Protected area type: Special Protection Areas
Feature type: 
  • Species
  • Marine
County: 
  • Down
Council: Ards and North Down

Situated on the east coast of Northern Ireland, Strangford Lough is a large shallow sea lough with an indented shoreline and a wide variety of marine and intertidal habitats. The west shore has numerous islands typical of flooded drumlin topography.

The Lough contains extensive areas of mudflat and also sandflats, saltmarsh and rocky coastline. This is Northern Ireland’s most important coastal site for wintering waterfowl, and it is particularly important for breeding terns.

The landward boundary of the Special Protection Area (SPA) is entirely coincident with the landward boundary of the following five ASSIs:
Strangford Lough Part 1, Strangford Lough Part 2, Strangford Lough Part 3, Killard and Ballyquintin Point. Marine areas below mean low water are also included such as the Quoile Pondage nature reserve.

The site qualifies under Article 4.1 of EC Directive 79/409 on the Conservation of Wild Birds by supporting internationally important breeding populations of both sandwich and common tern and nationally important breeding populations of arctic tern.

Also under Article 4.2 of the Directive by regularily supporting in winter over 20,000 waterfowl, which includes the internationally important species light-bellied brent geese, knot and redshank. Nationally important species contribute to the overall population of over-wintering waterfowl including species such as, bar-tailed godwit, black-tailed godwit, coot, curlew, dunlin, eider, gadwall, great-crested grebe, greylag goose, greenshank, goldeneye, golden plover, grey plover, lapwing, mallard, mute swan, oystercatcher, pintail, red-breasted merganser, ringed plover, shelduck, shoveler, teal, turnstone and wigeon.

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