Nature Reserves

Conserving vital habitats

Bullock Island, Co. Offaly

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. Our reserve lands are all left for hay. In the past the callows were renowned for their breeding Corncrakes but today you would be very lucky to hear one. Instead look for Whinchat during the summer months, and listen out for other summer visitors such as Sedge and Grasshopper Warblers. Elsewhere on the callows, breeding Lapwing, Redshank and Curlew can be found. During the winter floods, Black-tailed Godwit, Golden Plover and Lapwing are numerous. Given the lack of intensive farming the meadows are particularly rich in flowering plants.

Accessibility & Facilities

During the summer months, access to the callows is easiest at Shannon Harbour were tracks for tractor access lead out onto the callows. Given the sensitive nature of the area please stay on the tracks. In winter the callows are flooded and therefore view from surrounding roads only.

Opening times: The callows are only accessisible on foot in the summer months however, the callows are privately-owned farmland and so please do not walk through the grasslands, and keep dogs on a leash and under close control at all times.

Entrance charges: Free, but donations to help us continue our work here are welcome.

Facilities: There are no facilities. Parking is available in Shannon Harbour. Out on the callows the tracks are used by tractors and there maybe grazing animals present, so please take care.


Key Species



Returning from central Africa in summer these small chats, with their distinctive white stripe above the eye and warm orange-buff breast, can be seen hoping up and down onto the ground in search of food.


Black-tailed Godwit

During winter, flocks of godwits with their striking white wing-bar are a regular sight feeding around in the shallow flooded callows. They spend the winter resting and feeding here before heading north to Iceland to breed.


Golden Plover

In summer they are a bird of the uplands but in winter they arrive in large flocks, often in the company of Lapwings, and fly in fairly tight formation with rapid, twinkling wingbeats uttering their plaintive short whistle call.

Check out the latest Reserve News

CorncrakeNewsReservesSpecies Conservation and Land Management
August 18, 2023

Positive news for Ireland’s Corncrake population but numbers remain critically low

BirdWatch Ireland welcomes the news that Ireland’s Corncrake population is on the rise but says that cautious optimism is required as numbers still remain critically low. Data released by the…
Great Yellow Bumblebee at BirdWatch Ireland's Termoncarragh Meadows Nature Reserve ReservesSpecies Conservation and Land Management
May 21, 2021

Conserving the Great Yellow Bumblebee in Co. Mayo

BirdWatch Ireland is not just for the birds. A recent paper published in the Journal of Insect Conservation highlights that our reserves on the Mullet Peninsula hold the highest numbers…

Further Information

Site Guide – Shannon Callows

Where To Watch – Offaly

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