Castlemaine Harbour

Year of compilation: 2000

Site description
A large, shallow, tidal estuary at the head of Dingle Bay in County Kerry. Sheltered from the open sea by sand- and shingle-spits on the north and south sides, the estuary supports extensive intertidal mudflats with beds of eelgrass Zostera and fringes of saltmarsh. Inch spit on the north side supports the most extensive and intact dunes in the region, while on the south side, a smaller spit with a dune system occurs. Since the previous IBA inventory (Grimmett and Jones 1989), the site has been extended to include the feeding areas of Melanitta nigra in the open part of the Bay immediately to the west of the sand-spits.

Key biodiversity
An important wetland for wintering birds, with numbers exceeding 20,000 individuals in most years. It is also the most important wintering site in Ireland for Gavia stellata (230 birds, 1996) and Melanitta nigra (5,000 birds, 1996). Many other species occur in numbers of national importance, including Anas penelope (4,093 birds, 1996), Haematopus ostralegus (1,173 birds, 1995), Pluvialis apricaria (2,300 birds, 1995), Calidris alpina (1,350 birds, 1995) and Tringa totanus (270 birds, 1995).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Potential threats to the site are pollution of the wetland due to agricultural run-off, degradation of the dunes by a possible golf-course development, and erosion of the dunes by natural processes. The site overlaps with a proposed candidate Special Area for Conservation (Castlemaine Harbour; area not known).

Protected areas
National Partial International Partial927 ha of IBA covered by Nature Reserve (Castlemaine Harbour, 927 ha). IBA overlaps with Wildfowl Sanctuary (Castlemaine Harbour; area not known). 923 ha of IBA covered by Ramsar Site (Castlemaine Harbour, 923 ha). 2,973 ha of IBA covered by Special Protection Area (Castlemaine Harbour, 2,973 ha).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Castlemaine Harbour. Downloaded from on 13/08/2022.