Birdwatching Sites - North Wicklow
East Coast Nature Reserve, Newcastle
Newcastle Station House is at Six-Mile-Point, south of Kilcoole (Flag A), where there is a foot crossing of the railway tracks, which carry the Dublin to Wexford line. This building is all that remains of Newcastle train station, that closed in the 1960s. The village of Newcastle is about 1 mile inland from here.
BirdWatch Ireland's East Coast Reserve at Blackditch extends about 1 mile south from Six-Mile-Point covering an area of roughly 250 acres. The land was acquired late in 2002 and habitat management on the reserve began in 2004. There are three hides on the reserve, the Main Hide (Flag C) overlooks the Scrape Field, the West Hide (Flag D) is on the same latitude as the Main Hide about 200m to the west of it and the Wood Hide (Flag F) looks north from the edge of Blackditch Wood. The hides are accessed from the main entrance to the reserve on the Sea Road (Flag B). Turn left and follow the purpose-built paths which swing to the right for the Main and West Hides. Instead of swinging right continue straight on for the Wood Hide, keeping the hedge and the road on your left. When you reach the Station House by the railway, the path turns right and continues along by the fence. Keep walking south on this grassy track for several hundred metres until it turns right and westwards into the wood where a boardwalk leads to the Wood Hide.
The whole area is a wonderful mix of coastal marsh, flooded fields, reed beds, farmland, woodland and shingle beach ideal for birding. The southern border of the reserve is covered in wet woodland of mainly Birch as well as some Alder, Willow and Ash.
Getting There and Access
Trains no longer stop at Newcastle. Dublin Bus route 84a provides a service to Newcastle village from Blackrock DART station. There is some parking available on the Sea Road beside the train station and where you can cross the railway line by foot. There is very limited parking at the entrance to the reserve.
From the station check out to sea for Gannets, Divers, Grebes, Cormorants, Shags, Gulls (including Little Gull), Brent Geese etc during autumn and winter. A passage of Manx Shearwaters moving north or south on the Irish Sea is a regular feature during the summer as they move to and from their breeding sites in the Irish Sea.
A small flock of House Sparrows can be seen around the Station House and follow the path running south of it scanning back over the pools and fields inland for wildfowl and waders; Little Egret is often present too.
North of the Sea Road is the Newcastle Aerodrome. Kestrel are often observed over the airfield and in some winters, Short-eared Owl.
Upon entering the reserve turn left heading for the main hide. The trees and bushes along the path are excellent for passerines such as Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Tits, Reed Buntings etc. As the path swing to the right. From here turn left along the path through the reeds, which hold Water Rail and Reed Buntings.
The Main and West Hides (Flags C & D) afford excellent views over the scrape and flooded fields where you can expect Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Shoveler, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Little Egret and Little Grebe, also check on gate posts for Merlin.
A very pleasant walk to the other side of the reserve will bring you to the Wood Hide (Flag F), which looks back at the Main and West Hides over the same fields.
The area is particularly good for butterflies and dragonflies in summer.
Some Notable Bird Records at Newcastle
- 11th to 24th September 1994, also seen at Kilcoole.
- 4th to 18th November 1967, also seen at Kilcoole.
Black-crowned Night Heron
- 13th to 16th June 1994, also seen at Kilcoole.
Great White Egret
- 26th October 2020, also seen at ECNR and Kilcoole.
- 7th to 12th April 2021, also seen at Broad Lough.
- 21st to 22nd June 2021.
- 9th to 13th November 2007, also seen at Kilcoole.
- 15th October 2020.
- 4th to 18th December 1999.
- 30th January 2019, also seen at the ECNR.
- Winters of 1918-19 & 1919-20 (three birds), also seen at Kilcoole.
- 10th May 1953.
- 29th September 1977.
- 2nd July 2003.
- 25th July 2010.
- 11th to 13th May 2011, also seen at Five-Mile-Point.
- 15th June 2013.
- 6th to 8th October 2013.
- 26th September to 12th October, also seen at Five-Mile-Point.
- 12th October, also seen at Five-Mile-Point.
- 19th May 1998, also seen at Kilcoole and Salthill, Dun Laoghaire.
- 30th May 2009.
- 13th October 2009 and presumed same bird again on 22nd February 2010.
- 23rd November 2013 to March 2014, also seen at Kilcoole.
American Golden Plover
- 6th to 24th June 1996, also seen at Kilcoole.
- 10th to 17th September 1994, also seen at Kilcoole.
- 8th April 2006 (two birds), at least one of these also seen at Kilcoole.
- 10th September 2006 (found dead).
- 16th to 22nd November 1993 (trapped).
- 20th November 1994.
- 9th June 2010.
- 18th April 1951 (two birds), (1st Irish record).
- 18th May 1966.
Some Notable Bird Records at the East Coast Nature Reserve
- 22nd February to 19th March 2020, also seen at Kilcoole.
Great White Egret
- 13th April 2013.
- 25th October 2020, also seen at Newcastle and Kilcoole.
- 8th August 2005.
- Intermittently from 21st January to 2nd May 2018 (up to three birds), also seen at Newcastle Airfield.
- 1st to 2nd February 2019, also seen at Newcastle.
- 30th June to 11th July 2017.
- 14th May 2007.
- 16th to 29th May 2019. Up to three birds at various times between the ECNR and Five-Mile-Point.
Little Ringed Plover
- 9th to 10th April 2000.
- 9th to 12th May 2019 (three birds). Two adult males and an adult female at various times.
- 8th to 12th May 2007.
- 8th to 9th July 2001.
Western Yellow Wagtail
- 7th to 10th May 2019 (up to three birds). Identified to the form Blue-headed Wagtail.
- 3rd November 2013 (trapped), (4th Irish record).
- 24th December 2020.
- 4th February to 1st March 2006.
- 17th December 2007.
- 15th April 2008.