Discover Wildlife Weekends from Ireland’s Wildlife

Watching whales from a West Cork headland on the Spring 2014 Discover Wildlife Weekend

Watching minke whales feeding in Rosscarbery Bay from a cliff-top vantage point on the Spring 2014 Discover Wildlife Weekend

World class wildlife… stunning coastal scenery…
unbeatable local knowledge!

Book now for our Autumn Weekend
09-11 October 2015

Based on the stunning West Cork coastline, our Discover Wildlife Weekends get you closer to Irish wildlife, both on the weekend itself, and on an ongoing basis by honing your wildlife watching skills and giving you lots of hints and tips to enjoy more productive and enjoyable wildlife watching.

On your Discover Wildlife Weekend you’ll get the chance to:

  • discover more about Irish wildlife and effective wildlife watching
  • explore somewhere new with experienced local guides
  • meet like minded people with similar interests

“Thank you for co-ordinating such an amazing weekend. I am rejuvenated and look forward to doing another weekend next year.”

Pauline Cudmore, Ireland

Click here to book your place now


Or Contact Us by email for more details, or give us a call us on +353 (0)86 8233709
(if we don’t answer it’s probably because we’ve sneaked out of the office to watch wildlife — please leave a message) 

What are Discover Wildlife Weekends?

A brace of fin whales on the surface with the West Cork coast in the background

Fin whales surfacing against the backdrop of the West Cork coastline

Discover Wildlife weekends are all about exploring the wonderful wildlife of the fabulous West Cork coastline.

Some of the best coastal wildlife watching in Europe

Our base in the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery is about halfway between the Old Head of Kinsale and Mizen Head — with Galley Head, Toe Head and Sheeps Head all within easy reach.

These headlands offer some of the best land-based locations in Europe for watching marine wildlife. From any of them you can see large whale species like fin whales, humpbacks and minke whales, several species of dolphins, harbour porpoise, basking sharks, sunfish, seals and of course lots and lots of sea birds.

Headlands are also great places to hook up with migrant birds during spring and autumn migration season.

Stunning scenery, amazing wildlife

But it’s not all about headlands… West Cork has much more to offer than that… from uplands and native woodland to inland waterways and estuaries, to coastal dune systems and rocky shores… there’s a huge diversity of habitats and a wealth of wildlife to explore.

Common seal and shags on the West Cork coast

Common seal and shags off the West Cork coast — regulars on our Discover Wildlife Weekends

Discover local wildlife with local wildlife specialists

Run by Calvin Jones, Founder and Managing Editor of Ireland’s Wildlife, and marine mammal specialist Padraig Whooley (Sightings Coordinator with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group), these weekends are the ideal way to experience something new and discover somewhere new with specialists who really understand the local wildlife and know the area well.

Calvin Jones… Founder and Managing Editor, Ireland’s Wildlife

Calvin Jones, Founder and Managing Editor, Ireland's WildlifeCalvin has been mad about wildlife all his life. He grew up on the North Wales coast, driving his mum insane with the creepy crawly menagerie in his bedroom. He spent almost all of his time outdoors, and when he wasn’t watching wildlife, he was reading about it.

After studying Marine Biology at the University of Liverpool, Calvin was introduced to West Cork coast when he worked as a biologist on Sherkin Island in the early 1990s. He was soon hooked, and though he travelled widely over the next decade, visiting some of the world’s iconic wildlife hotspots, he was always drawn back to West Cork. He finally settled in the region permanently in 2002.

In 2011 Calvin launched the Ireland’s Wildlife website: an online hub by Irish wildlife enthusiasts for Irish wildlife enthusiasts. The site has grown quickly to become Ireland’s leading general-interest wildlife and nature website, packed with news, views, profiles and reviews. Calvin’s wildlife and nature writing has been published extensively in popular national and international publications.

Pádraig Whooley, Marine Mammal Specialist

Pádraig WhooleyPádraig Whooley is an avid observer of whales and is the Sightings Co-Ordinator with the IWDG. He travelled extensively overseas following his passion for whales, before moving to Cork in 1999.

For much of the next decade Pádraig carried out cetacean watches and research from West Cork vantage points like the Old Head of Kinsale, Galley Head and Cape Clear Island. His early work helped highlight the importance of West Cork as a critical feeding habitat for large whales.

Pádraig is an advocate of sustainable Whale Watching in Ireland and is a regular contributor to a range of natural history publications, media and wildlife documentaries. His work on cetaceans has been published in a range of peer reviewed publications.

Together we’ve designed Discover Wildlife Weekends to deliver exactly what wildlife lovers are looking for in a wildlife break.

