Starting at the car park by Donegal Airport, you walk down onto the Blue Flag beach of Ballymanus. Looking out onto the bay Northern Gannet, Herring Gull, and Common Gull can be seen. Great Cormorant and European Shag are regularly seen fishing off-shore along with a Black-throated Diver (Arctic Loon)), Red-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver (Common Loon). Small flocks of Long-tailed Duck can be seen in autumn and winter especially after a period of strong winds. Common Eider and Red-breasted Merganser can also be seen.
Small groups of Dunlin and Sanderling feed along the water edge of the beach as do Eurasian Oystercatcher and Eurasian Curlew.
Walking to the far end of the beach brings you to a series of inlets and bays. These can hold Black Guillemot, Rock Pipit and a variety of Gulls. The sand banks have in the past held large numbers of Sand Martin but pressure from disturbance has reduced the numbers.
Beyond the small bay with the fishing pier is an area of coastal grassland and further bays to explore. This area is covered in flowers in spring and is a good location for Common Snipe, Meadow Pipit and European Stonechat. Red-billed Chough can also be found.
Returning from the headland it is worth crossing over and walking down to Annargy Estuary (Braade Strand). On the way you pass a freshwater lake with Little Grebe and Mallard present all year. The fencing around the airport runway is worth checking for (European Stonechat and Meadow Pipit) which gather on the top of the fence.
At low tide it is safe to walk out into the estuary (Braade Strand)in order to find high numbers of Common Ringed Plover, Sanderlingand Dunlin. Eurasian Curlew and Eurasian Oystercatcher feed in good numbers and there is a wide range of Gulls present. Sandwich Tern can be seen in Summer and Whooper Swan are often present in winter.
Follow signs to Donegal Airport. Pass the airport and park in the small car park. Walk down onto the beach to start exploring the area. When returning off the estuary walk past the aiport. The airport has a small cafe and toilets.
Terrain and HabitatBeach, Sea, Grassland
ConditionsFlat, Sandy, No shadow, High water possible, Rocky
Is a telescope useful?Yes
Good birding seasonSpring, Autumn, Winter
Best time to visitSpring, Autumn, Autumn migration, Spring migration
Difficulty walking trailAverage walk
Birdwatching hide / platformNo
The area can get busy during the summer months so best visited out of season.
Mullaghderg is nearby and the two can be joined together to make a good day out.
Within driving distance is Tory Island best visited during Spring and Autumn Migration for rare american visitors. Glenveagh National Park is also nearby and was the location for the reintroduction of Golden Eagle.
The number of Corn Crake have increased across Donegal and can now be found in several new locations.