The two Inishkea Islands, Inishkea North and South, are situated off the north-west coast of Mayo. Although the islands are still used for cattle and sheep grazing today, people have not inhabited them since 1932. This undisturbed environment attracts large populations of seabirds.
Both islands support machair habitats, a habitat type that is a priority on the EU Habitats Directive. Typical vegetation of Inishkea North includes Red Fescue, Smooth Meadow-grass, daisy, and White Clover. Inishkea South however, is dominated by heath which is characterised by heathers, sheep’s-bit, and Creeping Willow.
The Inishkea Islands are most important for their populations of seabirds, which feed and forage in the surrounding waters. Both wintering waterfowl and breeding birds occupy the islands, and they are Ireland’s most important site for wintering Barnacle Geese. Numerous other bird species inhabit the islands, Ringed Plover, Purple Sandpiper, Brent Goose, oystercatcher, dunlin, sanderling, Storm Petrel, and a number gull and tern species, to name just a few.
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