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Site guides

 
1. Bull Island*
SITE CODE :  000206
This site is actually outside Fingal but close enough to merit a mention.
The North Bull Island is the focal point of this site.  The island is a sandy spit which formed after the building of the South Wall and Bull Wall in the 18th and 19th centuries.  It now extends for about 5 km in length and is up to 1 km wide in places.  A well-developed and dynamic dune system stretches along the seaward side of the island.  Various types of dunes occur, from fixed dune grassland to pioneer communities on foredunes.  Marram Grass (Ammophila arenaria) is dominant on the outer dune ridges, with Lyme Grass (Leymus arenarius) and Sea Couchgrass (Elymus farctus) on the foredunes.  Behind the first dune ridge, plant diversity increases with the appearance of such species as Wild Pansy (Viola tricolor), Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Rest Harrow (Ononis repens), Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) and Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis).  In these grassy areas and slacks, the scarce Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) occurs.
About 1 km from the tip of the island, a large dune slack with a rich flora occurs, usually referred to as the 'Alder Marsh' because of the presence of Alder trees (Alnus spp).   The water table is very near the surface and is only slightly brackish.  Saltmarsh Rush (Juncus maritimus) is the dominant species, with Meadow Sweet (Filipendula ulmaria) and Devil's-bit (Succisa pratensis) being frequent.  The orchid flora is notable and includes Marsh Helleborine (Epipactis palustris), Common Twayblade (Listera ovata), Autumn Lady's-tresses (Spiranthes spiralis) and Marsh orchids (Dactylorhiza spp.)
Saltmarsh extends along the length of the landward side of the island. The edge of the marsh is marked by an eroding edge which varies from 20 cm to 60 cm high.  The marsh can be zoned into different levels according to the vegetation types present. On the lower marsh, Glasswort (Salicornia europaea), Saltmarsh Grass (Puccinellia maritima), Annual Sea-blite (Suaeda maritima) and Greater Sea-spurrey (Spergularia media) are the main species.  Higher up in the middle marsh Sea Plantain (Plantago maritima), Sea Aster (Aster tripolium), Sea Arrowgrass (Triglochin maritima) and Sea Pink (Armeria maritima) appear.  Above the mark of the normal high tide, species such as Scurvy Grass (Cochlearia officinalis) and Sea Milkwort (Glaux maritima) are found, while on the extreme upper marsh, Sea Rushes (Juncus maritimus and J. gerardii) are dominant. Towards the tip of the island, the saltmarsh grades naturally into fixed dune vegetation.
The island shelters two intertidal lagoons which are divided by a solid causeway.  The sediments of the lagoons are mainly sands with a small and varying mixture of silt and clay.  The north lagoon has an area known as the "Salicornia flat", which is dominated by Salicornia dolichostachya, a pioneer Glasswort species, and covers about 25 ha.  Tassel Weed (Ruppia maritima) occurs in this area, along with some Eelgrass (Zostera angustifolia).  Eelgrass (Z. noltii) also occurs in Sutton Creek.  Cordgrass (Spartina anglica) occurs in places but its growth is controlled by management.  Green algal mats (Enteromorpha spp., Ulva lactuca) cover large areas of the flats during summer. These sediments have a rich macrofauna, with high densities of Lugworms (Arenicola marina) in parts of the north lagoon.  Mussels (Mytilus edulis) occur in places, along with bivalves such as Cerastoderma edule, Macoma balthica and Scrobicularia plana.  The small gastropod Hydrobia ulvae occurs in high densities in places, while the crustaceans Corophium volutator and Carcinus maenas are common.  The sediments on the seaward side of North Bull Island are mostly sands.  The site extends below the low spring tide mark to include an area of the sublittoral zone.  
Three Rare plant species legally protected under the Flora Protection Order 1987 have been recorded on the North Bull Island.  These are Lesser Centaury (Centaurium pulchellum), Hemp Nettle (Galeopsis angustifolia) and Meadow Saxifrage (Saxifraga granulata).  Two further species listed as threatened in the Red Data Book, Wild Sage (Salvia verbenaca) and Spring Vetch (Vicia lathyroides), have also been recorded.  A rare liverwort, Petalophyllum ralfsii, was first recorded from the North Bull Island in 1874 and has recently been confirmed as being still present there.  This species is of high conservation value as it is listed on Annex II of the E.U. Habitats Directive.  The North Bull is the only known extant site for the species in Ireland away from the western seaboard.
North Dublin Bay is of international importance for waterfowl.  During the 1994/95 to 1996/97 period the following species occurred in internationally important numbers (figures are average maxima): Brent Geese 2,333; Knot 4,423; Bar-tailed Godwit 1,586.  A further 14 species occurred in nationally important concentrations - Shelduck 1505; Wigeon 1,166; Teal 1,512; Pintail 334; Shoveler 239; Oystercatcher2,190; Ringed Plover 346; Grey Plover 816; Sanderling 357; Dunlin 6,238; Black-tailed Godwit 156; Curlew 1,193; Turnstone 197 andRedshank 1,175.  Some of these species frequent South Dublin Bay and the River Tolka Estuary for feeding and/or roosting purposes (mostlyBrent Goose, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin).  
The tip of the North Bull Island is a traditional nesting site for Little Tern. A high total of 88 pairs nested in 1987.  However, nesting attempts have not been successful since the early 1990s.  Ringed Plover, Shelduck, Mallard, Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Stonechat also nest.  A well-known population of Irish Hare is resident on the island 
The invertebrates of the North Bull Island have been studied and the island has been shown to contain at least seven species of regional or national importance in Ireland (Orders Diptera, Hymenoptera, Hemiptera). 
The main land uses of this site are amenity activities and nature conservation.  The North Bull Island is the main recreational beach in Co Dublin and is used throughout the year. Much of the land surface of the island is taken up by two golf courses.  Two separate Statutory Nature Reserves cover much of the island east of the Bull Wall and the surrounding inter tidal flats.  The site is used regularly for educational purposes.  North Bull Island has been designated a Special Protection Area under the E.U. Birds Directive and it is also a statutory Wildfowl Sanctuary, a Ramsar Convention site, a Biogenetic Reserve, a Biosphere Reserve and a Special Area Amenity Order site.       
This site is an excellent example of a coastal site with all the main habitats represented.  The holds good examples of ten habitats that are listed on Annex I of the E.U. Habitats Directive; one of these is listed with priority status.  Several of the wintering bird species have populations of international importance, while some of the invertebrates are of national importance.  The site contains a numbers of rare and scarce plants including some which are legally protected.   Its proximity to the capital city makes North Dublin Bay an excellent site for educational studies and research. 
 
