SPA description
(information as published 2001)

Belfast Lough 

image: SPA location map 


Belfast Lough is a large, open sea lough located on the north-eastern coast of Northern Ireland. The inner part of the lough comprises areas of intertidal foreshore, mainly mud-flats and lagoons, and land (subject to past and current land claim) which are important feeding and roosting sites for significant numbers of wintering waders and wildfowl. The extent of the SPA in the outer lough is restricted to mainly rocky shores with some small sandy bays and beach-head saltmarsh. The site is of importance for a wide range of wintering waterbirds.  


Qualifying species

For individual species accounts visit the Species Accounts section

This site qualifies under Article 4.1 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following species listed on Annex I of the Directive:
Over winter;
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, 232 individuals representing 1.3% of the wintering population in Ireland (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)


This site also qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following migratory species:
Over winter;
Redshank Tringa totanus, 2,466 individuals representing 1.6% of the wintering Eastern Atlantic - wintering population (5 year peak mean 1991/1992 - 1995/1996)
Turnstone Arenaria interpres, 734 individuals representing 1.0% of the wintering Western Palearctic - wintering population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)


Assemblage qualification: A wetland of international importance.
The area qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by regularly supporting at least 20,000 waterfowl
Over winter, the area regularly supports 20,492 individual waterfowl (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6) including: Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, Redshank Tringa totanus, Turnstone Arenaria interpres, Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus, Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, Eider Somateria mollissima, Curlew Numenius arquata, Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator, Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Knot Calidris canutus, Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa islandica, Scaup Aythya marila.



Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.
Note that sites selected for waterbird species on the basis of their occurrence in the breeding, passage or winter periods also provide legal protection for these species when they occur at other times of the year.