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Nature Thrives at Portmore Lough

Portmore Lough nature reserve outside Aghalee, in Northern Ireland, has been proving itself as a global wildlife haven this year, as a flurry of threatened species have turned up.

Recent surveys have revealed that the redshank has taken up residence at the RSPB NI reserve!

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.

©Andy Hay (

There has been plenty of other threatened species to make an exciting presence at Portmore too. It’s been a successful year for the snipe as 22 males have been 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. This year the adult birds fledged an impressive 101 chicks!

However, it’s not just birds which make their home at Portmore.

This year 121 ‘spikes’ of the rare Irish Lady’s Tresses orchid were recorded, and five of the eight bat species found in NI were logged too.

A holly blue butterfly was also recorded - only the third time it’s ever been spotted at the reserve!

Commenting on the figures, 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.

“We’re now waiting excitedly for the arrival of our winter migrants, including whooper swans from Iceland, and we’re also looking forward to welcoming even more visitors to Portmore to get close to nature.”