 
2. Strawberry Bed Park
  
3. St. Anne's Park
Parkland with copses of woodland. Long-eared Owl breeding. Long-eared Owl, Barn Owl and Brent Geese from bull island all feed here on the football pitches, in the morning. The Little Egrets which are now resident on the Bull, are proven to roost here and Spoonbill has also over wintered and roosted here. All usual garden/parkland birds and also has Red Squirrel.
 
4. Sutton Beach
 
Sandy beach good for sea birds and waders, in close proximity to Irelands Eye. Also holds wader roost and during winter can have SlavonianGrebe and Long-tailed Duck.
 
 
5. Tolka River Valley Park
The river Tolka flows through a densely built up area, but even so there are a number excellent parks and green spaces. Breeding species areMallard, Tufted Duck, Coot, Grey Heron, Kingfisher, Dipper. These are especially to be found as you move west from Griffith Park, in Drumcondra, to the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, also on the banks of the Tolka, and beyond to the open areas in Finglas. See Tolka Branch web site for more.
  
6. Howth*
 
Howth Head is a rocky headland situated on the northern side of Dublin Bay. The peninsula is composed of Cambrian slates and quartzites, joined to the mainland by a post glacial raised beach. Limestone occurs on the north-west side while glacial drift is deposited against the cliffs in places. Howth Head contains sea cliffs and dry heaths, two habitats listed on Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive.
Rock outcrops which are important for lichens are distributed widely around Howth Head. The richest area for lichens appears to be around Balscadden quarries. In addition, the Earlscliffe area is of national importance for lichens and is the type locality for the black, yellow and grey lichen zonation.
A number of Red Data Book plant species, which are legally protected under the Flora Protection Order, have been recorded at this site - Green-winged Orchid (Orchis morio), Bird's-foot (Ornithopus perpusillus), Hairy Violet (Viola hirta), Rough Poppy (Papaver hybridum), Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), Heath Cudweed (Omalotheca sylvatica) and Betony (Stachys officinalis).
Curved Hard-grass (Parapholis incurva), a species which had not previously been recognized as occurring in Ireland, was found at Red Rock in 1979.
The site is of national importance for breeding seabirds. A census in 1985-87 recorded the following numbers: Fulmar (105 pairs), Shags (25 pairs), Herring Gulls (70 pairs), Kittiwake (c.1,700 pairs), Guillemot (585 birds), Razorbill (280 birds). In 1990, 21 pairs of Black Guillemotwere counted. Preregrine can also be found as well as Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. Howth Head is also good for seawatching (Shearwaters andSkuas) and the Head also throws up some interesting migrant passerines eg Pallas' Warbler recently.
A number of rare invertebrates have been recorded from the site: the insect Phaonia exoleta (Order Diptera) occurs in the woods at the back of Deerpark and has not been seen anywhere else in Ireland, while the ground beetle Trechus rubens (Order Coleoptera) is found on storm beaches on the eastern cliffs. A hoverfly, known from only a few Irish locations, Sphaerophoria batava (Order Diptera) is present in the heathland habitat within the site.
The main land use within the area is recreation, mostly walking and horse-riding, and this has led to some erosion within the site. Fires also pose a danger to the site. There may also be a threat in some areas from further housing development.
Howth Head displays a fine range of natural habitats, including two Annex I habitats, within surprisingly close proximity to Dublin city. The site is also of scientific importance for its seabird colonies, invertebrates and lichens. It also supports populations of at least two legally protected plant species and several other scarce plants.
 
