Discover Our Wetlands

From freshwater swamps and reedbeds to saltmarsh and mudflats

our wildlife

The Wild Wetlands Nature Reserve awaits you at the Tralee Bay Wetlands Eco & Activity Park, not only is it a tranquil place to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings but it also home to many wildlife species.

Tralee Bay Wetlands Eco and Activity Park was designed to be a microcosm; a mosaic of habitats that illustrate unique areas found in the Special Area of Conservation that the Centre acts as a doorstep too. Tralee Bay Wetlands Eco & Activity Park constantly manages this assemblage of habitats, trying to increase their biodiversity for the betterment of the environment’s health and the wellbeing of those who visit the Nature Reserve. Wetland habitats support diverse plant and animal life. They play a vital role in protecting our environment from excessive flooding, improving our water quality and they also help in the storing of Carbon by absorbing Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere!

Don't forget to get the Information and Wetlands Map with the Flora Spotter Sheet at the Reception Desk.

Take a look at our Wetlands Wildlife and how many species will you spot on your adventure through our Nature Reserve?

 

The Native Wood Mouse The Native Wood Mouse

Native Wood Mouse

The Native Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) as its name suggest lives in woods and fields. Genetic studies have been done and our Wood-Mouse have very similar genes to Scandinavian Wood Mice. The theory is that Vikings brought our furry friends over 8000 years ago. Our Mouse is a very important food source for Owls, Falcons, Stoats, Badgers and Pine martins.

 

Mammals: The Bank vole Mammals: The Bank vole

Bank Vole

The Bank vole (Myodes glareolus) is a non-native to Ireland. Non-native means it is not from Ireland and has been brought over from Germany when machinery was brought over. for building Ardnacrusha Dam. The Bank Vole is mostly out during daylight hours and is not as acrobatic as the wood mouse as can be seen by the smaller tail on the vole. Like our Field Mouse, the Vole provides food for Kestrels, Falcons, Stoats, Badgers, Foxes and Pine Martins.

 

Seagull Seagull

Gulls

Popularly known as seagulls these birds are becoming a point of contention in recent years as they have broken their connection with the sea and begin to settle in our urban environment. In many urban centres, there are ‘sea’gulls that have never seen the coast. Large gulls can live beyond thirty years.

 

Grey Heron Grey Heron

Grey Heron

The grey heron is an ambush predator. Often seen hunting along the edges of rivers, lakes and even coastal shores. They can strike a lonely figure, waiting stilly to catch unsuspecting fish, frogs, newts, and small mammals. Grey herons are monogamous. Unpaired birds will roost in groups twenty birds amongst the branches of old trees called heronries

 

Mute Swan Mute Swan

Mute Swans

These elegant birds, venerated in Irish mythology, are very territorial. They mate for life, and given that, are often held as a symbol of love, considered by the Roman’s as sacred to Venus the goddess of love, they are capable of viciously fighting to maintain their piece of the country.

 

Mallard Duck Mallard Duck

Mallards

Mallards are the most common waterfowl in Ireland, males are identified by their green iridescent head and females are a plainer brown with but carry a striking navy speculum. The nestlings are precocial, meaning they are capable when they hatch, human babies are the opposite ‘altricial’ of this needing huge amounts of parental care.

 

Male Reed Bunting Male Reed Bunting

Common Reed Bunting

Common Reed Bunting are easily identified out of sight by their short, repetitive “zrip” call. Within your vision, these birds have a blackhead, white mustachio and matching scarf. A closer look shows a sturdy seed eaters bill that is used cracking the protective coating around hard nuts and grains. They are denizens of wetlands throughout Europe and Northern Asia; their nests are crafted of whatever the dominant plant life of the area is and so changes by region.

Common Frog Common Frog

Amphibians

Ireland is home to 3 amphibians two of which, the Smooth Newt and Common frog, can be found in the Tralee Bay Wetlands. Ireland is the furthest extent of the common frog’s western range. They are a solitary species that reside in dark and damp places, particularly fond of shallow ponds (where the use there skin to breath in place of lungs or gills) and the shelter of long grass. Given time, roughly two hours, the common frog's skin can change colour in response to its surroundings.

Emperor Dragonfly Emperor Dragonfly

Dragonflies

Dragonflies are as ancient as the dinosaurs and joining them are the Damselflies, less robust animals that have elegant, needle-like frames. The fossils date back as far as 250 million years. They are highly capable predators that can reach speeds of 30km in flight. At this time the Earth’s oxygen levels were higher than they are now, which allowed for the dragonflies now-extinct ancestors to grow much larger than they do now.

Dragonflies have been on this world longer than humans having evolved 325 million years ago. These ancient Dragonflies were much bigger with a wingspan of 76cm. unfortunately their descendants are much smaller with the largest wingspans around 10cm. They can mostly be seen from the end of May till August, we can see many different types of Dragonflies and Damselflies darting around our ponds. Our Dragonflies are very quick and it can be hard to see them initially as they dart back and forth keeping watch over their territory. Commonly seen around the Wetland Centre are our Emperor, Four-Spotted Chaser and Common Darter. The easiest way to spot them is to watch out for their shadow on the surface of the water. These fearsome creatures require unpolluted water as their young can live in ponds and lakes for up to 5 years before emerging as mini Arial jets we see.

