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Irish Republic

Whitethroat Sylvia communis ©Sue Tranter

In comparison to most European countries, Ireland has fewer breeding species. While many of these are migratory, there are also many resident species, common in Europe, that are rare in Ireland. There are several reasons for this:

Firstly, Ireland has been isolated as an island for approximately 8,000 years. As a result, many sedentary species including Nuthatches, Willow Tits and Tawny Owls, which do not move great distances, have not managed to cross the Irish Sea. Secondly, Ireland's mild, wet climate results in a lower winter mortality rate for resident species, allowing such species to commence breeding in the best habitats before many migrants arrive. Therefore, Ireland has fewer available niches for migratory species. Finally, Ireland has fewer habitat types than our neighbouring island. In comparison to Britain, Ireland has less deciduous woodlands and Scots pine forests, while habitats such as heaths, chalk down land and very high mountain ranges are totally absent explaining why birds like Woodlark, Dartford Warbler, Crested Tits and Ptarmigan do not occur here.

However, Ireland does hold healthy populations of some species that are in serious decline elsewhere in Europe. Corncrakes are recovering their numbers in the midlands, while Dublin and Wexford hold large numbers of Roseate Terns. Of course, the islands and headlands of the rugged western and southern coasts hold enormous seabird colonies, with the largest breeding number of Storm Petrels in the world. Ireland also holds three sub-species of breeding birds, Coal Tit, Jay and Dipper, while the Irish Red Grouse is also considered by some to be a distinct subspecies.

While Ireland's western geographical location is not ideal for many European migrants, it is perfect for the occurrence of many North American species swept across the Atlantic on their long migration from northeast Canada. Every autumn, waders, gulls and passerines are found in the southern and southwestern counties. In Wexford it is not unusual to encounter five species of Nearctic wader in one day at Tacumshin. In the autumn of 1999, up to nine Buff-breasted Sandpipers were seen together in Wexford. In the same autumn, at least 5 Chimney Swifts, a Common Nighthawk and a Swainson's Thrush were recorded.

Its westerly location has also made Ireland one of the best sea watching spots in Europe. Sites like Cape Clear Island in Cork records large movements of Cory's and Great Shearwaters most years while in recent times Soft-plumaged (Fea's) Petrels are annual. Other hot spots for sea watching including the Bridges-of-Ross, Co. Clare, and Kircummin Head, Mayo, have become Mecca's for sea watchers.

Dominated by the warm Gulf Stream, Ireland enjoys relatively mild and wet winters, making it ideal as a wintering ground for wildfowl and waders. The Wexford Wildfowl reserve holds over half the world's population of Greenland White-fronted Geese, while the Nearctic influence is still obvious in winter with Ring-necked Ducks seen annually. Each winter large numbers of northern gulls arrive in northern and western counties. Perhaps Killybegs, in Donegal is the most famous with Iceland and Glaucous Gulls occurring in double figures every winter. In recent years smithsonianus Herring Gulls are being found each year while Killybegs also played host to a superb adult Thayer's Gull, which attracted a very appreciative audience during its three-week stay.

Despite its apparent lower density of species, Ireland holds one last superb attraction to the visiting birder - solitude. Birding is still in its youth in Ireland and its not unusual to spend a mid-week day at one of Europe's hotspots in perfect weather conditions, at the right time of the year, and not meet another birder. The opportunity of finding your own birds is unique in Ireland. Of course, if you do do that….don't forget to contact BINS!

New County Pages

The birding information for each Irish county is now to be found on the new Irish County pages… click the links below the map to view them:

Top Sites

Ballycotton, Co. Cork

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.

