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Where to Watch Birds in Galway

To view a map showing the situation of selected sites of birding interest, click here.

County Galway can boast a wealth of birding habitats, including sea coast, lakes, rivers, bays, mountain, bog and woodland. A selection of the best accessible sites are highlighted below (click on the links to see details):

RAHASANE TURLOUGH: This site is best reached from the main N18 Galway to Limerick road. A shallow lake (3 km long and 1 km wide) is formed each winter when the Dunkellin River floods. At Kilcolgan (18 km, 11 m, south of Galway) turn left onto the minor road to Craughwell. After a few km the turlough will be seen to the right of the road. There are several viewpoints along the road and from lane ends leading from it. Please take care when parking. In winter Greenland White-fronted Goose (nationally important numbers) and Whooper and Bewick's Swan are regular in small numbers. There are often large numbers of Wigeon, whilst Mallard, Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Pochard will also be present. There is a good chance of Pintail and Gadwall, which are not easy to find in Galway. Winter waders include large numbers of Golden Plover and Lapwing, with Curlew, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin as a supporting cast. In autumn there are often rarer waders if water levels are favourable. Lesser Yellowlegs, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper, Jack Snipe and Dotterel were all seen in 2001.

Picture of Rahasane Turlough
Photo © Con O'Rourke, Teagasc
M475195, OS Discovery Series No. 52

Picture of Rostaff Lake
M250490, OS Discovery Series No. 45

ROSTAFF LAKE: A shallow lake close to Lough Corrib. Located 3 km north-west of Headford, Co. Galway, the lake lies just within Co. Mayo. There is a hide, which was built by BirdWatch Galway with support from the Black River Gun Club and the then Forest and Wildlife Service. The reserve is at its best from November to February. A flock of 100-200 Greenland White-fronted Goose, smaller numbers of Whooper and Bewick's Swan, Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler are regular. Peregrine are often seen.

RUSHEEN BAY: Situated a few miles to the west of Galway City, Rusheen Bay (Lough Ruisin) has long been a bird sanctuary. The bay is a very sheltered saltwater inlet with a narrow opening to the sea. The bay itself is shallow and is surrounded by extensive open areas of sand and mudflats. The birds which are seen are typical of the Galway Bay shoreline, but the beauty of Rusheen Bay is the close views of birds which are often possible. This is particularly true of Common and Sandwich Tern in Summer/Autumn and waders (notably Greenshank) in Winter. On the landward side, BirdWatch Galway's Small Wood reserve gives not only good views over the bay, but also the opportunity to see some woodland birds.

Picture of Rusheen Bay
M255235, OS Discovery Series No. 45

Picture of Tawin
M305194, OS Discovery Series No. 51

TAWIN: Tawin is an island connected to the mainland by a bridge. It is situated more or less in the middle of the eastern side of Galway Bay. If travelling south from Galway City on the main N18 Galway-Limerick Road, Tawin can be reached by turning right at Clarinbridge. After a couple of miles (4 km), turn right at a T-junction and then left after another mile (1.5 km). The birds to be seen are typical of Galway Bay, with good numbers of waders, wildfowl and gulls. Tawin is a particularly good place for Pale-bellied Brent Geese and Grey Plover, with a good chance of divers and Scaup. Little Egret are regularly seen in the area.

© BirdWatch Galway 2009