Discover Wildlife Weekends


Based on the stunning West Cork stretch of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, our Discover Wildlife Weekends get you closer to Irish wildlife, both on the weekend itself, and on an ongoing basis by helping hone your wildlife watching skills so can see more wildlife wherever you go.

Our Discover Wildlife Weekends will run from Fri to Sun on the following dates in 2024

19-21 April 2024, 28-30 June 2024, 16-18 August 2024 and 20-22 September 2024

NB. The €115 per person fee quoted secures your place on the weekend and covers the venue, wildlife guiding services and talks.

The special weekend accommodation package at the Celtic Ross Hotel costs an additional €386 for 2 people sharing a Double/Twin room, or €253 for single occupancy for 2 nights B&B, Group Dinner on the Saturday night and a packed lunch for Saturday’s field excursions, see full details below. The marine wildlife boat trip with Cork Whale Watch (weather permitting) is available at the discounted rate of €50 pp (normal price €60), payable directly to the skipper on board at the end of the trip.

Also available: Discover Wildlife Weekend Gift Vouchers

Book your Discover Wildlife Weekend

Simply choose the weekend date and number of places you’d like to book, click “Add to basket” and proceed to checkout when you’re ready.

Based on the stunning West Cork stretch of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, our Discover Wildlife Weekends get you closer to Irish wildlife, both on the weekend itself, and on an ongoing basis, by helping hone your wildlife watching skills, so you can see more wildlife wherever you go.

On your Discover Wildlife Weekend you’ll get the chance to:

  • discover more about Irish wildlife and effective wildlife watching
  • explore somewhere new with an experienced local guide
  • meet like-minded people with similar interests

“Thank you for co-ordinating such an amazing weekend. I am rejuvenated and look forward to doing another weekend next year.”

Pauline Cudmore, Ireland

A brace of fin whales on the surface with the West Cork coast in the background
Fin whales surfacing against the backdrop of the West Cork coastline

What are Discover Wildlife Weekends?

Discover Wildlife weekends are all about exploring the wonderful wildlife of the West Cork coast.

Some of the best coastal wildlife watching in Europe

Our base in the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery is about halfway between the Old Head of Kinsale and Mizen Head — with Galley Head, Toe Head and Sheeps Head all within easy reach.

These headlands offer some of the best land-based locations in Europe for watching marine wildlife. From any of them you can see large whale species like fin whales, humpbacks and minke whales, several species ofdolphins, harbour porpoise, basking sharks, sunfish, seals and of course lots and lots of sea birds.

Headlands are also great places to hook up with migrant birds, including the occasional rarity during the spring and autumn migration season.

Stunning scenery, amazing wildlife

But it’s not all about headlands… West Cork has so much more to offer the wildlife enthusiast… from uplands and native woodland to inland waterways and estuaries, to coastal dune systems and rocky shores… there’s a huge diversity of habitats and a wealth of wildlife to explore.

“Thanks for a great weekend; I hope to be back in the spring.”

Kevin Johnston, Ireland

Common seal and shags on the West Cork coast
Common seal and shags off the West Cork coast — regulars on our Discover Wildlife Weekends

Your guide: discover local wildlife with a local wildlife specialist

Calvin Jones, Founder and Managing Editor, Ireland's WildlifeCalvin Jones is Founder and Editor of Ireland’s Wildlife, and will be your guide on our Discover Wildlife weekend. Calvin has been mad about wildlife throughout his life. He first experienced the wonder of the West Cork coastline in 1993, and moved to the region permanently in 2002.

Calvin likes nothing better than sharing his passion for wildlife with others… both on our Discover Wildlife Experiences, and through his wildlife and nature writing. As well as writing for Ireland’s Wildlife Calvin’s work has featured in popular national and international publications like The Irish Independent, The Irish Examiner, BBC Wildlife Magazine, The Countryman and Birdwatching among others.

