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County Cork

Snipe Gallinago gallinago ©Sue Tranter

Birding County Cork

County Cork is the most southerly and the largest of the modern counties of Ireland. Cork is nicknamed "The Rebel County", as a result of the support of the townsmen of Cork in 1491 for Perkin Warbeck, a pretender to the throne of England during the Wars of the Roses. In more recent times, the name has referred to the prominent role Cork played in the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and its position as an anti-treaty stronghold during the Irish Civil War (1922-23). Attractions include the Blarney Stone and Cobh (formerly Queenstown), the port where many Irish emigrants boarded for their voyage to the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or South Africa and also the last stop of the Titanic, before departing on its doomed journey. The city of Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and largest city in the province of Munster.

The remote western area of the county, known as West Cork, is a popular destination for tourists, who visit the small villages and islands including Sherkin Island, Oileán Chléire or Cape Clear Island and Dursey Island. Mizen Head, the "southwesternmost point in Ireland" is also in West Cork, as is Sheep's Head.

In recent years land in the far west of the county has become in high demand internationally, and large numbers of EU citizens have settled in the area, along with celebrities such as Jeremy Irons. West Cork is noted for its rugged natural beauty, fine beaches and distinct social atmosphere.

The highest point in County Cork is Knockboy, at 703m. It is on the border with County Kerry and may be accessed from the area known as Priests Leap, near the village of Coomhola.

Top Sites

Ballycotton

Satellite View

Lying in east Cork, Ballycotton has entered into the legends of European birding. A mixture of habitat from open bay (with a lighthouse); lagoons, intertidal flats, pools, reed beds and excellent hedgerows and gardens in the town make this an ideal birding venue in spring and autumn. It is the waders that have really placed Ballycotton on the birding map. It defies logic what this small area has produced over the years. Mega birds include Red-necked and Long-toed Stints, Stilt, Least and Broad-billed Sandpipers and Greater Yellowlegs. Regular waders include Baird`s, White-rumped, Pectoral, Semi-palmated, Wood and Green Sandpipers, with Temminck`s Stints and Kentish Plover also recorded. In addition the area has even produced Stone Curlew, with Red-footed Falcon and Black Kite also seen. On the passerine front, Citrine Wagtail, Greenish Warbler and Lesser Grey Shrike are but a few of the big finds that Ballycotton has unfolded. The whole area is easy to do and the village has a fantastic atmosphere (and some great pubs and B&Bs). And if the weather is bad, and its too wet and windy for the beach, take a look off the back of the cliffs…the sea watching is also excellent with large shearwaters, skuas and Sabine Gulls seen most years.

Cape Clear Island

Satellite View

Situated off the southwestern coast of Cork, Cape Clear Island is another of Ireland's hotspots that has acquired legendary status. Reached by a ferry crossing from Baltimore, Cape has operated a manned observatory since 1959. The current obs is situated in the north harbour where the ferry lands. Accommodation is hostel style while holiday homes and B&Bs provide an alternative. Cape's fame is for the number of rare and unusual vagrants that find their way to the island and for the massive seabird movements that occur off the tip of Blanan, Ireland's most southern point. In spring, Cape is best visited from mid-April to late May where European migrants move through the island. Regular spring vagrants include Golden Oriole and Hoopoe, while last year, the island recorded Scop's Owl, Short-toed lark and, if accepted, Ireland's first Calandra Lark. In autumn the best times for visiting begin in early August when the seabird passage begins. During this month it's not unusual to see thousands of Great, Cory's and Sooty Shearwaters, skuas, Storm Petrels with Fea's Petrel seen every year since the mid-90s. In recent years birders have found Wilson's Petrels and Black-browed Albatross. While the seabirds are a great attraction, the autumn on Cape can produce anything from anywhere.

In October 1999, birders looking at one of two Little Buntings found Ireland's first Chimney Swift. The list of goodies seen defies listing here but highlights include Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, American Redstart, Red-eyed Vireo's, Yellow-rumped and Blackpoll Warblers etc. Perhaps one of the most incredible sights was of a Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler and a Swainsons Thrush seen in the same bush at the same time. A small piece of this nature simply does not do justice to the superb birding and general great fun of the Cape Clear experience.

Courtmacsherry Estuary

Webpage

Satellite View

Courtmacsherry Estuary is now designated as a SAC for Birds and dune system habitat. It holds internationally important wintering numbers of Black-tailed Godwits, and nationally important numbers of Cormorant, Teal, Redshank, Great Northern Diver, Shelduck, Wigeon, Red Breasted Merganser, Lapwing, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Greenshank. Black-headed and Common Gulls also occur in significant numbers.

County Recorder

Mark Shorten

mshorten@indigo.ie

Checklist

Checklist

WebBirder Checklist

Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder

Useful Reading

Fieldguides & Other Birding Books
For a full list of fieldguides and other books see the Republic of Ireland page

Organisations

BirdWatch Ireland - Cork

Website

The web site will hopefully provide the visitor, from both near and far, with information on the birds of county Cork. It gives information on all things relating to birds and bird watching/birding in the county. The Branch Events page provides information on upcoming branch activities such as outings, indoor meeting and survey work.While every effort has been made to provide accurate information we always welcome any suggestions relating to corrections, amendments or improvements to the web site.

BirdWatch Ireland - West Cork Branch

Website

The Branch holds twenty to twenty-five outdoor and indoor events each year and these are open to the Public. The only exception to this is when a boat trip is involved, in which case the outing is limited to BirdWatch Ireland members only because of insurance. With exception of special trips, entry to our events is free….

