Nature Reserves

Conserving vital habitats

Capel Island & Knockadoon Head, Co. Cork

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. Scanning across to Capel Island, a colony of breeding Cormorants can be seen from the headland along with a feral population of Irish Goats. During windy spring and autumn days the headland itself is a good sea-watching point which, at the same time, can be attractive to migrant birds.

Accessibility & Facilities

A single track road leads down to the headland where there is a small car park at the end. There are several uneven grass pathways that cross the mix of coastal and heathland terrain; please keep to these pathways for your own safety and to avoid disturbance to the wildlife. Access to the island is by written permission from BirdWatch Ireland only

Opening times: The Knockadoon reserve is open all year-round.

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

Facilities: Other than the small car park there are no other facilities. This is a remote location and at times there maybe grazing animals present, so please take care and keep dogs on a leash and under close control. On site there is a derelict tower and look-out hut; please take due care and attention when nearby and for your own safety do not enter or climb on these structures.


Key Species



The Chough is the rarest member of the crow family. They are often found during the autumn and winter months feeding amongst the short cropped heathland vegetation around the headland, probing for invertebrates with their characteristic curved red bill.



Keep an eye out for a sudden commotion among birds on the cliffs – a Peregrine may be making a fly past or scan the cliffs carefully looking for a large falcon perched. They are often seen overhead when a pair is nesting in the area.



Cormorants breed in colonies on the cliff face where, during the summer months, white splattered guano rocks give way to their presence. They are slightly larger relations of the Shag; if you get a good view, you’ll see their distinctive white thigh patch

Check out the latest Reserve News

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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…
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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 – Knockadoon Head

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