SPA description
(information as published 2001)

Lough Neagh and Lough Beg

image: SPA location map 

 

Lough Neagh is situated in the centre of Northern Ireland. It is the largest freshwater lake in the UK covering an area of 383 sq. km. The lough is very shallow for its size with a mean depth of 8.9 m (at deepest only 34 m). The 125 km shoreline is mostly exposed with wave-beaten rocks and stones but there are also some sheltered, sandy bays with better-developed marginal vegetation including some reedbeds. This site also contains a smaller lake, Lough Beg (covering 1,125 ha) to the north, as well as a small satellite lake, Portmore Lough (286 ha), to the east of Lough Neagh. Lough Beg is essentially a widening of the Lower Bann River downstream of its exit from Lough Neagh, and is very shallow, with a mean depth of 1-2 m. About 200 ha of the west shore is unintensified wet grassland that is largely inundated with floodwater each winter. Rivers flowing into Lough Neagh drain about 43% of Northern Ireland, plus part of County Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland. The loughs support a large and diverse assemblage of waterbirds throughout the year. In winter, the site is of importance for many species of diving and dabbling duck, as well as swans, geese, grebes and waders. In summer, the site supports an important assemblage of breeding seabirds, including several species of gulls and terns, as well as important numbers of Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus

 


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:
 
During the breeding season;
 
Common Tern Sterna hirundo, 185 pairs representing 6.0% of the breeding population in Ireland (Count 1995)
 
Over winter;
 
Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii, 136 individuals representing 5.4% of the wintering population in Ireland (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, 5,298 individuals representing 2.6% of the wintering population in Ireland (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus, 1,031 individuals representing 10.3% 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:
 
During the breeding season;
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus, 33,000 pairs representing 2.0% of the breeding Northwestern Europe - breeding population (1987)
 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus, 500 pairs representing at least 1.0% of the breeding Northwestern Europe - wintering population
 
On passage;
 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus, 2,440 individuals representing at least 1.6% of the Northwestern Europe - wintering population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Over winter;
 
Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, 10,776 individuals representing at least 3.6% of the wintering Northwestern/Central Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus, 1,821 individuals representing at least 1.2% of the wintering Northwestern Europe - wintering population
 
Pochard Aythya ferina, 26,341 individuals representing at least 7.5% of the wintering Northwestern/Northeastern Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Scaup Aythya marila, 3,798 individuals representing at least 1.2% of the wintering Northern/Western Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, 22,372 individuals representing at least 2.2% of the wintering Northwestern Europe population (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 

 

Assemblage qualification: A seabird assemblage of international importance
 
The area qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by regularly supporting at least 20,000 seabirds
 
During the breeding season, the area regularly supports 67,690 individual seabirds (Count period ongoing) including: Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus, Common Gull Larus canus, Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus, Common Tern Sterna hirundo.
 

 

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 99,221 individual waterfowl (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6) including: Greylag Goose Anser anser, Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus, Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus, Pochard Aythya ferina, Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, Scaup Aythya marila, Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii, Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, Wigeon Anas penelope, Gadwall Anas strepera, Teal Anas crecca, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Shoveler Anas clypeata, Coot Fulica atra, Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis.

Note:

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.