Spectacular numbers of birds feed along the coast between Belfast and Whiteabbey, many on the mudflats and others immediately offshore. The whole area of Belfast Lough has been designated as having special scientific interest.
Some of the more notable species are Great Crested Grebes, Redshanks, Oystercatchers, Dunlins, Curlews and Black-tailed Godwits which feed on the mudflats and roost on favoured parts of the shoreline during high tide.
Whitehouse lagoon is an excellent place to view shorebirds, and Grebes and other wintering wildfowl can be seen from Macedon Point, Hazelbank and Loughshore Park.
Lough Neagh and Lough Beg support bird species of national and international importance. Species migrate to the area because of the mild winter months and large expanse of unfrozen water. You may see birds such as Mallard, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe and Mute Swan. The largest Common Tern colony is found off shore on the old torpedo platform during the summer months. They can be seen feeding near the shoreline.
A local weekly blog on the Black-headed gulls at Antrim Marina can be followed at:
Rea’s Wood is a wet woodland dominated by alder, willow and birch trees. In the Spring the woodland has a good variety of birds including Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Willow Warbler. In winter Siskin and Redpoll can be heard as they actively search for food in the tree canopy.
Visit www.birding.uk.com which is a directory of birding links for the UK and Ireland.
Newtownabbey Parks and Loughshore
The variety of Parks and open spaces in Newtownabbey can provide bird watching opportunities throughout the Borough; however, the bird watching haven of Newtownabbey has to be on the shores of Belfast Lough. The range of habitats including mudflats, lagoons and important feeding/ roosting sites adjacent to the lough, provide ideal conditions for these birds. Species to be noted include Redshank, Oystercather, Goldeneye and Scaup. Wildfoul species such as Wigeon, Mallard and Teal as well as waders including Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit plus many more can be seen in this area.
Loughshore and Hazelbank Parks, Gideon’s Green and Whitehouse Lagoon all provide excellent opportunities to watch these birds in their natural habitat.