BirdWatch Ireland

West Cork Branch

Protecting birds and biodiversity in West Cork



The Branch



Birding Sites

Branch Diary









Overview and habitat

Rosscarbery is a tidal estuary and mudflat on the south side of the main road and causeway (N71) and a large brackish lagoon on the north side.  At the west end of the causeway, south of the main road is a small lagoon with reed beds.


Target species

Generally gulls, wintering waders and wildfowl.


Best time of year

The best time to visit this site is from September to March on an incoming tide.


Getting there and access

OSI Map 89: the  N71 that runs between Clonakilty and Skibbereen forms the causeway at Rosscarbery.  At the east end of the causeway there is a turning south (W294364) down to the Warren and Creggane Strand.  At the west end there is a turning south (W287364) down to the pier. 

Both the estuary and the large lagoon are easily viewed from small lanes that run either side of the estuary and around the lagoon.  Please note that these lanes are narrow  and care should be taken when parking cars and walking along the roads to view areas. 

If reaching the causeway from Clonakilty then take the left turn down towards the Warren and the strand.  Anywhere along this road is good for viewing the estuary.  In winter there can be over 3,000 Golden Plovers roosting on the mudflats.  Look out for the occasional Grey Plover and rarer American Golden Plover amongst the flock.  The road bears to the left around a scrape, where Turnstones can be found, and continues down to the car park which is easy for turning around. 

Retrace your steps up to the N71 and turn left on to the causeway.  If you park your car before entering the causeway then there is a pavement on the south side of the road and a wide grass verge on the north side which are ideal for walking and viewing the estuary and large lagoon. 

The north end of the estuary is always under water and I a good area for gulls (look out for the rarer Mediterranean, Ring-billed and Yellow-legged Gulls).  Continuing along to the end of the causeway turn left on to the pier road.  Up to 50 Mute Swans and more congregate here.  This is a good place to stop with the small lagoon now on your right.  Scan the reeds for Snipe and Water Rail and keep an eye out for Kingfisher.  There's normally a Little Egret here too.  Looking over the estuary, Black-tailed and fewer Bar-tailed Godwit can be seen with Lapwing. 

Anywhere along the pier road as far as the old coastguard provides good viewing, but a good spot is near the right turn after about 500m.  This affords a good of a rise in the mudflat where the smaller waders such as Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Sanderlings gather and feed on an incoming tide.  Continuing past the old coastguard, Oystercatchers gather on the strand opposite at high tide.  Grey Herons can often be found on the near side and cormorants fish the tidal flow.  Look out for otters too. 

From the pier scan the sea for Great Northern Diver, Gannet, Cormorant, Shag and Razorbill, Common and Black Guillemot.  Also keep an ear open for passing Raven and Chough and Rock Pipit can be seen here. 

Retracing your steps back to the N71, turn right, first left (towards the village) and immediately right down past the large lagoon.  ON the right hand side there are tennis courts and play area where you can park.  Scan the lagoon for winter fowl and the reeds for Snipe and Water Rail.

At the T-junction turn right along the north side of the lagoon (there is parking available to scan the reed beds) and then right and this takes you back to the N71.  All along this road provides good viewing.



Autumn, winter and spring

Mute Swan, Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Scaup, Tufted Duck, Golden-eye, Red-breasted Merganser, Great Northern Diver, Little Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Shag, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Water Rail, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Golden Plover (>2,000), Lapwing, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Snipe, Ruff, Lesser Yellow-legs, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Herring Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull; also  Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Kingfisher, Raven, Chough, Rock Pipit.


Mute Swan, Mallard, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Water Rail, gulls, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Kingfisher, Raven & Chough.