Nature Reserves

Conserving vital habitats

Small Wood, Co. Galway

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 scarce Silver-washed Fritillary butterfly is often seen in the woodland. Along the foreshore, looking out into the bay offers close views of Common Terns and Sandwich Terns during the summer. Kingfishers are often seen in winter along with waders, notably Greenshank.

Accessibility & Facilities

Limited parking is available along the road. Entrance to the woodland is via a locked gateway and therefore is by arrangement with BirdWatch Ireland Galway Branch. Further along the road, there are two stone walls to look out from over Rusheen Bay. Please respect the wildlife and other visitors and refrain from bringing dogs onto the reserve, other than Guide dogs.

Opening times: The Small Wood Reserve is open all year round but access is by arrangement with the BirdWatch Ireland Galway Branch.

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

Facilities: An information board is provided at the stone wall overlooking Rusheen Bay.


Key Species


Willow Warbler

A summer visitor, these small birds are almost identical to their cousins the Chiffchaff but are easily distinguished by their lilting song echoing from the woodland.


Sandwich Tern

Out in the bay, listen for a loud grating ‘eric’ call coming from a white tern, with a black cap on its head and then careful looking will reveal a long black bill with a yellow tip.



Carefully scan along the foreshore on a winter’s day looking for the tell-tale azure blue and orange of a perched Kingfisher waiting patiently for a fish to appear or follow the azure-blue flash as they fly past.

Check out the latest Reserve News

October 2, 2019

New sign posts for Wicklow’s ECNR

This July we saw the installation of directional finger post signs at BirdWatch Ireland’s East Coast Nature Reserve (ECNR), in Co. Wicklow. Comprising circa four kilometers of walking trails through…

Further Information

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