**Please note Belfast Lough nature reserve is currently closed for major refurbishment. The Belfast Window on Wildlife (WOW) project is scheduled for completion in late 2014
RSPB’s Belfast Harbour Reserve is arguably the best urban bird spectacle in the UK, just 10 minutes drive from the centre of Belfast. Over the wintering months, Northern Ireland plays host of thousands of birds flying in from colder regions as far away as Siberia. During this time, the reserve becomes a ‘pit-stop’ for these long distance fliers.
Come and visit the observation room and you'll be able to see a wide variety of birds, at extremely close quarters. Staff and volunteers can answer any questions or help you use the binoculars and telescopes. There are also lots of special events for families and children throughout the year.
The reserve consists of a lagoon and mudflats on the shores of Belfast Lough and an area of grassland near George Best Belfast City Airport. At high tide flocks of waders such as redshanks, oystercatchers and black tailed godwits gather on the lagoon. These and a variety of wildfowl can be seen from the hide and viewing points.
To ensure the birds get the best habitat possible, the RSPB, with funding from the Alpha Programme managed by Groundwork NI, in 2009 installed a new sluice which will enable complete control over the water levels in the lagoon. “The water levels in the lagoon are critical for the birds,” said Chris Sturgeon, Belfast Harbour Reserve’s Warden. “They have to be low enough for the birds to wade, but high enough to ensure a ready supply food." The lagoon is managed to create ideal conditions for wading birds and ducks in autumn and winter, and for breeding terns in summer.
Admission free but donations are gratefully accepted.
Opening times:Viewpoints open at all times; observation room open Tuesday to Saturday (9am to 5pm), Sundays (1pm to 5pm). Closed Mondays and Sunday mornings and 25th December and 1st January.
Location / Directions
From Belfast city centre follow signs for A2. Leave A2 between Belfast and Bangor, take entrance to Belfast Harbour Estate. 0.8 km on the right.
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