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The Burren: Birds of the Burren

Because of the lack of cover in the central Burren the main bird population is confined to the fringes. Sea and costal birds are mostly on the west and northern shores where the rocky coastline provides an ideal sanctuary for birds of many breeds. The profusion of fish offshore and the steep ledges of the Cliffs of Moher induce thousands of sea birds to nest along the coastline.

Kestrel
Kestrel (Photo: C. Krieger)

Large numbers of Guillemots lay their eggs unprotected on the rock ledges beside the bulky nests of Kittiwakes. Razorbills, closely related to the Guillemots, prefer to lay their eggs in the rock crevices. The colourful Puffins make burrows in which to lay a single egg or on occasion take over an abandoned rabbit warren. The Guillemots, Puffins and Razorbills are not graceful in the sky but once underwater in search of fish, they swim exceptionally well, using their wings powerfully.

Predatory birds such as the great black-backed gull can be seen on the Cliffs keeping a sharp lookout for unguarded eggs or chicks. Fulmars, which first nested in Ireland in 1911, are frequently mistaken for gulls. They are remarkable in flight and can guide with rigid wings for long periods.

Puffin
Puffin

Also frequently seen are jet black Ravens with their deep croaking call and the glossy black Chough with its long legs and curved bill of bright red. Shags, with their long bills typical of fish eating birds, have an attractive coppery-green plumage.

Perhaps the rarest bird to be seen along this coastline is the Peregrine Falcon. This bird of prey feeds on other birds, swooping on them from a great height and at a tremendous speed.

The woodland species frequent the eastern areas around Gort. In and around the turloughs, Redshank, Common Sandpiper and Mallard can be found breeding. The thick hazel woodlands provide a good nesting habitat for Warblers and many of the common song birds.

Seagull
Seagull


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