Carnfunnock Country Park has several habitats, including coastline, woodland, open farmland and wetlands all within its boundaries. As such, our park attracts a wide variety of birds, with over 70 species of birds recorded in and around Carnfunnock.
From the shoreline in Carnfunnock Bay, gannets, fulmars and various species of gull can be seen soaring out at sea. The rocky coastline is also home to waders including oystercatcher, redshank, curlew, ringed plover and turnstone. During the summer months the bay is also a great place to watch common, Arctic and sandwich terns diving for food.
Our woodlands have many birds which are resident all year round. For example magpie; robin; song thrush, blackbird, goldcrest, blue tit, starling, woodpigeon, collared dove, chaffinch, great tit and wren can all be seen and heard by the casual observer without too much effort.
Some species only visit the park during the spring and summer to take advantage of the explosion of insect life before heading to Africa in the autumn. For example the swallow, swift, house martin, wheatear and several species of warbler.
In the same aspect, some species visit the park during the autumn and winter, including fieldfare, to take advantage of our crop of wild fruit and berries. Other winter species may include waxwing, redwing and brambling. Winter is also a good time to watch shore birds with dunlin, goldeneye and brent geese all being seen on occasions.
Many other birds frequent the park from time to time. Species including sparrowhawk, heron, buzzard and raven have all been seen flying overhead, and because of our proximity to the coast we also have species such as herring and black-headed gulls feeding in the fields along with curlew and oystercatcher.
Remember that in accordance with the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985, it is against the law in Northern Ireland to disturb nesting birds and any young birds found should be left where they are to allow their parents to feed them.
Most birds are easily spotted with the aid of a good pair of binoculars and with some knowledge of their calls and songs they can be readily identified. For more information on birds in Northern Ireland please contact RSPB Northern Ireland on 028 9049 1547 or visit their website www.rspb.org.uk/nireland