BirdWatch Ireland

West Cork Branch

Protecting birds and biodiversity in West Cork



The Branch



Birding Sites

Branch Diary








Overview and habitat

A large, narrow bay containing several large islands with estuaries on the inner part of the bay.

Target species

Cormorant, Shag, Little Egret and Kingfisher all year with Black Throated and Great Northern Divers, Ducks and Gulls present from Autumn to Spring.  

Best time of year

Autumn to Spring.

Getting there

N71 West takes you to the town of Bantry which is on the bay. Follow the N71 North towards Ballylickey - this is a 5km stretch with estuaries and inlets where birds can be found.

Islands Horse Island is a  small low rock between Whiddy Island and the mainland which provides a nesting site for about 100 pairs of Common Tern and in some years a few pairs of Arctic Tern. Whiddy Island is a large island near Bantry Town complete with ferry service and similar to Cape Clear Island in many ways from a birding point of view. Breeding Oyster Catcher, Ringed Plover and Red Breasted Merganser are the main interest but holds good numbers of the summer warblers and a freshwater lake. Easy access with good viewing points.

Donemark lies between Bantry and Ballylickey and is the site of a river estuary. Telescope needed to view the waders from the petrol station.

Newtown bay is found by taking the promenade walk along the coast from the coastguard station. Good views of small numbers of waders can be obtained from the end of the promenade walk.

All along both sides of the bay there are a small number of points where one can scan the sea looking for Ducks, Seabirds, Terns, Gulls and Divers. A good map will show the access points.  On the north side of the Sheep's Head at the fish farm is a good viewing spot in winter, others being from the Bantry piers, the airfield and from the end of the Sheep's Head for limited seawatching in westerly gales.



Wigeon, Red Breasted Merganser, Great Northern Diver, Black Throated Diver, Dunlin, Snipe, Glaucous Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Iceland Gull, Ring Billed Gull.


Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Mediterranean Gull, Red Breasted Merganser, Comorant, Shag, Warblers on the islands.