A friendly welcome, island tranquillity, a rural landscape, and a beautiful coastline, with waders and seabirds galore; this trip has them all. Never more than eight miles from the sea on this trip, it is the perfect place to unwind.
We leave the Nottingham area by people carrier and drive to Fishguard to catch the 2.30pm sailing to Rosslare. We arrive at 6pm and drive a short way to the fabulous four star Whitford House Hotel. This hotel is ranked number 1 among all the hotels in Wexford by Trip Advisor. All rooms are en-suite with tea/coffee making facilities and TV etc. Located just outside the seaside town of Wexford, it is an ideal base for exploring this lovely ‘sunny southeast’ corner of Ireland.
After the first of our four nights at Whitford House, we follow the bird rich south coast west for County Cork, with birding stops en route according to incoming rarity news. There are several celebrated ‘vagrant hotspots’ along this coast and no doubt we shall call at Ballycotton, a celebrated vagrant hotspot. Last time here, we narrowly missed a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper from Siberia, but we did find a Mediterranean Gull. Journey’s end is a three night stay with Eileen at Ard na Gaoithe guesthouse, with evening meals at Ciarán Danny Mike’s pub on Cape Clear Island. This is Ireland’s most southerly point bar Fastnet Rock, and one of the legendary names in British birding. In late summer the headlands offer the exciting spectacle of Manx Shearwaters streaming past in their thousands each hour, along with Great and Sooty Shearwaters, plus Gannets, auks, Storm Petrels and much scarcer species such as Fea’s Petrel. There are few better places to see Great Shearwaters in Britain but even Black-browed Albatross and Leatherback Turtle have been spotted here! A specially chartered boat will take us toward Fastnet where ‘chumming’ overboard will bring the birds in close to us and we also have a good chance of close encounters with Dolphins. While exploring this wonderful island, ablaze with the orange of Montbrescia and the purple of heathers at this time, we should find Black Guillemot, Peregrine, real wild Rock Doves, Stonechat, Raven, smart vocal Choughs and hopefully some rarities, for which the island is so famous.
On the journey back to Wexford, we have another crack at the south coast hotspots before returning to Whitford House for a further three nights, where there should be time in the evenings to relax in the hotel pool and spa. A boat will take us four miles out from Kilmore Quay for a day on Great Saltee Island, and although many of the seabirds will have left, we should still see the spectacular Gannets real close. At this time of year the island has a reputation for attracting unusual visitors ‘Scilly style’, and notable sightings have included Wryneck, Bluethroat, Barred, Yellow-browed, Icterine and Dusky Warblers, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Common Rosefinch. Back on the mainland, Lady’s IslandLake is probably the best place in Europe to see the rare Roseate Tern, breeding here amongst a frenzy of Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns. Nearby Tacumshin Lake is ‘Ireland’s Cley’, which always seems to be on the ‘bird map’, and a fabulous place to get into waders, with around twenty species possible, including rusty red Black-tailed Godwits fresh from Iceland, and there are usually some tasty American wanderers such as Long-billed Dowitcher and Lesser Yellowlegs, plus Pectoral, Spotted, White-rumped, Buff-breasted and Baird’s Sandpipers. There are so many great possibilities at this exciting time of year, so don’t miss the boat!
What the price includes:
Return ferry with Stena Line from Fishguard to Rosslare, all road transport by people carrier in Britain and Ireland, seven nights half board en-suite accommodation, boat trip to Great Saltee Island, return ferry to Cape Clear Island, pelagic boat trip from Cape Clear Island, bird checklist and the services of your guide.
Single supplement: £85