Our signature wildlife and birding holiday
Ireland’s south coast is punctuated by dramatic headlands, jutting out like fingers into the north Atlantic. These slivers of land are magnets for migrants and offer some of the best vantage points in Europe for spotting marine wildlife. The undulating coastline also conceals hidden coves and inlets, mudflats, estuaries, beaches and dunes.
This is where we spend most of our time.
Duration: 6 days / 5 nights | Price: €1,249 per person sharing
Max No. of guests: 12 (6 per guide) | Min No. of guests for holiday to proceed: 6
We know this place, and its wild residents well. Some of our most memorable wildlife encounters have happened right here. We can’t wait to share this special part of the world with you on this: our signature 6 day Irish wildlife adventure.
What could we see?
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 is impossible to predict what we will see on any given holiday. Not knowing is all part of the fun… but possible highlights include:
Wildlife Watching highlights on Ireland’s South Coast
- The chance to see Fin Whales, Humpback Whales, Minke Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises feeding in one of the North Atlantic’s whale watching hot-spots
- White-tailed Eagles are nesting in West Cork again thanks to a successful reintroduction programme, and we see adults and young birds regularly on our tours.
- Large movements of seabirds off West Cork’s iconic headlands (Manx, Sooty, Cory’s and Great Shearwaters, Skuas, European and Wilson’s storm petrels and more) (Summer / Autumn)
- Otters and Kingfishers on tidal inlets and waterways
- Visiting waders and wildfowl on coastal mudflats, lagoons and estuaries (Autumn / Winter)
- Basking Sharks, the world’s second largest fish, cruising just offshore (Spring & Early Summer)
- Migrant birds passing through during spring and autumn migration (Spring / Autumn)
- Resident raptors including Peregrine, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and occasionally Merlin and Hen Harrier
- Close encounters with Grey and Common seals
- Charismatic Choughs and Ravens soaring over coastal cliffs
- Spectacular aggregations of diving Gannets just offshore
- … and who knows what else.
Guideline Tour Itinerary
NB. This itinerary is provisional. Our overnight locations are fixed… treat everything else as a movable wildlife feast. Plans can, and probably will change. Wildlife doesn’t follow a rigid schedule, so neither do we. Keeping things flexible means we maximise your chances of seeing the best wildlife, working around the sometimes fickle Irish weather and taking advantage of sightings reported through the local wildlife and birding grapevine.
Use the following itinerary only as a rough guideline to your West Cork wildlife adventure:
Day 1: Cork – Kinsale – Rosscarbery/Skibbereen
After meeting in Cork City we’ll make our way West along the Wild Atlantic Way via the picturesque town of Kinsale and the famous Old Head — the first of West Cork’s dramatic Atlantic Headlands. Winding our way along the coast we’ll stop at a selection of wildlife hotspots before ending the day in Rosscarbery/Skibbereen.
Optional nocturnal wildlife walk to look for bats, otters and other night-time specialists. Weather permitting we’ll set up a moth trap overnight to check in the morning.
Dinner and overnight in the Rosscarbery/Skibbereen area — review/discussion of the day’s sightings with your hosts
Day 2: Rosscarbery and surrounds/whalewatching & seabird pelagic
After breakfast, we’ll join one of Ireland’s most experienced whale watching teams for a morning on the North Atlantic* in search of whales, dolphins, seals, seabirds and other marine wildlife.
In the afternoon we’ll explore a variety of wildlife-rich habitats between Galley Head and Castletownshend on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Dinner and overnight in the Rosscarbery/Skibbereen area — review of the day’s sightings with your hosts
* NB. Whale Watching on the North Atlantic is a highly weather dependent activity; should conditions prove unsuitable we’ll try to defer the trip to the morning of Day 3. However, your comfort and safety are our priority, so please be aware that depending on conditions there is a chance we may not get out on the water during your trip. In the event that the boat trip cannot proceed we will offer alternative shore-based wildlife watching activities.
Day 3: Toe Head, Lough Hyne and Baltimore
After breakfast we’ll explore the coastline further west via Toe Head and Lough Hyne, a small marine lake that was designated as Ireland’s first marine nature reserve in 1981. From there we’ll take the coastal route to Baltimore for lunch. After lunch we’ll search for marine and coastal wildlife along the cliff walk from Baltimore Beacon, looking for harbour porpoise, common dolphins, whales (minke, fin and humpback are all possible from here), seals, otters and of course a host of birds.
Overnight in the Rosscarbery/Skibbereen area. You’re free to make your own plans for dinner this evening, either at the hotel or sample the local fare at one of several local pubs and restaurants.
Day 4: Birding on Cape Clear Island
After breakfast, we’ll take an exciting 45-minute ferry ride through Roaringwater Bay, past Sherkin Island and Carberry’s Hundred Isles and out into the Atlantic to the birding Mecca that is Cape Clear Island. The ferry is a great wildlife watching platform and we’ll be out on deck for the duration searching for sightings.
Cape Clear is home to the Republic of Ireland’s only official bird observatory and is famous in birding circles for attracting rare migrants in spring and autumn. It also offers some of Europe’s best opportunities to see seabirds, whales and dolphins from shore.
After spending the day exploring the island we’ll board the ferry again and head back to the mainland.
Dinner and overnight in Glengarriff/Skibbereen — review of the day’s sightings with your hosts
Day 5: Glengarriff – white-tailed eagles and woodland wonderland
After breakfast we’ll take a walk along the wooded shoreline overlooking Bantry Bay and Garinish Island, looking for woodland birds and other wildlife. We’ll scan the bay from several vantage points looking for the resident white-tailed eagles, as well as a colony of common seals that frequent the area and often “haul out” around the many rocky islets in the bay.
After watching from shore, we’ll take a cruise around the bay for a closer look at the seals and, with a bit of luck, the resident eagles.
We’ll return to Glengarriff town for lunch, before spending the afternoon exploring Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve… one of the best examples of oceanic sessile oak woodland in Ireland.
Dinner and overnight in Glengarriff/Skibbereen — review of the day’s sightings with your hosts.
Day 6: Wildlife watching and return to Cork
After a leisurely breakfast, we’ll take an alternative route back to Cork, stopping off to look for wildlife along the way*. We’ll say our goodbyes in Cork (c. 14:00) ready for your onward journey.
* We’ll select the most appropriate stops in relation to weather, time of year and arrival time in Cork
Included in your holiday
- 6 days of wildlife watching
- The services of two professional wildlife and birding guides for the duration of your holiday (max ratio of 6 guests per guide)
- Transport from your pick up on Day 1 to your drop off on Day 6 in a comfortable minibus
- All your accommodation
- Full Irish Breakfast and Evening Meal on four nights (either at the hotel or a nearby local restaurant).
Not included in your holiday
- Drinks and snacks
- Lunch — flexibility is the key to seeing more wildlife, so depending on our movements and the weather on any given day, we’ll stop for lunch at a local cafe, or grab a takeaway sandwich/picnic en-route to eat at scenic locations in the field
- Dinner on day 3 — when you’re free to make your own arrangements
- Personal items / incidental expenses
- Travel insurance