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Castle Espie news

Castle Espie to host BBC Two’s Winterwatch 2022

Castle Espie to host BBC Two’s Winterwatch 2022

​WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre has been selected as one of three live locations across the UK to host BBC Two’s popular wildlife programme Winterwatch.

Castle Espie - A History in Pictures

Castle Espie - A History in Pictures

A History in Pictures exhibition

‘Exceptional’ Natural Capital of Ards and North Down recognised

‘Exceptional’ Natural Capital of Ards and North Down recognised

The WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre in Co. Down was selected as one of the locations to host BBC Two’s popular wildlife programme, Autumnwatch. Ards and North Down Deputy Mayor, Councillor Robert Adair, paid tribute to the work of conservation charity the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust on a recent visit to Castle Espie. Meeting with Autumnwatch presenter Gillian Burke and WWT Centre Manager Paul Stewart, Councillor Adair said: “After the huge success of Springwatch at Castle Espie, the programme’s return for Autumnwatch has shone the spotlight on the rich wildlife of the borough and Castle Espie as an icon of sustainable green tourism.” In addition to hosting Autumnwatch, the visit comes as the charity is currently celebrating with a Winter Migration Festival at Castle Espie which includes a series of bespoke events for adults and children alike and runs to 13 November. Councillor Adair continued: “The international importance of Strangford Lough and its exceptional biodiversity is a real asset to our environment. Castle Espie provides a window on the Lough with the Winter Migration Festival and filming of Autumnwatch being a fitting way to introduce people to this wonderful asset on our doorstep.” Paul Stewart, WWT Centre Manager, said: “We have been celebrating this natural resource and the return of the brent geese with events in and around Autumnwatch aimed at connecting people with nature. From sunrise yoga, art workshops, walks and talks to nature focused activities for children, they are all aimed at connecting people to this wonderful place.”Paul continued: “The world’s wetland habitats like those at Castle Espie actually sequester more carbon than all the world’s forests despite occupying only a fraction of the area around the globe. As well as helping to deal with the effects of climate change, wetlands are one of the most biodiverse habitats on Earth, protect us from flooding, filter pollutants and help improve our mental health.”Gillian Burke commented: 'Wetlands are an important natural tool in tackling the climate crisis. Healthy coastal wetlands are super effective natural carbon sinks, drawing down more atmospheric carbon per unit than most other natural systems. Restore and protect these vital habitats, and nature will lead the way in restoring balance." The WWT works around the globe, protecting wetland habitats and migratory bird flyways, and operates 10 wetland centres across the UK with Castle Espie being the only one located in Northern Ireland.The charity recently launched a new ‘Wetlands Can!’ campaign, urging people to get behind the leading conservation charity’s call for creating 100,000 hectares of healthy wetlands in the UK to help combat the climate crisis.Paul Stewart said: “If the Covid crisis has taught us one thing, it’s that we can’t go back to how things were before. We need to get serious now about fighting the climate emergency and, as wetlands are particularly fast and cost-effective at absorbing carbon, they need to be an essential part of that fight.”To join WWT’s urgent pledge, visit wwt.org.uk/WetlandsCan

Castle Espie to host BBC Two's Autumnwatch 2021

Castle Espie to host BBC Two's Autumnwatch 2021

WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre has been selected as one of three live locations across the UK to host BBC Two’s popular wildlife programme Autumnwatch. Following on from the huge success of BBC Springwatch earlier this year the watchers will again be coming to the WWT Castle Espie in Northern Ireland. Over the period of the week, starting on 26th October, Gillian Burke, one of four presenters on the show, will shine a spotlight on this area of international wildlife importance here in Northern Ireland. Located on the shores of Strangford Lough, a designated coastal Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI), Special Protection area (SPA), Ramsar site, Marine Nature Reserve (MNR), National Nature Reserve (NNR) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Castle Espie Wetland Centre, managed by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), the UK’s leading wetland conservation charity, is home to over 60 acres of pristine wetland habitat filled with a range of wildlife including rare and under threat species. A mixture of tidal lagoon, eel-grass mats, woodland, salt marshes and reed beds offer the perfect habitat for all sorts of wildlife to thrive including a wide variety of water birds such as shelduck and shoveler and waders such as redshank, godwit and plover. Speaking about the arrival of BBC Autumnwatch, Paul Stewart, Centre Manager at Castle Espie Wetland Centre said; “This year was a first for BBC Springwatch in Northern Ireland and WWT Castle Espie and now we’re delighted to welcome the Watches once again for Autunmwatch. Our visitor centre and reserve provides a perfect window on the stunning Strangford Lough and is the ideal base for the show in Northern Ireland. We are thrilled that the international ecological importance of Strangford Lough is recognised and that the BBC have again chosen to host the show live from WWT Castle Espie. Autumn is an enchanting time of year and one of the most beautiful of the seasons. Few things are more awe-inspiring than the return of most of entire planet Earths population of light bellied brent geese from the Canadian High Artic to here on Strangford Lough. From the return of migrating birds, the turning colour of the leaves and the emergence of fungi, autumn is a spectacular time around the nature reserve. As a wetland conservation charity, we work hard to protect, preserve and promote the importance of wetlands and their wildlife in this part of Northern Ireland, so that they can continue to be understood and enjoyed by many in the years to come. Nature-rich wetlands like the ones at Castle Espie can help combat today’s nature, climate, and mental health crises, through their ability to boost biodiversity, store carbon, prevent flooding, clean water and improve people’s wellbeing. We look forward to bringing the sights and sounds of the wetlands and spectacular views across Strangford Lough to viewers’ right across the UK.” BBC Autumnwatch 2021 will be broadcast on BBC 2 from Tuesday 26th October to Friday 29th October

