BirdWatch Ireland

West Cork Branch

Protecting birds and biodiversity in West Cork



The Branch



Birding Sites

Branch Diary






Mike Cobley


Mike started to become interested in birds in about 1955 when at that time all the young boys of his age used to collect birds eggs each summer. Collecting eggs taught him a great deal about bird ID, their breeding biology, distribution etc so when he received a pair of binoculars for Christmas in 1962 he already knew a lot about birds. At the time he knew very little about birding except that which he gleaned from the pages of the RSPB magazines. There was only one bird book in his local library – ‘The Observers’ Book of Birds’. At that time if you were interested in any branch of natural history you just went out and did it – no mobile phones ( and in his case no land line), no internet,  no car transport, no books and only one friend who shared the same interest. All they had was enthusiasm which is more than enough in the right hands. The evenings and weekends of his teenage years saw him hanging out at the local sewage farm or travelling big distances on a pushbike in search of rarities and when he bought a motorbike the birding world became his oyster. He bought a car in 1967 and the rest is history.

He came to live in West Cork in 2002 and was persuaded to join the committee of the branch the same year. He has served as Chair and Hon. Secretary and is currently a committee officer. His favourite birds are waders mainly because he did not see one for many years after he started birding and he thought how unusual they were, and nothing like the diet of the passerines he had become used to. However his favourite bird is the Blackbird. As a boy in the city suburbs he used to sleep with his bedroom window open in summer so that he could listen to the dawn chorus (he set the alarm clock for 4.30am). Opposite his house was a large woods and the surrounding gardens were also good for birds. The Blackbird was one of the first to sing, and with a bit of practise he could tell the individuals involved by their unique (and individually unique, songs).

Mike likes to get out to the birding hotspots in the autumn, but he would not call himself a 'twitcher'. Visiting and staying at bird observatories to help with their work is also something which he enjoys. It's great to be out amongst like minded individuals, searching for birds and recording their habits, and Mike looks forward to seeing more people at our outings!