As far as we are aware regular recording of the bird life of BWI Cuskinny Marsh Nature Reserve did not take place until the early 1970s with no records from before that date currently available.

It was in January 1990 that an official Birdwatch Ireland Nature reserve was established on the site and since then some management work has been carried out in an attempt to improve the habitat for birds. In the summer of 1992 the area of the reserve was greatly increased, incorporating most of the uncultivated land surrounding the lake.

For the purpose of recording wildlife sightings etc. on the reserve we also include Cuskinny Bay which is on the southern boundary of the reserve and is always worth checking when visiting the area.


Click a species name for more information:


A Guide to the Wetland & Sea birds of Cuskinny Marsh Nature Reserve (2017)

This systematic list is by no means exhaustive, and while every effort to include all sightings has been made, if the reader has additional records of any species, or corrections to the existing records email them to

BRENT GOOSE Branta bernicla

Only recorded regularly in the bay since the late 1990s and now flocks of up to 25 can be seen feeding at low tide in the bay during the winter.

CANADA GOOSE Branta canadensis
There was a free flying feral population of these geese at The Lough, Cork City for many years and most flew to and from Ballycotton during the year. Eight were seen on the lake on the 26th September 1994. There are at least 5 feral birds at Slatty Bridge, Cobh Cross.

BARNACLE GOOSE Branta leucopsis
Five on the 12th January 1982 and one on the lake during the winter of
1990/91 are the only records on the reserve of this rare visitor to county Cork.

In February 1992 two individuals were seen in the bay. These birds were almost definitely from a free flying feral population present at nearby Fota Wildlife Park.

MUTE SWAN Cygnus olor
Mute Swans have been present on the lake for many years and are the most popular species with the general public. Up to the late 70’s these birds were much persecuted during the breeding season with egg stealing being the main problem. During one such incident a female was deliberately killed defending her clutch.
Thankfully this practice seems to have almost disappeared and a pair has successfully hatched a brood of cygnets on the lake almost every year since except 1999.

Ringing studies of the Swans on the lake and in the county have shown that there is a fairly regular change of adult birds on the lake. There has never been more than one breeding pair on the lake.

In 1992 a new unringed pair chased the resident pair off the lake after the female of old pair had begun sitting on the nest. This is very unusual for Mute Swans. The new bird also sat on the same nest for a short while but no young were produced. The cause of the failure of both pairs was possibly due to the late “eviction” of the old pair or nest disturbance.

SHELDUCK Tadorna tadorna
This species, which is very common in the harbour during the winter months, is rarely seen on the lake, preferring the huge open mudflats at places like Rossleague. A few pairs breed on the Great Island and during April and May birds can be seen engaging in courtship displays on and around the lake, with up to ten individuals having been seen at any one time. An attempt by parent birds to bring their young onto the lake is made most years but rarely succeeds because they are usually driven out aggressively by the Mute Swans defending their young. In 1992 no Mute Swans were hatched and a brood of 11 Shelducks was brought onto the lake, and apart from the attention of the Grey Herons they were largely undisturbed.

GADWALL Anas strepera
A very rare visitor to the reserve. A male and female on 24th February 1985 is the only record for the reserve.

WIGEON Anas penelope
Despite large numbers present in Cork Harbour in the winter they are rare visitors to the reserve. A male on the 3rd September 1970 and a pair on 21st September 1980 and up to 60 during the winter of 2005/2005 are the only records for the reserve.

AMERICAN WIGEON Anas americana

One record of a male on the lagoon during May 2013. 

MALLARD Anas platyrhynchos
The most common duck on the reserve, present all year round and breeding annually. The number of breeding pairs varies from year to year with an average of six to eight pairs. Maximum counts occur in the autumn months with over 200 present on occasions.

PINTAIL Anas acuta
A species scarce in the county and the harbour area with rarely more than 20 birds present in the winter months. On the reserve there are no records before 1970 and since then they have only been recorded once or twice up to 1991. During the winter of 1991/1992 Pintail were present on the lake from 20th October for the winter with a maximum count of three males and six females, one female remained until April 21th 1992.

SHOVELER Anas clypeata
Recorded only once on the reserve. In March 1980 two males were seen on the 2nd with one still present on the 17th.