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

Cork - National Parks & Wildlife Service

Webpage

NR Capel Island & Knockadoon Head

Webpage

Satellite View

Knockadoon is a headland on the western tip of Youghal Bay, situated on the east Cork coast, and Capel Island lies just offshore. The headland and its short cropped heathland vegetation, full of colour in summer, attract Choughs to feed during the autumn and winter months, whilst overhead and on the cliffs, Peregrines may be seen. Scanning across to Capel Island, a colony of breeding Cormorants can be seen from the headland along with a feral population of Irish Goats. During windy spring and autumn days the headland itself is a good sea-watching point which, at the same time, can be attractive to migrant birds.

NR Cuskinny Marsh

Webpage

Satellite View

Cuskinny Nature Reserve, near Cobh, County Cork, Ireland is managed by Birdwatch Ireland (BWI). The land is owned by the Bird and Ronan families and comprises about 12 ha of land located along the lower reaches of the Ballyleary Stream on the Great Island in Cork Harbour.

NR Glengarriff Woods

Webpage

Satellite View

Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve was designated in 1991 and is managed and owned by NPWS. The staff based in the Nature Reserve includes a Conservation Ranger and three General Operatives. The entrance to Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve is located approximately 1km from Glengarriff village, Co. Cork, on the Kenmare Road (N17). The Nature Reserve features a range of walking trails and picnic areas. There are no toilet facilities.

Forums & Mailing Lists

Cork Bird News

News & Sightings

News of rare & scarce birds in County Cork. Text your news to 087 904 2383

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Ireland's Wildlife - Calvin Jones

Guide

Discover Wildlife Experiences / Discover Wildlife Walks

Shearwater Wildlife Tours

Tour Operator

Shearwater Wildlife Tours offer a variety of guided tours and tailor made holidays along the Wild Atlantic Way with a main focus on West Cork and its Headlands, Estuaries and Islands...

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2017 [10 October] - P M Callagher

PDF Report

County Cork , Sep 28 th – Oct 3 rd 201 7 (PMC & APM) T his was our first b irding trip to Southern Ireland, and we timed our visit to catch the tail end of Nearctic wader season (which usually peaks mid - September) plus hopefully th e earliest American vagrant pa sserines (which usually peak the second week of October ) . There was also the chance of some good seawatching: 2017 saw a surprising number of Wilson’s petrels and large shearwater s, and a lthough most of these were gone by the end of September, there were p lenty of Long - tailed Skuas and Sooty Shearwaters reported.

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Inish Beg Estate

Accommodation

The gardens, orchard and woodland of Inish Beg have been carefully designed to encourage and compliment the many species of birds and wildlife native to the island and those that stop here annually during migration, while providing beautiful and dramatic scenery for walks and bird watching throughout all the seasons of the year — ideal for your bird watching holidays and vacations. In addition to the bird watching available on the estate, we can help arrange bird watching tours of other areas of West Cork and other prime bird watching spots in South west Ireland. The climate of Inish Beg is favourable to a wide array of plant species. Kept mild throughout the year by the Gulf Stream, growth is luxuriant.

Suain-Aras B&B

Accommodation

Wildlife Wonders of Youghal, Birding, Wildlife, and Natural History Holiday Breaks (Ireland). Situated in East Cork Youghal (pronounced Yawl) is a heritage town surrounded by wetlands, rivers, mudflats, and estuaries. Home to variety of birds and small riverside mammals.

The Rising Tide Brasserie

Bird & Dine

Beside the tidal estuary of the River Lee - The award-winning Rising Tide Brasserie is in the village of Glounthaune, beside the tidal estuary of the River Lee, just 10 minutes east of Cork.

Observatories

Cape Clear Bird Observatory

Information

Satellite View

Cape Clear Bird Observatory is famous as a centre for watching North Atlantic seabirds and a location for seeing rare passerine bird migrants in autumn. The Observatory is wardened and offers hostel type accommodation to ten visitors. It will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 1998 and a new book on the island is planned. Access is straightforward. There is a daily ferry service from Baltimore, only an hours drive from Cork Airport.
Warden: Steve King - Bird Observatory, Cape Clear, Skibbereen, Co. Cork. 00 353 2839181 stevewing@eircom.net See their Twitter page.

Blogs

Calvin Jones - Ireland's Wildlife

BLOG

The Ireland’s Wildlife website was created and is run by me, Calvin Jones. I’m a lifelong wildlife enthusiast, freelance writer and author based in beautiful West Cork.

Cork City Wildlife

BLOG

Last updated September 2013 - A humble wildlife blog, this is my attempt to share my love for amateur wildlife photography as well as my enthusiasm for all forms of wildlife in the Irish city of Cork…

Galley Head Birding

BLOG

Last updated January 2016 - A patch birding BLOG from Galley in Co Cork

Graham Clarke's Blog

BLOG

Blog by birder and photographer Graham Clarke

Other Links

Birdwatching Clonakilty

Website

Clonakilty comprises two estuaries separated by Inchydoney Island. The northern area is Clonakilty Harbour with estuarine mud and sandflats. Cul de sac pool, an area of open water and reedbed, with a fringe of alder woodland, is part of this area. The southern area is Muckross Strand, again an estuary with mainly sand flats. There are two areas of marsh with patches of exposed mud and marsh; White's Marsh and Clogheen Marsh lying to the north and west of Muckross Strand….