Galway - Top Sites

Belclare Turlough, Lough Atalia, Lough Corrib, Nimmo's Pier, Rahasane Turlough, Rostaff Lake. Rusheen Bay, Tawin

Great Saltee Island - Co. Wexford

Satellite View

Lying off the coastal village of Kilmore Quay, in south Wexford, the Saltee Islands (Little and Great Saltee) are between 4km and 6km offshore. The Great Saltee was one the first islands in Ireland to have a bird observatory, in recognition of the number of rare passerines seen there each spring and autumn. Landing on the island can be difficult, with no built harbour. Instead it requires a person to climb from the larger boat and be transferred to a small zodiac where you land on the beach if the tide is high. At low tide a clamber across slippery rocks is required. But it's worth it in spring, summer and autumn. In spring the small garden of the only house can hold Golden Oriole, warblers, pipits and flycatchers. In autumn, Red-breasted Flycatchers and hippo warblers are regular vagrants while the open fields are ideal for pipits and larks. Ireland's first Olive-backed Pipit was found on this island, with other notable finds including Black-eared Wheatear, Bluethroat, Barred, Yellow-browed and Dusky Warblers, Wrynecks, Hoopoes, Scarlet Rosefinch etc.

However, if you're not into rarities, visit the island in summer when the steep cliffs are home to thousands of seabirds. Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Razorbills, Common and Black Guillemots cram the ledges with Shags everywhere. Everyone's favourite are Puffins that breed on the gentler slopes on the southern side of the island while the Great Saltee also has two large colonies of Gannets. If spending the night (camping); a walk up to the cliff edges in darkness will be an experience not to be forgotten with thousands of Manx Shearwaters landing at your feet. The photographic opportunities are superb. Be warned, the island is privately owned and, while you are welcome to visit, you cannot stay overnight if the owner is on the island.

North Bull Island, Co. Dublin

Satellite View

Just outside of Dublin city, this habitat contains tidal mudflats, alder marsh and an extensive dune system. In winter and spring holds large numbers of wildfowl (including pale-bellied Brent Geese) and waders. In autumn, a good passage of Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stint are seen every year. Is also excellent for Nearctic waders with Killdeer, Buff-breasted, Pectoral and Semi-palmated Sandpipers recorded, as well as Wilson's Phalarope. Easily reached by public transport from Dublin city.


County Recorder

Birdwatch Ireland

BirdWatch Ireland, P.O. Box 12, Greystones, Co. Wicklow

+353 [0]1 281 9878


Rarities - Paul Milne

100 Dublin Road, Sutton, Dublin

+353 [0]1 832 5653


Number of Species

Number of bird species: 478


iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

A Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland by Habitat

By Mark Golley | New Holland Publishers | 2004 | Paperback | 208 pages, 1000 col illustrations |

ISBN: 1843305763

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Bill Oddie's Birding Map of Britain and Ireland

By Bill Oddie | New Holland Publishers | 2011 | Map | Scale: 1.7M, full col photos |

ISBN: 9781847739810

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Bird Atlas 2007-11: The Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland

by Dawn Balmer, Simon Gillings, Brian Caffrey, Bob Swann, Iain Downie & Rob Fuller | British Trust for Ornithology | 2013 | Hardback | 720 pages, colour photos, colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9781908581280

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Bird Life in Ireland

D Conroy & J Wilson | O'Brien Press | 1994 | Paperback | 208 pages, 16 pp col illus, b/w illustrations |

ISBN: 0862783968

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Ireland: Facts, Folklore and History

By Glynn Anderson | Collins Press | 2017 | Paperback | 360 pages, colour illustrations |

ISBN: 9781848893139

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Collins Bird Guide

(The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe) | by Killian Mullarney, Lars Svensson, Dan Zetterstrom & Peter Grant | Harper Collins | 2010 | Paperback | 392 pages, 3500 colour illustrations, 700 colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9780007268146

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Collins Bird Guide App

See details: See The Collins Fieldguide
Buy on iTunes: Buy

Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland

By Mark Golley |Illustrated by David Daly | Bloomsbury| 2016 | Paperback | 208 Pages | Colour Illustrations |

ISBN: 9781472917461

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Finding Birds in Ireland

By Eric Dempsey & Michael O'Clery | Gill & Macmillan | 2014 | Paperback | 389 pages, 300 colour photos, colour maps |

