Overview and habitat
Clonakilty comprises two estuaries separated by Inchydoney Island. The
northern area is Clonakilty Harbour with estuarine mud and sandflats.
Cul de sac pool, an area of open water and reedbed, with a fringe of
alder woodland, is part of this area. The southern area is Muckross
Strand, again an estuary with mainly sand flats. There are two areas of
marsh with patches of exposed mud and marsh; White's Marsh and Clogheen
Marsh lying to the north and west of Muckross Strand.
The whole area is designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) due to
the wintering birds found here, particularly Shelduck, Curlew,
Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin.
Generally wintering waders and wildfowl but particularly Black-tailed
Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Golden Plover, Wigeon, Shelduck,
Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Greenshank and Knot.
Best time of year
best time to visit this site is from September to March. Spring and
Autumn migrants also occur, particularly waders using the two marsh
areas, White's and Clogheen.
89 W400400 (Clonakilty Harbour) and W 385385 (Muckross Strand).
Both areas are easily viewed from the local roads that run alongside the
estuaries. Please note that these roads are narrow in places and can be
very busy with passing cars. Great care should be taken when parking
cars and walking along the roads to view areas.
On entering Clonakilty from Bandon on the N71, turn left at the
roundabout, heading for 'Ring'. This road brings you along the northern
shore of Clonakilty. At high water, roosts of Black-tailed Godwit, Knot
and Redshank can be seen close to the Desert campsite. Redshank, Snipe
and Knot also roost on the opposite bank, below the Model Village. The
Fealge River enters the estuary at this point and is good place to look
for Wigeon, Teal, Lapwing, Mute Swan and occasional Kingfisher.
Driving along the northern shore look out for both godwit species,
Shelduck and Wigeon in the estuary. A good view point is the pier at
Ring. At high water, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Oystercatcher can
be seen feeding in the fields alongside the estuary.
To see the southern side of the estuary, head back to Clonakilty, turn
left at the roundabout and then take the next left, heading to 'Inchydoney'.
The road follows along the southern shore of Clonakility Harbour, giving
good views of birds at all states of the tide. The road eventually
swings sharp right, but heading straight on at this point brings you to
Cul de Sac pool. This area holds small numbers of Teal, Moorhen and
Water Rail in the winter, whilst the surrounding trees have breeding
Grey Heron and Little Egret.
Retrace your steps and turn left towards Inchydoney. At the next
junction, head straight on to give good views of Muckross Strand. In
winter this area can hold flocks of Golden Plover, Dunlin, Ringed Plover
and both godwit species. Gull flocks should be scanned for rarer gulls
such as Mediterranean and Ring-billed Gulls. Heading back to the
junction, turn left on to the causeway with White's Marsh on the
northern side of the road. At the next junction, turn left again to get
views of Clogheen Marsh. Both of these marsh areas can hold flocks of
Curlew and godwits at high tide, but are also good spots for migrant
waders such as wood sandpiper, curlew sandpiper and ruff, as well as
rarer American waders. During spring, this can be a good area to check
for Osprey. Other raptors that can be seen in the winter period include
Hen Harrier and Barn Owl.
Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshank,
Greenshank, Dunlin, Knot, Snipe, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Golden
Plover, Cormorant, Shag, Great Northern Diver, Grey Heron, Little Egret,
Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Pintail, Shelduck, Mute Swan, Herring Gull,
Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull,
Black-headed Gull, Water Rail, Moorhen, Kingfisher, Hen Harrier and Barn
Autumn is good for passage waders, with Osprey being an occasional
Heron, Little Egret, Shelduck, Sandwich Tern