The diversity of habitats in Glenveagh National Park is reflected in the wide range of bird species occurring. A wide variety of species have been recorded in the National Park.
This includes resident species as well as migrants, which spend only part of the year in the south-west of the country. Others have been recorded on passage during the spring and autumn migrations and a few are vagrants, possibly blown off-course during winter storms.
One of the main predators in this upland region is the peregrine falcon (Falco pergrinus), which ranges widely in search of food, particularly wood pigeons. Peregrines nest on the cliffs choosing their nesting ledges with an eye to their inaccessibility and favouring south-facing cliffs for warmth and light. Every suitable cliff is occupied annually by a pair, though it is difficult to pinpoint their eyries on the cliff faces.
Another apex predator that frequents Glenveagh is the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). Reintroduced to Ireland in 2001 after an absence of over 100 years, the first golden eagles were released right here in Glenveagh. While we cannot confirm any eagles currently nest in the Park, there are several that regularly forage the main valley for their next meal. Check out the golden eagle project website and our ongoing projects page for updates. Other predators that are regularly observed in Glenveagh include merlin, sparrowhawk, and kestrel.
The woodlands of Glenveagh are home to an abundance of bird species. Among these is the wood warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix), a rare bird in Ireland but annual visitor to Glenveagh. Arriving in mid-May, the male claims his territory and advertises to females by singing vigorously. The best way to locate one is to listen for its unique descending trill likened to the spinning of a coin on a plate. A variety of other migrant birds, including the spotted flycatcher (Musciapa striata) and chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) also arrive from Africa in mid-May, in time to exploit the summer abundance of insect life.
Other woodland birds of note include the colourful jay (Garrulus glandarius), the scarcer treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) as well as residents such as the chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), song thrush (Turdus philomelos) and robin (Erithacus rubecula). While some typical pinewood bird species including crossbill (Loxia curvirostra), siskin (Carduelis spinus), goldcrest (Regulus regulus) and coal tit (Parus ater) can be seen in throughout the many conifers in the main valley of Glenveagh.
Waterfowl are of major interest in Glenveagh and highlight the northern or Scottish connection. Visitors include the Red-throated diver (Gavia stellata), which is increasing in numbers in Scotland and spreading southwards. Lough Veagh has long been the haunt of the Red-throated diver and it nests in small numbers in the vicinity of Glenveagh, its only Irish breeding centre. The divers feed in nearby coastal waters, and divers calling as they fly in from the sea to their nesting areas are an evocative feature of summer mornings in Glenveagh.
The rare goosander (Mergus merganser) has not been observed in Glenveagh for several years, however, we are looking to build on the excellent work by our colleagues in the Wicklow Mountains National Park to entice this elusive but delightful species back to Glenveagh. Please check out our current and upcoming projects page for more details.
The blanket bog and heath habitat that covers the vast majority of Glenveagh is home to a number of bird species including skylarks, red grouse, curlew and snipe. However, no bird captures the character of the uplands more evocatively than the golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria). Its sweet, melancholy call as it watches from a stone or peat hummock follows the hill walker. As a breeding bird, this beautiful plover is now quite rare in Ireland, where it is confined to the north and west.
For those who wish to do a bit of birding in Glenveagh, you can download our species list here.