TEAL Anas crecca
A species present almost all year round on the reserve in small numbers and breeding irregularly. Numbers seen vary from two to four during the summer and as many as 15 in the winter months. There was an exceptional count of 50 on the 15th December 1977.

GREEN-WINGED TEAL Anas carolinensis
One record of a male. Awaiting details.

POCHARD Aythya ferina
A scarce visitor to the reserve. Not recorded every year and then only in the winter months, during very cold weather. Counts of over 70 have been made on the lake on one or two occasions.

RING-NECKED DUCK Aythya collaris
One record of a male on the lagoon on a number of dates in March 2012. 

TUFTED DUCK Aythya fuligula
Recorded most years on the lake. In 1990 a pair was present on the lake up to the 15th May and courtship behavior was observed but they did not stay to breed. During the winter months up to ten have been seen on rare occasions, but usually only one or two are seen.

SCAUP Aythya marila
A scarce duck in Cork Harbour and seen twice on the lake. Two females on 6th March 1971 and 10 on 11th December 1981.

SURF SCOTER Melanitta perspicillata
One record of one from the bay on a number of dates from December 2010 and into January 2011.

VELVET SCOTER Melanitta fusca

They have been  two records from the bay in January 2015 and January 2020.

COMMON SCOTER Melanitta nigra
Not recorded before 1980. During the 1980’s small numbers were present in the eastern end of the harbour and occasionally during the winter months between two and four could be seen off the bay. Nine were seen in the bay on 23rd November 1985.

LONG-TAILED DUCK Clangula hyemalis
Rarely seen in Cork Harbour. Only one record of four in the bay from 30th December 1988 to 3rd January 1989.

GOLDENEYE Bucephalus clangula
An occasional visitor to the reserve. Recorded in most years during the 1980’s and 1990’s with usually only two or three seen on the lake during the winter months, but sometimes as many as ten. Females are usually recorded with males been seen on rare occasions. Flocks of between four and eight can be seen in and around the bay during the winter months also. Since the mid 1990’s numbers have declined and are now rarely seen on the reserve. This reflects the trend in Cork Harbour.

Recorded only twice on the lake in the present period. Five or six are usually seen in and off the bay between late September and early April where they sometimes come ashore to preen, especially at low tide. Over 100 were present in the bay area on 28th December 1976.

Seen infrequently in the bay between October and March rarely more than two in a day.

Single records of one on the bay during December 1998 and early January 2004.

Regularly seen between October and March off the bay with sometimes up to seven individuals present, particularly after strong southerly winds when birds have been seen within 10 meters of the shore and one was recorded on the lake on one occasion.


One record of one bird from the bay on 28th December 2010.

EUROPEAN STORM PETREL Hydrobates pelagicus
Rarely seen inside Cork Harbour. One was seen off the bay on the 7th June 1977.

LEACH’S PETREL Oceanodroma leucorhoa

They have been recorded from the bay. Awaiting details.

FULMAR Fulmarus glacialis
Recorded in the bay and very occasionally over the lake between March and August. Thought to have bred in or near French`s Bay, to the west of the reserve on one occasion.

MANX SHEARWATER Puffinus puffinus
Rarely seen inside Cork Harbour, recorded twice off the bay During June 1977.

LITTLE GREBE Tachybaptus ruficollis
Two to four pairs breed annually on the lake. During the winter months resident birds are joined by immigrants and counts in double figures are normal. The highest count on the lake was 38. Birds are also seen occasionally on the bay during the winter months.

RED-NECKED GREBE Podiceps grisegena

A small number of records from the bay during the 1980s and 1990s. Awaiting further details.


There have been records of single birds, rarely two together from the bay almost annually.

GREAT CRESTED GREBE Podiceps cristatus
Recorded from September to April but only regularly between October and March, this beautiful diver is regularly seen in the bay and sometimes even comes ashore. The number of birds varies a lot with up to ten seen during the winter months and occasionally as many as 35 have been recorded.

BLACK-NECKED GREBE Podiceps nigricollis

Recorded almost annually from the bay in the 1990s and 2000s. 

GLOSSY IBIS Plegadis falcinellus

One record of two birds flying in off the sea on 20th May 2014.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON Nycticorax nycticorax

One record of one bird on the reserve in may 2008.

