News Stories

Otters and birds galore at Portmore Lough, Northern Ireland
07 January 2014

Photograph taken by Ronald Surgenor

Following a Biffa Award grant in 2011 to support the rebuilding biodiversity project 'Terns, waders and invertebrates at Portmore Lough' which aimed to improve conditions for UK BAP and NI priority species including lapwing, common tern, golden plover and redshank, and invertebrates at the site, the team at Portmore Lough RSPB Nature Reserve are delighted with the results so far. 


The following is an excerpt written by Vicky Summers, from issue 12 of Nature Returns magazine by RSPB.


A family of otters has arrived at Portmore Lough!  That’s a first!  We’ve had our highest numbers of breeding birds, with 34 pairs of lapwings, up 14 pairs from last year, and 17 pairs of snipe, seven more than last year – and we also have a dozen resident Irish hares.


These hares are unique to Ireland.  They have suffered substantial declines in the past 15-25 years, so we’re especially glad to see them here. But this year, everything seemed to do well, even the insects. We recorded 11 species of dragonflies and damselflies, and 12 species of butterflies, including cryptic wood white, another first for the reserve. We spotted 81 species of moths, several of which are Northern Ireland priority species of conservation concern. All this has been made possible through support from Biffa Award, the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency (NIEA), and our fantastic team of staff and volunteers.


Our three newly-installed sluice gates are crucial for water-level management, holding back water during the spring and summer, and maintaining wet areas for chick rearing. During the winter months we hope the scrape will fill and attract herons and dabbling ducks such as wigeons and teal, as well as feeding and roosting wading birds such as golden plovers. More effective water level management will also benefit frogs, newts and beetles, and allow us to bring nature even closer to our visitors.


Why not check out the website for more information about the Portmore Lough Nature Reserve.