Ballyquintin Point

Ballyquintin Point, Co.Down by Keith Bennett

Ballyquintin Point is the headland at the southern tip of the Outer Ards peninsula, in Co Down. It is formed of raised-beach shingle and cobbles, rising up to the low hills of the central part. The raised beach features are unusual in Northern Ireland, and it is managed as a National Nature Reserve by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. Much of the land is now owned by the National Trust (NT).

It is remote by Co Down standards, accessed by lanes south from Portaferry. The west side of the point, forming the east shore of Strangford Narrows, is dominated by Barr Hall Bay, a tidal inlet with rocky islands. The point itself is shingle partly covered by gorse, rising up to higher land with an old coastguard lookout. The east side is a rocky shore with small bays. By the farm, two pools have recently been created, which offer potential for attracting migrants. At one place, Cowey Wells, there is a small area of woodland and some reeds around a small lagoon on the shore. 

I have been visiting the point for several years, usually as a visit to the main NT car park, a walk down to the coastguard lookout, and then down to the point. More recently, I have also stopped at Barr Hall Bay, and then started walking from there round the point, then following the NT path back across the centre. I am less familiar with the east side, but have visited Cowey Wells from the inland access.

The point is a great place for birds, and rarely visited except for a small number of dog walkers (the continuous presence of cattle and, or, sheep keeps the numbers of these down). As it is owned by NT, there is no shooting, and the farming is reasonably wildlife-friendly. It offers excellent views out over both the Irish Sea and Strangford Narrows, but it is difficult find shelter. The coastguard lookout is open through the former wondows and door, and the wind usually seems stronger inside than out. So, all the possible Irish sea-birds occur. The shore and beaches are resting places for waders and ducks. Lapwings, golden plovers and curlews rest on the inland fields. Hedges hold small passerines (linnets, tree sparrows, reed buntings), and birds of prey are common (kestrel, buzzard, sparrowhawk, peregrine). I have chosen the patch area (marked on the map) to extend north up to Cowey Wells to add in, hopefully, at least the common woodland species. It is possible to visit or look over pretty much the whole area.

I don't have a species list for the area, but less common species that have been recorded include yellow wagtail, ring ouzel, short-eared owl, jack snipe dotterel. Whatever the list is, I will be trying to add to it!

Some more info at:

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