ISBN: 9780717159253

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Ireland's Birds: Myths, Legends and Folklore

By Niall Mac Coitir illustrated by Gordon D'Arcy | The Collins Press | 2015 | Paperback | 290 Pages | 24 Colour Plates |

ISBN: 9781848892989

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Ireland's Garden Birds: A Guide to Attracting and Identifying Garden Birds

By Oran O'Sullivan, Jim Wilson & Mark Carmody | The Collins Press | 2017 | Paperback | 186 pages, 150 colour photos, colour illustrations |

ISBN: 9781848893030

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Photographic Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe

Hakan Delin and Lars Svensson | Bounty Books | 2004 | Paperback | 288 pages, 1300 col photos, 163 illus, 465 maps |

ISBN: 075370689X

Buy this book from NHBS.com

RSPB Birds of Britain and Ireland: Interactive PC and PDA edition

By Guy Gibbon | Christopher Helm | 2005 | CD | Colour illustrations, photos, maps |

ISBN: 0713674407

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Scarce Migrant Birds of Britain and Ireland

By JTR Sharrock | T & AD Poyser Ltd (A & C Black) | 2010 | Hardback | 192 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations, b/w distribution maps, tables |

ISBN: 9781408137383

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Birds of Ireland: A Field Guide

By Jim Wilson & Mark Carmody | The Collins Press | 2013 | Paperback | 272 Pages |

ISBN: 9781848891791

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Complete Field Guide to Ireland's Birds

by Eric Dempsey and Michael O'Clery | Gill & Macmillan | 2010 | Paperback | 272 pages, 250 col illustrations |

ISBN: 9780717146680

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Crossley ID Guide: Britain & Ireland

by Richard Crossley & Dominic Couzens | Princeton University Press | 2013 | Paperback | 301 pages, 310 plates with colour photos, 250 colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9780691151946

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Migration Atlas

(Movements of the Birds of Britain and Ireland) | Edited by C Wernham, M Toms, J Marchant, J Clark, G Siriwardena & S Baillie | T & AD Poyser Ltd (A & C Black) | 2002 | Hardback | 884 pages, figs, tabs, dist maps.

ISBN: 0713665149

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Pocket Guide to the Common Birds of Ireland

by Eric Dempsey & Michael O'Clery | Gill & Macmillan | 2012 | Paperback | 228 pages, colour illustrations, colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9780717151097

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Where to Watch Birds in Britain and Ireland

by David Tipling | New Holland | 2006 | Paperback | 176 pages, 64 col photos, 31 maps |

ISBN: 1845374592

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Where to Watch Birds in Ireland

by Paul Milne & Clive Hutchinson | Christopher Helm | 2009 | Paperback | 336 pages |

ISBN: 9781408105214

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

Birding Tours

BINS Birding Tours - Small groups, individuals, target species etc. catered for. Itineraries designed for visiting birders. Contact: Eric Dempsey at BINS, 46 Claremont Court, Glasnvein, Dublin 11, Ireland. Telephone: (00353 1)/ 01 8307364 birdsireland@eircom.net

Birds of Ireland News Service (BINS)

Republic of Ireland : 1550 111 700 (58p per minute). Northern Ireland/Great Britain: 0891 700 800. To report news : 01 / (00353 1) 8307 364. Contact Address : 46 Claremont Court, Glasnevin, Dublin 11. irishbirdnews@eircom.net

Birdwatch Ireland

BirdWatch Ireland, P.O. Box 12, Greystones, Co. Wicklow +353 (0) 1 2819878 info@birdwatchireland.ie http://www.birdwatchireland.ie


IrishBirding.com was initially launched back in 2000 to provide a nationwide web resource for birders in Ireland. With its comprehensive selection of features it provided bird news,photographs and topical articles of interest to Irish birders. As a forum for birders to publish news of sightings and rarity-photographs it proved to be highly popular and received widespread support from Irish birders and visiting birders from abroad. At the end of 2005 other commitments and an imminent move abroad forced the original web master, Eugene Archer, to devote less time to the site but thankfully Joe Doolan acquired the rights to Irishbirding.com in 2007. It is now being relaunched in a new and much improved format. Created by professional web designers and utilising the latest web technology Irisbirding.com is now the most dynamic and interactive web resource available to birders in Ireland.


