Its extensive coastline and relatively unspoiled natural habitats make Ireland a haven for birds. More than 450 different bird species have been recorded in Ireland, representing a remarkable figure for a European island and making it a fascinating country for birdwatching. Below you will find details of some interesting Irish locations for birdwatching.
North Slob, Wexford, Wexford
The location and structure of the Wexford Slobs and Harbour make them a natural haven for birds. A dyke, built in the 1840′s, created over 1,000 hectares of mudflats and islands, which now form a world renowned wildfowl reserve. Situated at the closest point to Britain and the continent for birds that are migrating into or out of Ireland from a southerly direction, Wexford Wildlife Reserve attracts almost half the world’s population of Greenland white-fronted geese during the winter, and the reeds and shallows harbour over 190 species of water-fowl and waders.
An information centre displays illustrations of the most significant species, and the birds can be viewed from hides along the entrance driveways.
Wexford Wildlife Reserve
The Wexford Wildlife Reserve is part owned by the Irish Wildbird Conservancy, and run by the National arks and Wildlife Service. One third of the world’s population of Greenland white Fronted Geese winter there.
Brent Geese flock here in massive numbers, and thousands of other duck and wader species winter here too. The reserve provides excellent viewing facilities, with hides and an observation tower. The visitor centre is open daily, with free admission. Guided tour on request….
Birdwatching Lough Neagh
Lough Neagh, Lurgan, Armagh
Ornithologists from Britain and Western Europe come to study the birds of Northern Ireland every year, and with good reason. The province’s position on the western fringes of Europe, and the sheer size of many of the flocks that breed or visit have made it especially interesting both to the experts and to the increasing number of birdwatching visitors who combine their special interest with a relaxing holiday in beautiful surroundings….
Cape Clear Island
Cape Clear Island, Cork, is a lively spot in the summer, when approximately 180 students come here to improve their Irish language skills and participate in outdoor games and activities.
It is also home to the Cape Clear Bird Observatory, which is owned by Bird Watch Ireland and located in Harbour House, in North Harbour, the busy social centre of the island. It is only a two minute walk from the ferry berth, the island shop, and pubs and offers hugely popular wildlife courses, from Beginners Birding to Seabirds and Migration.
Virtually every significant bird habitat can be found in Kerry. It is also an excellent area for observing migrant species in spring and autumn.
The Killarney area is ideal for such for woodland birds as jays, blackcaps, garden warblers, and long-eared owls, whereas the area’s lakes are home to great-crested grebes, red-breasted mergansers, and the occasional osprey. The Rural Environment Protection Scheme helped to reintroduce white-tailed eagles into Killarney National Park, a treat for all birdwatching enthuasists. Chough, peregrine, kestrel, and ring ouzel all breed in the Gap of Dunloe.
Seabird enthusiasts should visit the Little Skellig for its gannets (22,000 pairs), and Skellig Michael for its kittiwakes, puffins, and other auks. Rare visitors such as pectoral sandpipers, grey phalarope and Franklin’s gull are occasionally spotted during Autumn at Akeragh Lough, south of Ballyheigue. Lapwings and other waders flock to Blennerville in huge numbers; recent rarities include greater yellowlegs and avocet. Lastly, check out the headlands during migration times: Dunquin and Valentia Island have turned up exciting rarities – red-eyed vireos, bee-eaters, and yellow browed warblers to name but a few.
Bird watching has become an extremely popular pastime in Malin, with the construction of an observatory in the area.
The sheltered nature of the bay and inlets make it an ideal home for many species of birds, many of which migrate to Malin each year.
The Eider Duck, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, and Barnacle Goose have all been spotted here, with many other species also visiting, including the rare Corncrake.
Birds and Wildlife – Graiguenamanagh
Graiguenamanagh is a haven for wild birds. Yellowhammers, skylarks, moorland birds and birds of prey all breed on Brandon Hill.
Birds of Ireland Bird Watching Tours
Eric Dempsey and the rest of the team at Birds of Ireland would like to invite you to take a birdwatching tour.
Catering for the complete beginner to the more experienced birdwatcher, Eric and the other guides will help you to expand your lists and knowledge of the various species in their natural habitats.
Birds of Ireland provides tours which vary all over the countryside. If you have a particular species you’d love to see or just simply enjoy birdwatching they are sure to have a tour to suit you.