An exciting new holiday to the southern coast of Ireland, Heatherlea’s first visit to the Emerald Isle! We will be looking through large numbers of waders, seabirds and passerines and will also seek out any rare birds that have been found within reach, though we hope of course to find many rarities of our own in these beautiful underwatched locations.
This is a two centre tour, split between County Cork in the south-west and County Wexford in the south-east. We start in Cork, covering famous birding sites of the region. Our exact itinerary will be largely dependent on the weather, tides and recent sightings but may well include Mizen Head, Rosscarbery, Bantry, Clonakilty, The Gearadh and Lissagriffin lake. A huge number of Nearctic wader and wildfowl species are recorded in this region each year, and at this time migrant wader numbers should be at their peak. We hope to find a range of species, perhaps including an American vagrant in their midst.
An exciting aspect of this tour is a pelagic charter into the Atlantic, 'chumming' from the boat to draw in a range of rare oceanic species. Top targets here are Wilson’s Petrel and Great Shearwater, though any number of petrels, shearwaters, skuas and auks are possible, with chances of common and rare cetaceans and maybe even a Leatherback Turtle or Ocean Sunfish too! For strict land-lubbers, rest assured that the pelagic voyage is optional.
Another draw in Cork is the day trip over to Cape Clear, accessed by foot ferry. This is the most southerly point of Ireland, famous for rare birds. We spend several hours here on foot, checking out the sparse cover. Those who have joined our ‘... for birders’ tours in Scotland will love this! After three full days in the south-west, we transfer to the south-east, calling in at several sites during our journey. Sites may include Timoleague, Old Head of Kinsale and nearby Estuary, Clogheen, White Marsh, Cobh Harbour, Ballycotton, Youghal etc. Any rare bird news and the weather will dictate this day. Once over into Wexford we have two full days of birding, covering the famous sites of Tacumshin Marsh , Lady’s Island Lake, Rosslare Harbour and Strand, North Slob, Cahore, The Cutt, Carnsore Point, Nethertown Beach, Hook Head and even west into Co. Waterford to Brownstown Head and Tramore Estuary if birds are there.
Although the two centres are fixed, the day itineraries are flexible and at the discretion of the guides, as with all of our ‘... for Birders’ holidays.
The holiday starts and ends at Cork Airport, with a number of regional departures available.
Day 1: Saturday 24th August Heathrow to Cork
We expect to arrive just before lunchtime, allowing us to enjoy a few hours birding in County Cork before checking into our accommodation, perhaps looking for waterbirds at Rosscarbery Estuary or targeting any known rarity within reach. Overnight for four nights in the Rosscarbery area.
Day 2: Sunday 25th August Pelagic!
Today we head out on a chartered boat for a pelagic voyage. Our local skipper is a keen birder and knows all the best sites and techniques for luring birds to the boat. Every pelagic is different, though our targets will include birds that are hard to see from land, including Wilson's Storm Petrel, Great Shearwater and Cory's Shearwater. Even rarer birds are possible, though the supporting cast of skuas, terns, gannets, gulls, auks and all manner of common seabirds, seals and cetaceans should keep us busy.
Please note this is a dedicated pelagic, heading several miles off-shore followed by long periods of idling and ‘chumming’ where fish and oil is used to attract all manner of seabirds. This can of course be bumpy and choppy in the open waters, and the voyage can be cancelled for several consecutive days. As a consolation, the weather that disrupts our pelagic (usually strong southerly or westerly winds) is good for seawatching, so we will still have chances of rare seabirds, though we would prefer close quarter encounters from the boat. Our pelagic lasts around four hours, and those not keen on boatrips can remain ashore.
