The Annagh Marsh Reserve is an open pool system set within wet grasslands associated with the rare coastal machair ecosystem (flat sandy grasslands). Historically it was renowned for its breeding Red-necked Phalaropes and was the most southerly breeding location in the world for that species. Unfortunately they ceased to breed in the early 1980’s. However they are making a comeback thanks to the ongoing management of the reserve, initiated by the EU LIFE project between 2002 and 2005. More typical breeding waders to be found are Lapwings and Snipe. Throughout the area Chough, Rock Dove and Twite are regularly seen, sometimes in numbers during the winter and dabbling ducks, Barnacle Geese and Whooper Swans occur in winter, commuting from Termoncarragh Lake. The reserve is also important for an array of rare insects which are found in very few other areas, such as the Great Yellow Bumblebee.
The evocative Lapwings can be seen ‘sky dancing’ over the marshes on the first fine days of early spring as they look to set up their breeding territories. Through the summer months, they can often be seen chasing potential predators that may come too close to their nests or show too much of an interest in their chicks. This continues until the danger has passed.
Snipe are very skulking and are best looked for during the breeding season when males can be heard giving their distinctive 'drumming' or 'chipping' display, especially early morning or late evening. In winter, with careful scanning they can be seen probing the edges of the pools.
Similar to the resident Mute Swans but look carefully at the bills to see the characteristic yellow wedge. They also have a distinctive ‘whooping’ call. They arrive here in October and stay until early April when they make their way back to their Icelandic breeding grounds.
During the summer months, given the sensitive nature of the reserve please refrain from entering and view from surrounding roads only.
Opening times: The Annagh Marsh reserve is open all year-round although to reduce disturbance to the wildlife during the summer months please view the reserve from the adjoining public road and track.
Entrance charges: Free, but donations to help us continue our work here are welcome.
Facilities: There are no facilities. Parking is available at the beach to the west of the marsh. This is a remote location and at times there maybe grazing animals present, so please take care. No dogs are allowed on the reserve at any time and whilst walking along the road please keep dogs on a leash and under close control.
Location: 7 km west of Belmullet on the Mullet Peninsula in north-west Mayo; Annagh Marsh is just south of Termoncarragh Lake
Grid Ref: F655 338