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The Quoile Estuary is strongly associated with legends of Saint Patrick who landed in the area. Two old quays and the timbers of a sailing ship remind us that the Quoile was once a busy port serving the town of Downpatrick.
There are plenty of excellent opportunities for bird watching for visitors both from the riverside path and at the bird hide overlooking the brackish pondage, which was created from the formerly known marine estuary in 1957. This was created by the building of a tidal barrage to provide a place for floodwaters to gather until the tide turned and subsequently colonised naturally with grassland, scrub and trees.
The park includes a ramble for people with limited mobility alongside a wooded riverside path. There are excellent interpretative educational exhibitions and picnic areas. The bird hide overlooking the freshwater lake allows for excellent bird watching opportunities.
In summer, an abundance of swans and various breeding wildfowl can be seen, including the scarcely seen Gadwall. Migrating wading birds make the area home in spring and autumn and in winter large numbers of widgeon and ducks are abundant.
The attractive stone cottage visitor centre (open seasonally) with a nature garden features displays on the unique wildlife and history of the area. The centre also has scooter and wheelchair access.
In summer, the riverside is covered in an array of different colours such as from colourful wild roses, willowherb, purple loosestrife and yellowcress. An abundance of wildfowl also breed here, which include mute swans, mallard, tufted duck and the rarely-seen Gadwall. Wading birds on migration such as black-tailed godwit drop in during spring and autumn and in winter large numbers of wildfowl are abundant. These comprise of whooper swans, greylag geese and at least 17 species of duck including wigeon, goldeneye, shoveler, teal, pochard, scaup and shelduck plus occasional rarities such as smew and garganey.
- Booking Required - Please be advised that commercial activities or events, including filming, photography and organised group activities are not permitted without prior written permission from NIEA. Charges for commercial use of the property may apply. For enquiries please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Parking & Transport
- Car parking - is available all year round and free with 4 car parks. One is located on the Quoile Road, another at the Quoile Countryside Centre on Quay Road and two additional parking areas further along Quay Road.
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