GREY HERON Ardea cinerea
These very noticeable birds breed annually in the grounds of nearby Cuskinny House. The Heronry is a small one with between two and six pairs breeding. Grey Herons are a prominent feature of the reserve with birds always to be seen in and around the lake and the bay area all year round. Three or four birds are usually present on the lake with another three or four also present on the shoreline of the bay at low tide. Occasionally roosts of up to 20 birds are recorded in the trees and fields on the east side of the lake.

LITTLE EGRET Egretta garzetta
A single adult which circled the lake on February 1st 1991 and flew off to the north. A single adult present irregularly in the bay during December 2001. One bird is now seen regularly around the lake and in the bay.

GANNET Morus bassanus
This large seabird regularly enters Cork Harbour and is recorded annually off the bay in small numbers between July and September. 12 were seen hunting off the bay on 2nd August 1985. The decline in Mackerel shoals inside the harbour has led to a reduction in records within the last 10 years. In the winter, Gannets are scarce off our coasts and rare in the harbour. There is one record of an adult seen off the bay in January 1985.

SHAG Phalacroocrax aristotelis
Seen regularly in small numbers in the bay in all months of the year. No confirmed records from the lake.

CORMORANT Phalacrocorax carbo
Recorded on the lake in every month of the year in small numbers, usually no more than three in a day. From July to October numbers visiting the lake increase and up to eight birds have been recorded in a day during this period. Both adult and immature birds are seen feeding on small eels and small flatfish that enter the lake under the bridge at the southern end of the reserve at high tide. Cormorants are also regularly seen in the bay.

WESTERN OSPREY Pandion haliaetus

At least one record of one bird on the reserve. Awaiting details.

WHITE-TAILED EAGLE Haliaeetus albicilla

At least one record of one bird on the reserve. Awaiting details.

SPARROWHAWK Accipter nisus
Recorded in every month, usually singly but occasionally two in a day. Regularly hunts over the reserve and breeds in nearby woodlands.

MARSH HARRIER Circus aeruginosus
Once a regular breeding species in Ireland, now a rare visitor to Ireland. One record of an adult female flying the length of the reserve on 21st and 22nd July 1980 was the first for the Great Island.

HEN HARRIER Circus cyaneus
Very rare on the Great Island with no records since 1980. Three records during the winter of 1973/74 may have related to the same individual. Single females seen on 22nd September and 9th November 1973 and 2nd January 1974.

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo

Probably recorded at Cuskinny up to the final decades of the 19th century when the species was driven to extinction in Ireland. Since the 1950s they have been recolonising and are now breed on Great Island and are a regular site at the reserve with up the five seen together.

KESTREL Falco tinnunculus
Recorded in every month but not as regularly as the last species. Never more than one seen in a day.

MERLIN Falco columbarius
A rare visitor to the reserve with less than ten sightings in the present period. Usually seen in spring, autumn and winter.

PEREGRINE Falco peregrinus
Recorded in every month of the year, always lone birds and usually females or young birds, recorded most frequently in the winter months.

BARN OWL Tyto alba
Seen hunting over the reserve in the early 1980’s but like in other parts of the county is declining and has rarely been seen on the reserve since then.

A single bird was seen roosting in a tree on the reserve during the spring of 2003.

PHEASANT Phasianus colchicus
Present all year round, more often heard than seen especially at the northern end of the reserve.

WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus
A resident on the reserve. Its pig-like squealing call can be heard most days, particularly at dusk, around the edge of the lake. A maximum of six calling birds has been heard. Since the introduction of the artificial shoreline this very secretive water bird has been seen in that area on rare occasions. Probably breeds annually on the reserve.

Recorded before the present period but reflecting national trends has now become extinct in county Cork and over most of its former Irish range.

MOORHEN Gallinula chloropus
A resident, breeding water bird of the reserve with up to six pairs present. Usually up to four seen in a day. Regularly seen feeding on the roosting rafts in the evenings.

COOT Fulica atra
A scarce winter visitor on the reserve, not recorded every year. In the mid-1980’s some of the highest numbers on the reserve were recorded with 12 on 3rd March 1984 and 14 on 23re November 1985.
Single pairs have bred irregularly on the reserve, and breeding was last confirmed in 1980 when a single pair raised two young.

