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County Galway

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea ©Sue Tranter

Birding County Galway

County Galway is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West of Ireland, part of the province of Connacht. There are several Irish-speaking areas in the west of the county. The traditional county includes, and is named for, the city of Galway, but the city and county now have separate local authorities: Galway City Council administers the urban area, while the rest of the county is administered by Galway County Council. The population of the county was 258,552 at the 2016 census.

County Galway is home to Na Beanna Beola (Twelve Bens) mountain range, Na Sléibhte Mhám Toirc (the Maum Turk mountains), and the low mountains of Sliabh Echtghe (Slieve Aughty). The highest point in the county is one of the Twelve Bens, Benbaun, at 729m.

County Galway is partly home to a number of Ireland's largest lakes including Lough Corrib (the largest lake in the Republic of Ireland), Lough Derg and Lough Mask. The county is also home to a large number of smaller lakes, many of which are in the Connemara region. These include Lough Anaserd, Ardderry Lough, Aughrusbeg Lough, Ballycuirke Lough, Ballynahinch Lake, Lough Bofin, Lough Cutra, Derryclare Lough, Lough Fee, Glendollagh Lough, Lough Glenicmurrin, Lough Inagh, Kylemore Lough, Lettercraffroe Lough, Maumeen Lough, Lough Nafooey, Lough Rea, Ross Lake and Lough Shindilla.

One of the least densely populated counties, County Galway harbors a variety of wildlife. The region's biodiversity is best represented by Connemara National Park, situated in the west of the county.

County Recorder

Chris Peppiatt

chris.peppiatt@iol.ie

Useful Reading

Fieldguides & Other Birding Books
For a full list of fieldguides and other books see the Republic of Ireland page

Organisations

BirdWatch Galway

Website

BirdWatch Galway is the Galway City and County branch of BirdWatch Ireland. Once known as the Irish Wildbird Conservancy (IWC); BirdWatch Ireland is the Irish partner of Birdlife International. BirdWatch Ireland is the largest and most active voluntary conservation organisation in Ireland. Established in 1968, it has over 7,000 active members and more than 20 branches nationwide. Its primary interest is the conservation of wild birds and their habitats in Ireland… Also see their Facebook page

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

LNR Barna Wood

Website

Satellite View

Thirty seven bird species were recorded in Barna Wood. These species are associated with the wood edges and scrub that is found on the northern edge of the wood as well as with the main body of woodland.

National Parks & Wildlife Service

Webpage

List of parks and reserves

NP Connemara

Website

Satellite View

Birdlife in the area is varied, and includes Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, Stonechats, Chaffinches, Robins and Wrens. The Kestrel is a fairly common bird of prey, whilst Sparrowhawk, Merlin and Peregrine are sometimes seen…

NR Bishop's Island (Shannon Callows Reserve)

Webpage

Satellite View

Bishop's Island is part of BirdWatch Ireland's Shannon Callows Reserve, and forms part of the larger Middle Shannon Callows Special Protection Area. This island, together with its neighbouring Bullock Island, is situated in an area of lowland wet grassland called ‘callows’ that is subject to flooding in winter and spring. Our reserve lands are all left for hay. In the past the callows were renowned for their breeding Corncrakes but today you would be very lucky to hear one. Instead look for Whinchat during the summer months, and listen out for other summer visitors such as Sedge Warblers and Grasshopper Warblers. Elsewhere on the callows, breeding Lapwing, Redshank and Curlew can be found. During the winter floods, Black-tailed Godwit, Golden Plover and Lapwing are numerous. Given the lack of intensive farming the meadows are particularly rich in flowering plants.

NR Coole-Garryland

Website

Satellite View

Coole/Garryland is also designated a Special Protection Area (site code SPA 107) for birds under the EU 1979 Birds Directive. This is mainly due to its importance for wintering waterfowl, especially Whooper Swan (mean peak of 324 in 1995/96 – 98/99), Bewick’s Swan (79 in winter 96/97), Wigeon (mean peak of 1044 in 1995/96 – 98/99), Mallard (mean peak of 330 in 1995/96 – 98/99), Pochard (mean peak of 176 in winter 1995/96 – 98/99), along with smaller numbers of Teal, Tufted Duck, Lapwing, Curlew and Dunlin. In 1996 seven pairs of Lapwing bred at Newtown Turlough and two pairs of Common Sandpiper bred at Coole Lough. The woods at Coole are also very attractive habitat for birds in general.

NR Small Wood

Webpage

Satellite View

The Small Wood Reserve is an area of deciduous woodland with a variety of mature trees, including oak that leads down to a small area of saltmarsh on the edge of Rusheen Bay. Within the woodland, typical woodland bird species are present throughout the year, such as Chaffinch, and the variety is boosted by the arrival of summer songsters such as Willow Warblers and Blackcaps. The scarce Silver-washed Fritillary butterfly is often seen in the woodland. Along the foreshore, looking out into the bay offers close views of Common Terns and Sandwich Terns during the summer. Kingfishers are often seen in winter along with waders, notably Greenshank.

Forums & Mailing Lists

GalwayBirdNews

News & Sightings

To subscribe to list: @GalwayBirdNews

Scarce and rare bird news from county Galway.

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2003 [10 October] - Graham Gordon - Aran Isles

Report

The three Aran Islands, the largest Inis Mor, where I will be staying, are as remote as anywhere on the European continent. I visited them once before for a weekend trip in 2001 and was struck then by the overwhelming sense of potential for finding my own rarities. As a former Lundyite (I spent eight weeks on Lundy over a total of four autumns in the early Nineties) I recognised the possibility of having the island to myself on one of the most underwatched localities on the whole of the British and Irish coast. I had to cancel an intended two week visit there in October last year due to work commitments - but now, with the very strong desire to add an American passerine…

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birds N Bees Eco Lodge

Webpage

The Eco-lodge is a rustic, timber frame chalet with a vaulted ceiling in the sitting room. Sky lights brighten the room while the wood burning stove keeps it warm. The bedroom window faces wild vegetation bordering fields and gives you the feeling of being completely secluded while you are beside The Three Towers Eco House and Organic Kitchen and the horse riding stables. Best of all, this lodge is right beside the outdoor eco-friendly hot tub.

Blogs

Birds Galway

BLOG

Birds and wildlife around Galway, Ireland… Last updated June 2017

Jeff L Copner - A life at the shoreline

BLOG

A decade of life as a Birdtracker Wildlife phototaker & Surfer roaming the Atlantic coast Burren & lands of County Clare Ireland and sometimes beyond...