Having a quacking Christmas

Larne Lough is famous for its birdlife. One highlight is the tern colony on the tiny Swan Island and the man-made Blue Circle Island, situated near Magheramorne. Common gull, greenshank and redshank are also present in nationally important numbers and overwintering birds including goldeneye, great crested grebe, red-breasted merganser, shelduck and light-bellied Brent goose. Little egret, an exotic-looking, small, white heron with white plumes on the crest, black legs and bill and yellow feet, has in recent years become a common sight in the lough.

A few years ago Cara Barr, then the Biodiversity Officer at Larne Borough Council, started an event with Translink that it is hoped will become an annual Christmas celebration of biodiversity. Cara noticed that one of the best locations to see the birdlife of the lough was the platform on the railway station at Glynn, a few miles south of Larne. An added bonus of organising an event at this site is that birdwatchers from as far afield as Carrickfergus and Belfast can reducing their carbon footprint by converging on Glynn by train. 

On a cold and windy Saturday in mid December 2012, the annual Glynn Birdwatch attracted over 25 hardy enthusiasts of all ages, drawn by posters which proclaimed this as a ‘quacking Christmas’ idea. There was also the added inducement of free hot chocolate and biscuits. The bird list for the day: oystercatcher, curlew, red-breasted merganser, wigeon, herring gull, black-headed gull, great black-backed gull, common gull, redshank, greenshank, bar-tailed godwit, great-crested grebe, cormorant, goldeneye and shag.