As an island fortunately positioned along many seabird migration routes, Ireland is home to hundreds of different species of birds throughout the year, making for a truly spectacular birdwatching experience.
In the summer months, seabirds begin to flock towards the west of Ireland, many heading towards the Skellig Islands
, just west of County Kerry
. These islands have an impressively diverse population of seabirds between May and September, with the likes of puffins, guillemots and cormorants settling here. As the world’s second largest gannet sanctuary and home to approximately 20,000 pairs, the Skellig Islands are a must-see spot for any bird watcher.
If you’re keen to catch a sighting of some remarkable American birds, then be sure to check out Cape Clear Island
off the coast of County Cork
in the autumn months. By late August, seabird colonies from the North Atlantic fly towards the south of Ireland providing seriously memorable sights.
While in some parts of Ireland the birds will take off over winter, in Strangford Lough
, the mild weather and sheltered shore attracts birds from Canada and Eastern Europe for the duration of the season. Wrap up warm and and explore this gorgeous spot where you could spot a range of birds, from pale bellied brent geese to impressive raptors.
Spring is one of the best times to visit the Saltee Islands
, situated off the coast of County Wexford
. The bigger of the two, Great Saltee, is home to one of Ireland’s very first bird observatories. The islands are a well-known breeding grounds for several species. During the spring months, beautiful birds such as the golden oriole and razorbills soar through the sky, providing some great photo opportunities!
Last but certainly not least is Rathlin Island
, Northern Ireland’s largest seabird colony. During the breeding season (April-July), the island is jam-packed with puffins and plenty of other seabirds. Rathlin Island is just six miles off the stunning County Antrim
coast, close by to the popular natural wonder of the Giant’s Causeway
– the perfect pairing if you’re looking for a great day trip exploring the Causeway Coast!
Be it a crisp winter’s morning or a beautiful summer’s day, Ireland is a top location for any bird enthusiast to explore. Where would you start first?