Courtship rituals begin; birds sing in the trees and meadows; terns return to breed and show off the elegant aerobatics acrobatic which give rise to their nickname, the ‘sea swallows’, a large colony of black headed gulls nest on the reserve and wildflowers bloom, including several varieties found only in Ireland.
New life is in, around and above the lagoons, ponds and shore; bats, butterflies and dragonflies emerge; downy ducklings practise their newly-acquired swimming, dabbling or diving skills and otters enjoy sunlit bathes.
Eyes turn out to sea for signs of the first light-bellied brent geese arriving after a migration journey of up to 2,000 miles.
Countless numbers of wildfowl, including many thousands of brent geese, pattern the Strangford Lough sky, waters, salt marshes and fields, creating an unforgettable natural spectacle.
Castle Espie is situated on the shores of Strangford Lough near Comber, County Down.
Strangford Lough is an area of international importance and great beauty, with eelgrass beds and a wide variety of wildfowl and waders including shelduck, shoveler, redshank, godwit and plover.
Castle Espie’s main draw, though, is its magical mix of wide estuary views, tidal lagoon, eel-grass mats, woodland walks, salt marshes and reed beds; the presence of Ireland’s largest collection of native and exotic water-birds; and the abundance of habitats for other wildlife.
Why not join one of our experts, to find out more about birds in and around the grounds. Birdwatch morning takes place the last Wednesday of the month, 10.30am, meeting at Castle Espie reception.