 
7. Baldoyle Estuary*
 
Baldoyle Bay extends from just below Portmarnock village to the west pier at Howth, Co. Dublin. It is a tidal estuarine bay protected from the open sea by a large sand-dune system. Two small rivers, the Mayne and the Sluice, flow into the bay. The site contains four habitats listed on Annex I of the EU Habitats directive: Salicornia mud, Mediterranean salt meadows, Atlantic salt meadows and Tidal mudflats.
Large areas of intertidal flats are exposed at low tide. These are mostly sands but grade to muds in the inner sheltered parts of the estuary. Extensive areas of Common Cord-grass (Spartina anglica) occur in the inner estuary. Both the Narrow-leafed Eelgrass (Zostera angustifolia) and the Dwarf Eelgrass (Z. noltii) are also found here. During summer, the sandflats of the sheltered areas are covered by mats of green algae (Enteromorpha spp. and Ulva lactuca).
The site includes a brackish marsh along the Mayne River. Soils here have a high organic content and are poorly drained, and some pools occur. Rushes (Juncus spp.) and salt tolerant species such as Common Scurvygrass (Cochleria officinalis) and Greater Sea-spurrey (Spergularia media) are typical of this area. Knotted Hedge-parsley (Torilis nodosa), a scarce plant in eastern Ireland, has been recorded here, along with Brackish Water-crowfoot (Ranunculus baudotti), a species of brackish pools and ditches which has declined in most places due to habitat loss.
Baldoyle Bay is an important bird site for wintering waterfowl and the inner part of the estuary is a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive as well as being a Statutory Nature Reserve. Internationally important numbers of Pale-bellied Brent Geese (418) and nationally important numbers of two Annex I Birds Directive species - Golden Plover (1,900) and Bar-tailed Godwit (283) - have been recorded. Four other species also reached nationally important numbers: Shelduck (147), Pintail (26), Grey Plover (148) and Ringed Plover (218) - all figures are average peaks for four winters 1994/95 to 1997/1998. Breeding wetland birds at the site include Shelduck, Mallard and Ringed Plover. Small numbers of Little Tern, a species listed on Annex I of the EU Birds Directive, have bred on a few occasions at Portmarnock Point but not since 1991.
Because the area surrounding Baldoyle Bay is densely populated, the main threats to the site include visitor pressure, disturbance to wildfowl and dumping. In particular, the dumping of spoil onto the foreshore presents a threat to the value of the site.
Baldoyle Bay is a fine example of an estuarine system. It contains four habitats listed on Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive and has two legally protected plant species. The site is also an important bird area and part of it is a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive, as well as being a Statutory Nature Reserve. It supports internationally important numbers of Brent Geese and nationally important numbers of six other species including two Annex I Birds Directive species.
 
 
 
8. Rush Beach
Rush has two beaches, North and South beach which are separated by Rush harbour and a stretch of rocky coastline. On the beaches you can findGulls, Terns and waders though they are prone to disturbance particularly by people walking their dogs. The harbour wall and rocky coast is good for roosting waders including Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Curlew, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Greenshank, Knotand the occasional Purple Sandpiper. Cormorant, Shag, Gannet, Gulls,Terns and Auks can be seen feeding off shore and during winter the odd Great Crested Grebe and Red-throated Diver can be found. Rock Pipits and Pied Wagtails feed along here and in Spring Brent Geesealso feed here before they head north.
   
 
9. Ardgillan Castle
 
Public parkland owned by Fingal Co. Council. Ardgillan was opened to the public as a Regional Park in June 1985. Preliminary works were carried out prior to the opening in order to transform what had been an arable farm, into a public park. Five miles of footpaths were provided throughout the demesne, some by opening old avenues, while others were newly constructed. They now provide a system of varied and interesting woodland walks, and open park with vantage points from which to enjoy views of the sea and coastline.
The main car and picnic area is located close to the Demesne entrance at 'Blackhills', while a second car and coach park, adjacent to the Castle is open Monday to Saturday and for restricted use on Sundays and Public Holidays.
Habitat, open Parkland with copses of woodland. All usual garden/parkland birds. Breeding Blackcap, Treecreeper, Sparrowhawk. Occasional records of Barn Owl, Long-eared Owl, Buzzard and Brambling. Waders feed at night on open grassland areas. Also home to Badgers and Bats.
Situated : Car/Coach route via Balrothery off the N1. bus 33 from Eden Quay, access from the Coast Road over a pedestrian bridge. 
Park and Garden: open all year, 10.00-18.00; June, July, August, conducted tours of the Gardens and Conservatory each Thursday at 15.00 or by arrangement.  
P.S. In May every year, two birdsong events are held in the Park, one each for the Dawn Chorus and the Dusk Chorus.  See Outings.
   
 
10. Irelands Eye*
 
Ireland's Eye is located about 1.5 km north of Howth in Co. Dublin. Irelands's Eye is of national importance for breeding seabirds. In 1999 the following were counted: Fulmar 70 pairs; Cormorant 306 pairs; Shag 32 pairs; Lesser Black-backed Gull 1 pair; Herring Gull c.250 pairs;Great Black-backed Gull c.100 pairs; Kittiwake 941 pairs; Guillemot 2191 individuals; Razorbill 522 individuals. A Gannet colony was established on the stack at the east end of the island in the late 1980s, and in 1990 142 pairs bred. Puffin was formerly common, but nowadays not more than 20 individuals occur. Black Guillemot also breeds, with 15 individuals recorded in 1998. Several pairs each of Oystercatcher andRinged Plover breed, while the island is a traditional site for Peregrine Falcon.
In winter small numbers of Greylag and Pale bellied Brent Geese graze on the island.
This uninhabited marine island has a well developed maritime flora and nationally important seabird colonies. Owing to its easy access and proximity to Dublin it has great educational and amenity values.
 
 
11. Portmarnock Beach
 
Sandy beach good for sea birds and waders.
   
