Tour At A Glance





Single Room Supplement:


Tour Code:

Intermediate but with some early starts and long hours in the field.

Group Size:

Seven plus Leader

The Emerald Isle - Waders Galore in Southern Ireland

Date: Tour not currently running
Leaders: Alan Davies



Meet at Fishguard Ferry Port for the mid morning fast ferry crossing to Rosslare. The crossing takes two hours, but isn’t really suitable for birding due to the speed of the ferry. Following disembarkation, we travel the short distance to Danby Lodge Hotel followed by birding nearby at Lady’s Island Lake to check for migrant shorebirds. This famous site has hosted a whole host of rare species such as Short-billed Dowitcher, Elegant Tern, Lesser Yellowlegs and Baird’s Sandpiper, whilst regular passage migrants include Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit. Great Crested and Little Grebes can be present in very good numbers and we should also see Common, Sandwich and hopefully Roseate Terns, Water Rail, Mute Swan, Moorhen and Little Egrets here.
Overnight Danby Lodge
Following an early breakfast, we drive the short distance to Carnsore Point, where migrant passerines might include Common Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Common Stonechat and Sky Lark. With luck, we may also encounter species such as Pied Flycatcher, Northern Wheatear and Common Redstart. Offshore, Common Terns, Northern Gannets, Manx Shearwaters and European Storm-petrels should be passing and there is a good chance of Common Scoter. Scarcer migrants could include Melodious Warbler or Eurasian Turtle Dove. Nearby Nethertown Beach is a lovely spot where we can enjoy close up views of many shorebirds that on previous tours have also included Spotted Sandpiper. We have also seen Citrine Wagtail in this area. Another famous Wexford site is Tacumshin Marsh, which can host thousands of birds. Dunlin and Ringed Plovers are the predominant species, but careful scanning of the flocks will often produce Little Stint or rarer species such as Pectoral, White-rumped and Baird’s Sandpipers. Semi-palmated, White-rumped, Broad-billed, Marsh and multiple Buff-breasted Sandpipers have also been seen here on numerous occasions, as has another Short-billed Dowitcher. Large numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew and Northern Lapwing, may hold a Bar-tailed Godwit or two, Grey Plover, Red Knot, Whimbrel and Spotted Redshank. This is where your wellies will come in really useful, as the lake is shallow, and providing it isn’t too windy, close approaches can be made, enabling fantastic views of shorebirds quite unlike you may be used to. Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Little Tern, Northern Wheatear, and large numbers of gulls may also be present. Wildfowl should include Common Teal, Northern Shoveler and perhaps a Garganey and we have also seen Grasshopper, Sedge and Reed Warblers here.
Overnight Danby Lodge  
We depart Wexford early morning for the drive south to County Cork. Upon arrival, we check into our hotel near Rosscarbery before we make our first visit to the many excellent estuaries, lakes and headlands of the area, using a series of stopping places on the network of minor roads that encompass the region. We will start by checking out the mudflats at Rosscarbery, while the shallow lake at Kilkeran is drastically under-watched, but given its position; it must offer the chance of unusual species along with the commoner wildfowl and waders that regularly turn up. We also have a very good chance of Otter here. We will also check the shorebird flocks at Inchydoney, paying particular attention to the pools at Clogheen and White’s Marshes before moving to the huge expanse of mud flats, reed beds and damp fields that form Clonakilty Harbour and Estuary. Little Egrets are regular here and the masses of birds that are usually present are a real spectacle. The area also boasts a long list of transatlantic vagrants.
Overnight Rosscarbery  
We spend today concentrating our efforts in the area around the Old Head of Kinsale. Before heading out to the headland, we will first stop to check out Kinsale Marsh, an excellent place for shorebirds which has attracted many species of American birds including Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral and Baird’s Sandpipers and Wilson’s Phalarope to name but a few. The nearby estuary is also good for migrant shorebirds. From there we will out head to the Old Head itself. While access to the tip of the Old Head is now restricted, the gardens and hedgerows in the Kinsale area can be excellent for migrants in September with species such as Common Rosefinch, Red-backed Shrike and Eurasian Wryneck regularly seen. Red-billed Choughs are also a common sight over the headland itself. We will lunch on the Old Head before moving slowly west again, along the coastal route which will include excellent shorebird areas including Garretstown Marsh, Kilbrittan and Timoleague. We will end by once more watching the flocks at Rosscarbery.
