Where to go birding in East Cork, Ireland


Staycation on Ireland’s East Cork Bird Trail

If you’re an East Cork local looking for safe lockdown activities then you’re in luck! There are phenomenal bird watching opportunities stretching over 100km East of the City of Cork. If you’re from further afield, then make sure you add East Cork to your list of birding destinations for when travel is more flexible. 

About East Cork

Birding is high up on the list of things to do in East Cork, along with the wealth of cultural and historical hamlets, or the spectacular coastline – it’s a relatively unknown gem of the British Isles. With breathtaking scenery, lush forests, dramatic coastal cliffs separated by sandy beaches, waterways, marshes and estuaries abound. It’s no wonder this is a hotspot for birders. The birding trails are well marked and there are signboards detailing birds you’re likely to see in specific areas. This is a world-class birding destination and the scenery won’t disappoint. 

Ballycotton Cliff Walk has some spectacular views and a wonderful stretch of well-marked trail

See also: Backyard birding

The region is known for small towns, interesting historical destinations, and even specialty cheese with a booming dairy industry. You can enjoy a trip to Ballinrostig Cheese while en route to some of the class birding spots. In between identifying the local sea birds, you can visit the final site that the Titanic docked before its infamous sinking. Or if you’re interested in a more current cultural insight, pop to the Midleton Market on Saturday mornings for other local delicacies and farm-fresh goods. Beyond the charm of the towns and villages of East Cork, the landscape is dotted with castles and coastal tower ruins, all holding a piece of history and are worth a visit, not only for the cultural insight but because they offer refuge for nesting birds. 

Cobh, the historically rich port town is home to a number of worthy birding spots

The East Cork Bird Trail

There are few places that have such an extensive network of trails that are specifically marked for birders. The East Cork Bird trail is an incredible stretch of coastline from Rocky Bay in the South of Cork, to Youghal on the East Coast. Each location hosts trails that are signposted with specific species of birds that are common in the area. 

Brown Island in Ballintubrid is home to Wigeon and even Grebes or Brent Geese

Ballynamona Strand

Home to breeding Fulmars, Oystercatchers and Peregrine Falcons, this stretch of beach is picturesque to say the least, and is only a short drive from the Ballycotton Cliff Walk.


The town of Midleton, somewhat of a midpoint on the trails, is home to the Owencurra River, which babbles through the town centre, and is only a few kilometers from the coastline. This wonderful town is full of the conveniences of a short drive to Cork City and has a good infrastructure of pedestrian and bicycle trails.

A view through the Ballyannan Wood to a section of Midleton Estuary

Of course, the birding here is notable too. Surrounded by farmland, the estuary and rivers are connected to a lush woodland, Ballyannan (Blueberry) Wood, providing birders with a variety of options. 

Right alongside the highway and a part of the urban birding experience, this part of Midleton's Estuary is easily accessible via bicycle and pedestrian trails.

So, are you sold? Time to pencil in that trip to South and East Cork’s Bird Trail.

The author at home on the Ballycotton Cliff Walk

Tell us about your birding staycation! Send us a blog of your local birding destination and your local spot could be featured here. 

For a more in-depth look at the birding areas of the South & East Cork Bird Trail, download the SECAD PDF below, or visit the https://www.ringofcork.ie/birdtrail/

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