 
12. Malahide Estuary* (Inner estuary also known as Swords or Broadmeadows) Click here for site guide pdf
 
 
This site stretches from Malahide eastwards to Swords. It is the estuary of the River Broadmeadow. The site is divided by a railway viaduct.
The outer part of the estuary is mostly cut off from the sea by a large sand spit, known as "the island". The outer estuary drains almost completely at low tide, exposing sand and mud flats. Much of the interior of the spit is taken up by a golf course, though there are a number of rough areas and slacks. The inner stony shore has frequent Sea-holly (Eryngium maritimum). Well-developed saltmarshes occur at the tip of the spit.
The inner estuary does not drain at low tide apart from the extreme inner part. The estuary is an important wintering bird site. Average maximum counts during the 1984/85-1986/87 period were Brent Geese 851; Great Crested Grebe 73; Mute Swan 106; Shelduck 335; Pochard 327;Goldeneye 268; Red-breasted Merganser 62; Oystercatcher 841; Golden Plover 1,500; Grey Plover 97; Redshank 415; Wigeon 119; Teal235; Ringed Plover 43; Knot 130; Dunlin 465; Greenshank 16. The Brent population is of international importance. The high numbers of diving birds reflects the lagoon-type nature of the inner estuary. The head of the estuary, traditionally known as Swords estuary, holds a large flock ofMute Swans which have been studied for many years as part of a research programme on the swans of County Dublin. Many of them have white numbered rings on their legs. Indeed, Mute Swans ringed in Dublin as part of this program have been seen as far east as Wales, as far south as Wexford and as far west as Cork.
The estuary also attracts migrant species such as Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank and Little Stint. Breeding birds of the site include Ringed Plover, Shelduck and Mallard. Up to the 1950s there was a major tern colony at the southern end of the island and the habitat remains suitable for these birds. Gulls roost here and Mediterranean Gull should be looked for at any time of the year. Bonaparte's Gull have been seen on a number of occasions recently.
The inner part of the estuary is heavily used for water sports. A section of the outer estuary has recently been claimed for a marina and housing.
This site is a fine example of an estuarine system with all the main habitats represented. The site is important ornithologically, with a population of Brent Geese of international significance.
 
 
13. Rogerstown Estuary*  Click here for Site guide PDF
 
 
 Reserve Location: Rogerstown Estuary is a distinctive 'V' shaped estuary situated between the N1 and Donabate village. The reserve is best viewed from the Fingal branch hide on the south of the estuary. There is ample parking close to the allotments on the track down to the hide from Turvey Avenue. The road to the north of the estuary is very narrow with limited parking available, but does have a small hide.
Rogerstown estuary is designated as a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area as it is an important waterfowl site, with Brent Goose having a population of international importance. A further 16 species have populations of national importance: Greylag Goose, Shelduck , Teal, Pintail, Shoveler, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Lapwing, Knot, Dunlin, Sanderling, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank and Greenshank. The presence of a significant population of Golden Plover is of note and this species is listed on Annex I of the E.U. Birds Directive. The estuary is a regular staging post for autumn migrants, especially Green Sandpiper, Ruff, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank. Little Tern has bred at the outer sand spit, but much of the nesting area has now been washed away as a result of erosion. The maximum number of pairs recorded was 17 in 1991. Ringed Plover breed in the same area. The outer part of the estuary has been designated a Statutory Nature Reserve and a Special Protection Area under the E.U. Birds Directive. The inner estuary has been damaged by the refuse tip which covers 40 ha of mudflat. This site is a good example of an estuarine system, with all typical habitats represented, including several listed on Annex I of the E.U. Habitats Directive. Rogerstown is an internationally important waterfowl site and has been a breeding site for Little Terns. The presence within the site of three rare plant species adds to its importance.
Disturbing birds while roosting and feeding should be avoided. They can easily be viewed from the hides so do not approach on foot or on the water by canoe, kayak or other means. It is advisable not to enter the inner estuary on the water at any time.
 
Grid Ref: O 218 520                             
Description: Saltwater marshes, raised saltmarsh, wet meadow and riverine shallows and creeks form part of the estuarine system while at low tide sand and mudflats comprise 95% of the area. The estuary, which covers an area of 363ha, is divided by a causeway and bridge built in the 1840s to carry the main Dublin - Belfast railway line.The reserve is a wet grassland site bordering the inner part of the estuary, susceptible to flooding at high tide. Birdwatch Ireland owns 39 of the 59 acres in the reserve, the remainder is being managed in agreement with sympathetic landowners. Habitats include grassland and saltmarsh. Water levels are regulated to maintain pools throughout the winter. Curlew hide is located in the Northern corner of the reserve.
Birds: The birdlife of the estuary has been studied since the early 1970s. Detailed counting of the waders and wildfowl has been carried out since 1989 by the Fingal branch. The surveys have demonstrated that the estuary is an important wetland, currently holding an internationally important population of Brent Geese (up to 1,000), along with a further 10 species of wintering wader and 3 species of wildfowl in nationally important numbers, including Wigeon and Black-tailed Godwit. Short-eared Owls also winter, and a flock of 200-300 Greylag Geese regularly visited the reserve. The pools and river channel attract a variety of passage waders, including Ruff, Green Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper.Peregrine, Buzzard, Kestrel and Merlin are regular, Hen Harrier and Osprey visit and Little Egret can now be found year round.
Look out for large flocks of Brent, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal and smaller numbers of Mallard, Goldeneye, Pintail and Shoveler. Wader numbers are high; look for Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank, Oystercatchers, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Knot, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit. In Autumn look for scarcer species like Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank and Ruff. Also check the gulls and raptors for scarce species. Iceland, Glaucous, Yellow-legged and Mediterranean Gulls are now regularly seen by carefully scanning the large flocks of Gulls. In recent years Purple Heron, Crane, Booted Eagle, Osprey, American Wigeon, Garganey, Caspian Gull, Baird's Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher and Avocet have all been seen here.                                                                                                                         
Viewing: Rogerstown is ~18km from the city center on the M1/N1.
The nearest bus service (01-8734222) is the #33 from Eden Quay to the N1/Turvey Avenue junction. Donabate has a train service (01-8366222) from Connolly Station via Howth Junction & Malahide. Donabate village is ~3.5km from the hide.
The outer estuary is quite accessible by public road at Raheen Point, Donabate and The Burrow, Portrane on the southern side and at Rogerstown and Baleally Lane on the northern side. The inner estuary can be accessed from two points. If approached from Balleally Road. Cross the style at parking place(limited to 1 or 2 cars) and take the right-of-way down to the reserve. Visiting during spring tides is inadvisable as roosting birds may be disturbed and the visitor may be trapped on the reserve by the incoming tide. Branches hold outings to the reserve in winter. If approached from Turvey Avenue turn at BWI sign and park at allotments and travel on foot to the main hide The hide is located very close to the main roosting sites for the birds of the estuary and visitors should attempt to get into position 1-2 hours before high tide. All other lands in the inner estuary area are privately owned and permission should always be sought from landowners before entering. See News for details of hide opening times.
 
