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Nature

Up Close and Personal

There’s no better way to experience nature up close and personal than by a trip to the Cliffs of Moher. Eight kilometres of sheer rock-face shaped by time that is home to a wealth of birds, flowers, marine life and sea and land mammals – making the Cliffs an experience of diversity in action along Ireland’s stunning Wild Atlantic Way.

It’s not surprising that the Cliffs of Moher boasts one of the major colonies of cliff-nesting seabirds in Ireland – offering you a viewing of over 20 different species. The area was designated a Special Protection Area (SPA) for Birds under the EU Birds Directive – with internationally important numbers of guillemot and razorbill and also significant numbers of puffin, kittiwake and fulmar.

From late February, a variety of seabirds like guillemot, razorbill, great black-backed gulls and shag begin to return to the Cliffs from their wintering grounds – while the Atlantic puffin arrives around the end of March. You may also be lucky enough to see endangered bird species like choughs and peregrine falcons.

Cliffs of Moher with Wild flowers.
Sea Arch
Sea pink
Sea pink

Flora

You’ll see that the plants growing on and around the Cliffs of Moher are tough and hardy to survive the prevailing winds and thin soils. On the rocks and shore, you’ll see seaweed and lichens, while mosses and liverworts cling to the cliff face along with wildflowers and grasses such as scurvy grass, sheep’s bit, sea pink, and sea campion.

Bird Life

While Atlantic Puffin populations are dwindling throughout Europe, the numbers at the Cliff’s are increasing. The Cliffs of Moher puffin is a member of the Auk family which winters at sea and returns to shore for the nesting season from late May to mid July. The best time for you to view them along the length of the Cliffs is between May and June.

Dark-brown and white, this is one of the most numerous birds in the great ‘seabird cities’ – which only comes to land to nest and spends the rest of its life at sea.

This is also a member of the Auk family – with a distinctive heavy bill used to collect sand eels. Both guillemot and razorbill can be seen nesting on the lower sections of the Great Stack.

This bird is related to the Albatross and can be seen all year round at the Cliffs where populations have thrived. Look out for them in stiff-winged flight riding the thermals and updrafts over the Cliffs.

These are small gulls with grey plumage on top and are very noisy birds. You’ll see many of them in messy nests on the upper sections of the Great Stack.

This bird is a member of the crow family, with a red bill and prominent flight feathers. Flocks of up to 18 birds have been seen at the Cliffs.

This falcon is one of the fastest creatures on the planet – reaching speeds of up to 240km/h. Powerfully-built, peregrines are territorial so, during your visit, you may well witness many aerial battles between them and other birds.

The sea and the cliffs
The Atlantic Ocean

Ocean

On your visit you’ll come up close with the formidable force that is the Atlantic Ocean which produces the storms and swells experienced on Ireland’s beautiful west coast. The energy created by large storms born in the tropical parts of the mid Atlantic gives rise to swells, which batter the cliffs with massive waves and winds in excess of 100km/h and helped the formation of the cliffs over time.

Look out for marine life in the waters directly off the Cliffs, from plankton in April and May to the second-largest fish on the planet; the Basking Shark. Sea mammals below the Cliffs include whales, basking sharks and seals and you may even be treated to the sight of a dolphin pod on a calm day. Land mammals include badgers, stoats, rabbits and hares.

Bring a pair of binoculars with you when you visit, to help with your viewing. Enjoy!

If you don’t have binoculars ask one of our team members as we will loan one for free!