Bird Watching

Bird Watching in Donegal & Sligo

Wildlife Sanctuaries

Buncrana Wildlife Sanctuary, Co Donegal

As a wildlife centre, Buncrana is unique and one of the most interesting towns in Ireland, with 130 species of birds, 20 types of mammal and hundreds of varieties of insects and butterflies, as well as a wealth of trees and plants. All this is indicative of a healthy environment which we must be ever vigilant to protect.

Inch Level  (10 km south of Buncrana) is the most important wetland in the North West of Ireland with an international ecological status. It is the permanent home of the mute swan and plays temporary host to the Whooper and Bewick Swans.

Trabregga Bay, to the North of Buncrana, is Ireland’s most northerly wetland and is important for wintering flocks of Brent and Barnacle Geese and medium sizes flocks of Mallard, Widgeon and Teal.

Horn Head, Dunfanaghy, Co Donegal

Horn head is a great place for bird watchers as it’s home to many species of birds, many of these are also migrating birds.

Malin, Co Donegal

Bird watching is very popular in Malin as there is a bird watching observatory built here.

As the bay and inlets around the area are sheltered, Malin is home to many species of birds. Many of them migrate to Malin each year.  The Eider Duck, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Barnacle Geese have all been seen and recorded in Malin. Many other birds have been seen here too, some of the are rare, like the Corncrake.

Tory Island, Co Donegal

Located at the far Northwest corner of Ireland, off the Donegal coast. This remote, inhabited island has a daily ferry service, weather permitting is famous it’s migratory birds. Seabirds nest here in large numbers. The puffin colony nests on the Northern cliffs. There are guillenots, razorbills, kittiwakes and fulmars. There are also strom petrels and manx shearwaters. The cliffs are a haven for the birds, with little human interaction. The corncrake, almost extinct, has become a main attraction on the island.
Tory Island is a paradise for the various bird species  and for those photographers who wish to capture their images. This is an ideal setting for birdwatchers to explore and enjoy. The entire island is a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EC Birds Directive.

Sheskinmore Lough, Co Donegal

Located midway between Portnoo and Ardara on the west Donegal coast, about 6 km north-west of Ardara.  The reserve is part of a large, shallow freshwater coastal lagoon in machair grassland. It is rich in wild flowers, insects and birds.  It is an internationally important wetland, renowned for its wintering Greenland White-fronted and Barnacle Geese. Choughs frequent the area in the autumn and breeding waders are evident during the spring/summer.  For viewing; access is on foot, walking through the dunes near the caravan site at Rosbeg (approximately 1.5 km to the west).  Note that the surrounding land is privately owned.

Ballygilgan Nature Reserve (Lissadell), Co Sligo

Ballygilgan Nature reserve (“the Goose Field”), created by ministerial order of the Irish Government in 1986 is  a large area of improved permanent pasture which is a traditional wintering site for over 2,000 Barnacle geese, while freshwater ponds on the site attract other waterfowl and waders, and a cereal patch at the east end attracts wintering finches and buntings.  (Lissadell is located around 10 Kilometres north-west of Sligo town).

The Reserve was created for the protection of Barnacle Geese which have wintered in the area for centuries, but whose numbers had dwindled to a couple of hundred in the 1980s.  These strikingly handsome small geese are part of a populations that mostly breed in eastern Greenland and migrate each autumn via Iceland to winter in Ireland and Scotland, returning along the same route to breed in Greenland in the spring.  This reserve is west of the village of Carney on the shore of Drumcliff Bay, a significant site in its own right, and bounded on its southern edge by Lissadell Strand www.sligobirding.com

Irish Raptor Research Centre,Ballymote, Co Sligo

Free flying bird shows with Eagles, Hawks and Vultures. Irelands biggest bird of prey sanctuary. Birds of prey in their natural environment.  Watch eagles hunting, the Falcon in flight. Pet zoo. Preservation of wildlife and natural heritage www.eaglesflying.com