We didn’t just take a guess at it: we asked members of the Ireland’s Wildlife online community for their opinion and feedback, then we crafted a tailored wildlife weekend based around the content you asked for. We’re confident the result delivers something unique for everybody, and we’re committed to making your Discover Wildlife Weekend a wildlife experience to remember.

“Great weekend with Ireland’s Wildlife. I would highly recommend these Wildlife Weekends to anyone looking to learn about or see more wildlife. Thanks Calvin and Padraig.”

Sandra Jordan, Dublin

Some of the things you’ll learn on a Discover Wildlife Weekend:

  • Discover Wildlife Weekend Spring 2014Improve your fieldcraft and get closer to wildlife
  • Understand the wildlife calendar – know what to look for when
  • Wildlife habitat – know what to look for where
  • How to watch wildlife responsibly
  • How your wildlife watching can make a difference for wildlife through citizen science
  • Making the most of wildlife in your garden
  • How to see and identify Ireland’s whales, dolphins and porpoises from land and from boats
  • … and much more

What we cover on the weekend will vary depending on the weather, the time of year and the wildlife that’s around at the time. We always aim to spend as much time as possible out watching wildlife in the field, and focus on local wildlife and habitats,  because that helps you get the most out of the field excursions.

Some of the things you might see on a Discover Wildlife Weekend:

Little EgretNaturally, wildlife is unpredictable, and varies from season to season (we’ll cover that in the Wildlife Calendar part of the weekend). As always with nature there are no guarantees, and it’s impossible to predict what we will see on any given weekend. That’s all part of the fun… but possible highlights might include:

  • The chance to spot fin whales, humpbacks, minke whales, dolphins and porpoise from one of Europe’s land-based whale watching hotspots
  • Large movements of seabirds along the West Cork coast
  • Otters and kingfishers hunting on tidal inlets and waterways
  • Visiting waders and wildfowl on coastal mudflats, lagoons and estuaries
  • Migrant passerine birds during spring and autumn migration
  • Resident raptors including peregrine, kestrel, sparrowhawk and merlin
  • Searching for mammal tracks and signs
  • Close encounters with grey and common seals
  • Charismatic choughs along coastal sea cliffs
  • Dragonflies and Damselflies hawking smaller insects
  • Diving gannets just off shore
  • … and who knows what else.

This was a very enjoyable weekend and we certainly would attend another one in the future. It was a very nice group of people, and I was glad to see the range in ages participating. It was very helpful to have your scopes available for people to share.

Christabel Grant, USA

Click here to book your place now


Or Contact Us by email for more details, or give us a call us on +353 (0)86 8233709
(if we don’t answer it’s probably because we’ve sneaked out of the office to watch wildlife — please leave a message) 

What’s included in your Discover Wildlife Weekend?

Celtic Ross

The Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery — home for the weekend.

Discover Wildlife Weekends are residential weekends based at the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery, Co. Cork.

They run from Friday evening registration through to early Sunday afternoon, and include a unique blend of talks and field-based excursions tailored to suit local wildlife activity and the time of year.

The fee for the Discover Wildlife Weekend is €75 per person — that includes all talks and land-based field excursions.

It does not include your accommodation, food and additional expenses.

We’ve negotiated a special 2 night accommodation package with the Celtic Ross Hotel that includes full breakfast both mornings, an evening meal on the Saturday night and a packed lunch for Saturday’s field excursions, all for the great value price of €119 per person… with NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT.

“The Hotel was in the ideal location and very comfortable in all regards. The staff couldn’t have been more pleasant, and were very responsive to our needs. The food was good and plentiful. I would stay there again!”

Christabel Grant, USA

Marine wildlife boat trip

Lunge feeding minke whale

A minke whale lunges through a densely packed shoal of juvenile herring just off the West Cork coast

If the sea conditions are favourable we include a marine wildlife trip with local whale watching specialist Colin Barnes of Cork Whale Watch, aboard the purpose built MV Holly Jo. We’ll look for whales, dolphins, porpoise, seals, seabirds and other marine wildlife off the West Cork coast.

We’ve negotiated a special €40 per person rate for the boat trip, which is payable directly to Colin on the day.

These boat trips are a highlights of the weekend, and offer an unrivalled opportunity to get close to some spectacular marine wildlife.

“I had such a wonderful weekend. and thanks to the two of you for making it such a memorable weekend.”

Crea Ryder, Ireland

A great location, a great hotel, and great wildlife… it all makes for an unbeatable weekend!

Click here to book your place now


Or Contact Us by email for more details, or give us a call us on +353 (0)86 8233709
(if we don’t answer it’s probably because we’ve sneaked out of the office to watch wildlife — please leave a message)

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