County Derry or Londonderry

Gannet Morus bassanus ©Ian Dickey Website

The ceremonial county of Londonderry or County Derry, is one of the six counties of Northern Ireland. Adjoining the northwest shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of c.2000 K² (800 square miles) and has a population of about 250,00 people. The largest city, housing a third of the county’s population is the county town of (London)Derry on the banks of the River Foyle (the second largest habitation in Northern Ireland) and the next largest is Coleraine.

The highest point in the county is the summit of Sawel Mountain at 2,224 feet, which is on the border with County Tyrone. Sawel is part of the Sperrin Mountains, which dominate the southern part of the county. To the east and west, the land falls into the valleys of the Bann and Foyle rivers respectively; in the southeast, the county touches the shore of Lough Neagh, which is the largest lake in Ireland; the north of the county is distinguished by the steep cliffs, dune systems, and remarkable beaches of the Atlantic coast.

Birding (London)Derry

In the centre of the county are the old-growth deciduous forests at Banagher and Ness Wood, where the Burntollet River flows over the highest waterfalls in Northern Ireland. There are bird sanctuaries on the eastern shore of Lough Foyle.

The peatlands of the county, such as Ballynahone Bog and Glenullin Bog hold breeding birds including Skylark and Meadow Pipit on the open bog, Reed Bunting and Cuckoo around the edges and Willow Warbler within the wet woodlands. Raptors such as Kestrel, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk are often seen displaying or hunting over the site. In winter, they are important sites for wading birds such as Snipe, Jack Snipe and Woodcock. Insects abound with species of Odonata and Lepidoptera of interest.

Coastal sites include the old dune systems of Umbra where one can see and hear breeding birds such as Skylark, Cuckoo, Meadow Pipit, Whitethroat, Goldcrest, Linnet and Reed Bunting. Peregrine Falcons nest nearby and are often seen hunting or displaying overhead.

Top Sites
  • George Gordon

County Recorder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 272

  • Avibase - Bird Checklist

    This checklist includes all bird species found in County Londonderry (former) , based on the best information available at this time. It is based on a wide variety of sources that I collated over many years. I am pleased to offer these checklists as a service to birdwatchers. If you find any error, please do not hesitate to report them.
  • eBird Field Checklist

Useful Reading

  • Where to Watch Birds in Ireland

    | By Paul Milne & Clive Hutchinson | Christopher Helm | 2009 | Paperback | 336 pages | Out of Print | ISBN: 9781408105214 Buy this book from
Useful Information
  • RSPB Coleraine Local Group

    The group's aim is to support actively the work of the RSPB in the local community and to involve RSPB members and the wider public in the Society's conservation, public affairs, education, fundraising and other activities. We have regular monthly indoor meetings locally throughout the year and have occasional day-trips to local nature reserves. Contact: Peter Robinson - 02870344361 -

Abbreviations Key

  • *Country & Forest Parks

    WebpageSatellite View
    Picture this, lush parkland and thick woodlands nestled amongst the backdrop of the historic Walled City – the perfect place to explore the great outdoors. Discover some of the region’s most magical and intriguing forests parks
  • LNR Bay Road Park

    InformationSatellite View
    Bay Road Park, a Derry City flagship park is valuable to the people and visitors of Derry as an open space and for the wildlife found there. The location of the park on the banks of the River Foyle gives it an impressive presence as well as providing a variety of habitats including mudflats, coastal saltmarsh, lowland wood, lowland meadows and wet woodland. The park is valuable for a wide range of bird species, including six Northern Ireland priority species: redshank, herring gull, song thrush, mistle thrush, starling and bullfinch. It was declared a Local Nature Reserve in 2009 for its biodiversity, access, community involvement and educational value.
  • LNR Ness and Ervey Woods

    WebpageSatellite View
    Located in the Burntollet Valley within Ness Country Park, this nature reserve provides the opportunity to explore a wonderful and peaceful woodland, a gorge and spectacular waterfall. Ness Wood is named for ‘an las’ or Ness, meaning Waterfall, in this case it is known as the highest waterfall in all of Northern Ireland.
  • LNR Roe Estuary Nature Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    Inside the railway bridge is an area of salt marsh vegetation which is a habitat not commonly known locally. If visitors are lucky they will be able to watch the lapwings’ aerobatic display in early summer, or hear the cry of the curlew on a misty autumn morning.
  • LNR Umbra Nature Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    A large undisturbed sand-dune system, Umbra consists of dune grasslands, wetter dune slacks and a small hazel copse. An impressive display of flowering plants in the meadows and sand dunes are a colourful summer attraction and support an incredible diversity of insect life.
  • NNR Banagher Glen

    InformationSatellite View
    It has been a National Nature Reserve since 1974 and is one of the largest and oldest ancient oak and ash woodlands in Ireland. It is also a Special Area of Conservation and the nature reserve is home to many native species of flora and fauna. In spring the forest floor is carpeted in a sea of bluebells. The forest also provides an important habitat for butterflies and is home to many birds including the peregrine falcon and buzzards.
  • NNR Lough Beg

    WebpageSatellite View
    'The Strand' on the west shore of Lough Beg is a large expanse of wet grassland that is flooded each winter and which has never been agriculturally improved. The nature reserve, with Church Island as its focal point, comprises 300 acres of this habitat. In spring and autumn, migrating birds on their way through may pause on their journey to rest and feed. black-tailed godwit, green sandpiper, wood sandpiper, greenshank and knot are seen every year.
  • RSPB Lough Foyle

    WebsiteSatellite View
    Intertidal mudflats form part of the Lough Foyle SPA and Ramsar site, holding internationally and nationally important numbers of wintering and passage wildfowl and waders. The vast, open estuarine vistas create a spectacular landscape, with the mudflats and agricultural hinterland providing a superb birding experience.
  • SAC Bann Estuary

    WebpageSatellite View
    Apart from the dune habitats, the site hosts significant saltmarsh, wet grassland and fen communities, with natural transitions present between many of these – a rare occurrence for Northern Ireland.
Sightings, News & Forums
Other Links
  • Birdwatching in Londonderry

    List of sites. E.g. Lough Foyle is one of the two great magnets in the county. It is wide and shallow, bordered by mudflat, saltwater marsh, and polder - enhanced by shell and shingle ridge and mussel bed. Whooper swan, pale-bellied Brent goose, Wigeon and bar-tailed godwit winter in internationally significant numbers. Nationally important concentrations of Bewick's swan, Greenland white-fronted goose, curlew and redshank also over winter here. Average winter wildfowl count exceeds 25,000 and waders reach 15,000. Winter stubble feeds flocks of finches larks and buntings and so attracts raptors- buzzard, kestrel, merlin, peregrine, Sparrowhawk and, rarely, gyrfalcon. Gales from the north-west blow in storm petrel, arctic and great skua

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