Cape Clear Wildlife Weekends

Dates for 2023

April 15-16; May 6-7; June 10-11; July 8-9; August 12-13; Sept. 23-24

Lying 8 miles off the West Cork coast, the beautiful island of Cape Clear is home to the only bird observatory in the Rep. of Ireland. BirdWatch Ireland is offering you a unique opportunity to join the Wildlife Officer, Steve Wing, to experience life in the Cape Clear Bird Observatory for a weekend.

You will join Steve on his daily wildlife survey walks recording birds, butterflies and all things wild on the island. Cape Clear is famous for its impressive seabird migration, and you will help Steve complete a seawatch from one of the island’s stunning headlands to look for Gannets, shearwaters, petrels and a host of other seabirds.

As part of our survey and monitoring programme for the island, you will get to observe the practice of bird ringing, as Steve catches and rings a range of bird species to help us monitor bird populations on the island, as well as any migrating species that may be passing through. You will also get to take part in the long-standing tradition of adding your wildlife sightings to the ‘Daily Log.


The price of the weekend course is €130. Places are limited to 7 people per course. To get the most of your weekend experience, we encourage you to stay in the Bird Obs (shared dorm, self -catering accommodation), where we can offer a special rate of €27/night.

For bookings, please call the BirdWatch Ireland on (01) 2819878 or complete the booking form below

Weekend Schedule


Arriving on the afternoon ferry from Baltimore, you will be greeted by Steve Wing, the BirdWatch Ireland Cape Clear Wildlife Officer. You will be escorted to your accommodation for the weekend ‘The Bird Observatory’ where your experience living with the Wildlife Officer will begin! Settle in for the evening, perhaps with a book from the extensive natural history library in the Obs, or head out for dinner and a drink in the local pub.


Rising early, you will join Steve on his daily survey walk through some of the most stunning scenery and habitats on the southern half of the island. Your route will take you through the ‘Bogs at Ballyieragh’, alongside the Lake ‘Lough Errul’ and past the renowned ‘Cotters Garden’, where some of the rarest birds ever recorded in Ireland have turned up. Along the way, you will stop on one of the islands breath-taking headlands, to do some ‘seawatching’, looking for migrating seabirds such as Great Shearwater, Storm Petrel, whales, dolphins and Basking Sharks.

After lunch, you will join Steve as he opens the nets to do some bird ringing, an
important part of observatory life and a great opportunity to see birds in the hand. That evening you will help Steve enter all the wildlife sightings for the day into the ‘Daily Log’ – an activity that has been done every night between March and November since 1959!


Rising early, you will join Steve on another walk through the northern part of the island. This walk will start in Cotters Garden, move on to the Nordy Wood and the Youth Hostel Garden, looking for warblers, raptors and island specialists such as Chough. You will then head up to a dramatic headland called Bullig, for a short seawatch and follow the Red Route trail back to the Lighthouse Road.
Departing on the lunchtime ferry