OYSTERCATCHER Haematopus ostralegus
Recorded flying over the reserve regularly and seen in the fields around the reserve, particularly those on the eastern border. Also feeds regularly in the bay at low tide. Numbers peak during the winter months when over 100 and occasionally over 200 have been seen.

LAPWING Vanellus vanellus
In cold weather during the winter months they can seen in the fields surrounding the reserve and on the shoreline of the bay, as well as flying overhead. During exceptional cold weather movements 2,500 have been seen in a day.

GOLDEN PLOVER Pluvialis apricaria
On rare occasions small flocks of between 20 and 50 birds have been seen flying high over the reserve during winter and early spring.

RINGED PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula

Present in Cork Harbour in small numbers during the winter and a rare breeding species. At least one record of one bird from the bay. Awaiting details.

WOODCOCK Scolopax rusticola
Apart from eight on the 9th December 1972, Woodcock were recorded annually in very small numbers up to the mid 1970’s. None seen between then and the mid and late 1990’s when they reappeared and have been recorded annually since then in the conifer plantation.

JACK SNIPE Lymnocryptes minimus
Like its cousin the Snipe, has declined dramatically on the Great Island in the last 20 years. Never common and has been recorded less than 10 times on the reserve, all before 1980. Drainage of wet bog land and habitat succession are the main reasons for this species disappearance.

SNIPE Gallinago gallinago
Like the last species the Snipe has declined in numbers on the reserve over the last 20 years. The best time to see them is during very hard, cold winter weather. In the present period numbers have dropped from over twenty in a day to just one or two. The highest count of Snipe on the reserve was 110 in January 1978.

Cork harbour hold internationally important numbers of this wader in the winter months, but there is no suitable feeding areas in or near the reserve. Very rarely seen in the bay in very small numbers (less than 10). On the lake, one on 20th November 1970 and eight in the autumn of 1991 were seen feeding along the artificial shoreline.

BAR-TAILED GODWIT Limosa lapponica
An uncommon bird in Cork Harbour. One record of one bird in the bay on the 12th Movember 2016.

WHIMBREL Numenius phaeopus
Studies carried out in the mid-1970’s show that very large numbers of this species migrate over Cork Harbour each spring. In the last week of April up to 500 have been seen flying over the reserve and small numbers have been seen feeding on the shoreline of the bay. Cork Harbour is one of the few places in Ireland where Whimbrel are recorded regularly in the winter months and individuals have been seen in the bay on occasions.

CURLEW Numenius arquata
Seen mainly in the bay and in the fields to the east of the lake during the winter and spring. In the fields up to 100 have been counted while only five or six feed in the bay at low tide.

SPOTTED REDSHANK Tringa erythropus

At least one record of one bird. Awaiting details.

REDSHANK Tringa totanus
Present in the bay almost all year round in small numbers, rarely more than ten seen in a day. Occasionally seen on the lake, especially in the autumn.

GREENSHANK Tringa nubularia
A scarce visitor to the reserve. Recorded annually in the bay at low tide, especially during autumn and winter, usually singly but occasionally up to four. Very rarely seen around the lake.

GREEN SANDPIPER Tringa ochropus

At least one record from the reserve. Awaiting further details.

WOOD SANDPIPER Tringa glareola
The only record to date for the Great Island was on the artificial shoreline of the lake on 10th and 11th September 1990.

COMMON SANDPIPER Actitis hypoleucos
Usually one or two seen and heard around the lake edge during August and September with very occasionally up to four seen. During the present period one has wintered in the bay area most years and sometimes two or even three have been recorded in winter.

TURNSTONE Arenaria intrepres
Seen regularly in the bay at low tide from October to March with counts varying considerably between 12 and a maximum of 74.

KNOT Calidris canutus

Present in small numbers in Cork Harbour in the winter. At least one record from the bay. Awaiting further details.

DUNLIN Calidris alpina
A very common wader in Cork harbour in winter, preferring large open mudflats. A rare visitor to the reserve. Recorded in very small numbers in the bay at low tide.

GREY PHALAROPE Phalaropus fulicarius
A single record of two adults on the bay on 20th September 1981 was only the second record ever of this species on the Great Island.

KITTIWAKE Rissa tridactyla
A scarce gull in the harbour, though present all year round. On the reserve it is very scarce and only seen in the winter and spring, particularly when large numbers of Black-headed Gulls are present. Usually seen singly but very occasionally as many as 12 may be present.

