One of the great things about exploring Ireland is that the wildlife is very accessible.
A simple walk through the woods, or along a trail on the seashore, can net you all sorts of sightings. Some of these animals are more common in the United States, while others are rarer. Ireland, having been separated from the mainland of Europe for a long time, has an almost Galapagos-like isolation for much of its wildlife, creating species that don’t appear elsewhere because of a peculiar evolution of the species.
I’ve seen deer in the woods, badgers and otters in the streams, hare and martens all over. On one walk through the woods on the Ring of Beara, there was a young red deer (she still had some white spots on her back) flirting us throughout our journey to the top of the mountain. We would walk a bit, she would stop and look at us, come a little closer, and then change her mind and bound off again – only to do it again a bit farther down the trail.
On the seashore, though, I’ve found the most diversity. I’ve seen seals in many places, especially out on the Aran Island of Inis Mór, who have a resident family that live out on the northern rocky shore. The adorable little puffins can be seen in season, flying all around the west coast – Skellig Michael is one spot that they are the thickest. There are resident dolphins in the Dingle peninsula, such as Fungi, who will often come up to the boat to be friendly. There are killer whales, sea turtles, and walrus as well, but those are rarer.
In the skies, there is the occasional golden eagle, which has been recently re-introduced to the land in County Donegal. I’ve seen Osprey, which are also slowly returning to Ireland, as well as kites and gulls. If you are really lucky, you could see a murmur of starlings – a fascinating phenomenon of a flock of starlings riding the wind, which often takes on a fluid progression of shapes and sounds.
If you wish to see wildlife, though, get outside of the cities. That’s not difficult in Ireland, as the only big cities are Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast. Get out of the cities, into the villages and countryside. Take a walk from the safety of your vehicle, and explore a bit. If you are worried about getting lost, take a GPS with you, or your phone – most can be configured for walking rather than driving, and get you back to your car. It is well worth the effort!
This is a guest post kindly shared by Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon. Chritsty does many things, including digital art, beaded jewelry and photography. Visit Christy’s Green Dragon Artist. Christy also has a travel book: IRELAND: Mythical, Magical, Mystical: A Guide to Hidden Ireland.
P.S. Would you like to share your own travel story of Ireland? Please see our post for more details on how to share your love for Ireland.