ROD & GUN : Prime Wetlands for Sale

Article excerpt

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has arisen for anyone interested in wildfowling to acquire a stake in one of the best areas of wetlands in the United Kingdom.

Armstrong Gordon and Co of Portstewart has been entrusted with the sale of 400 acres of prime wetlands at Ballyscullion Park on the east shore of Lough beg. Situated to the north of Lough Neagh the property is owned by Sir Richard Mullholland of Ballyscullion House, Bellaghy.

The shooting rights over 400 acres are being offered for sale as one lot or as one of three separate lots.

Offers must be with Armstrong Gordon at 64 Promenade, Portstewart (Tel 01265/832000) by September 26.

Like many field sports people to whom I have spoken, I find it nearly impossible to put a realistic value on such an attractive asset. Most certainly nothing like it is likely to come on the market again for a very long time.

Lough Beg is rightly regarded as an internationally important site for many migratory species of wildfowl and waders

Lough Neagh and Lough Beg head the top ten list of United Kingdom sites for average counts of wildfowl, grebes, cormorant and coot in the five years from 1987. According to figures provided by the the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, peak count in 1991-92 was 104,249 with the average count at 95,701.

The Ribble estuary had a peak count of 134,548 in 1991-92 but, at 86,699, a lower five-year average than Lough Neagh and Lough Beg. Next came the Wash with a peak of 84,408 and an average of 73,935.

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust says: ''Loughs Neagh and Beg are the single most important site for wildfowl within the United Kingdom. All of the quarry species of waterfowl are regularly present, many in spectacular numbers with the exception of pink-footed geese and Canada geese.

''These quarry species may be killed or taken from September 1 to January 31 inclusive.''

If I should happen to win the Lottery this week-end I shall be putting in a bid myself. For others, the proper course seems clear: seek expert advice on the value of all or one-third of these unique shooting rights. And the best of luck to whoever is lucky enough to get them.

BASC tells me that the Federation of Lough Neagh and Lough Beg Wildfowlers with 23 clubs and almost 400 members represents the majority of wildfowlers in the Lough Neagh area.

BASC says: ''Through their participation in various wildlife and advisory bodies such as Lough Neagh Advisory Committee, they are making a positive contribution in addressing concerns about habitat loss, pollution and disturbance in the Lough Neagh basin.''

Clay pigeons

As the ABT interprovincials scheduled for Thurles today and a number of other clay shooting fixtures have been postponed as a mark of respect to Diana Princess of Wales, plans are well ahead for the home international sporting tournament at Derryboy, Crossgar on Friday (Sept 12)

The event will bring 130 of the top clay shooters in the home countries, Isle of Man and Jersey together for the first time in Ulster. The Irish team managed by Trevor Wilson and captained by Hugh Simms is: W Gregg, J Alexander, E Jackson, P Bryans, D Wallace, H Burns, M Best, T Tomlinson, J Boyd, T McPhillips, S A Harrison, H Patterson, T Donnan and J Craig. Harrison, Patterson, Donnan and Craig are all new caps.

The ladies will be represented by Marie Devlin and Rosemary Johnston and the juniors by A Kirkpatrick and A McVeigh. …