Our reserves cover a variety of habitats, from rocky islands to saltmarshes and lakes, through to woods and semi-improved grasslands, and are wonderful places to get closer to nature. As well as birds, you will be able to see colourful flowers, butterflies and other wildlife.
Conserving vital habitats
Our Nature Reserves
BirdWatch Ireland maintains a growing network of bird reserves around the country, all located in areas of conservation importance to birds.
As pressure on natural habitats increases, reserves can ensure that some land is managed exclusively in the interests of threatened birds, habitats or wider wildlife. These can be used as a demonstration of the benefits of conservation management in advocating, for example, for more targeted agri-environment policy, as well as playing a significant role in our campaign to foster public awareness of Ireland’s wild bird heritage.
Our work on some of the reserves has been kindly supported through the EU LIFE-Nature programme, the LEADER programme, County Wicklow Partnership, South & East Cork Area Development Ltd, The National Parks & Wildlife Service, The Heritage Council, Fiontar Chomhraic Teo, Dublin Zoo, Vodafone, Google Ireland, various County Councils and local Community Groups as well as other sources including individual philanthropists and BirdWatch Ireland Branches and supporters.
Many of our reserves are incorporated into an events programme organised though our branches network. These introduce new members and the general public to the pleasures of birdwatching through guided walks and special seasonal events such as dawn chorus walks.
They inform on the workings of natural habitats and the need to incorporate conservation principles into land use and development activities. A visit to one of our reserves can offer a unique education resource for children and adults alike, where, as well as seeing and learning about birds, it also offers an opportunity to see other wildlife, from mammals to insects to flowers. For more information on these events, contact BirdWatch Ireland or look on the Branches events pages.
We hope that you visit some of them, either with the branches or in your own company, and enjoy the experience.
East Coast Nature Reserve
Officially opened in 2009, the East Coast Nature Reserve (ECNR) is our largest reserve covering 92ha. It forms part of the extensive Murrough Wetlands, an important coastal wetland complex which is designated as a Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation.
The Kilcoole Reserve is an area of wet grassland behind a shingle beach. It has a number of marshy pools that flood during the winter months which are attractive to Teal, whilst deep in the marshy vegetation Water Rails hide, Reed Buntings perch out on the taller stems and Stonechats are ever present along the fence line.
Wexford Wildfowl Reserve
The Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, owned in partnership with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, is situated in 936ha of land known as ‘sloblands’, which were reclaimed during the mid 1800’s. Wet grassland and tillage, along with a brackish-water drainage channel and reed beds, form the main habitats which collectively make for an internationally important wetland and one of Ireland’s finest bird sites.
Capel Island & Knockadoon Head
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.
The Cuskinny Marsh reserve has an array of habitats within a relatively small area, from shoreline to lagoon and grassland to woodland. These support a great variety of wildlife including common wetland and woodland birds which are found throughout the year.
The Sheskinmore Lough reserve is part of a large, shallow freshwater coastal lagoon set in wonderful machair (flat sandy) grasslands. It is rich in wild flowers, insects and birds. Our reserve is within a larger area owned and managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and the whole area forms an extensive Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation.
The Rogerstown Nature Reserve is set within the inner Rogerstown estuary – a relatively small, narrow and extremely shallow estuary with extensive mudflats at low tide. The reserve was an area of reclaimed land used as grazing pasture, but is now being restored back to saltmarsh.
The Shenick Island Reserve is one of a group of three islands situated just offshore from the town of Skerries. The reserve is connected to the mainland by sandflats exposed at low tide.
Bullock Island is part of BirdWatch Ireland’s Shannon Callows Reserve, and forms part of the larger Middle Shannon Callows Special Protection Area. This island, together with its neighbouring Bishop’s Island, is situated in an area of lowland wet grassland called ‘callows’ that is subject to flooding in winter and spring.
Bishop’s Island is part of BirdWatch Ireland’s Shannon Callows Reserve, and forms part of the larger Middle Shannon Callows Special Protection Area. This island, together with its neighbouring Bullock Island, is situated in an area of lowland wet grassland called ‘callows’ that is subject to flooding in winter and spring.
The Small Wood Reserve is an area of deciduous woodland with a variety of mature trees, including oak that leads down to a small area of saltmarsh on the edge of Rusheen Bay. Within the woodland, typical woodland bird species are present throughout the year, such as Chaffinch, and the variety is boosted by the arrival of summer songsters such as Willow Warblers and Blackcaps.
The Little Skellig reserve is an iconic BirdWatch Ireland nature reserve. Isolated jagged pinnacles of rock rising up to 134 metres make for an impressive sight alongside its larger partner, Skellig Michael. Little Skellig is famed for its massive colony of some 35,000 pairs of Gannets, the largest breeding colony in Ireland and among the largest in the world.
The Puffin Island Reserve is a narrow steep-sided island rising to 145 m with spectacular cliffs which, as its name suggests, is home to breeding Puffins during the summer months. Thousands of birds can be seen as they swirl around above their breeding burrows.
The Illaunmaistir Reserve is a small grass domed island, rising to about 100m, that lies just off the north Mayo coast. During the summer months, looking across to the island from the near mainland, Puffins can be seen as they swirl around above their breeding burrows
The Termoncarragh Lake Reserve is part of a large, shallow freshwater coastal lagoon set within the rare coastal machair ecosystem (sandy grasslands). The area is rich in wild flowers, insects and birds. Our reserve is part of the lake bed whilst the surrounding lands are privately owned.
The Termoncarragh Meadows Reserve is an area of species rich semi-improved grasslands associated with an area of coastal pasture which, thanks to our on-going management, is attractive to Corncrakes during the summer months.
The Annagh Marsh Reserve is an open pool system set within wet grasslands associated with the rare coastal machair ecosystem (flat sandy grasslands). Historically it was renowned for its breeding Red-necked Phalaropes and was the most southerly breeding location in the world for that species.
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