Whales, Dolphins, Basking shark, Seals, Puffins,Blasket Islands, Dingle Bay, Kerry, Ireland
All of the Blasket Islands are an E.U. designated S.P.A. [ Special Protected Area ] for birds under the E.U. Habitats and Wildlife Directive and Natura 2000 with special reference to Annex 1 and Annex 2 birds European storm petrels, Manx shearwaters, Arctic terns and Greenland white fronted geese.
They contain major seabird populations of international importance, especially for European storm petrels and Manx shearwaters [pelagic species who only visit their nest sites nocturnally]. Inishvickillaun, Inish na Bró and Tiaracht have summer breeding populations of puffins – most peoples favourite bird – and Beginish is home to up to 200 breeding Arctic terns, sometimes called the sea swallow, who migrates a greater distance than any other bird in the world. When they leaves Beginish at the end of summer they fly down the west coast of Africa then south of South Africa towards the Antarctic, where they get blown around the bottom of the world in the storm force westerlies and then comes back up the east coast of South America to visit and breed on Beginish the following summer.
shags on rock
Beginish was also home to a wintering flock of about 200 Greenland white fronted geese [an Annex 1 bird in the E.U.Directive] and an iconic bird for bird watchers and the logo for Birdwatch Ireland c.f.www.birdwatchireland.ie ] but unfortunately, despite the fact that Beginish is an E.U. designated S.P.A. the habitat has been degraded for the last number of years and insufficient grass is left there for them to forage in the winter.
Diving gannets are often a feature of our tours and people are usually fascinated as they watch them dive or “fall” from over 100ft into the water in a feeding frenzy .One of the biggest gannetries in the North Atlantic is across the bay on Little Skellig which lies beside Skellig Michael [Scelig Míchíl] on top of which is perched a monastic settlement which is a World Heritage Site and the Irish equivalent of Macho Pico in serenity and location.
There are rafts of puffins to be seen back by the Inish and various other members of the Auk family including the common and black guillemot and the razorbill. You can see Manx shearwaters usually flying through the Black Sound and also fulmar petrels by Inishvickillaun, who are relatives of the albatross. Kittiwakes are one of our daintiest seabirds and you can see rows of shags standing on the rocks, often with wings outstretched drying their wings, which have no waterproofing oil.
Later in the summer you can see many more migrating seabirds such as sooty shearwaters, Arctic skua, great skua or “Boxie”, phalaropes and various petrels.
From the moorings on the Great Blasket Island you can hear the shrill call of the oyster catchers and also see ravens [who like to fly upside down sometimes just for the fun of it] and choughs, with their beautiful dark red bills and legs, gliding along the cliffs and occasionally catch sight of a peregrine falcon.
We hope that some of the white tailed sea eagles reintroduced to Muckross National Park, Killarney, Co. Kerry will eventually make their way to the Blaskets and add to the rich diversity of wildlife there.
We can arrange special early morning bird watching trips for small groups as this is the best time to see them flocking and in rafts on the water.
We also arrange special [12hrs] offshore pelagic bird watching trips in late summer [mid August onwards] to the continental shelf edge for interested parties by special arrangement who want to see the rare birds migrating along the shelf edge. You also have a good chance to see big whales on one of these specially arranged trips. Please email for further info.