This site encompasses a large part of Lough Swilly between Letterkenny and Buncrana, in County Donegal. It is a long, narrow sea inlet with extensive banks of mud and shingle between Letterkenny and Inch, including Inch Island. There is some empoldered land at Big Isle and Blanket Nook and an embanked sea channel between Inch Island and the mainland. The boundaries of the IBA have been redrawn to cover a smaller area compared to that in the previous European inventory (Grimmett and Jones 1989).
This is a key wetland for birds in Ireland, important for the richness and abundance of its wintering and breeding species. Wintering waterbirds regularly occur in total numbers of international importance (22,750-26,600 birds in 1995 and 1996). Up to 14 other wintering species also occur in numbers of national importance, including Tadorna tadorna (793 birds, 1996), Anas penelope (1,861 birds, 1995), Anas crecca (1,669 birds, 1996) and Charadrius hiaticula (167 birds, 1996).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Parts of the site are threatened by nutrient pollution due to agricultural run-off. Changes in agricultural practice could threaten the feeding fields of swans Cygnus and geese Anser at Inch Lough and Blanket Nook. Use of the site for water-sports and aquaculture (intertidal and subtidal shellfish cultivation) is increasing and may threaten habitat quality. In 1998 land-claim, apparently unauthorized, for the construction of a marina at Fahan on the site's east shore, damaged intertidal sandflat. Inch Island, where Sterna sandvicensis breeds, lies within the Lough Swilly SPA.
National Low International PartialPart of IBA covered by Wildfowl Sanctuary (Blanket Nook, 48 ha). IBA overlaps with Ramsar Site (Lough Swilly; area not known). 3,107 ha of IBA covered by Special Protection Area (Lough Swilly, 3,107 ha). 278 ha of IBA covered by Special Protection Area (Inch Lough, 278 ha).
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lough Swilly including Blanket Nook and Inch Lake. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 26/01/2022.