> Hillwalk Tours Blog > Hillwalk Guides > Bird species along the Wild Atlantic Way
POSTED BY March 14, 2022

Those looking for special bird species can enjoy themselves immensely along the Wild Atlantic Way. Packed with dramatic cliffs, hidden beaches and breathtaking views, this rugged route along Ireland’s west coast makes the Wild Atlantic Way one of Ireland’s most beautiful destinations. So it is no coincidence that we organize six unique Ireland hikes along this wild and remote region. Admire shorebirds at the towering Cliffs of Moher and keep a lookout for rare bird species hiding in the countryside. Here is our list of the best bird species along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Peregrine Falcon

Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters / CC BY 2.0

This bird of prey with a short, tailed beak can be found all year round along the Wild Atlantic Way. It is one of the most common birds of prey in Ireland, so there is a good chance of meeting it. The peregrine falcon likes to nest in cliffs, so the Wild Atlantic Way is an important habitat for this bird species.


Photo by Guilherme Romano on Unsplash

Few bird watchers are not enthusiastic about these cute shorebirds – they are affectionately known as the clowns of the sea. The Atlantic puffin can be seen along the west coast of Ireland between March and September and some of the best locations to view these birds are on the Burren Way, the Kerry Way, Rathlin Island on the Antrim Coastline or the Aran Islands.

The Hop

Photo by Hans Veth on Unsplash

With its distinctive crest and striped wings, the Hoopoe (or Hop) is arguably one of the most impressive bird species to be seen in Ireland. These exotic birds live mainly in Africa and Asia, but also pop up in southern Europe in the summer. Every year a few of the colorful animals make a trip to Ireland. 


Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

This striking resident of Ireland’s west coast also looks a bit like a penguin. The black and white animals live near the Cliffs of Moher, part of the Burren Way, and one of the natural highlights along the Wild Atlantic Way.


Photo by Srinivasan Venkataraman on Unsplash

The cormorant is one of the most common bird species in Ireland. The large shorebird can be found along the shores all around Ireland, but is mainly found on the west and south of the Wild Atlantic Way. Bird watchers can always spot some of these birds along the Dingle Way and near Connemara.


The bluetail is very rare in Ireland. Photo: andy li / CC BY-ND 2.0

This little creature is an extremely rare visitor to Ireland. Anyone who sees the blue tail of this bird species is considered to be very lucky. This is a challenge for even the most seasoned bird watchers: every year in Ireland only a few dozen lucky guys spot these birds.

Jan van Gent

Photo by Benoit Gauzere on Unsplash

With its majestic dives and fashionable white-and-yellow plumage, the Gannet (also called a Jan Van Gent) is a beautiful animal to see in the wild. County Kerry has one of the world’s largest gannet colonies to admire: on the island of Little Skellig no less than 70,000 of these graceful seabirds can be found.


Photo by Sonia Nadales on Unsplash

The Lapwing is the (unofficial) national bird of Ireland. This photogenic meadow bird can be recognized by the pointed crest on its head. Unfortunately, this bird is becoming increasingly rare in Ireland. In winter, Connemara is one of the best places for bird watchers who want to experience the Lapwing up close.

We hope that you enjoyed this guide to Bird species along the Wild Atlantic Way. If you’re visiting the Wild Atlantic Way make sure to keep an eye out for these unique birds and if you’re considering a walking holiday in Ireland, just get in touch with us.