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Harper's Island

Wetland Centre

Harper's Island Wetland Centre is currently owned by Cork County Council and is managed in partnership with BirdWatch Ireland and the Glounthaune Community Association/Tidy Towns.

Phase one of our vision for Harper's Island has now been completed and the viewing hide will be open to the public every Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm for the foreseeable future. Please check out our facebook page before heading out in case there are any last minute changes to opening times. Watch this space or visit the Harper's Island Wetland Centre Facebook page for news and developemnts at Harper's Island.

Download pdf here:

BirdWatch Ireland/Glounthaune Community Association Vision Document for Harper's Island

We have put together a downloadable Harper's Island Wetland Centre Bird Identification Guide pdf. It gives a short introductin to the wetland birds of Harper's Island and covers the main birds you are likely to see on a visit to the Wetland Centre. It is for personal use only and it or no part of it is to be copied or used elsewhere without permission.

Download pdf here:

Harper's Island Wetland Centre Bird Identification Guide

Cork Harbour provides a rich environment for marine invertebrates; a vital food source for the international important numbers of wintering waterbirds with in excess of 20,000 individuals, making it one of the top ten winter refuges for waterbirds in Ireland.
Harper’s Island is a small (30 ha) low-lying island in the Glounthaune Estuary/Slatty Water complex, in the northern section of Cork Harbour. The low-lying northern section of the island is influenced by the surrounding tidal estuary through an old sluice point and hence the immediate vegetation is of brackish grasslands developing into successional saltmarsh.
Although Harper’s Island is only a small component, in terms of land-mass, within the Glounthaune Estuary/Slatty Water complex, the island is an extremely important safe feeding and roosting refuge for many species of wintering waterbirds. Nearly half of the Cork Harbour Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit population roost on the island on spring high tides. At times, during the spring months, peak Black-tailed Godwit counts can exceed 2,000 birds representing over 4% of the global population. The Glounthaune Estuary/Slatty Water complex also supports populations of national importance of Shelduck, Teal, Little Grebe, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank and Black-headed Gull with Harper’s Island supporting significant components of these populations.

As much as 4% of the world's population of Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits visit Harper's Island each year. (image © Mark Carmody)


Click here to watch the Harper's Island Black-tailed Godwit Video

BirdWatch Ireland, Glounthaune Community Association, Glounthaune Tidy Towns and Glounthaune Men's Shed with much support from Cork County Council have been doing a lot of work to get the centre up and running. As well as constructing the viewing hide we have also created some extra wetland habitat by creating what is called in the business a 'Scrape'. this is in effect a shallow pond which provides lots of habitat for feeding and roosting wetland birds. This is phase one of a long term development plan which we hope will eventually lead to the building of a Wetland Centre buidling which will be dedicated to wetland education and research and provide facilites for visitors to the centre.

Derry Delany (Glounthaune) and Tom Gittings (BirdWatch Ireland) overseeing the Scrape (large shallow pond) construction.

Garry Tomlins and Derry Delany (Glounthaune) with Paul Moore (BirdWatch Ireland) installing the sluice for the scrape made by Glounthaune Men's Shed

View looking south showing the site of the scrape at Harper's Island at the beginnign of August 2017. The viewing hide can be seen in the bottom left of the picture.

View looking south after the scrape was completed at the end of August 2017. The viewing hide can be seen in the bottom left of the picture.

By the end of November the scrape was being used by many birds such as Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwits, Teal, Wigeon and Redshank. The birds have given our scrape their seal of approval. (Photo: Mark Carmody)

New screening to allow access to the island without disturbing the wildlife. The area beyond the gate is currently closed off until the next phase of development is complete.

Putting the back wall on the hide, 4th November 2017. Volunteers from BirdWatch Ireland and Glounthaune community at work.

Putting the back wall on the hide, 4th November 2017. Volunteers from BirdWatch Ireland and Glounthaune community making good progress.

Back wall on the hide finished! 4th November 2017. Volunteers from BirdWatch Ireland and Glounthaune community making it happen.

Paul Moore (BirdWatch Ireland) and Garry Tomlins (Glounthaune Community) surveying the newly installed hide seating and shelving, 18th November 2017. Completed by volunteers from BirdWatch Ireland and Glounthaune Men's Shed.