BirdWatch Ireland

West Cork Branch

Protecting birds and biodiversity in West Cork



The Branch



Birding Sites

Branch Diary






Courtmacsherry Estuary


Overview and habitat

Courtmacsherry Estuary is now designated as a SAC for Birds and dune system habitat. It holds internationally important wintering numbers of Black-tailed Godwits, and nationally important numbers of Cormorant, Teal,  Redshank, Great Northern Diver, Shelduck, Wigeon, Red Breasted Merganser, Lapwing, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Greenshank. Black-headed and Common Gulls also occur in significant numbers.

Target species

Black-tailed Godwits, Cormorant, Redshank, Great Northern Diver, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal.

Best time of year

Winter is good for a number of species, especially gulls, ducks and divers.

Getting there

Grid Ref W 49 43 The whole estuary, including the off-shoot of Kilbrittain Creek, is viewable from a road which runs around the perimeter. There are many lay-byes around the road where you can pull off the road to view the birds.



During the winter the following birds are present; Great Northern Diver (from the car park at the end of Courtmacsherry especially at low tide). Cormorant, Shag, Little and Great Crested Grebe, Pale-bellied Brent Geese, Shelduck, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveller, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Black and Bar-tailed Godwits, Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Greater and Lesser Black Backed Gulls, Herring, Common, Black-headed, and Mediterranean Gulls, and occasional  Common and Green Sandpipers (Argideen River above Timoleague), Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Ruff and Whimbrel. Common Scoters in the Bay. Also Grey Heron and Little Egrets breed.

In the last few years the estuary has attracted and held Spoonbill(7), Glossy Ibis(27) and Cattle Egret(19).

Rarities include: Slavonian and Black-Necked grebe, American Widgeon, Ruddy Duck, Black-throated Diver, Osprey, American Golden Plover, Yellow-Legged Gull, Ring-Billed Gull, Iceland and Glaucous Gulls, Gull-billed Tern, Surf Scoter and Great Grey Shrike.


Resident/breeding birds include Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Herons and Little Egrets. Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Rock Pipit, Kingfisher and Dipper. Also in the summer months there will be a scattering of non-breeding Oystercatchers, and Black-tailed Godwits.

Terns are present from July to September feeding their fledged chicks in the sheltered estuary and bay.

A detour up the Argideen River to Inchy Bridge will give you a sighting of Kingfisher and Dipper, and in the month of July, Long Eared Owl at Dusk.