Day 3: Monday 26th August Mizen Head
Mizen Head has a fantastic range of birding habitats to cover, and is well worth a visit. Lissagriffin Lake is often the first stopping point, with American waders and wildfowl the targets though European migrants are more likely. At this time of year, species such as Citrine Wagtail and Red-throated Pipit have been recorded here. Cover is limited, so smaller birds can be easier to find; the list of North American passerines found here is mouthwatering, with a similar number of scarce eastern vagrants. We aim to work some of the gardens and gullies for small birds, though if the wind contains any west, seawatching would be worthwhile for an hour or so here too, perhaps around the corner at Browhead or Three Castles Head. Typical targets are Balearic, Great, Cory's and Sooty Shearwater with skuas, auks, phalaropes and petrels all more than possible.
Day 4: Tuesday 27th August Cape Clear day trip
Today we take the foot ferry from Baltimore and head to Cape Clear Island. The most southerly point of Ireland, Cape Clear is a fantastic birding spot. Not only is it first landfall for birds from the south and west, it benefits from birds trickling down through Ireland until they can't head any further south without a big sea crossing. For these reasons, and for the limited amount of cover present, birds from Siberian and North America have been found here - Cape Clear is the 'Fair Isle of Ireland'! In the last decade Northern Waterthrush, Yellow Warbler and Solitary Sandpiper have been recorded at the end of August. Our schedule allows us a few hours walking ashore; enough time to check most of the areas of cover in and around the village. Please note: We will again try to be flexible but in poor weather this ferry can be cancelled and if the day is solidly wet the trip will not be worthwhile as all birding here is by foot.
Day 5: Wednesday 28th August Cork to Wexford, birding en route
Today we transfer to County Wexford. Our route will be dictated by any rare bird news from the previous few days and will probably involve a visit to a few of the key sites in the area, such as Timoleague, Old Head of Kinsale, Clogheen, White Marsh, Cobh Harbour, Ballycotton and Youghal, each with their own opportunities. With the majority of our targets being migrants, we will keep our plan as flexible as possible to maximise our birding, though Ballycotton and Ballynamona annually record Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper and American Golden Plover at this time of year so aare among the most likely stops. Overnight for three nights in Wexford
Day 6: Thursday 29th August Birding Wexford
Today will be spent birding around County Wexford. There are a lot of sites to choose, and we will use the weather, tides and recent sightings to guide us to the best spots. Key sites in the area include Lady’s Island Lake, Rosslare Harbour and the Strand, North Slob, Cahore, The Cutt, Carnsore Point, Nethertown Beach, Hook Head and even west into Co. Waterford to Brownstown Head and Tramore estuary if birds are there. Targets include seabirds, ducks, waders and a range of farm and woodland birds.
Day 7: Friday 30th August Tacumshin
Tacumshin Marsh is one of the most famous sites for birding in Ireland and indeed the British Isles. Its range of habitats make it attractive to almost every type of wader and waterfowl. It is mainly for waders that we visit, and we hope to be able to see a full assemblage of migrants including a rarity or two. This is a large site and needs to be covered by foot to see the full range of birds available. Typically at this time of year we might see good numbers of Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint, with regular Pectoral and Buff-breasted Sandpiper and other 'yanks' such as Long-billed Dowitcher, White-rumped and Baird's Sandpiper. We have the whole day to explore this wonderful area and hope to see several raptors and passerines too.
Day 8: Saturday 31st August Return to Cork and back to Heathrow
Today we transfer back to Cork airport for our afternoon flight. The short flight to Heathrow will land late afternoon.
Group size: Maximum 12 with 2 guides; or maximum 7 with 1 guide. Though if all participants are keen to go on pelagic trip then maximum 10 with 2 guides as boat capacity is 12.
Accommodation: Four nights comfortable en-suite hotel accommodation in County Cork, and three nights comfortable en-suite hotel accommodation in County Wexford.
Transport: Will be a 9 seater minibus driven by your Heatherlea guide, with two minibuses if over 7 guests.
Pelagic boat trip: This is an optional trip though it would be very useful for us to declare if you are either keen, unsure or definitely not coming as almost all of the pelagics here sell out and it is good to have numbers in early.
Telescope: Your guide(s) will have telescopes for your use, but due to the number of waders, terns and seabirds we thoroughly recommend bringing a scope if you have one to maximise your viewing time.
