North Kerry

Akaragh Lough

The Lough lies just inside the Sand Dunes immeadiate to the South of Ballyheigue. As a site that has habitually attracted rare species of birdlife, this small Lough and surrounding wetland became a household name among the army of people interested in bird watching in all parts of Europe and further afield. The attraction for the birds lay in the fact of it being the only decent stretch of open water in the whole of North Kerry. That it rests on a limestone base, that the waters of the Lough are brackish (that is, a combination of fresh and saline), and it’s location on the western seaboard where it attracts migrants coasting down the edge of Ireland as well as those using the Shannon Valley as a flyway. Finally there is the fact that it is nearer to America than other potential attractive waters in Ireland or elsewhere in Europe.In fact on one memorable day there were no less than 16 North American birds at the Lough, every one of which should have been in Florida or it’s equivalent on the far side of the Atlantic. It was not surprising that European birdwatchers were coming in ever increasing numbers with an excellent chance of seeing species that otherwise would require a journey to America and back. Every year, without fail, some of the following were absolutely guaranteed – Killdeer, Pectoral, White-rumped, Stilt, Buff- Breasted, Semi Palmated, Solitary and other Sandpipers,Dowitchers, Green-winged Teal, Baldpates, Bluewinged Teal and several others; some remain for weeks until disturbed by shooting, others for just a few days. Likewise, the Lough was the only site in Kerry where Roughs were commonplace, where such rare European species as Greensandpiper and Woodsandpiper could be absolutely guaranteed as annual visitors. A unique asset and when Akaragh Lough was at it’s best, before silting together with growth of reed and rush overwhelmed the place, it was utterly without competition anywhere in Europe. It’s high season lasts from late August to November when the waders were the chief attraction. From then onwards the masses of Duck took over.

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