A wildlife break designed for you

Choughs up close and personal
The charismatic chough is a West Cork speciality

When we were putting together the Discover Wildlife Weekend we didn’t just take a guess at what you wanted: we asked the Ireland’s Wildlife online community, then crafted a tailored wildlife break around their feedback. After each weekend, we gather input from the participants to help us hone and refine what we offer.

We’re confident the result is a memorable wildlife break in a location that’s second to none.

“Great weekend with Ireland’s Wildlife. I would highly recommend these Wildlife Weekends to anyone looking to learn about or see more wildlife. Thanks Calvin.”

Sandra Jordan, Dublin

Discover Wildlife Weekend Spring 2014Some of the things we cover on our Discover Wildlife Weekend:

  • Fieldcraft advice to help you get closer to wildlife
  • Understand the wildlife calendar – what to look for when
  • Understanding wildlife habitat what to look for where
  • How your wildlife watching can make a difference for wildlife conservation
  • Choosing and using wildlife optics
  • … and much more

What we cover on the weekend will vary depending on the weather, the time of year and the wildlife that’s around at the time. Rest assured that we always aim to spend as much time as possible out watching wildlife.

Some of the things you might see on a Discover Wildlife Weekends:

Naturally, wildlife is unpredictable, and varies from season to season, day to day, even hour to hour. As always in nature there are no guarantees, and it’s impossible to predict what we will see on any given weekend. That’s all part of the fun… but possible highlights could include:

  • The chance to see fin whales, humpbacks, minke whales, dolphins and porpoises in one of Europe’s whale watching hotspots
  • Large movements of seabirds along the West Cork coast
  • Otters and kingfishers on tidal inlets and waterways
  • Visiting waders and wildfowl on coastal mudflats, lagoons and estuaries
  • Basking sharks, the world’s second largest fish, cruising just off shore
  • Migrant birds passing through during spring and autumn migration
  • Resident raptors including buzzard, peregrine, kestrel, sparrowhawk and occasionally merlin
  • Close encounters with grey and common seals
  • Charismatic choughs along coastal sea cliffs
  • Spectacular diving gannets just off shore
  • … and who knows what else.

This was a very enjoyable weekend and we certainly would attend another one in the future. It was a very nice group of people, and I was glad to see the range in ages participating. It was very helpful to have your scopes available for people to share.

Christabel Grant, USA

What’s included in your Discover Wildlife Weekend?

The Celtic Ross Hotel
The Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery — home for the weekend!

Discover Wildlife Weekends are residential weekends based at the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery, Co. Cork.

They run from Friday evening registration through to early Sunday afternoon, and include a unique blend of talks and field-based excursions tailored to suit local wildlife activity and the time of year.

The fee for the Discover Wildlife Weekend is €115 per person — that includes all guiding, talks and land-based field excursions.

It does not include your accommodation, food and additional expenses.

We’ve negotiated a special 2 night accommodation package with the Celtic Ross Hotel that includes full breakfast both mornings, an evening meal on the Saturday night and a packed lunch for Saturday’s field excursions, all for the great value price of €386 for 2 people sharing a Double/Twin room, or €253 for single occupancy.

“Thank you for organising a wonderful weekend. I am already looking forward to doing it again. I would really recommend the weekend for anyone who wants to see more wildlife. You have a great approach – laid back but yet very informative. It was in a great location and the package with the hotel was excellent.”

Suzanne Smith, Ireland

Marine wildlife boat trip

Lunge feeding minke whale
A minke whale lunges through a densely packed shoal of juvenile herring just off the West Cork coast

If the sea conditions are favourable, we include a marine wildlife trip with local whale watching specialist Colin Barnes of Cork Whale Watch, aboard the purpose-built MV Holly Jo. We’ll look for whales, dolphins, porpoise, seals, seabirds and other marine wildlife off the West Cork coast.

We’ve negotiated a special €50 per person rate for the boat trip (normal price €60), which is payable directly to Colin (cash or card) on the day. These boat trips are a highlight of the weekend, and offer an unrivalled opportunity to get close to some spectacular marine wildlife.

A great location, a great hotel and great wildlife… it all makes for an unbeatable weekend. Book your place now!


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