Where to go birding this Autumn?

The Autumn is undoubtably the best time of year for birding in Ireland. The mix of migrants and rare winter visitors together with changes in the seasons and the potential of a good seawatch all make this a fantastic time. So if you have a day or a few days free, what would we recommend? Depending upon whether you want to find your own birds or go chasing rarities, the following are some suggestions:

Northern Ireland
Copeland Island - Our best known migrant location. Two years ago it had a Raddes Warbler and famously had Whites Thrush and has also had e.g Yellow-Browed Warbler.

Rathlin Island - It does no doubt attract migrants. In the last few years it has had Yellow Browed Warbler and a Wryneck. It is however a large island with plenty of cover but there is always significant potential with Rathlin.

Myroe \ Roe Estuary - This is the major location in NI for waders and holds a good supporting cast of wildfowl. Always worth a day out, particualrly in September. Buff Breasted Sandpiper is 'guaranteed' at some time in the month.

Republic of Ireland
Tory Island - The north wests most famous migrant location. After the 50 minute boat journey, you never know what will turn up. Head to East Town to see where birds such as Booted Warbler and Pechora Pipit turned up. Head west to the Lighthouse and look for rare waders. It can be a fantastic place to bird, however, on a wet and windy day it can be dreary!

Belmullet - This Co. Mayo location is underwatched and offers fantastic potential. Last Autumn, the highlight was American Coot but it has also had many good passerines and waders. It is a 5 hour drive away but can certainly be worth it.

Achill Island - Like Belmullet, it is underwatched. It has fantastic wader, wildfowl and passerine habitat. There is the now resident Black Duck and if the birding is poor, you cannot but be impressed by the scenery. Again a 5 hour drive away (but no boat journey!).

Inishboffin - This Island off Galway is starting to get a name for itself. Two Irish firsts in recent tears (Cedar Waxwing and Laughing Dove) shows the massive potential.

Wexford - Tacumshin is THE top wader spot in Ireland. At present you can also add the now resident Bearded Tits to the cast of rare nearctic waders.

Cape Clear - If you are after a rarity, this is the top location in Ireland. Famous amongst NI birders for manys a year (there is even a 'wood' named after us!), it offers not only excellent birding but also good craic. You are unlikely to find yourself as the lone birder on the Island but you have a fantastic opportunity to find your own rarities. October is the top month for rare passerines.
Little Bunting, Cape Clear - Michael O'Keefe
If travelling anywhere in Ireland this autumn, dont forget to take your copy of the excellent Finding Birds in Ireland. It features all of the above locations - and more!

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