Winter Migration Festival

Winter Migration Festival

It’s one of the most dramatic wildlife events of the year - and the public are being invited to come along and see the action for themselves. A phenomenal 28,000 Brent geese make the gruelling 3,000 mile trek from Arctic Canada to our very own Strangford Lough every autumn… and they’re arriving round about now. We are launching our first ever Winter Migration Festival to celebrate the return of these amazing arctic arrivals, designed to make nature accessible for everyone, no matter what age you are or what your interests may be. Paul Stewart, Centre Manager says; “The Winter Migration Festival is designed to celebrate the arrival of the Brent Geese, along with the migration story of various birds across the world, but also to connect people to nature. We are aiming to immerse visitors in the beautiful surroundings of Castle Espie to come to understand the importance of what is around us, not just for us, but for wildlife too. The events programme includes something for everyone, whether you are a newborn or 100 years old! So we really hope people will come down and enjoy what is on offer.” Visitors can enjoy a variety of events including; Sunrise yoga, Watercolour Classes with local artist Bernice Anderson, Cookery classes with Grow and Graze and tours of the Castle Espie Reserve. There will also be activity specifically aimed at families with Music Bugs North Down, Mini Explorers and a new event, Wandering Little Wildlings aimed to promote mental health and wellbeing in pre-school and primary aged children through nature. The Winter Migration Festival is running from Saturday 2nd October to Saturday 13th November.

A Portrait with a View

A Portrait with a View

Castle Espie unveils stunning 'Paddy' portrait by Colin Davidson

WWT Castle Espie to host BBC Two's  Springwatch 2021

WWT Castle Espie to host BBC Two's Springwatch 2021

WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre in Co. Down has been selected as one of three live locations across the UK to host BBC Two’s popular wildlife programme Springwatch.

 WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre ready to welcome visitors back on 23 April

WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre ready to welcome visitors back on 23 April

Visitors will soon be able to find solace from the latest lockdown by getting out into the 60 acres of big skies and beautiful wetland nature at WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre which re-opens this Friday 23 April.

Shining a spotlight on the smaller creatures springing to life around WWT Castle Espie

Shining a spotlight on the smaller creatures springing to life around WWT Castle Espie

Spring has sprung and it’s not just our feathered friends coming to life. All around WWT Castle Espie, lots of tiny bugs are awakening from their winter hibernation.

Castle Espie Wetland Centre receives grant of £203,400 from the Heritage Recovery Fund to help recover from the COVID-19 pandemic

Castle Espie Wetland Centre receives grant of £203,400 from the Heritage Recovery Fund to help recover from the COVID-19 pandemic

Castle Espie Wetland Centre has been awarded £203,400 to help recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant will enable Castle Espie Wetland Centre to cover the income lost as a result of having to close to visitors during lockdown.

A wellbeing wander round WWT Castle Espie

A wellbeing wander round WWT Castle Espie

This year more than any, we’ve become more aware of our wellbeing and what it means to truly feel good in ourselves. As a result of lockdown, people had the opportunity to slow down and to really appreciate the smaller things in life, like nature.

Wetland Conservation Charity collaborates with Mental Health Foundation to launch new guide on the benefits of Wetlands and Wellbeing

Wetland Conservation Charity collaborates with Mental Health Foundation to launch new guide on the benefits of Wetlands and Wellbeing

Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), the conservation charity which runs Castle Espie Wetland Centre, in partnership with leading mental health charity the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), have created aguide to help people improve their mental health and w

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA visits Castle Espie

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA visits Castle Espie

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots has visited the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) Centre at Castle Espie, County Down, to see their work in biodiversity and protecting the natural environment.

First ever sighting of Cattle Egret recorded at Castle Espie Wetland Centre

First ever sighting of Cattle Egret recorded at Castle Espie Wetland Centre

It’s that time of year when we see thousands of birds arrive on the shores of Strangford Lough from Northern and Eastern Europe, seeking milder winter weather. What might yet become the highlight of this year’s migration season is the first ever sighting

Fall for nature’s spectacle at WWT Castle Espie this Autumn

Fall for nature’s spectacle at WWT Castle Espie this Autumn

Just as wetlands offer sanctuary to thousands of animals over the colder months, they also make the perfect place to safely escape the everyday and appreciate one of nature’s greatest shows - autumn.