This section provides an Overview of the Diverse Habitats found in County Mayo, details of the Special Protection Areas and information on Birding Sites in County Mayo.

County Mayo - An Introduction

Mayo has an extremely long coastline of nearly 1,200km that stretches from Killala Bay in the northeast of the county to just north of Leenane in the southwest. The shoreline provides many varied habitats for birds including machair grassland,  high cliffs, sheltered bays and inlets and estuaries. There is also approximately 300km of island coastal shore. Many of the islands off the Mullet peninsula are designated Special protection Areas, e.g. Illanmaistir, Inishglora & Inishkeeragh, the Inishkeas and the Stags of Broadhaven.

There are several lakes (part of the system often referred to as the Great Lakes) extending from Lough Masks in the southwest, through Lough Carra, Lough Cullin and Lough Conn, up towards the northwest of the county. Turloughs are common throughout the county, providing another habitat for the wintering wildfowl and wetland birds, e.g. Greaghan's Turlough near Ballinrobe.

Offshore, especially from mid-August to October, passage migration provides an ideal opportunity to see thousands of birds that pass just off Mayo's coast. With a north-westerly wind, birds are pushed close to the shore and there are many headlands suitable for watching the passage migration, e.g. Kilcummin Head, Downpatrick Head, Erris Head and Annagh Head. Birds passing include shearwaters, skuas, petrels, gulls, gannets, auks, phalarope and terns.

Upland in County Mayo include the Owenduff bog and Nephin mountain range (SPAs) comprising bog, blanket bog, heath, low mountains, lakes and rivers providing ideal habitat for species of birds such as Red Grouse and Golden Plover.

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We will be continuing to add further site information, but appreciate any feedback or comments on these sites, plus details of other good places to visit.

Birding Sites in County Mayo



Ballinrobe area

Ballycroy National Park

Carrowmore Lake

Clare Island

Downpatrick Head

Kilcummin Head

Killala Bay

Mullet Peninsula



Many of the sites listed in this section are Special Protection Areas

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are sites that are important for birds, which are designated under the EU Birds Directive (79/409/EEC). This Directive provides protection or endangered birds and their habitats. In Mayo, the birds include Whooper Swan, Peregrine Falcon and Corncrake. It also provides for regular occurring migratory species, such as geese and waders, as well as wetlands of international importance for migratory birds.

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) in Mayo include the following:
In the northwest of the County: Blacksod and Broadhaven Bays, Termoncarragh Lake and Cross Lough on the Mullet Peninsula, Carrowmore Lake (near Bangor), as well as the islands of Illanmaistir, Inishglora & Inishkeeragh, the Inishkeas and the Stags of Broadhaven.
Other sites include: the Owendiff / Nephin Complex, Lough Carra, Lough Conn and Lough Cullin.

A full list of SPAs in Co Mayo can be seen on the National Parks & Wildlife Service website:

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