OSI Discovery Series – Map No 38 (Rostaff turlough is slightly south of this map)
Lough Mask (M 110 630)
A large, limestone, lowland lake noted for its fishing.
It is located on the Mayo / Galway border to the west of Ballinrobe. There are numerous car parks all around the lake, providing good viewing of most of the lake.
The lake has a number of islands and is fed by a number of rivers, including the Cloon, Owenbrin, Glensaul, Finny, Srahnalong and Robe rivers. Lough Mask is connected to Lough Carra by the Keel River.
In Winter :
Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Whooper Swan (usually over 100), Greenland White-fronted Goose, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Coot, Moorhen, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank
In Summer :
Mute Swan, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull.
A ringing study by Eoin McGreal on the gulls breeding on the lake (Black-headed Gull and Common Gull) took place on Lough Mask during 2006 – 2009. For more information, see the Progress Report on the ‘Black-headed and Common Gull Colour-ringing Study, Lough Mask, County Mayo’ – July 2008 by Eoin McGreal, at
http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/News/TracingGullswithColouredRings/tabid/481/Default.aspx (link no longer works)
Lough Carra (M 180 710)
Lough Carra is situated to the north of Ballinrobe and to the northeast of Lough Mask and is a shallow marl lake connected to Lough Mask by the Keel River. It is surrounded by various habitats, e.g. woodland, grassland, fen and limestone pavement. There are some islands in the lake.
Birds : Birds that can be seen on and around the Lough include Common Tern and Black-headed Gull.
Ducks include both dabbling duck – Mallard, Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal and Wigeon, as well as diving duck – Goldeneye, Tufted Duck and Pochard. Great Crested Grebe and Little Grebe can also be seen on the lake. Other birds include Lapwing and Mute Swan.
Rare / Scarce / Unusual Birds:
Marsh Harrier – June 2008
For further information about the birds of Lough Carra, see the Lough Carra website at https://loughcarra.org/terrestrial-ecology/birds/
Tourmakeady Woods (M 090 680)
This native wood was one of the designated Millennium Forests of 2000, where non-native conifers were removed and replaced with native species like Ash, Oak, Silver Birch and Scots Pine. At the far end of the woodland walk, there is a spectacular waterfall tumbling into the Glensaul River, where Dipper and Kingfisher can often be seen.
There is a large selection of woodland birds, including Long-tailed Tit, Song Thrush, Jay and Goldcrest.
Watch out for Sika Deer in the undergrowth.
There are many turloughs near Ballinrobe. Please note that none of these have car parks, so improvisation is required. Park safely and please do not obstruct gateways or narrow roads and laneways.
The following is a list of the more bird-populated turloughs, which are best viewed during the winter, although nearly all support some birds throughout the year.
Rostaff Turlough (M 250 490)
This turlough is 2km northwest of Headford, to the west of the R334 towards Glencorrib, just on the Mayo side of the Galway / Mayo border.
There have been nationally important numbers of Greenland White-fronted Geese and Shoveler, but like some of the other turloughs in the area, birds can be highly mobile between the various sites in the area.
Birds: Greenland White-fronted Geese, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Whooper Swan.
Greaghan’s Turlough (M 292 627)
This site is 10km east of Ballinrobe.
In November 2007, there were extremely large numbers of Whooper Swans (over 600 in one day) but, like all the turloughs in the area, the birds are very mobile and may be well dispersed, only occasionally coming together in large numbers, dependent on the level of water in the turlough.
Birds: Many hundreds of Lapwing, thousands of Golden Plover, hundreds of Wigeon, other ducks including Mallard, Tufted Duck, Teal and Shoveler.
Waders include Curlew, Dunlin, Greenshank and Godwit.
Mute Swans, Greylag Geese and Whooper Swans are also to be seen in the winter.
Peregrine may occasionally be seen.
Shrule Turlough (M 265 545)
Shrule Turlough is an SAC situated just north of Shrule village on the Mayo / Galway border. View the NPWS documentation here.
There can be large numbers of birds during the winter, but they are mobile between local lakes and turloughs, so they may have to be all looked at to find birds.
Birds: Whooper Swan, Golden Plover, Pochard, Wigeon, Shoveler, Tufted Duck.
Kilglasson Turlough (M 275 645)
This site is 8km east of Ballinrobe, immediately NW of Greaghan’s Turlough.
Birds: It has had nationally important numbers of Whooper Swans and Shoveler in the past, with large numbers of ducks, including Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck and Pochard.
Curlew, Golden Plover and Lapwing can also occur in large numbers.
Other turloughs in the near vicinity of Greaghan’s and Kilglassan include Ardkill (M 274 624) and Skealoghan (M 245 625).