Nature & Wildlife

Waterways are important corridors for wildlife, linking rivers, land and water. Today the remains of the Lagan Navigation is a rambling waterway alive with heritage and nature. A haven for wildlife, the Lagan Navigation towpath trails effortlessly along a range of habitats from reedbeds, woodland, grasslands, hedgerows, still and flowing water.

The Campaign to re-open the navigation takes into consideration the rich habitats and species along the corridor. To ensure that this is protected as much as possible, extensive surveys and assessments are undertaken before work starts, and measures put in place to ensure minimal disruption to wildlife. Experience from other re-opened navigations indicates that habitats and species tend to return quickly to the waterway, with an overall improvement in the natural environment following restoration.

Common Pipistrelle

This is the most common bat in Northern Ireland. They emerge form their roost site at sunset to search for food along hedgerows and tree lines. They hibernate through the winter.
When: April to October.

Daubenton Bat

Daubenton's bat is a medium-sized to small species and can live for up to 22 years.Daubenton's bat is insectivorous and uses echolocation to find prey and orientate itself at night.The bats emerge at twilight to hunt for insects over the water.

Crack Willow

This tree gets it name from how cleanly small branches can be cracked or broken of the main branch. They grow on river banks helping to prevent bank erosion.
When: Flowers - April & May.

Silver Birch

This tree is easily spotted by its silver white bark. Birch was traditionally was used to make simple bridges to cross bog land.
When: All year round.

The Holly Tree

During the winter birds feed from the berries and shelter beneath the evergreen leaves.
When: All year round with red berries appearing in winter.

Alder Tree

This tree can live up to 150 years old and it produces yellow catkins in early February and March.
When: All year round.

Green Veined White Butterfly

The undersides of the wings allow this butterfly to disappear into surrounding leaves as protection against preditors.
When: Late April to early September.

Lesser Celandine

Known as 'SpringÂ’s Messenger' these are one of the first plants to flower. The petals close at night and during poor weather.
When: February - May

Damsel Fly

Adult damselflies can be mistaken as dragonflies, but they have a body smaller in length and with finer features compared to dragonflies. They are more likely to be seen.
When: April to September.


Coots can be found in large numbers along the canal. The coot occupies similar habitats to its smaller cousin, the moorhen. Coots can be very territorial and will aggressively chase off any unwanted intruders.
When: Throughout the year.

Lords and Ladies

This flowering plant can be seen by the hedgerows along the towpath. Most parts of this plant are poisonous, particularly the berries. When: Large green pointed flowers with a long brown spike April to May Orange berries - Autumn.


Kingfishers travel at lightening speeds, catch several small fish per day, raise up to 3 broods of young every season and fiercely defend their territory at all times.
When: Throughout the year.

Grey Wagtails

This yellow and grey bird is usually seen at faster flowing water, so keep an eye out at the locks. This is where their insect and larvae food is found.
When: Throughout the year.


The wild mallard is one of the most commonly seen birds on the Lagan Canal. These resilient ducks can make their home in any wetland habitat due to their ability to adapt to almost any diet.
When: All year round.

Grey seal

There have been a number of sightings of grey seals in the last 2 years, as far upstream as Ballyskeagh. It is not uncommon for seals to come up rivers, and we believe they are following the salmon which were spawning over the winter months. Seals will also take water fowl from the river.
When:Winter months.


Otters are timid, and although not often seen, they make the stretches of Canal that are in close proximity to the River Lagan their home.
When: All year round.


The moorhen is very similar to the coot but slightly smaller. Moorhens will defend their territory from any intruders. They have a very distinct call and can often be seen with their young hiding among the sedges and rushes at the water’s edge.
When: Throughout the year.


Grey herons can be found along quiet parts of the Canal with a good supply of fish. They also roost in nearby trees.
When: All year round.


The River Lagan has developed into a successful habitat for salmon, where they return every year to swim up stream and spawn. They can be seen leaping at the eel weir at Lock 4.
When: Autumn/ Winter.

Yellow Iris

Yellow Iris, a wild cousin of the garden species, provides a splash of colour along the reed fringe.
When: June to August.

Common Hawthorn

Native to Ireland, the hawthorn can be seen in the hedgerows all along the Canal.
When: Throughout the year.

Reed Fringe

The thick reed fringe is an essential habitat for wildlife and protects the banks of the Canal. Most common plant to look out for is the bullrush.
When: Throughout the year.


The swan is a popular figure on the Lagan. Mute swans are the most familiar to us in Britain and Ireland and are the largest and heaviest of the birds.
When: Throughout the year.


Badgers are common in scrub along the Canal. They live in tunnels and chambers in the ground called setts. They are mainly nocturnal, hunting for food at dusk and dawn.
When: Throughout the year.


The elder is common in the hedgerows along the Canal.
When: White flowers in early summer and berries in autumn.


Swifts are summer visitors to the Canal from Africa.
When: May to August.

Tufted Duck

Seen along open areas of water on the Canal, the male is mainly black with white flanks, grey bill and yellow eyes.
When: More common in winter.

Tree Sparrow

Tree sparrows live here thanks to the special bird boxes erected by local school children. They are more timid than house sparrows and live on farmland, hedgerows, orchards and waterways.
When: Throughout the year.