Advice on visiting North Bull Island

The wildlife and habitats on the island and inter-tidal areas are protected by Irish and European Legislation.

1. DO NOT willfully disturb habitats or species.
2. Check tide times and weather.
3. Wear appropriate weather proof clothing (avoid bright colours).
4. Dogs cause immense disturbance to the islands wildlife...leave them at home.
5. Do not walk out onto the mudflats. It is dangerous and you will disturb wildlife.

Location Maps

How to get there:
Bus: Dublin Bus 130 (timetable) from the city centre to the Bull Wall (aka Wooden Bridge) and mainland side of the south lagoon.
Train: DART (train service timetable) from Dublin City to Raheny Station. There is a 1 km walk to the causeway which is the main access route onto the island.
Car: the island can be accessed by cars etc either via the Bull Bridge (aka Wooden Bridge) or the causeway. Parking is permitted on the causeway but is restricted on the beach.

What species can be seen and When?

The majority of wintering birds depart for their breeding grounds in late February/March just as spring migrants start to arrive from Africa. The earliest migrants to be seen are usually wheatears, sand martins and sandwich terns. Resident songbirds establish breeding territories in grasslands and scrub habitats on the island. Scrub in the dune slacks ("Alder Marsh" and "Bull Wall Reed Marsh") are the most reliable place to see migrant passerines with willow warblers, chiffchaffs and sedge warblers being the most commonly reported. More unusual species such as grasshopper warbler and whinchat also occur in these areas but are considerably scarcer. The buckthorn scrub adjacent to the causeway near the Interpretative Center is also worth watching. Arctic and common terns are a regular sight in the waters around the island from April onwards.

Skylarks, meadow pipits, reed buntings and in most years stonechats can be found throughout the island. A few pairs of shelduck attempt to nest annually however disturbance and dogs cause problems in most years. Although wader numbers are generally quite low in summer there are usually a few hundred oystercatchers, bar-tailed godwits, curlew, dunlins and the occasional redshank present. Ringed plover and little terns no longer nest on the island due to excessive disturbance at the former colony.

Migrant waders start to pass through the island on southward migration in July but the main passage occurs in September. A careful look through these flocks unusually reveals scarce passage species such as little stint, curlew sandpiper and ruff. Rare waders such as buff-breasted sandpiper and pectoral sandpiper and other North American species also occur but not annually. The first flocks of Teal and Wigeon are present from late August with Pintails a little later. The earliest family parties of Brent Geese usually put in an appearance in the second half of September with the main arrival in late October.

Over 30,000 thousand waders, ducks and geese winter in Dublin Bay annually and most can be found roosting on North Bull Island during high tide. Peregrines and merlins are attracted to these large concentrations and both species are present daily. Divers, grebes, common scoter and goldeneye can been seen off the beach and Bull Wall. The finch flocks in the vicinity of the causeway are always worth checking for twite. The upper saltmarsh/dune areas are good for short-eared owls in most winters. A few snow buntings are seen each winter feeding along the beach tide line and dunes nearest the Bull Wall.
Birds of North Bull Island - Dublin Bay (2018) All Rights Reserved.