Based on the stunning West Cork stretch of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, our Discover Wildlife Weekends get you closer to Irish wildlife, both on the weekend itself, and on an ongoing basis by helping hone your wildlife watching skills, so you can see more wildlife wherever you go.
On your Discover Wildlife Weekend you’ll get the chance to:
- discover more about Irish wildlife and effective wildlife watching
- explore somewhere new with an experienced local guide
- meet like-minded people with similar interests
“Thank you for co-ordinating such an amazing weekend. I am rejuvenated and look forward to doing another weekend next year.” Pauline Cudmore, Ireland
What are Discover Wildlife Weekends?
Discover Wildlife weekends are all about exploring the wonderful wildlife of the West Cork coast.
Some of the best coastal wildlife watching in Europe
Our base in the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery is about halfway between the Old Head of Kinsale and Mizen Head — with Galley Head, Toe Head and Sheeps Head all within easy reach. These headlands offer some of the best land-based locations in Europe for watching marine wildlife. From any of them you can see large whale species like fin whales, humpbacks and minke whales, several species of dolphins, harbour porpoise, basking sharks, sunfish, seals and lots and lots of seabirds. Headlands are also great places to hook up with migrant birds, including the occasional rarity during the spring and autumn migration season.
Stunning scenery, amazing wildlife
But it’s not all about headlands… West Cork has so much more to offer the wildlife enthusiast… from uplands and native woodland to inland waterways and estuaries to coastal dune systems and rocky shores… there’s a huge diversity of habitat and a wealth of wildlife to explore.
“Thanks for a great weekend; I hope to be back in the spring.” Kevin Johnston, Ireland
Your guide: discover local wildlife with a local wildlife specialist
Calvin Jones co-founder of Ireland’s Wildlife Tours, and Managing Editor of Ireland’s Wildlife, will be your guide on this weekend. Calvin has been mad about wildlife all his life. He first experienced the wonder of the West Cork coastline in 1993, and moved to the region permanently in 2002. Calvin likes nothing better than sharing his passion for wildlife with others… both on our Discover Wildlife Experiences, and through his wildlife and nature writing. As well as writing for Ireland’s Wildlife Calvin’s work has featured in popular national and international publications like The Irish Independent, The Irish Examiner, BBC Wildlife Magazine, The Countryman and Birdwatching among others, and he is author of The Irish Wildlife Collection book series.
A wildlife break designed for you
When we were putting together Discover Wildlife Weekends we didn’t just take a guess at what you wanted: we asked the Ireland’s Wildlife online community, then crafted a tailored wildlife break around real feedback from wildlife enthusiasts. After each weekend we garner input from participants to help us hone and refine what we offer. We’re confident the result is a memorable wildlife break in a location that’s second to none.
“Great weekend with Ireland’s Wildlife. I would highly recommend these Wildlife Weekends to anyone looking to learn about or see more wildlife. Thanks Calvin.”
Sandra Jordan, Dublin
Some of the things we cover on our Discover Wildlife Weekend:
- Fieldcraft advice to help you get closer to wildlife
- Understand the wildlife calendar – what to look for when
- Understanding wildlife habitat – what to look for where
- How your wildlife watching can make a difference for wildlife conservation
- Choosing and using wildlife optics
- … and much more
What we cover on the weekend will vary depending on the weather, the time of year and the wildlife that’s around. We always aim to spend as much time as as we can out watching wildlife.
Some of the things you might see on a Discover Wildlife Weekends:
Naturally, wildlife is unpredictable and varies from season to season, day to day, even hour to hour. As always in nature, there are no guarantees, and it’s impossible to predict what we will see on any weekend. That’s all part of the fun… but possible highlights could include:
- The chance to see fin whales, humpbacks, minke whales, dolphins and porpoises in one of Europe’s whale watching hotspots
- Large movements of seabirds along the West Cork coast
- Otters and kingfishers on tidal inlets and waterways
- Visiting waders and wildfowl on coastal mudflats, lagoons and estuaries
- Basking sharks, the world’s second largest fish, cruising just offshore
- Migrant birds passing through during spring and autumn migration
- Resident raptors including peregrine, kestrel, sparrowhawk and occasionally merlin
- Close encounters with grey and common seals
- Charismatic choughs along coastal sea cliffs
- Spectacular diving gannets just offshore
- … and who knows what else.
This was a very enjoyable weekend and we certainly would attend another one in the future. It was a very nice group of people, and I was glad to see the range in ages participating. It was very helpful to have your scopes available for people to share. Christabel Grant, USA
What’s included in your Discover Wildlife Weekend?
Discover Wildlife Weekends are residential weekends based at the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery, Co. Cork.
They run from Friday evening registration through to early Sunday afternoon and include a unique blend of talks and field-based excursions tailored to suit local wildlife activity and the time of year. The fee for the Discover Wildlife Weekend is €100 per person — that includes all talks and land-based field excursions. It does not include your accommodation, food and additional expenses. We’ve negotiated a special 2 night accommodation package with the Celtic Ross Hotel that includes full breakfast both mornings, an evening meal on the Saturday night and a packed lunch for Saturday’s field excursions, all for the great value price of €161 per person (€171 for July & August)… NB. The hotel has introduced a €10 per night single supplement on packages from 2020 onwards.
“Thank you for organizing a wonderful weekend. I am already looking forward to doing it again. I would really recommend the weekend for anyone who wants to see more wildlife. You have a great approach – laid back but yet very informative. It was in a great location and the package with the hotel was excellent.” Suzanne Smith, Ireland
Marine wildlife boat trip
If the sea conditions are favourable we include a marine wildlife trip with local whale watching specialist Colin Barnes of Cork Whale Watch, aboard the purpose built MV Holly Jo. We’ll look for whales, dolphins, porpoise, seals, seabirds and other marine wildlife off the West Cork coast. A great location, a great hotel, and great wildlife… it all makes for an unbeatable weekend. Book your place now!