Autumn Birdwatch round-up

Chair of the BirdWatch Ireland West Cork branch, Jez Simms, writes about the rare and interesting birds that were seen in West Cork in recent months.

This last autumn has proved once again what a fabulous place West Cork is for birdwatchers, with exciting birds turning up at all our best sites, such as Rosscarbery, Clonakilty estuary and marshes, Mizen Head, Dursey Island, Galley Head, The Gearagh, (which gave us an early start with a fabulous Caspian tern on July 26),  and Cape Clear Island, with some other not-so-well-known spots also turning up interesting birds. 

A couple of big features this autumn have been unprecedented numbers of Cory’s Shearwaters observed around our shores, with counts reaching into the thousands, possibly as a result of our warming oceans. Another feature in late September and early October was a big fall of American Warblers in Ireland and the UK. The highest numbers and variety ever seen, with several new species for both countries. Most of these birds missed West Cork and were seen up in Galway and Mayo. A Red-eyed Vireo was found in West Cork, along with other mega European species such as Iberian Chiffchaff, found by ace birder Chris O’Sullivan, and an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler found by that other ace birder, Paul Connaughton. There was also a very good presence made by American waders with Lesser Yellowlegs and Semipalmated Sandpiper in Rosscarbery and Long-billed Dowitcher at White’s Marsh, Clonakilty. American Golden Plovers arrived a bit later, with two at Rosscarbery, one at Lissagriffin and one at Ringarory. By far the prize wader, and star bird for Cape Clear, was an Upland Sandpiper, a very rare visitor, only the third for Cork and 13th for Ireland, which stayed around for a few days, much to the delight of all birders on the island. 

To bring us up to date, a beautiful White-winged Tern was found on Ballin Lough, near Leap, on November 5; I also managed to see it, unlike most of the other birds I’ve mentioned! And to keep this amazing autumn going, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak was photographed near Shepperton Lakes on November 4; and an American Robin was found on Dursey Island on November 6. Another arrival of note is the returning Pacific Diver, which was showing very well in summer plumage last month.

On a personal note, my best day of the autumn was a trip to Cape Clear on October 4-5, when I managed to see Glossy ibis, Rosy Starling, and a very smart male Common Redstart. Autumn is such and exciting time, so if you want to join in for next year, or on any day at all from now, become a member of BirdWatch Ireland and come along to our monthly outings.

BirdWatch Ireland West Cork Branch News: 

Upcoming outings are: 

Sunday, December 3:
Visit to The Gearagh 

Thursday, December 28:
Christmas walk at Goleen Marsh, near Skibbereen 

Visit our website for more information about these events. To receive news and reminders about our events, join our mailing list by sending an email to For more information about the Branch, contact Fiona O’Neill at 

FB: BirdWatchIrelandWestCork 

Twitter @BWIWestCork 

WCP Staff

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