Thursday, 13 March 2014

Resolutions and Solutions

We are now well into the New Year but it is by no means too late for resolutions. Waterford has an immense variety of and richness in its wildlife so make a decision now to get out and enjoy and experience some of these opportunities during the current calendar year.

So what can we expect?


Cattle Egret by Richard Zamora
Historically just over 300 different species of bird have been recorded in Waterford. In the last five years the numbers of different species recorded have been 187 (2013), 197 (2012), 203 (2011), 194 (2010) and 185 (2009). On the 4th of January 2014, 112 different species of bird were recorded in Waterford on that single day.

Opportunities abound to see birdlife in the county and the following are some suggestions:

Spoonbill by Fran O'Connell

Dungarvan still hosts the overwintering spoonbill. Check out Ballyneety for the spectacular male goldeneye and accompanying dowdier females. Over the past several weeks two cattle egrets have taken up residence in the Bunmahon/Seafield area - southern Europe or Africa would be their more usual winter home. The boating lake at Tramore is presently affording close-up views of shovelor, gadwall, tufted duck and snipe along with numerous gulls and other wildfowl. 
Ring-necked Duck & Tufted Ducks by Bernie Sheridan

A careful search through the gulls should yield the North American ring-billed gull and an Artic glaucous gull. A male ring-necked duck is currently wintering at Ballyshunnock reservoir.

Kingfisher by Richard Zamora

A check out of the bridges crossing the rivers at Ballyvoile, Stradbally, Bunmahon and Annestown (among other rivers) should yield a dipper and perhaps a colourful kingfisher.

During spring/early summer a visit to the foothills of the Comeraghs or The Vee should produce a cuckoo. The distinctive call is obvious and with patience it should be possible to observe the bird itself.

In late April whimbrel migrate through Waterford on their way north to their breeding grounds. In some years literally thousands of these birds linger on the beach at Clonea as they feed up before resuming their journey northwards.
Whimbrel by Andrew Malcolm

Spring also offers the opportunity to experience the famous Dawn Chorus. At dawn numerous different species of bird sing loudly to proclaim their territories and re-establish contact with each other. Organised outings take place in Waterford and although it means an extremely early start it is well worth the effort.

Dipper by Fran O'Connell
In July/August watch from headlands such as Helvick and Brownstown during storms for seabirds pushed close to land by strong winds. Numbers passing can be spectacular and include shearwaters, skuas, auks, terns and other species.


With the warmer weather in spring insects make their appearance. Watch out in March and April for the spectacular male orange tip butterfly. A visit to Coumaraglinmountain in May/June should provide an opportunity to observe the green hairstreak butterfly. Its much rarer relative the purple hairstreak can be seen fluttering around the tops of oak trees in August/September. Colligan and Ballyrafter are good sites for this butterfly. The ideal habitat is the canopy of oaks overhanging streams. A visit to Mount Congreve may be rewarded with a comma – a recent Waterford coloniser.

The area between Annestown and Dunhill castle is excellent for emperor dragonfly and brown hawker in summer. Watch these large insects as they hunt and defend territories, resembling miniature helicopters as they fly to and fro.

Fox by Andrew Malcolm

Everybody admires red squirrels and they are widespread in Waterford. The Towers at Lismore and Colligan Woods are good areas for the species. Pine martens are rarer and much more elusive but are present in the Kilrossanty and Portlaw areas. Watch the fields throughout the county at any time for foxes hunting.

Common Dolphin by Andrew Malcolm
Bats are also widespread in Waterford. Watch any waterways at dusk in the county
during spring/summer for the daubenton’s bat. Street lights attract leisler’s bats at night where they can be observed feeding.
Minke Whale by Andrew Malcolm

Harbour Seals by Bernie Sheridan
The Waterford coast is fast gaining a reputation as one of the foremost places in Europe for observing marine mammals. Fin whales (the second largest animal to ever exist on the planet), minke whales, humpback whales, bottle-nosed and risso’s dolphins are easily observable in season. Ram Head at Ardmore, Helvick Head and Tankardstown at Bunmahon are excellent vantage points. Dungarvan Harbour holds small numbers of
both grey and harbour/common seals.

Check out for local wildlife updates and submission of records. If you have any questions or comments please email them to

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