Bishop's Island is part of BirdWatch Ireland's Shannon Callows Reserve, and forms part of the larger Middle Shannon Callows Special Protection Area. This island, together with its neighbouring Bullock Island, is situated in an area of lowland wet grassland called ‘callows’ that is subject to flooding in winter and spring. Our reserve lands are all left for hay. In the past the callows were renowned for their breeding Corncrakes but today you would be very lucky to hear one. Instead look for Whinchat during the summer months, and listen out for other summer visitors such as Sedge Warblers and Grasshopper Warblers. Elsewhere on the callows, breeding Lapwing, Redshank and Curlew can be found. During the winter floods, Black-tailed Godwit, Golden Plover and Lapwing are numerous. Given the lack of intensive farming the meadows are particularly rich in flowering plants.
Returning from central Africa in summer these small chats, with their distinctive white stripe above the eye and warm orange-buff breast, can be seen hoping up and down onto the ground in search of food.
During winter, flocks of godwits with their striking white wing-bar are a regular sight feeding around in the shallow flooded callows. They spend the winter resting and feeding here before heading north to Iceland to breed.
In summer they are a bird of the uplands but in winter they arrive in large flocks, often in the company of Lapwings, and fly in fairly tight formation with rapid, twinkling wingbeats uttering their plaintive short whistle call.
During the summer months, access to the callows is easiest at Clonmacnoise, Shannonbridge, Shannon Harbour and Banagher were tracks for tractor access lead out onto the callows. Given the sensitive nature of the area please stay on the tracks. In winter the callows are flooded and therefore view from surrounding roads only.
Opening times: The callows are only accessisible on foot in the summer months however, the callows are privately-owned farmland and so please do not walk through the grasslands, and keep dogs on a leash and under close control at all times.
Entrance charges: Free, but donations to help us continue our work here are welcome.
Facilities: There are no facilities. Parking is available in Clonmacnoise, Shannonbridge, Shannon Harbour and Banagher. Out on the callows the tracks are used by tractors and there maybe grazing animals present, so please take care.
Location: On the River Shannon flood plain, north-east of Clonfert
Grid Ref: M 975 235