14. Lambay Island*
 
Lambay Island is a large (250 ha.) inhabited island lying 4 km off Portrane on the north Co. Dublin coast. It is privately owned and is accessible by boat from Rogerstown Quay.
The island rises to 127 m and is surrounded by steep cliffs on the north, east and south slopes. These cliffs contain good diversity in height, slope and aspect. The west shore is low-lying and the land slopes gently eastwards to the summit in the centre of the island. The underlying geology is very varied, but is dominated by igneous rocks (of andesitic type) and ash. Also present are shales and limestones of Silurian origin, limestone conglomerates, and shales from the Old Red Sandstone era. The bedrock is exposed on the fringing cliffs and in rocky outcrops; elsewhere it is overlain by varying depths of glacial drift.
Most of the western third of the island is intensively farmed (mostly pasture), and there are small areas of parkland, deciduous and coniferous woodland, buildings, walled gardens and the harbour. Much of the rest of the island is a mixture of less intensively grazed land, rocky outcrops, patches of Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) and Bramble (Rubus fruticosus agg.), and cliff slopes with typical maritime vegetation e.g. Thrift (Armeria maritima), Sea Campion (Silene maritima), Rock Sea-spurrey (Spergularia rupicola) and Spring Squill (Scilla verna). Some sheltered gullies have small areas of scrub woodland dominated by Elder (Sambucus nigra). Vegetated sea cliffs are listed on Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive.
Lambay supports the only colony of Grey Seals on the east coast. Although it is a long established breeding site for this species, it remains relatively small (45-60 individuals) probably because of the restricted area suitable for breeding. Grey Seals are listed on Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive. A herd of Fallow Deer (up to c. 80) roams the higher parts of the island, and a small number of wallabies (c. 10) survive in a feral state. This island may also hold the last Irish population of the Ship Rat, a species listed in the vertebrate Red Data Book.
Lambay Island is internationally important for its breeding seabirds. The most numerous species is the Guillemot, with almost 52,000 individuals on the cliffs. Razorbills (3,646 individuals), Kittiwakes (5,102 individuals), Herring Gulls (2,500 pairs), Cormorants (605 pairs), Shags (1,164 pairs), Puffins (235 pairs), and small numbers of Great and Lesser Black-backed Gulls also breed (all figures from 1995). Between 1991 and 1995 Fulmar numbers varied between 573-737 pairs. There is a small colony (<100 pairs) of the nocturnal Manx Shearwater on the island and up to 20 pairs of Common Terns have bred in recent years. A few Black Guillemots have been recorded on Lambay, but it is not clear if they breed. A pair of Peregrines are known to breed on the island.
In winter the most notable bird species on Lambay Island is the Greylag Goose with numbers peaking at 1,000, though in recent winters there has been a decline to 400-700 individuals. There is also a small wintering flock of Barnacle Geese (up to 50), and recently Brent Geese (up to 100) have started to occur regularly. Small numbers of Great Northern Diver and Red-throated Diver are also present in winter.
An intensive survey of the natural history of Lambay Island was carried out in 1906 and published in the Irish Naturalist. A similar, comparative survey has been carried out in the early 1990's and it is hoped this will be published soon. With this background, Lambay is an excellent site for studies of marine biology, terrestrial fauna and flora, geology, geomorphology and ecology.
The island has been maintained as a wildlife sanctuary by its owners and no threats are envisaged should the present land use continue. Rodents may be causing some damage to the populations of burrow-nesting sea-birds.
Lambay Island has good examples of vegetated sea cliffs, a habitat listed on Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive, and these cliffs hold internationally important populations of sea-birds. The colony of the Annex II species Grey Seal adds further interest to the site.
 
