The 9 Best Places for Birdwatching in Dublin

A diverse collection of birds count Dublin as their home, including finches, kingfishers, egrets, snipe, gulls, guillemots, and more. 

Thankfully, there are a number of great birdwatching spots across Dublin. Whether you want to spend a day on the lookout in a grand city park, a wild nature preserve, or a saltwater-swept estuary, Dublin has a place for you. 

In this post we share the 9 best places for birdwatching in Dublin.

Map of Places

The following map shows the locations of every place mentioned in this post:

The National Botanic Gardens

The National Botanic Gardens of Ireland are located in the Glasnevin neighbourhood of North Dublin. While the Botanic Gardens is predominantly known for its stunning greenhouses, herbaceous borders, and immaculately manicured lawns, it is also the perfect setting to observe the common town and woodland bird species of Dublin, including blackbirds, robins, and goldfinches. In addition, Kingfishers and Grey Wagtails can be spotted along the Tolka river that flows through the gardens. During the winter, redwing and fieldfare thrush can be seen. 

Admission to the gardens is free. The opening hours for the gardens can be found here.

Bull Island 

To the north of the Clontarf neighbourhood of Dublin lies Bull Island, one of the best places in the city for birding. The island can be accessed from the mainland at two locations, a narrow wooden bridge from Clontarf, and a causeway further north from St. Anne’s Park. 

Formed partially as a result of human development of the Liffey estuary dating back to the 18th century, Bull Island is now home to a huge variety of wildlife. Numerous species of wildfowl can be seen, along with several birds of prey, including kestrels, merlins, and peregrines. 

St. Anne’s Park

Adjacent to Bull Island in North Dublin is St. Anne’s Park. Covering an area of 240 acres, this is one of the largest city parks in Dublin, offering visitors a rose garden, arboretum, pitch and putt, tennis courts, and football pitches. 

The garden and woodland areas of the park are home to a number of common species, including sparrowhawks and jays. 

The Phoenix Park

Located to the west of the city, The Phoenix Park is Europe’s largest walled park. At 1,747 acres, the park is over twice the size of New York City’s Central Park. 

There are several walking trails throughout the park, taking in sites including Aras an Uachtarain, the Irish President’s residence, and the US Ambassador’s residence. Common Irish bird species can be seen in the park throughout the year, while during the winter fieldfare and redwing thrush can be spotted.

Howth

Howth Beacon, Howth peninsula

The village of Howth and the greater Howth Head peninsula (pictured above) is another excellent birdwatching spot. The harbour in the village is home to black guillemots and seagulls. 

Beyond the village there are several cliff walking trails that follow the coast of the peninsula that provide ample opportunities to observe a multitude of seabirds, including cormorant.

Rogerstown Nature Reserve

Nestled in the Rogerstown estuary in north county Dublin, Rogerstown Nature Reserve is one of the lesser know nature reserves in the country. The saltwater marshes and wet meadows provide the perfect habitat for an abundance of wildfowl and wader birds. 

The marked walking trails of the reserve are an excellent place to immerse yourself in nature as they are usually quiet throughout the year. Admission is free, however donations are welcomed. Further information can be found here.

Dun Laoghaire

Dun Laoghaire is one of the most picturesque areas of Dublin, and the combination of bracing sea air, ample cafe and restaurant options, and excellent transport links from the city centre make it the perfect place for a bird watching walk along the two piers of the harbour.

Both the west and east piers of the harbour are ideal locations to observe a number of species of gulls, as well as grebes and auks. The west pier is generally better suited for bird watching purposes as it is quieter than the east pier. 

Sandycove

Situated to the south of Dun Laoghaire, Sandycove is a small Dublin village best known as the setting of the opening of Ulysses by James Joyce. The stretch of rocky coastline is home to gulls throughout the year, with black redstarts being regular visitors every winter.

Sandycove is also famous for the Forty Foot sea bathing area, and the Martello tower where James Joyce once resided.

Shenick Island 

Finally, the Shenick Island Nature Reserve is located on Shenick Island, one of three small islands off the north Dublin coast near the village of Skerries. While the island is accessible by foot during low tide, it is completely cut off from the mainland at high tide so caution should be taken when visiting. 

The island is home to a population of fulmar during the summer months, while during winter light-bellied brent geese and and oystercatchers can be seen.

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