Food and drink: A full cooked breakfast will be offered every morning and we will have packed lunches from our hotels for the field. When an opportunity arises we will make a stop for coffee, though this cannot be guaranteed every day.
Biting Insects: Not likely to a problem, though midges and mosquitoes do occur in typically small numbers.
Weather and Clothing: The temperature here is usually 14-19 degrees C, though warmer or cooler weather are both likely at this time of year. Rain and strong winds are possible here at any time and we shall probably have a mixture of weather, as is typical in the British Isles. As with anywhere in the west of the UK, the Atlantic can throw us some large storms, but these are what bring the best birds across the pond! Please pack accordingly for all weathers. Exposed headlands and boat trips are often chilly in the wind, please ensure you have full waterproofs, a hat and gloves.
Walking is generally light/moderate. There may be some uphill track and road walking, though generally an average level of fitness is required.
Flights are by scheduled airline, from London Heathrow. We may be able to offer flight arrangements from another airport and/or or quote without flights so you can make your own arrangements. If you wish to add an extension either before or after your holiday, please contact us and we will be happy to arrange this for you.
Senior guide Phil joined us in 2011 and leads birding tours across the world, including Tasmania, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, Skyros and Po Delta. He has extensive birding and field experience across the British Isles and is proud to be leading our first tour to Ireland.
What's included in your holiday price:
• scheduled return flights between London Heathrow and Cork, airport taxes.
• ground transportation as outlined including all transportation in Ireland in a modern air-conditioned vehicle. All tolls.
• accommodation and all meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner.
• the services of your leaders.
• ferry tickets to Cape Clear island and for pelagic boat trip
• The Heatherlea Pre-Flight Service offers everything you need at the airport, including hotels, car parking, airport lounges, regional flights, and upgrades. Let Heatherlea take the strain! Pre-flight airport hotel and lounge included subject to terms and conditions.
What's not included in your holiday price:
• personal insurance, drinks and other personal expenses, and any other costs not specified as 'included'.
WHY CHOOSE HEATHERLEA?
Our overseas holidays are planned with care to offer great birding and wildlife, led by capable Leaders who really look after you. Every holiday is run the 'Heatherlea Way', and we hope our Overseas Adventures remind you of the quality and care so many of you enjoy in Scotland. That means rewarding and exciting days in the field, and good quality accommodation and meals, with a real flavour of the country we are visiting. Heatherlea always seek to include the personal touches that make all the difference.
Heatherlea holidays are not ‘dawn to dusk’ expeditions. Our less-intensive approach is ideal for those whowant to relax whilst experiencing the best wildlife watching, and wherever possible we organise early or late activity on an optional basis. We also take sensible breaks when in very hot places and regular comfort breakson every holiday whenever possible. All itineraries are planned carefully around the best wildlife opportunities,and you won’t miss out on memorable wildlife, whilst enjoying relaxed, informal days that are great fun. The really important part of any wildlife holiday is the experience for you, our valued customer.
Heatherlea invest in many things to offer you the best possible service;
• We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for more than 25 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
• Heatherlea overseas holidays have a maximum of 12 clients per trip, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
• Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance Departure Taxes and tips to hotels.
• All elements of our holidays are sold under our own licence, ATOL 6113. Under ‘Flight-Plus’ legislation it is a legal requirement of any tour operator to hold an ATOL licence for the supply of any overseas holiday where a flight is involved, if that holiday includes either overseas accommodation and/or car hire. It can be a criminal offence for an operator to book flights as part of a package without an ATOL licence. Heatherlea also hold fullTour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
• Heatherlea is your complete wildlife holiday provider. Our ‘Back Office’ team can organise all your pre-flight and other travel needs. Our specialists will help you book the right services, at the best price. Book holiday extensions through us, and your ATOL protection is extended further. We don’t charge extra for this service.
• Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland, and registered to pay VAT (applies to all holidays within the European Union).