 
15. Rockabill Island
This site is located about 6 km east-north-east of Skerries. It comprises two small granitic islets separated by a 20 m wide channel. One rock has a lighthouse (manned until 1989) with walled areas of soil and vegetation, dominated by Tree Mallow (Lavatera arborea). The other islet has very little vegetation apart from lichens.
Rockabill is an internationally important breeding site for Roseate Tern and is the most important colony in Europe.
In 2000, 614 pairs bred, an increase from 366 in 1991. Common Terns also breed with 607 pairs and 88 pairs of Arctic Tern. Other breeding seabirds are Black Guillemot (36 pairs) and Kittiwakes (160 pairs). Egg predation by Turnstones and probably Gulls was more noticeable than in previous years, but is seems like the Roseate have fared better than the Common and Arctic Terns, with 1.43 young successfully fledged from each egg laying pair. Nest boxes are provided by Eugene Macken's class in Balbriggan Community College.
Since 1989 the site has been wardened by NPWS and BWI during the breeding season, and research and habitat management have been carried out. The site is owned by the Commissioners of Irish Lights and is a Refuge for Fauna and a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive.
 
16. The Glen  (no access)*                                                                                                                                   
Location: Near Balbriggan, on the Balrothery/Gormanstown Road, 2 miles from junction with Dublin-Belfast main road.
Grid Ref: O 200 620 Size: 4.9 ha (12 acres)
Description: A marshy grassland area in countryside near Balbriggan, managed by Birdwatch Ireland. A stream, subject to flooding in winter, runs through it. Habitats include hawthorn/furze heath. It has a diverse range of wetland wild flowers. It is intended to develop the site as a recreational facility with nature walks highlighting its flora and breeding birds. Birdwatch Ireland has planted willow, birch and alder on the reserve.
Birds: Breeding birds include Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Grey Wagtail, Yellowhammer and Linnet. In winter it holds a variety of thrushesand finches.
 
17. Bog of the Ring*
Bog of the Ring is situated approximately 5 km south-west of Balbriggan. It is a flat low-lying area with impeded drainage, showing signs of peat development in its upper horizons. The site was drained about thirty years ago, but still contains pockets of wet and damp ground where marsh vegetation occurs.
The site is used in winter by Golden Plover, Whooper Swan (occasionally) and Short-eared Owl. Breeding species include Snipe, Skylark,Meadow Pipt, Reed Bunting, Stonechat and Sedge Warbler.
Marshes are few in County Dublin and therefore the site is of interest. Although attempts at drainage have been made in the past, isolated wet areas still exist and the site could be considerably improved by raising the water table.
 
  
18. Knock Lake*
 
Knock Lake is located at Balrothery, about 3 km south of Balbriggan. It is a shallow artificial lake set in sloping farmland and has been used as a reservoir.
Otter, a species listed in Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive, has been recorded regularly at the lake.
Great Crested Grebe has bred or attempted to breed at the lake since 1989. In 1992, three pairs were present and at least one was successful. This is one of only two nesting sites in County Dublin. Little Grebe, Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen, Water Rail and Mallard breed.
The lake also attracts wintering wildfowl. Average peak maximum counts during the three winters 1984/85-1986/87 were Whooper Swan 5,Mallard 56, Pochard 27, Tufted Duck 67. Snipe are regular at the lake and Curlew frequent the surrounding fields. When water levels are lower more waders are attracted to the lake including Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff.
The lake is been managed by Gormanston Angling Club and hasbeen restocked with Brown and Rainbow Trout. The site is also a Game Sanctuary for Balbriggan Game Association.
This lake, although artificial in origin, is of importance for botanical and zoological interests. Similar such water bodies are scarce Co Dublin.  
 
 
 
19. Skerries Islands*
The Skerries Islands are a group of three islands situated between 1 km and 2 km east of Skerries. Shenick's Island is connected to the mainland by sandflats at low tide. The other two islands are St. Patricks's and Colt. Shenick's is composed of lower Palaeozic rocks consisting of Ordovician volcanic, siltstones and shales. On the south-east of the island there is a patch of red breccia which rests unconformably on the Ordovician strata. The underlying strata are not horizontal - which is most frequently the case where an unconformity exists.
The islands are important bird islands. In 1992 15 pairs of Fulmar bred on Shenick's and three pairs on St.Patrick's Island. A recently establishedCormorant colony on St. Patrick's Island was discovered in 1992 and had at least 35 pairs. Shags also breed on St. Patrick's, with 112 pairs in 1986. Large gulls breed on all three islands. Between 1984-86 the following were recorded: 89 pairs of Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, mostly the former on Shenick's; c.250-300 pairs of Herring Gulls, c.200 pairs of Great Black-backed Gulls on St.Patrick's; 232 pairs of Herringand Great Black-backed Gulls, mostly the former on Colt.
In winter, the islands are frequented by geese and some waders. Brent Geese have been regular in recent years, usually in numbers less than 50. Barnacle and Greylag Geese also occur on occasions, seldom more than 50, these birds being from the Lambay populations. In January 1992, 250 Oystercatchers, 500 Golden Plover, 400 Lapwing and 600 Curlew were present. Up to three Short-eared Owls are regular each winter, though as many as six have been seen. The owls occur most often on Shenick's and St. Patrick's Islands. The Shenick's Island is now a bird reserve managed by the Irish Wildbird Conservancy.
 
  
20. Lowetherstone
Private farmland mainly cereal production. Located c. 3-4kms north of Balbriggan on the coast. Main bird interest is coastal stubble fields with concentrations of Skylark,Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer, Finches.Important roost areas for waders along coastal boundary edge. Peregrine, Merlin, Buzzard,Kestrel, Sparrowhawk. Occasional Lapland Buntings, Snow Bunting, Hen harrier, Short-eared Owl andRose-coloured Starling.  
 
