BirdWatch Ireland Reserves

Sheskinmore Lough - County Donegal

Sheskinmore, lapwingSheskinmoreSheskinmore, Chough


The Sheskinmore Lough reserve is part of a large, shallow freshwater coastal lagoon set in wonderful machair (flat sandy) grasslands. It is rich in wild flowers, insects and birds. Our reserve is within a larger area owned and managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and the whole area forms an extensive Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation. It is an important ecosystem which is renowned for its wintering Greenland White-fronted Geese, along with Choughs during the autumn and breeding Lapwings during the summer months. The site is also important for an array of declining species of plants and insects. 

Key species

Greenland White-fronted Goose

White-fronted geese arrive in October to spend the winter feeding on the wet machair grasslands and are generally present through until early April. Look carefully at their bills; these are orange which indicates they are of the Greenland race, which winters mainly in Wexford and south-west Scotland. 


The Chough is the rarest member of the crow family. They are often found during the autumn and winter months feeding amongst the short cropped machair grasslands or within the large dune systems, probing for invertebrates with their characteristic curved red bill. Listen out for their distinctive calls.


The evocative Lapwings can be seen ‘sky dancing’ over the machair during the summer months, often 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.


The Twite is a small, brown non-descript bird, similar to a Linnet but with a yellow bill and pink rump. Often seen here in winter when it spends most of the time feeding amongst the specially planted crops at the Mullyvea entrance. 

Accessibility & Facilities

Parking is available at the National Parks and Wildlife Service McGlinchey’s Field Centre or Mullyvea, opposite Kiltooris Lough. There are marked walking trails between each entrance that offer good views over the whole area; please keep to these trails for your own safety and to avoid disturbance to the wildlife. Some of the land that the trails cross is privately-owned, so please be careful to close all gates and not to climb over fences or walls. Please keep dogs on a lead and under control at all times.

Opening times: The Sheskinmore Lough reserve is open all year-round. 

Entrance charges: Free, but donations to help us continue our work here are welcome.

Facilities: Information boards are provided at the entrance gates. An observation hide overlooking the lough and machair is a short walk from the National Parks and Wildlife Service McGlinchey’s Field Centre.

Where is it?

Location: east of Sheskinmore Lough on the R261, approximately 6km north of Ardara (which is on the N56 between Killybegs and Glenties)

Grid Ref: G 70 96

Google maps 

Further info

Friends of Sheskinmore 

What’s the weather like? 


Sheskinmore site guide

Sheskinmore Nature Reserve leaflet