Mourne’s coastal habitats range from hard rocky and soft boulder clay cliffs to mobile sediments of shingle, sand and muds.

• Colonies of kittiwake, herring gull, fulmars and razorbills nest on rocky cliffs south of Newcastle.
• Sand martins excavate nesting burrows in sandy layers on eroding cliffs south of Kilkeel.
• Shingle tops many beaches from Bloody Bridge to Cranfield, on which herb Robert and mayweed grow with the rarer yellow horned poppy, oyster plant and sea kale, and here ringed plover lay their camouflaged eggs in a stony nest.
• Extensive sand dunes in Dundrum Bay are rich in plants and animals including the rare marsh fritillary butterfly. 
• Young dunes south of Kilkeel are botanically rich but threatened by recreation and over exploitation.
• Salt marshes in Mill Bay in Carlingford Lough and in Dundrum Inner Bay are ablaze in summer with sea aster and sea lavender flowers.       

Black guillemot
Black guillemots, like their cousins razorbills, usually nest in rocky holes in cliffs to raise one or two chicks. They do not seem to mind being close to man as a large colony uses holes in the harbour wall at Annalong as well as pipes in the south promenade at Newcastle. Feeding on small fish like butterfish, black guillemots stay in coastal waters all year and moult to a winter grey and white plumage.

Typical of rocky shores thrift, or sea pink, may also be found on mountain cliffs as it is a plant adapted to survive exposure to the drying sun and wind as well as to salt spray. Its roots penetrate deeply into rock crevices searching for fresh water and nutrients in skeletal soils, whilst its narrow rolled waxy leaves prevent excess water loss.  In summer its drum heads of pink flowers colour areas of cliff turf at Bloody Bridge. 

Biodiversity Biodiversity Map Some of the most accessible areas designated for the quality of their biodiversity include:
  1. Carlingford Lough - Ramsar, SPA, ASSI
  2. Castlewellan Lake - ASSI
  3. Eastern Mournes - SAC, ASSI
  4. Murlough dunes - SAC, ASSI, NNR
  5. Rostrevor Wood - SAC, ASSI, NNR
  6. Slieve Croob - SLNCI
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