21. Portmarnock Marsh*
 
This site is located about 1 km west of Portmarnock village. The Sluice river flows into Baldoyle estuary, less than 1 km away. The marsh backs onto the east side of the railway embankment.
Mallard, Snipe, Grey Heron, Moorhen and Reed Bunting were recorded on the marsh. The Grey Herons nest nearby. Some waterfowl from Baldoyle Estuary may use the marsh on occasions. Horses graze the site and there is probably some shooting in winter. The Murrough Estuary Wildfowler's Association use the site as a game sanctuary. Malahide golf course is situated on the other side of the Sluice River.
This site is of importance as it is a relatively intact freshwater marsh, a habitat that is now rare in Co Dublin.
 
  
22. Cave's Marsh
 
Located on the south shore of Malahide inner estuary, saltmarsh and stream. Little Egret, waders,and wildfowl.
 
23. Donabate Beach/Corballis Point
 
Beach is good area for Gulls, terns and other sea birds as well as waders. Part of Malahide outer estuary, Corballis point is good in winter forfinches, wildfowl and waders.
 
24. Newbridge Demense
 
Newbridge Park, with its historic house, animal farm, fine mature trees, open landscaped greens and winding wooded walkways, is probably the most beautiful park in North County Dublin. Comprising 360 acres, it is situated in the centre of the Donabate/Portrane peninsula with easy access from the Hearse Road (main entrance) and is only a five minute walk from Donabate train station (St Patrick’s Church of Ireland entrance). The park is also unique in that it holds a “wildlife area” that has been specifically left undeveloped, to allow the local fauna and flora to flourish.
The sensitive landscaping of the park with its wildlife area, hedgerows and broadleaf woods, has been very conducive to the great diversity of bird life that is present throughout the year. In Spring, the pathway running by the old Protestant church (St Patrick’s) is a very nice place to take in the Dawn Chorus with the usual cacophony of twittering chants from groups of greenfinches, gold finches and various tits, backed up by cooing collared doves and wood pigeons. When one passes through the entrance gate it is quite possible that one may encounter a roving party of long tailed tits charming us with their acrobatics. Often along this wooded stretch one can hear the faint “tew” calls of bullfinch and one may be fortunate to get views of the bright male tweeking seeds from the buds. The woods then abruptly end and we are now in the open “wildlife area” on either side of the path which mainly comprises long grass, various bushes, some gorse and some trees. This area is good for breedinglinnet and stonechat and is regularly visited by yellowhammer and reed buntings. The adjoining wood pockets are good for warblers such aschiffchaff, willow warbler, goldcrest, sedge warbler and whitethroat. In recent years the handsome blackcap has become increasingly common and are relatively easy to find in late April/early May before the tree foliage becomes too dense. In those months the blackcap’s rich scratchy fluting song is very widespread in the park and really compliments the Dawn Chorus experience.
On leaving the wild area through the gate pillars, we enter the main landscaped area and have the choice of walking towards the Kilcrea Gate on the left or towards the House straight on/right. If we continue leftwards along the tree border, we eventually come to a dense wooded area before the path swings to the right. Looking into the tall trees, we may observe mouse-like treecreepers crawling up the bark – often in the company of a busy flock of tits and goldcrests. Facing the Kilcrea Gate, the heronry is situated in the trees to the far left. In early spring when the herons breed, there is a lot of tension between herons and neighbouring crows in the adjacent rookery with continuous squawking and stand offs. Little egrets have also been seen roosting in the heronry, resting peacefully alongside their grey heron cousins. In the months of November and December the “Zrrrrp” screech of a paper bag being torn, indicates the presence of jays. Against the bare branches of dead winter, the jay is easily viewed with the spectacular crest, pink body and iridescent blue wing bars standing out. This  area is also good for viewing raptors such askestrel, sparrowhawk and buzzard which all breed in the park. The presence of a bird of prey is often heralded by a noisy scattering of therooks which will often attempt to escort the intruder off the premises. In recent years, buzzards are commonly seen in Newbridge Park, mainly near the playground and backlane. They are often heard first with their resounding “heyyou” call before coming into view, then slowly gliding and soaring gracefully over the tree tops.
The area near the House is swarming with swallows and housemartins in summer. In winter the adjoining trees often produce an abundant crop of red berries which attract redwings and fieldfares. House sparrows and starlings congregate here also and the sudden warning call of ablackbird may suggest the presence of a hunting sparrowhawk. Sometimes winter flocks of redpoll and siskins can be seen in the hazel/alder trees bordering the stream near the bridge along the main entrance road. At dusk, you may be pleasantly surprised by the sight of a woodcockflying around one of the moist tree islands. For those who like walking at dusk, Newbridge can have a lot to offer especially in the months of May, June and July when the “eeeeah” squeaky gate calls of young long-eared owls can be heard echoing through the park. With some patience and care, those little grey balls of fluff can be located within the tree branches. The sight of the adult long-eared owls lazily gliding and hovering over the long grass as they hunt for mice and shrews, is a real joy to behold. The much rarer barn owl has also been seen on the very odd occasion.
The park’s location on a peninsula between the Rogerstown and Broadmeadows estuaries, is also significant from the point of view of over-flight bird passage. At dusk, a group of 3-5 little egrets can often be seen flying over the park. Likewise one also may see the sickle shape of aperegrine soaring high, or hear the deep “chronk” call of a pair of ravens – busy birds with places to go!  Flocks of duck, geese and waders are often seen in high flight as they make their way to an estuary of their choice. Sometimes a curlew flock may use the football pitches for feeding/roosting. Occasionally when the stream along the backlane floods, a pair of kingfishers comes to visit. For people who like long walks, Newbridge Park can be easily used to connect to Rogerstown estuary via the park’s backlane (go right to connect with Turvey Ave, take left and you will see the sign for Rogerstown Hide) and to  Broadmeadows estuary via the Kilcrea Gate (take Kilcrea Road for inner estuary walk/ take Island Road for outer estuary). So in one walk, one can enjoy the passerine delights of the park together with the wildfowl/wader wonders that an estuary has to offer. 
Liam Feeney
Fingal Branch
P.S. In May every year, two birdsong events are held in Newbridge Park, one each for the Dawn Chorus and the Dusk Chorus. See Outings 
 
