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Clare County Library


Species Introduction
Marine Mammals
Other Mammals
Ducks, Geese and Swans
Birds of Prey
Other Birds
Vascular Plants


Due to the length of coastline and presence of sea cliffs such as the Cliffs of Moher and Loop Head, Clare hosts important populations of seabirds. Also, the Shannon Estuary has the largest number of overwintering waterfowl in Ireland. Many lakes and peatlands in Clare are very important for birds over-wintering and for breeding birds in the summer.

Many of the birds found in Clare are migratory and only live in Clare for part of the year. Birds such as the Swallow come here from hotter countries for the summer. Birds such as the Barnacle goose come here from colder countries during the winter.

Sea Birds

Puffin Fratercula arctica
The Cliffs of Moher hold the only mainland colony of breeding Puffins in Ireland, where the population is increasing (about 1,300 adults). The populations of Puffins in the rest of Europe are decreasing.
Habitat: Marine, offshore. They only come on shore to breed in April/May, when they nest in cliffs.
What could or does threaten the population: Marine pollution and overfishing causing a reduction in food. Puffins can also get caught in fishing nets.
Razorbill Alca torca
The Cliffs of Moher are an internationally
important site for Razorbills where numbers are increasing (about 7,700 adults). The largest number of Razorbills in Ireland are found at the Cliffs of Moher. A considerable population also occurs at Loop Head. Razorbills seem to be declining in the rest of Europe.
Habitat: Marine offshore. Only comes on shore to breed when they nests in sea cliffs.
What could or does threaten the population: Marine pollution, fishing nets and overfishing causing a reduction of food source.
Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Choughs are declining dramatically in other parts of Europe but appear to be stable in Ireland.
They are declining in population in Clare and can be found all along the Clare coast such as at
the Cliffs of Moher, Black Head and Kilkee. Choughs are members of the crow family.
Habitat: Low intensity grasslands along the coast.
What could or does threaten the population: Intensification of agricultural land and the use of Ivermectins as wormers for cattle, lead to less insects in cow dung and therefore less food for Choughs. Disturbance by humans threatens Chough populations. Also inbreeding in populations is causing problems.

Common gull Larus canus
The Common gull is a winter visitor and is common in Ireland and Clare. It can be found all along the Clare coast such as the Shannon Estuary, Galway Bay and Mutton Island. A small number of Common gulls stay throughout the year and breed around Lough Derg and turloughs in North Clare.
Habitat: A wide range of habitats such as coastal and grasslands.
What could or does threaten the population: Over fertilisation, marine pollution and disturbance of nests.

Arctic Tern
Arctic tern Sterna paradisaea
The Arctic tern is the bird with the longest distance of migration in the world. They fly about 30,000km (18,500 miles) on average every year from the Arctic or Northern Europe down to the Antarctic, but can travel up to 50,000km (30,000 miles). Thus they spend most of their lives in daylight. The Arctic tern breeds in Scotland and Ireland. Ballyvaughan, Fergus Estuary and Corranroo Bay on the Galway border are some of the main site where Arctic terns are found in Clare.
Habitat: Marine and occasionally lakes.
What could or does threaten the population: Pollution, disturbance and predators.