WEXFORD WILDFOWL RESERVE
Rare bird & mammals, an interactive Visitor Centre and educational walks are on offer at the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve in Wexford’s North Slob.
Wexford Wildfowl Reserve is jointly owned and managed the National Parks and Wildlife Service and BirdWatch Ireland. BirdWatch Ireland is Ireland’s largest conservation charity and is dedicated to the protection of Ireland’s wild birds and their habitats. Wexford Wildfowl Reserve is situated on flat farmland on the North Slob which was walled off from Wexford Harbour and reclaimed from the sea for farmland in the 1840s, partially as a famine relief project. First established in 1969 the reserve covers about 200 hectares, a quarter of the North Slob. Wexford harbour and its slobs are natural havens for birds, as they are the closest point for birds migrating into or out of Ireland from Britain and the Continent from a southerly direction. Assisted by favourable wind currents that cross over Iceland, the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve is a convenient halfway resting and recovery station for these migrating birds.
The word ‘slob’ means mud or oozy mire. As much of the area sits 2 metres below sea level, water levels in the channels are controlled using a pump.From early October through to the middle of April, the north and south slobs and the harbour are home to thousands of ducks, geese, swans and waders. At Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, spot geese and other winter wildfowl from the specially designed 8 meter-tall observation tower and 3 bird watching hides. Over 250 bird species have been recorded on the Reserve, many of them winter migrants from Greenland and Arctic Canada or from Scandinavia and Arctic Russia. Watch and marvel at the antics of 10,000 Greenland white fronted geese, Europe’s rarest geese. The North Slob holds about 8,500 or 45% of the current world population of Greenland White-fronted Goose during these months.
The North Slob is also home to mammals such as hares and bats. A hare sanctuary is located here, founded to protect the Irish Hare, a distinctive race of the European Mountain Hare. At least nine species of bat have also been recorded at the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve.
With excellent views of Wexford Harbour, learn more from displays and a film at the Visitor Centre. At the visitor centre there is a picnic area and 2 ponds for up-close bird viewing. Inside there is an interpretive exhibit and information video. Admission is free and self-guided tours are available in the Visitor Centre.
Only a short drive from Wexford Wildfowl Reserve is the Raven Nature Reserve; go for a walk or cycle through mature forest growing on old sand dunes next to the sea.
Opening Times: 9.00am to 5.00pm. All year round except Christmas Day. Car park and hides are locked at 5.00pm. Entry is free.
How to get there? From Wexford Town: Cross Wexford bridge and travel 2.9 km; turn right at brown sign marked ‘Wexford Wildfowl Reserve’ and drive 2.5 km to the reserve opposite sea wall.
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