Lowland Farmed Land

Farmland dominates the lowland of Mourne, typically of grassland fields enclosed by characteristic stone walls, with hedges and scattered trees. Pockets of semi-natural habitat remain.

• Patches of lowland heath are coloured by the yellow flowers of whin or western gorse, underlain by purple moor grass and heathers.
• Gorse and bracken mark the thin poor granite soils of the Slieve Croob  foothills.
• Hedges of gorse, hawthorn and holly, with occasional ash trees, are vitally important for farmland wildlife. 
• Meadow pipit, skylark and Irish hare breed on the less intensively managed grasslands, over which swallows feed.
• These grasslands also support flocks of song thrushes, redwings, fieldfares and starlings in winter.
• Yellowhammer are found where there are winter stubble fields especially in the east.
• House sparrows, swallows and collared doves utilise farm buildings for nesting and roosting.
• Rook colonies nest in mature tree groups, usually associated with old houses.
• Stoats can be spotted darting from cavities in dry stone walls.

There are eight species of bat found in Northern Ireland. Generally unseen but widespread members of the countryside, bats need warm summer nursery roosts often in buildings or trees, and cool sites for winter hibernation often in caves and rocky scree slopes. During most of the year they depend on rich insect food being available for their nocturnal foraging. Through wooded and scrubby areas brown long-eared bats pick insects off leaves while others catch flying insects: the pipistrelle, Mourne's smallest bat, eats over 4000 midges each evening. Daubenton's can be seen hunting over water.

Whin or Gorse
The yellow fragrant flowers of whin or gorse create a welcome blaze of colour in the spring throughout Mourne's countryside where it has been extensively planted in hedges. Once used for winter fodder, it can become invasive on ungrazed land. Hedges were originally planted to enclose land, provide shelter and control stock. Acting like linear woods in today’s intensively farmed landscape, they provide vital habitats and corridors for many plants, birds and insects. 

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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