SABINE’S GULL Xemi sabini

A bird returned annually in late autumn and early winter for a number of years and was seen at Cuskinny on a few occasions. Awaiting more details.

BLACK-HEADED GULLChroicocephalus ridibundus
These are the most common gulls on the reserve. Present all year round and as with the rest of Cork Harbour numbers of this species increase greatly in the autumn and winter months. Most of the winter birds come from Eastern Europe and a ringed Black-headed Gull from Lithuania was seen on one of the roosting rafts during the winter of 1991/1992. Lowest counts are during the summer months with an average of between 10 and 30 individuals present on the lake, rising to between 100 and 200 in the winter. Counts of over 500 have been made on a few occasions. As with the other gull species there is a high turnover of individuals during the day and the number using the lake in the winter regularly exceeds 1000.

LITTLE GULL Hydrocoloeus minutus
Recorded almost annually on the Great Island in small numbers usually in autumn and winter. Has been seen in the bay on at least six occasions in the present period. Also since the reserve was established Little Gulls have been recorded on the lake on at least six occasions.

LAUGHING GULL Leucophaeus atricilla

Two records. A first winter bird on a number of occasions during January 1984 and another on the 10th February 2006.

MEDITERRANEAN GULL Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
The first record of this species on the Great Island was on 20th September 1980, this was only the sixth county record. Since then the numbers seen locally and nationally have increased noticeably, reflecting international trends. Mediterranean Gulls are now recorded regularly on the lake, mainly in the winter, usually up to four but occasionally five or six and on one occasion seven have been seen. Maximum day count is 14.

Since the introduction of roosting rafts on the lake in 1990 the number of gulls in general using the reserve has increased. Most of the gulls in the town come to the lake to wash on a daily basis during the winter months. As a result of such a high turn over the lake has become a very good place for watching gulls in the winter months. The small size of the lake means that good views are always guaranteed.

COMMON GULL Larus canus
Not as common as its name suggests. Present on the lake and in the bay throughout most of the year and like the last species highest counts are made in the winter when up to 50 can be seen in a day.

RING-BILLED GULL Larus delawarensis
The first record of this American gull in Ireland was in 1979, the first record for the Great Island was one at Rossleague on 17th March 1985. Since the reserve was established records are as follows. A bird in its second summer on 13th March 1991, one first summer on 20 June 1991. One adult remained on and off over the summer in 1996. Since these three records Ring-billed Gulls have been seen every year mainly during the winter months with a maximum of six seen together.

Our largest gull, common in the harbour but only found in small numbers on the reserve. Highest counts are made during the winter when numbers rarely exceed 20 in a day on the lake.

GLAUCOUS GULL Larus hyperboreus
Like the last species this large northern gull has occurred a few times on the reserve. No records before the present period.

ICELAND GULL Larus glaucoides
A rare winter visitor to the reserve, more frequent in recent years. No records before the present period.

HERRING GULL Larus argentatus
Not as common as it was in the 1970’s, now found only in small numbers on the reserve with rarely more than 15 present in a day. Most common in the winter.

AMERICAN HERRING GULL Larus smithsonianus
During the winter of 2000/2001 three American Herring Gulls were seen regularly on the lake and in the bay. Recorded most winters since then up to 2005.

YELLOW-LEGGED GULL Larus michahellis

An adult on the lagoon on the 18th February 2006 is the only reported record.

Seen regularly on the reserve during the autumn and winter with numbers sometimes exceeding 60 in a day.

SANDWICH TERN Thalasseus sandvicensis
A summer visitor to the reserve. Usually present in the bay from April to September and occasionally in March and October. Up to 15 have been seen in a day.
Since the rafts were put in place on the lake, Sandwich Terns have been seen in small numbers on the rafts in spring and autumn. Eight was the highest count on the lake in the present period. The earliest record was two on the 21st March 1976. They have only been observed feeding on the lake on one occasion.

LITTLE TERN Sterna albifrons
Very rare in Cork Harbour, records of this beautiful tern are very scarce and the last known record was one in the bay during august 1976.

ROSEATE TERN Sterna dougallii

Recorded at least once at the reserve. Awaiting more details.

