Life on Lambay

Sea life

The island is a very important international sanctuary for breeding seabirds and seals. The sheer cliffs at Saltpan Bay are home to thousands of nesting birds. Observing the hustle of activity and the raucous calls on these cliffs is an enjoyable pastime for local fishermen. Guillemots, gulls, puffins with their bright, colourful beaks, curlews, razorbills, and Kittiwake all nestle on the island’s protective cliffs.

A pair of Peregrine Falcons and a small colony of nocturnal Manx Shearwater are also known to breed on the island.

Lambay is a great place to watch seals as the haul themselves out of the sea and bask on the rocks. In fact, Lambay is the only colony of Grey Seals on the east coast of Ireland . It is therefore listed as a protected habitat on the EU Habitats Directive.


Grey seal pup

Grey seal pup

Copyright Mike Brown

Grey seal pup - Copyright Mike Brown


Puffins are very striking birds. Some people say they look like clowns of the sea. These stocky birds and can live for up to thirty years. They can be seen on the Saltee Islands off the coast of Wexford and on yhr Puffin Island Wildbird Conservancy off the coast of Co. Kerry.

Courtesy of the EPA

Puffin - Courtesy of the EPA

Manx Shearwater

The Manx Sheerwater (Puffinus puffinus) has dark plumage on its back and head with a pale coloured underside. It has distinctive orange legs and webbed feet. On the wing it has a distinctive flight pattern, flying in a series of rapid flaps followed by long glides over the surface of the sea. An estimated 94% of the worlds Manx Sheerwater population breeds along the Irish and British coast. Like the Storm petrel, the Sheerwater is a nocturnal bird, staying close to the colony when feeding. The majority of Manx and Storm petrels have their colonies in Kerry, The Blaskets, Skelligs and Puffin Island. They feed on fish, in particular herrings, sardines and sprats.

Manx Shearwater -

Thrift plant

©ZoŽ Devlin

©ZoŽ Devlin

Thrift plant - ©ZoŽ Devlin

Sea Campion

English Name: Sea campion Botanical Name (Latin): Silene uniflora (S. vulgaris subsp. maritima) Irish Name: CoireŠn mara Order: DIOTYLEDONES Family: CARYOPHYLLACEAE Brief Description: Perennial herb, stems spreading; flowers solitary or in groups of 3? 5, more than 2cm across, white.

Carsten Krieger

Sea Campion - Carsten Krieger


Much of the flora found on Lambay Island is typical maritime flora. Thrift, Sea Campion and Spring Squill all grow along the slopes of the cliffs. Other small areas around the island have deciduous and coniferous woodland. Elder is a common tree species on the island.

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