another great vantage point for seals. In summer some 20% of the Irish seal populations can be found basking along this part of the shore at low tide.
Back to listing