COMMON TERN Sterna hirundo
Since the discovery of a colony in the inner harbour in the early 1980’s numbers seen in the bay and on the lake have increased steadily. Spring and autumn are the best times to see them on the lake, especially since rafts were put in place. They have been seen feeding very occasionally in the lake, but are usually seen in and off the bay. During the summer up to 30 have been seen in the bay while the largest group seen on the lake was seven in April 1991.

ARCTIC TERN Sterna paradisaea
Rare in the harbour at the best of times and only recorded once or twice a year in the bay area.

BLACK TERN Chlidonias niger

Formerly irregular in very small numbers in Cork Harbour in autumn. Recorded at least once at the reserve. Awaiting more details.

GREAT SKUA Catharacta skua
Rarely seen inside Cork Harbour, recorded once in the bay in the present period.

ARCTIC SKUA Stercorarius parasiticus
Rarely seen inside Cork Harbour, with only a single record from the reserve of a dark phase bird in the bay on 31st October 1977.

GUILLEMOT Uria aalge
Seen in small numbers in the bay from October to March, counts rarely exceeding four in a day. In early January 1988 a large mixed flock of 1,000 auks was present in the eastern end of the harbour approximately 300 of which were Guillemots. Tide line corpses are occasionally found on the beach after strong winter gales or oiling incidences.

RAZORBILL Alca torda
Like the last species this auk is infrequently seen in the bay during the late autumn and winter, though not as frequently as the Guillemot. In early January 1988 up to 700 were present off the bay, by far the largest count of this and the previous species ever recorded in the harbour.

BLACK GUILLEMOT Cepphus grylle
Present in and off the bay from November to March with counts of two to five in a day and rarely up to nine.

ATLANTIC PUFFIN Fratercula arctica

At least one record from the bay. Awaiting further details.


Seen regularly on and around the reserve.

STOCK DOVE Columba oenas
A scarce visitor to the reserve, rarely more than one in a day and usually seen in the winter months.

WOODPIGEON Columba palumbus
A common breeding species on the reserve. During late autumn and early winter flocks of over 100 are occasionally seen in the surrounding farmland.

TURTLE DOVE Streptopelia turtur
Very rare on the Great Island with most of the sightings on the reserve. One on 28th May and two on the 4th July 1977.

COLLARD DOVE Streptopelia decaocto
First recorded breeding on the Great Island in 1963, like its history internationally it has become common though local in its distribution on the island. Occasionally seen flying over the reserve. Breeding has never been proved on the reserve.

CUCKOO Cuculus canorus
In the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s its distinctive call was heard annually on the reserve (J. Ronan pers comms) but since then has declined dramatically and has not been heard in recent years. The decline in meadow habitat, on whose birds it left the responsibility of rearing its young, is probably the reason for its now very rare occurrence.

SWIFT Apus apus
Arrives on the reserve in early May with up to 12 seen in a day especially over the lake. Before departing in late August and early September up to 100 may be counted hunting over the reserve.

KINGFISHER Alcedo atthis
The undisputed jewel of the reserve, one or two are normally present on the reserve from July to November and seen occasionally until mid-March. Also seen around the bay, particularly on the western side. Breeding was attempted in the late 1970’s but was almost certainly unsuccessful. The reserve is one of the best places in the harbour to see this colourful angler.

JAY Garrulus glandarius
A rare visitor to the reserve with only three records in the present period.

MAGPIE Pica pica
A species regularly seen on and around the reserve. Breeds occasionally in the taller trees at the north end.

JACKDAW Corvus monedula
Seen regularly on and around the reserve. Breeds in the surrounding farmland.

ROOK Corvus frugilegus
A common non-breeding species on the reserve all year round. At nearby Carrigrue house a large rookery with over 250 pairs bred up to around 2000 when the colony moved to trees on the eastern ridge above the reserve.

CARRION CROW Corvus cornix

At least one record on the reserve. Awaiting further details.

HOODED CROW Corvus corix
Has bred in trees at the north and east side of the reserve.
Between three and five are usually seen at low tide in the bay area.

RAVEN Corvus corax
Breeds in tall trees to the southwest just outside the reserve. Has become more common in the area in recent years. One to three birds regularly seen and heard in the large field to the east of the lake.

WAXWING Bombycilla garrulus

At least one record on the reserve. Awaiting further details.

