Shannon and Fergus Estuaries

Year of compilation: 2000

Site description
A large estuarine complex with islands, saltmarshes, mudflats, raised saltmarsh and wet meadows. The site encompasses the Fergus river estuary from Clarecastle (where it becomes tidal) to the junction with the Shannon estuary, and includes the estuary inland as far as Limerick city. The estuary lies within Counties Clare, Limerick and Kerry, and contains the largest port and most extensive areas of industrial development in mid-west Ireland.

Key biodiversity
This is one of the most important sites in Ireland for wintering and migrating waterfowl, supporting 10 species in numbers of international importance. A further 13 species occur in numbers of national importance, including Anser anser (216 birds, 1996), Tadorna tadorna (1,060 birds, 1996), Anas penelope (6,935 birds, 1996), Anas crecca (2,590 birds, 1995), Anas acuta (48 birds, 1995), Anas clypeata (84 birds, 1996), Vanellus vanellus (28,194 birds, 1995), Numenius arquata (2,896 birds, 1995) and Tringa nebularia (36 birds, 1996).

A 2002 survey of breeding Falco peregrinus reported a nesting pair in the vicinity of the site.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Threats to the site include industrial and urban development, the spread of non-native cord-grass Spartina over intertidal mudflats, marina developments and increased boating activities, pollution from industry, and increasing intertidal shellfish cultivation. The effects of these pressures on the site include habitat loss and disturbance and lead to a general degradation of habitat quality.

Protected areas
National None International High16,718 ha of IBA covered by Special Protection Area (Shannon and Fergus Estuary, 16,718 ha).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Shannon and Fergus Estuaries. Downloaded from on 25/03/2023.