Grid Reference: H 975960
'The Strand' on the west shore of Lough Beg is a large expanse of wet grassland that is flooded each winter and which has never been agriculturally improved. The nature reserve, with Church Island as its focal point, comprises 300 acres of this habitat.
In spring and autumn, migrating birds on their way through may pause on their journey to rest and feed. black-tailed godwit, green sandpiper, wood sandpiper, greenshank and knot are seen every year.
In early summer, the sky above the nature reserve is alive with the calls of breeding waders. It is possible to hear the drumming of snipe, the piping whistles of redshank and the peewit calls of lapwing, all of which depend on this soft, wet ground to rear their families.
Many rare plants including pennyroyal and the Irish ladies' tresses orchid share this habitat with the birds. Winter brings floods and with them hundreds of wildfowl to feed on the inundated grasslands.
Church Island, formerly known as Inish Toide, was the site of a pre-Viking monastery. The island has an eighteenth century spire, a ruined medieval church and an old graveyard.
None. Limited parking along roadside verges. It is usually dry enough in summer to walk to Church Island, although care must always be taken as drains and pools can be treacherous.
For advice contact the Site manager at Tel. 028 3885 3950.