COAL TIT Parus ater
A resident breeding species on the reserve. Since the establishment of a nest box scheme on the reserve in 1990 one pair bred in 1991 and 1992.
A bird ringed in one of the nest boxes on 2nd June 1991 was picked up dead after hitting a window at Marino Point, Great Island on 4th July the same year. This is also the first recovery of a bird ringed on the reserve.

BLUE TIT Parus caeruleus
A common resident breeding species on the reserve. In the nest box scheme since 1989 over 100 broods with an average of 6 chicks per brood have been raised.

GREAT TIT Parus major
Like the last species, a common breeding species on the reserve. Great Tits have reared young in the nest boxes since they were first put up in 1989.

SKYLARK Alauda arvensis
Bred regularly on the surrounding hilltops where meadow persisted up until the late 1960’s. Since then few if any have bred on the island.
Seen occasionally flying over the reserve during the winter, especially during cold weather when flocks of up to 200 have been counted.

SAND MARTIN Riparia riparia
Nearest breeding colony is at Fota Island. This species varies enormously in abundance from year to year. Usually seen over the lake in late April and early May with up to 10 occasionally counted. In the autumn similar numbers are recorded.
The earliest annual sighting on the reserve was one on 15th March 1978.

SWALLOW Hirundo rustica
This well-known summer visitor breeds in farm buildings close to the reserve, but has been declining in numbers in recent years.
Severe droughts in North Africa, increased use of insecticides, and more modern, less suitable farm buildings are contributing factors to its present status.
In late August a small pre-migration roost can be seen in the Phragmites reed beds around the lake. Up to 200 have been counted entering one of these evening roosts.

HOUSE MARTIN Delichon urbica
They once bred on buildings in the town of Cobh as well as on the water reservoir at Carrignafoy (possibly 100 pairs) up to the early 1980’s. Not known to breed here anymore and is a rare sight both on the island and the reserve. The last week in April or the first week in May is the best times to look for them.

LONG-TAILED TIT Aegithalos caudatus
Seen and heard regularly on the reserve particularly in the winter when flocks of up to 12 are occasionally seen.

WILLOW WARBLER Phylloscopus trochilus
A breeding summer migrant with up to four birds heard singing in a day from mid-may onwards.

CHIFFCHAFF Phylloscopus collybita
A breeding summer migrant. Usually heard singing from mid-march onward.
Winters in small numbers on the reserve with as many as 14 present in some years. Wintering numbers vary from year to year with only two or three seen in recent years. The Siberian race Phylloscopus c. tristis has been recorded on a few occasions.

SEDGE WARBLER Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
An annual summer visitor, breeding in the reed beds especially on the east side of the reserve and formerly at the north end of the reserve. Present from May to September, a maximum of seven breeding pairs in any one year.

REED WARBLER Acrocephalus scirpaceus

Recorded singing on the reserve on at least 10 times in the last 20 years.


At least one record of one singing on the reserve. Awaiting further details.

BLACKCAP Sylvia atricapilla
Usually seen in the winter when one or two may be found infrequently.
Occasionally one or two are seen in the spring or autumn.

WHITETHROAT Sylvia communis
Has been heard singing on rare occasions on the reserve in late spring and early summer.

GOLDCREST Regulus regulus
This is the smallest bird in Europe and a resident breeding bird on the reserve. Best seen in the wooded areas.

WREN Troglodytes troglodytes
A common resident on the reserve. Winter roosts of up to 12 birds were found in nest boxes on the reserve in the winter of 1991/92.

TREECREEPER Certhia familiaris
A scarce breeding species on the reserve. Present all year round. Easiest to see in the winter months when foliage will not hide these small, well camouflaged birds which can be seen always creeping up tree trunks and branches.

STARLING Sturnus vulgaris
Not very common on the reserve, seen occasionally at the southern end. In late autumn, some roost in the reed beds around the lake.
Numbers vary but sometimes as many as 300 have been counted entering the reed bed.

BLACKBIRD Turdus merula
A common resident breeding species on the reserve.

FIELDFARE Turdus pilaris
An annual winter visitor usually seen between mid October to mid March.
Numbers recorded vary considerably from year to year depending on the severity of the winter weather. A mixed roost of 300 Fieldfare and redwing was seen on the reserve on the 5th February 1977. Over were 800 recorded flying low over the harbour from the southern end of the reserve ahead of a heavy snow storm in the winter of 1980.

