Rare species of bird spotted at Portmore Lough

The Redshank. Photo credit Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
The Redshank. Photo credit Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

A threatened species of bird has taken up residence at Portmore Lough, according to recent surveys.

The nature reserve outside Aghalee is home to birds and wildlife from across the globe.

Now the RSPB NI reserve can boast a new visitor, the redshanks

As the name suggests, redshanks’ most distinctive features are their bright orange-red legs. These wading birds need damp places to feed and breed – making Portmore the perfect spot.

Sadly, redshank numbers have declined significantly in recent years and they are now amber-listed (of medium conservation concern) in the UK and Ireland, making the sighting of a breeding pair at Portmore earlier this year all the more exciting.

Recent survey results have also revealed it’s been a successful year for snipe at the reserve, with 22 males recorded – the highest ever number.

It’s good news too for common terns, which travel all the way from Africa to raise their young on specially-made rafts on the Lough.

The presence of common terns are one of the reasons why Portmore Lough is protected as a Natura 2000 site and this year the adult birds fledged an impressive 101 chicks!

Warden Laura Smith said: “The team has worked extremely hard to create homes for all sorts of birds and wildlife at Portmore Lough this year and this is reflected in the number and range of species which visited us this spring and summer.”