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Killybegs Donegal

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Derek Charles

Site Location Details

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Site Details

Killybegs is Ireland's largest fishing port, situated in a natural harbour on Donegal Bay. For gull geeks (sorry, that should be laridophiles), or indeed for any birder aiming to brush up on gull identification, Killybegs offers superb access to large numbers of gulls drawn in by deep-sea fishing boats and fish-processing activities. You'll find gulls in virtually every plumage you could ask for, and often side-by-side on the same roof for easy comparison. Amongst these, good numbers of 'white-winged' gulls usually build up over the winter, and a visit in January or February can provide rewarding views of Iceland Gulls and Glaucous Gulls in various plumages, not to mention a sprinkling of American smithsonianus Herring Gulls and perhaps the odd Kumlien's Gull.

Modernisation of fish processing plants and harbour development in recent years have had the effect of cleaning up the harbour, with less unprocessed fish waste being disposed of directly into the sea. As a result, the spectacular sights of thousands of gulls wheeling around in feeding frenzies may have largely faded, but then so has that all-pervading fishy stench.

The whole estuary is of interest and worth exploring.

Local Weather

Birding Sites in the Killybegs Area

Prominent Species at Killybegs

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Additional Site Details


Care required when birding around the busy harbour area, especially when boats are unloading.


Public car parking available.

Opening Times

Any reasonable time.


Cosy pubs and eating establishments overlooking harbour, for when the weather turns grim.

Key Areas / Routes

The fish factories are productive, and the roofs should be carefully checked. The main pier can hold many gulls, especially when the trawlers are unloading. Mud flats at the eastern end of the town are worth checking for waders and for gull roosts. The general harbour area can be a good place to see Black Guillemots at any time of the year.

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British & Irish Records Archive Killybegs

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