BirdWatch Ireland


BirdWatch Ireland is the largest and most active voluntary conservation organisation in Ireland. Established in 1968, we have over 10,000 active members and more than 20 branches nationwide. Our primary interest is the conservation of wild birds and their habitats in Ireland…

Irish Rare Birds Committee


The IRBC is responsible for maintaining a list of the birds recorded in the Republic of Ireland. Its primary function is the assessment of records of certain rare and scarce species; results are published annually in the Irish Bird Report and IRBC Report. The Committee, whose members work in an honorary capacity, operates under the auspices of BirdWatch Ireland. The NIBA Records Committee (NIBARC) performs a similar role in Northern Ireland and the two committees work together to maintain a comprehensive record of birds found on the island of Ireland…

The Golden Eagle Re-introduction Project


This five-year project aims to re-introduce golden eagles to Donegal, Ireland, where they became extinct in 1910…


Abbreviations Key: See the appropriate Continent Page (or Country Page of those used on country sub-divisions)

BirdWatch Ireland Reserves


Annotated list of reserves with locations, species, contacts etc…

Guides & Tour Operators

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

Birding Pal


Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…


Tour Operator

Visiting Ireland on holidays, or for just a short business trip? To make the best of your birdwatching time, why not hire Eric Dempsey as your guide? Below are just a few suggested birding trips for you to take with BirdsIreland. But remember, this is your holiday and your birding tour. You decide where you want to go and what birds you would like to see…

Cambrian Bird Holidays

Tour Operator

Our holidays are designed for all age groups. As such, the routes are we walk are short and taken at a slow and comfortable pace. Our emphasis is on visiting sites where a high concentration of birds, including some rare and unusual species may be seen in breathtaking and beautiful scenery. It doesn`t matter what your level of interest in birds and wildlife is. Whether you are a beginner or an expert a Cambrian Bird Holiday is for you. Single people are most welcome, and remember we don`t charge a single supplement. Even if you do not drive, it`s no problem as we are easy to reach by public transport.

Trip Reports

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


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.

2008 [10 October] - Mark Finn


…he tour was a great success as we saw four North American species – American Black Duck, Ring-billed Gull, White-rumped and Buff-breasted Sandpipers. In addition to these almost annual migrants we witnessed an impressive south bound migration of geese, swans and ducks including above average numbers of Pale-bellied Brent Geese and Whooper Swans. Tory Island was an interesting place to visit despite un-favourable weather whilst we were on the island…

2014 [11 November] - Terry & Karen McEneaney


...The weather had been mild for several weeks prior to this tour, then followed the Irish mist, rain, occasionally sun. And luckily for us the changing weather forced boreal migrants to arrive from far away places like Iceland, Greenland, and Fennoscandia, particularly Whooper Swan, Greenland White-fronted Goose, and Redwing...

2015 [05 May] - Terry McEneaney & Karen McEneaney


...We ended up with 96 species of birds and nine species of mammals, about par for this particular May tour. Highlight birds included nice views of Red Kites circulating overhead and Common Cuckoos calling and defending territories. We had super close views of White-throated Dippers and a Greater Whitethroat. The seabird watching was sensational -- we watched Northern Gannets plunge-diving, and tens of thousands of seabirds bringing in food to young and mates. Other interesting behaviors including the acrobatic movements and tumbles of Red-billed Choughs, Hooded Crows flying up and dropping clams to the ground to open them up, and copy-cat behavior of a Herring Gull trying to do the same thing to a golf ball.

