Bird Watching In Dungarvan & Waterford
The mudflats that can be seen from Barnawee Bridge bed & breakfast are often visited by bird watchers. Dungarvan is the most ornithologically important area in County Waterford, both in terms of the numbers of waders and wildfowl that use the mudflats for feeding and roosting (over 20,000 birds on occasion) and the ease with which the birds can be observed so close to a major town. The Barnawee site is particularly important in autumn, winter and early spring, and details below mainly refer to those seasons.
For diversity and sheer numbers of wetland birds, and the chance of finding rarer species, Dungarvan also ranks highly among estuarine sites in Ireland as a whole.
The coastline from Barnawee Bridge out to Ballynacourty pier can be viewed from the narrow road along its length, but the safest viewing points are at Kilminnin and the pier. The walk along the Gold Coast is reasonably short and many of the birds can be seen at close range for a few hours before or after high water, when some of the mudflat is uncovered and Brent Geese and waders are still feeding.
At any time of tide, the waters offshore should be scanned as good numbers of feeding Red-breasted Mergansers and Great Crested Grebes are usually present. These are best viewed from Ballinacourty pier. Grebes may be scattered across the bay but a careful scan (ideally with a telescope) is worthwhile, as Slavonian Grebes were regular until very recently, and other rare grebes can occur. Great Northern and Red-throated Divers can also be seen off the pier throughout the winter, and Black Guillemots occur in small numbers. Other seabirds can include skuas, large feeding flocks of Gannets and Sandwich tern on occasion, and scarcer gull species like Glaucous or Mediterranean.
Closer to high tide, waders concentrate in tighter flocks at Kilminnin (Barnawee) itself and can readily be viewed at close range from a car window – both north of the main road, and between the road-bridge and the old railway-bridge. Roosting flocks here typically include many Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwits and Turnstone, with large flocks of Knot on occasion.
Black-tailed Godwits regularly feed in the shallows north of the road, at low tide. Whimbrels are regular in spring and Common Sandpipers throughout much of the year (wintering occasionally). There is also potential for rare waders, and Long-billed Dowitcher has been reported here. Little Egrets are nowadays frequent here, and keep an eye out too for Kingfisher, often seen near the channel. Brent Geese can be viewed at close range between the two bridges, and Goosander has occurred here in several winters. Forster’s Tern has also occurred here.
There is also a new footpath which follows the route of the old railway track eastwards from the Gold Coast Road to the Clonea Hotel Road. In winter this path and surrounding fields hold good numbers of pigeons, thrushes and finches, including occasional Brambling. Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Peregrine are all possible in winter owing to these flocks.
Barnawee Bridge Bed & Breakfast is the perfect bed and breakfast accommodation for those looking to explore Waterford's rich natural heritage.
More information on bird watching in Dungarvan and Waterford can be found at www.waterfordbirds.com.
Article By Colum Flynn