We thank Betty Armstrong for permission to publish this article which first appeared on afloat.ie.
Harbours by their nature attract a myriad of marine wildlife and Bangor on Belfast Lough is no exception. Most people would associate Bangor with the guillemots that make their nests in holes in the marina wall but there is so much more.
The guillemots have been there for over one hundred years and have been fondly nicknamed "Bangor penguins" by residents. They have even given their name to a nearby café. Not only are they watched but recently an injured bird was sent to A and E! It is now in the safe hands of Debbie Dolittle's Wildlife rescue centre in Antrim, to have a splint on its leg.
The most recent activity was the fledging of Rock Pipits from a nest in the inside of the Long Hole breakwater. The Long Hole used to be full of small craft but since the marina was built, is now empty. A resident in the nearby Clifdene Apartments using a powerful telescope could see right into the nest. She noticed the chicks coming out of the nest to exercise and they looked quite big, so it was no surprise when there was no activity last Saturday, the day they fledged.
Fiona said "It's amazing that these tiny birds kept their nest just a few yards from the hustle and bustle of people, bikes and dogs on the breakwater in the good weather we have been having. We are certainly blessed to have all this wildlife on our doorsteps". Also, more recently while litter picking, she was 'splodging' through the wet seaweed and one of the pipits came to join her. "I suppose I was stirring up insects in the weed" she said.
There has also been the great sight most days of numerous house martens swooping in to catch insects and dipping into the mud at low tide to get material for their nest-building nearby.
Harbour Master Kevin Baird says the staff are passionate about the wildlife that lives within the harbour estate. "Presently it is home to three otters, black guillemots, a seal, (called Sammy), a fox, pigeons, wagtails, herring gulls, lesser black-backed gulls, great black-backed gulls, black-headed gulls, common gulls, kittiwakes. shags, cormorant, and now rock pipits which is fantastic news".
Drie Gebroeders, a Dutch zeiltjalk built as long ago as 1898 and belonging now to a Portaferry owner, Hilary Hunter. It arrived in Bangor from Newry recently and wasriginally used for carrying cargo on the Dutch inland waterways.