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Irish holiday birds

Mild Atlantic winters, an abundance of wetlands, rich feeding grounds and undisturbed coastal cliffs are what make Loop Head so attractive to migrant and resident birds.

Sixty-metre cliffs at the edge of the peninsula support colonies of guillemots and kittiwakes. The headland near the lighthouse is the end of major flyways of birds migrating south for the winter from North America, Greenland, Iceland and the Arctic. Over-wintering barnacle geese from Greenland, cormorants, great black-backed gulls and storm petrels add to the mix.

The Bridges of Ross, internationally renowned as one of Europe’s top sea-watching sites, is a birder’s paradise for studying the migration of passing seabirds and spotting vagrant stragglers from North America. Shearwaters, skuas, petrels and rarities like Sabine gulls have been recorded here. Wildfowl and waders from Northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Siberia and Scandinavia invade the mudflats of the Shannon estuary every winter. Poulnasherry Bay is a good place to spot them.

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