Overnight Rosscarbery  
Today will be a full day trip out to Cape Clear Island. This island is internationally known as one of Europe’s migration hotspots with Cotter’s Garden and the West Bog among the locations already assured their places in birding history. We shall leave the hotel this morning and drive to Baltimore where we will meet the boat to take us on the thirty minute journey out to the island. Seabirds should always be watched for on this journey with shearwaters, petrels and terns always present in Roaringwater Bay. Black Guillemots are usually present close to the North Harbour as we approach the island. We will slowly check out all of the best gardens and hedgerows on a circular route of the south of the island, starting firstly with Cotters Garden, before walking the ‘low road’ towards east bog. The amount of unusual birds found in this area over the years is staggering and include Europe’s first Blue-winged Warbler, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Rose-breasted Grosbeak while European rarities include Thrush Nightingale, Subalpine Warbler, Eurasian Serin and Greenish Warbler. From there we will cross the central bog into west bog from where the dramatic Fastnet Rock can be seen. The hedgerows of this area act like a magnet for birds and are often the first place rare birds land on the island. Ireland’s first Sardinian Warbler was found here while the bracken-covered slopes have yielded Eurasian Wryneck annually. We shall return to North Harbour via Lough Errul, checking the gardens en-route. Following lunch we shall visit the famous Cape Clear Bird Observatory before visiting the Waist and the Youth Hostel garden. Weather permitting; we hope to watch the warden ring migrants in Cotters and around the Waist. Needless to say, should there be rare or unusual migrants already on the island, we shall aim to see them first! We will leave Cape Clear late in the afternoon and return to our hotel.
Overnight Rosscarbery  
Today will be a long journey west towards Mizen Head. This the most southern tip of mainland Ireland and is noted for its rare migrants and seabird passage including Soft-plumaged Petrel and Ireland’s first Isabelline Wheatear. The Mizen area is unique in that it combines many habitats including Lissagriffin, which attracts many rare shorebirds annually. The list of birds seen here is impressive including Semi-palmated, Baird’s, White-rumped, Pectoral and Buff-breasted Sandpipers, Long-billed Dowitcher, American Golden Plover and Wilson’s Phalarope.  The picturesque village of Crookhaven is another excellent place for migrants and the gardens and hedgerows are worth spending time on. In recent years Radde’s, Pallas’s, Yellow-browed and Subalpine Warblers have all been found here while more exotic visitors have included Red-eyed Vireo. We shall spend the day in this area but return via Ballydehob where we shall spend time watching shorebirds on the estuary. This location has recorded many species over the years, the most notable being Ireland’s second Western Sandpiper.
Overnight Rosscarbery  
Given that autumn migration is a constant, we shall spend our last full day again checking the productive areas around Galley Head, especially concentrating on Dirk Bay and Sand’s Cove. The former has recorded the Western Palearctic’s first Philadelphia Vireo alongside an American Redstart, as well as Ireland’s first Hermit Thrush. Again, the estuary of Inchydoney will require careful attention while Clogheen and White’s Marsh will also need to be checked. We will again finish at Clonakilty Estuary before returning to the hotel for our farewell meal.
Overnight Rosscarbery 
We transfer back to Rosslare for the ferry home. Once again the final itinerary will be dictated by crossing times, but we should manage to fit in more local birding – perhaps at the famous shorebird site at Ballycotton. Hopefully, by the end of this exciting week in the migrant hotspot of Ireland, the best souvenirs you will return with will be good birds, good times and happy memories. We arrive back in Fishguard in the early evening where the tour will conclude


Additional Information


Seven nights en suite accommodation in rooms with private facilities, meals from dinner on day one to lunch on day eight, minibus transport, boat trip to Cape Clear Island, services of leaders and reserve entrance fees.
Transport to/from Rosslare and any overnight stay that might be involved, travel insurance, drinks and any items of a purely personal nature.