Wildlife at Westcove

For wildlife lovers, you don’t need to move far from Westcove itself as it brings together an astonishing variety of habitats in just a few acres. The Westcove Estate overlooks a little harbour with views over the magnificent Kenmare Estuary and mountains beyond and is only a couple of miles from the open Atlantic. Westcove sits within small pockets of ancient woodland, an avenue of huge pines, fields, mudflats and a sandy bottomed bay so the range of bird and sea life is unusually rich. All the usual garden birds and the occasional hare can be seen near the house, and on the shore you will see oystercatchers, curlews, great black backed gulls, cormorants, shags and the herons, that usually nest in one of the large old trees. At various times of year you can find large groups of Sandwich terns in the bay, and even wild swans and great northern divers in winter, when you can sometimes catch a glimpse of kingfishers below the house. By early summer, swallows and swifts swoop for insects in the field below the main house and over the bay.

The real natural glory of Westcove though is the bay itself which transforms dramatically between high and low tide and hosts a large resident population of harbour seals, and usually a scattering of the much larger grey Atlantic seals as well. The young harbour seals in particular can be very inquisitive and will sometimes investigate swimmers or kayakers. There are otters at Westcove which can be seen at low tide even in the middle of the day, but for that you need both patience and luck. Porpoises are around, but easier to spot in calm seas, and if you are lucky, you might see dolphins or basking sharks.

In the fields below the house are a small flock of Soay sheep, goat-like bronze age survivors from the remote Isle of St Kilda, in the outer Hebrides.

Westcove is also well situated for a day trip to the spectacular Skellig Islands, which boast 20,000 gannets, huge numbers of puffins and a host of other sea birds as well as the 6th century monastic settlement it is famous for. A sea voyage to the Skelligs will also give you a really good chance of spotting bottle-nosed or Risso’s dolphins, and even Minke or Humpback whales.

Widlife of Westcove

Birds of Westcove

Attention Bird watchers! Below are photos taken at Westcove by our wildlife painter/photographer son, Mark over the course of a year.