This April and May delivered an astonishing smorgasbord of marine and coastal wildlife along our home patch on the West Cork coast.
Over the spring and early summer up to a dozen different individual Humpback Whales have been headlining a star-studded cast of wildlife characters including dozens of Minke Whales, hundreds (if not thousands) of Common Dolphins, large numbers of Basking Sharks, the occasional pod of Risso’s Dolphins, Harbour Porpoises and even a very early Fin Whale or two to round things off.
Discovering the wildlife of West Cork’s coast
We kicked off our Discover Wildlife Weekend in May with minke whales and a basking shark from shore, while raven and chough soared above our clifftop vantage point and a lingering great-northern diver in full breeding plumage sat on the water just below us. Then we headed back to the Celtic Ross Hotel for an introductory wildlife talk, followed by a night-time wildlife walk looking for nocturnal invertebrates, bats, otters and more (otters are unpredictable, and we dipped this time — but had bats and invertebrates in abundance).
After breakfast the following morning we headed for Reen Pier, where we joined Cork Whale Watch aboard the Holly Jo for some of the best whale watching available anywhere in Europe. We tallied four species of cetacean on the trip: harbour porpoise, hundreds of common dolphins, dozens of minke whales and a humpback whale — a real highlight for most of our guests. We also encountered about a dozen basking sharks — getting a close up look at one of the world’s biggest fish.
There was also a host of seabirds on display, including black guillemots, Manx shearwaters, storm petrels, puffins, razorbills, guillemots, lots and lots of gannets and kittiwakes and a couple of great skuas to round off the trip.
A change of scenery for the afternoon saw us exploring local woodland, adding birds like jay, treecreeper and goldcrest, and catching the tail end of one of the region’s best bluebell displays. The bluebells were past their best, but still stunning under the dappled light of the beech canopy.
We rounded off the weekend with a half-day guided walk exploring the varied habitats around Rosscarbery on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, where great views of black-tailed godwits in full breeding plumage and some visiting whimbrel through the scopes were real highlights for some of our guests.
We finished up back at the Celtic Ross Hotel at lunchtime on Sunday, where we said our goodbye to tired but very happy guests after another hugely successful wildlife weekend.
We’ve had an unbelievable start to the wildlife year here in West Cork: the marine wildlife, in particular, has been world class, and with fin whales due to join the party any time now, we can’t wait to share the season ahead with our Ireland’s Wildlife Tours guests.
The gallery below are all photos taken by Ireland’s Wildlife Tours guides in May/June this year off the West Cork coast.
Upcoming Wildlife Breaks and Holidays in Ireland
If you’d like to join us to experience the wildlife of Ireland’s south coast for yourself we still have spaces on our final Discover Wildlife Weekend of the year running in October (one space left on the July weekend), in August we have our 5 night / 6 day signature Ireland’s Wild South Coast Tour (great savings on this tour for bookings received before the end of June), and in early October we have our Birding Oktoberfest: a four-day bird-focussed adventure hunting for migrants on West Cork’s headlands and offshore islands.
2019 Wildlife Holiday Dates
We’re still working with our partners to finalise dates for 2019 and will be publishing them on the website as soon as we can. In the meantime if you’d like us to keep you posted just sign up to the mailing list below and we’ll send you an update whenever we add new dates or offers for any of our tours.