South Dublin Branch - Site Description

Bearded Tit - Tacumshin Lake, Wexford (photo: Mark Carmody)

Birdwatching Sites - South Dublin

Sandymount Strand

Sandymount Strand extends from Sean Moore Park in Irishtown (Flag A) through Merrion (Flag C) as far as Booterstown (Flag E) and is part of a wider habitat, which extends from the South Wall to Dun Laoghaire. It forms much of the southern shoreline of Dublin Bay which, is an internationally important feeding and roosting area for wildfowl and waders. At low tide an extensive area of sand and mud is exposed whereas at high tide much of the strand is covered especially at its northern end. Branch outings to Sandymount Strand meet at car park 3 (Flag F).

Getting There and Access

There are DART stations at Booterstown (Flag E) and Sydney Parade (Flag B). There is a car park beside Booterstown DART station. Several Dublin Bus routes serve the general area, including numbers 7 & 4.
Good views of the strand and Dublin Bay can be had from along much of Strand Road (between A and C) where there are car parks, however both near and south of Merrion Gates the shore is largely obscured from the road by private dwellings, DART line etc.
Near the level crossing at Merrion Gates (Flag C) there is access to the strand for walkers, further south there is a public footbridge between the strand and Booterstown DART station (Flag E).


The strand is a shallow, tidal mudflat, which is host to thousands of birds throughout the year however the best times are during autumn and winter months when the area can hold a variety of Waders and Gulls, while Divers and Grebes can be observed on Dublin Bay.
Regardless of the time of year, the state of the tide will influence the numbers and variety of birds present. At low tide birds can often be very distant and at high tide many disperse elsewhere. The best time to view is during an incoming tide as birds move ahead of it towards the shore. If the time allows, it is well worth finding a vantage point somewhere between Merrion Gates and Booterstown and wait there for the birds to come to you! A popular spot to sit and wait at is the Merrion Road outflow pipe (Flag E).
Just south of the outflow pipe is an area of scrub where there is the possibility of pipits and finches.

In winter months, Divers, Grebes and Duck are usually on the Bay. Red-throated Diver is regular and Great-Northern and Black-throated Diver have occurred. Great-crested Grebes are regular and although never common, there is always the possibility of Slavonian and Black-necked Grebe. Sea-ducks such as Red-breasted Merganser and Goldeneye can be expected.
Good flocks of Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Curlew, Knot are usual and Sanderlings can be seen close to the tide's edge with the occasional scarce wader such as Spotted Redshank from time to time.
Gulls are always present and at most times there is the possibility of Little, Mediterranean and Ring-billed Gulls among the Herring, Common and Black-headed Gulls and during winter Iceland and Glaucous Gulls have been recorded.

From the beginning of August and in to September the strand attracts thousands of roosting Terns and the sight and sound of them can be quite spectacular. The majority are Common and Arctic Terns however Roseate Terns can usually be found as well as some Sandwich Terns. Black Tern, on passage south, are regular in small numbers during August and September. The evening time is best to view this spectacle as the Terns arrive from feeding in the Irish Sea.
Small numbers of Curlew Sandpiper can be seen on passage south in the late summer.
A regular sight in the early autumn are Light-bellied Brent Geese, which are attracted to the area to feed on Dwarf Eelgrass in the vicinity of Merrion Gates, when newly arrived from their breeding grounds.

Some Notable Bird Records at Sandymount Strand

  • Black Brant
    1. Winter 1984/1985 - October 1986 (two birds), also seen at Corballis, Malahide and Rogerstown Estuary.
  • Red-necked Grebe
    1. 31st January to 19th February 2009.
  • Temminck's Stint
    1. 5th July 2014.
  • White-rumped Sandpiper
    1. 28th August to 2nd September 1996.
    2. 8th to 10th August 1998
    3. 14th to 15th September 1999.
    4. 22nd to 23rd October 2018, also seen at Booterstown Marsh.
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
    1. 21st to 28th August 1996.
    2. 15th to 21st September 1999.
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
    1. 29th October 2018, also seen at Booterstown Marsh and presumed same bird that was at Rogerstown Estuary on 27th October.
  • Bonaparte's Gull
    1. 6th March to 3rd April 1983.
  • Atlantic Yellow-legged Gull
    1. 9th October 2004 (4th Irish record). Presumed same individual returned the following 5th October 2005 and from the 6th December 2006 to 10th January 2007 and again on various dates during March, September and October 2007.
  • American Herring Gull
    1. 5th December 2005.
  • American Black Tern
    1. 3rd to 7th September 1999 (1st Irish record, 4th WP record).
  • White-winged Black Tern
    1. 10th August 2000.
    2. 20th to 21st September 2003.
    3. 21st July 2006.
    4. 16th September 2021.
  • Forster's Tern
    1. 21st November 1982 to February 1983 (1st Irish record).
    2. 22nd March to 5th April 1987.