2016 [11 November] - Terry McEneaney & Karen McEneaney


...We were able to observe a good cross section of wintering Irish birds, while at the same time seeing an Ireland few visitors have an opportunity to experience. Let’s say we got off the beaten path. Our range of interest was broad and included historic and ancient places such as the site where the Titanic was constructed and last seen off the coast of Ireland; the filming location of the movie “Moby Dick”; the departure site for many Irish emigrants headed to America; a well-rounded view of the Troubles area of Belfast; modern-day Dublin; two famine burial sites; gothic cathedrals; standing stones; ring forts; passage tombs; castles; round towers; stones bridges; and mysterious fairy trees....

2017 [01 January] - Janne Aalto


We parked our car to the only place where the Lough was well visible and started scanning the lake. There were huge numbers of Pochards and Tufted Ducks far on the opposite side of the lake but also about 100 birds on the SE-corner. This smaller flock was in very bad light but anyway we started scanning the birds very carefully. After some searching I found the Lesser Scaup! It was surprisingly easy to identify but it took some time before Hanna also found it as it was swimming all the time and also diving a lot. We followed it for some time until it swam close to the reeds behind some sleeping Tufted Ducks and swimming Coots and Little Grebes.


Galley Head Birding - Colin Barton


Birding around Galley Head, County Cork…

Other Links



Birdsireland.com, is the offical website of the Birds of Ireland News Service. Designed for birders visiting Ireland and provides bird report archives, checklist and guide services.

Birdwatch Ireland Migration


Bird migration is one of the world`s most extraordinary wonders. Millions of birds travel thousands of miles, only to make the return journey a few months later.

Birdwatching in Northern Ireland


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 of particular interest both to the experts and the increasing number of birdwatching visitors who are able to combine their special interest with a relaxing holiday in beautiful surroundings. Huge flocks of ducks, waders and geese come south from Arctic Canada and Greenland and other northern vastnesses to pass mild winters on the Ulster wetlands. In spring and summer large numbers of breeding seabirds feed on the fish-rich waters off the north-west coast. Chough and corncrake have some of their last strongholds in Ireland, but are rare in Northern Ireland.

CJ WildBird Foods


CJ WildBird Foods have 20 years experience offering a wide range of high-quality products to help you attract, feed, identify and care for wild birds and other wildlife in your garden…

Hunting the Wren


History of this odd cultural phenomena now now longer more than a pageant - so the wren is making a comeback!

Irelands Wildlife


Irelands Wildlife is a site (and associated Facebook and Twitter community) for anyone with an interest in Irelands wildlife and nature in all its guises. It includes an eclectic mix of content, including reviews of some of the latest birding and wildlife optics and gear…



IrishBirding.com was initially launched back in 2000 to provide a nationwide web resource for birders in Ireland. With its comprehensive selection of features it provided bird news,photographs and topical articles of interest to Irish birders. As a forum for birders to publish news of sightings and rarity-photographs it proved to be highly popular and received widespread support from Irish birders and visiting birders from abroad. At the end of 2005 other commitments and an imminent move abroad forced the original web master, Eugene Archer, to devote less time to the site but thankfully Joe Doolan acquired the rights to Irishbirding.com in 2007. It is now being relaunched in a new and much improved format. Created by professional web designers and utilising the latest web technology Irisbirding.com is now the most dynamic and interactive web resource available to birders in Ireland.

Mooney Cam


Derek Mooney [of RTE] has set up a webcam of a blue tit box…

Parian in Origin


A blog from Ireland…

Patchwork Challenge


The Hub of the Patchwork Challenge Competition - Irish Patch birding competition….



Birdwatch Ireland Shop on line.

Your Local Patch


Your Local Patch is a free web site that allows Birders in the UK and Ireland to share their bird sightings at their local patches with their friends…

Photographers & Artists

Photographers - Paul & Andrea Kelly


Our site is designed to display our Digi-scoping images of birds, taken in Ireland. With added interest to foreign birding. See Trip Reports. Some are of practical interest in the sense they are uncommon or even rare visitors to our shores. We update weekly. See Latest. For birding information in Ireland. See Ireland. See Gallery for more…