  
25. Malahide Castle
 
Public parkland. Habitat, open Parkland with copses of woodland. All usual garden/parkland birds.
Located in Malahide, 9 miles north of Dublin. NGR: O 220452. Open daily, May to October. Guided tours available, (including Walled Garden and the castle). The Walled Garden is open to groups by special appointment. Lunches and teas available in the castle. Gift shop. Toilet facilities. Suitable for wheelchairs. Dogs on lead.
 
26. Roach Valley
Private - No access. 
Have Breed in past ten years; Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Kestrel, Long Eared Owl, Raven, Hooded Crow, Grasshopper Warbler,Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Willow, Whitethroat. Goldcrest, Treecreeper, 4 Tit Species Dipper, Kingfisher, Snipe, Mallard, Heron, GreyWagtail, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer. Plus common 'garden types' Blackbird,Thrush, Robin, Wren etc.
Occasional / Seasonal Visitors; Whooper Swan, Woodcock, Jack Snipe plus the usual suspects.
  
27. Hynestwon Reservoir
Private - No access.
Breeding; Little Grebe, Snipe, Hooded Crow, Moorhen, plus usual Blackbird, Thrush, Robin etc.
Occasional / Seasonal Visitors; Each of the last 5 years an Osprey has spent some 'resting' time on the Southern side of the reservoir in early Autumn. In Winter can hold, especially at night, good numbers of duck species including Tufted, Widgeon, Pochard and Teal.
  
28. Barnageera
Fulmar breeding colony. Offshore reef area called "Long leg" important roost and feeding area for waders/gulls.
   
 
29. Loughshinny Coast*
SITE CODE:  002000
This site is situated midway between Loughshinny and Skerries.  The south boundary of the site extends to the clay cliffs, which are overgrown with brambles and ivy, while the north end is bounded by a stream.  This coastal area is noted for its geological interests, the rocks being conglomerates, limestones and shales.  
The main habitat of the site is coastal grass, which  merges into a shingle/rocky shore with some patches of saltmarsh.  
The site is a station for the Green-winged Orchid (Orchis morio), a species legally protected under the Flora Protection Order 1987. 
Species occurring in association with the orchid include Cowslip (Primula veris), Birds foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), Burnet-saxifrage (Pimpinella saxifraga), Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense) and Buttercups (Ranunculus acris, R. bulbosus).  A diverse fungal flora is present in autumn. 
Of particular interest is a small seepage area at the northern end of the site, which is dominated by Black Bog-rush (Schoenus nigricans) and Rushes (Juncus spp.).  Bryophytes are present along with Water Mint (Mentha aquatica).  This flush occurs almost directly above the high tide mark. 
The grassy area is a roost for Curlew and Oystercatcher.  Has a breeding colony of Fulmars(48 pairs in 2003) and also some Sand Martins andStonechat. Short-eared Owls in winter.
The coastal grass shows signs of improvement and grazing.  Further improvement and heavier grazing is a threat to the site.
  
 
30. Portrane Point
 
Beach used as a roost by waders and Gulls, sometimes several thousand strong, but susceptible to human disturbance.
  
31. Baldongan
Extensive area of low lying farmland, mostly ceral production. Greylag Geese graze in most winters but numbers fluctuate. Short-eared Owlsoccur sometimes in large numbers ie. 10-20 birds but not in all winters. Good area for raptors/finches, larks and buntings.
  
32. Knocksedan Valley
Breeding Jay, Dipper, Blackcap, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-eared owl, among all the likely suspects, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk,  Blackbird,Thrush, Robin, etc...
 
  
33. Garristown Bog
  
34. Abbeyville
Private estate with gardens, a lake and copses of woodland. Recently sold to a developer.
  
35. Knocknain Sand pits
Now disused and losing its importance for Sand Martins. Gravel pit pools sometimes fill and attract ducks. Raptors. Breeding Common Newt,Whitethroat.
  
36. Seatown West
 
Western part of Swords estuary, good place to view waders, including Black-tailed Godwits, Snipe, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Redshank, Dunlinas well as the less common waders and is also very good for rarities. In recent years there have been both Long and Short billed Dowichers,American Golden Plover and various Sandpipers. This part of the estuary is home to a large flock of Mute Swans and other wildfowl in smaller numbers. See Malahide Estuary.
   
 
*Site synopsis Copyright belongs to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.