REDWING Turdus iliacus
Like the Fieldfare seen from mid October to mid March, with numbers varying from year to year. Usually seen flying over or in the trees at the east or north end of the reserve. During severe winter weather thousands flew low, west past the bay in 1980.

SONG THRUSH Turdus philomelos
Scarce on the reserve, probably breeds most years. May be seen all year round. Rarely more than one or two seen in a day.

MISTLE THRUSH Turdus viscivorus
Breeds on the reserve in most years. Rarely more than two seen in a day.

SPOTTED FLYCATCHER Muscicapa striata
Rarely seen on the reserve with only one record in the last 20 years, a single bird on 25th August 1985.

ROBIN Erithacus rubecula
A common resident, breeding species on the reserve. In the winter they are constantly seen around the swan feeding area at the east side of the lake.

BLACK REDSTART Phoenicurus ochruros
An annual autumn and winter visitor to the Great Island. Usually one or two seen most winters in the bay area.

STONECHAT Saxicola torquata
Breeds most years in the gorse at the southern end of the reserve. Seen on or near the sand quay on the bay in the winter. Rarely more than two seen in a day.

NORTHERN WHEATEAR Oenanthe oenanthe
One or two migrants seen most years at the southern end of the reserve from late march to mid-April, rarely seen in autumn.

TREE SPARROW Passer montanus

Very rare in county Cork. At least one record on the reserve. Awaiting further details.

TREE SPARROW Passer montanus

Very rare in county Cork. At least one record on the reserve. Awaiting further details.

HOUSE SPARROW Passer domesticus
Breeds on a farm at the north end of the reserve. Rarely seen on the reserve itself.

DUNNOCK Prunella modularis

A common resident breeding species on the reserve.

GREY WAGTAIL Motacilla cinerea
Has bred at the bridge at the northern end of the reserve. Occasionally flushed from the riverbank in the winter months. Also seen occasionally in the bay area.
During January 1996 a maximum of 12 roosted in the reed bed in the northwest corner of the lake.

PIED WAGTAIL Motacilla yarrellii
Regularly seen at the southern end of the reserve in small numbers. Never more than three in a day.

MEADOW PIPIT Anthus pratensis
Like the Skylark this species has declined as a breeding species due to the reduction of meadow habitat. A small number still breed on the island. Scarce on the reserve, occasionally seen at the southern end.

WATER PIPIT Anthus spinoletta
Very rare in county Cork. One record of a bird on the strand in August 2003.

ROCK PIPIT Anthus petrosus
Cuskinny Bay is one of the most reliable places on the Great Island to see this species. Breeds in the bay area and can be seen all year round. Between two and six are usually present.

CHAFFINCH Fringilla coelebs
A common breeding species on the reserve, seen all year round.

BRAMBLING Fringilla montifringilla
A scarce winter visitor on the Great Island and recorded twice on the reserve. 20 on the 28th February 1970 and two on 26th November 1983.

BULLFINCH Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Up to five in a day have been recorded on the reserve. They have also bred on the reserve.

GREENFINCH Carduelis chloris
A resident breeding species on the reserve seen and heard in small numbers all year round.

LINNET Carduelis cannabina
Bred regularly at the southern end of the reserve, now only seen occasionally. Counts rarely exceed 10 in a day.

REDPOLL Carduelis flammea
Like the Siskin, seen on the reserve most years, in late autumn and winter. Also preferring the alders where counts vary from year to year with occasionally up to 40 in a day.

GOLDFINCH Carduelis carduelis
Flocks of up to 12 have been seen on the reserve during autumn and winter. Singing birds have been regularly heard at the southern end of the reserve during the breeding season and this is the best place to look for them at any time of the year.

SISKIN Carduelis spinus
This winter visitor to the alders on the reserve occurs in variable numbers from year to year. Flocks of over 40 have been seen at the north and east sides of the reserve.

YELLOWHAMMER Emberiza citrinella
Breeds close to the reserve but not seen very often on the reserve. The winter is the best time to fine them when occasionally one or two birds are seen flying overhead.

REED BUNTING Emberiza schoeniclus
One or two pairs probably breed each year on the reserve. Up to four seen in a day, usually in autumn and winter.