Moorhen Moorhen

Moorhen

The European and Irish population of Moorhen are secure. They look very similar to the species of Coot. Coots however have white faces whilst Moorhens have red and yellow. The Moorhen is a resident bird to most Wetlands and its numbers increase in Winter as birds from the Continent Winter here in Ireland. This bird is omnivorous, feeding on both insects and plants. The Moorhen can be found in  Marsh and Wet Ground that has well-vegetated areas where it can find insects and grains.

Snipe Snipe

Snipe

 The Irish Snipe is Amber listed as some parts of the European Population have undergone a recent decline due to the loss of Wetland Habitats. The snipe is a common Wetlands Bird, they are not easily seen until they are flushed from their hiding spot and often do not move until nearly stepped on.
When disturbed they will fly in zig zag patterns which makes it harder for predators to catch them. The long beak is used for hunting Earthworms, larvae of Crane Fly and other invertebrates.

Little Egret Little Egret

Little Egret

 The Little Egret is relatively new to Ireland only 20 years ago during this time they would have been considered a rare visitor. Now they are found all around our coastline. In Mainland Europe they had become endangered as they were hunted for their feathers and food. With strict laws on hunting their numbers rapidly bounced back. They eat mainly Aquatic Insects and Fish but will also eat Terrestrial Invertebrates, Amphibians and small Mammals. In England, 1,000 egrets were served in the banquet to celebrate the enthronement of George Neville as Archbishop of York at Cawood Castle in 1465.

Teal Teal

Teal

The colour Teal gets its origins from this bird. The Teal is one of our smallest Ducks but can be found in huge colonies around the Park during Winter.
Ireland has a small population that remain throughout the year and has a huge influx of Wintering Birds in Autumn. The population that stay to breed are extremely small.

Curlew Curlew

Curlew

The Curlew are highly endangered with less than 138 breeding pairs as of 2019 compared to around 5,000 pairs in late 1980's. The reason for this is the loss of our Bogs and Wet Grasslands has been the major contributor to their decline. The Curlew need Wetland Habitats for nesting and hunting Insects as they use their long peaks to probe mud for Invertebrates. Here in Kerry there is a small breeding population in the Stack Mountains which is just on the edge of Tralee.
During Winter Ireland’s population of Curlew has increased with migrants flying in to Winter here from Scotland and Scandinavia. The Wetland Park is fortunately situated as these migratory Bird can be seen flying over the Centre during the Winter Months.

European Blue Tit European Blue Tit

Eurasian Blue Tit

The Eurasian Blue Tit is common Garden Bird found all over Ireland. These birds will happily eat from bird feeders however they do require Insects with an Insecticide free area to forage in is always needed. They can be easily distinguished from their rivals the Great Tit by their Blue Cap. Blue Tits are highly valuable birds to have around as they love to eat caterpillars which cause problems for gardeners.

Eurasian Great Tit Eurasian Great Tit

Eurasian Great Tit

The Eurasian Great Tit is easily recognisable with their black caps. These birds are quite happy to get food from any birdfeeder. Its main food, like the Blue Tit, are insects which means this bird requires areas of pesticide free plants for its insects to grow on. This bird is found across most of Europe and parts of Africa.
The Sparrowhawk is a major predator of this bird.

Goldfinch Goldfinch

Goldfinch

The Goldfinch that has a fondness for thistles. The more thistles in an area the more of these birds will be present. The seeds from Thistles is their major food source. These birds generally build their nests from Lichens and Mosses high up in trees branches. Goldfinches were once a highly sought after bird to be kept as pets. Thankfully when the Wildlife Act was put into place in Ireland this became illegal and these Wild Birds can remain in the wild.

European Robin European Robin

European Robin

Robins can be seen all year round looking for Worms, Bugs and Seeds. While they may look pretty Robins are very territorial and can fight with other Robins over the best territories. Young Robins do not gain a red breast until a few months after hatching, which can make it difficult to identify them. There are different birds around the World that hold the title of robin. The Japanese Robin and the Ryukyu Robin are both Japanese varieties.

Smooth Newt Smooth Newt

Smooth Newt

Our Smooth Newt or Common Newt is Ireland’s Newt Species. Unlike Frogs, Newts do not lay huge clumps of eggs. Instead they lay a single egg on the inside of an aquatic plants leaf. They protect and hide the egg they role the leaf. Like other Amphibians such as our Frogs, Newts require clean pools of water with no pollution to survive and bred. After breeding Newts come back onto land to look for insects to eat. During breeding season males can develop a crest on their tail and their bellies will turn orange with spots. Like our Common Frog and Natterjack Road it is illegal to kill or sell these animals and it is protected under the Wildlife Acts (1976 and 2000).

Hooded Crow Hooded Crow

Hooded Crow

Common across Ireland, this member of the Crow family is easily distinguished with their grey body which has led to the nickname of Hooded Crow. They are far less common across in England, only occurring in small numbers until you reach Scotland. If you want a closer look just through a little food on the ground and eventually they will fly down and skip over.

Swallow Swallow

Swallow

The Swallow is a Summer visitor only to Ireland and indeed it is a hopeful sign to many people in Ireland that the cold months are finally finished and will gather in huge flocks when they return to Africa for Winter. These birds can be very hard to photograph as they are always flinging in search of food. Their main diet is insects such as flies and they will catch them by swooping down over water bodies such as our Lake and Ponds. If seen sitting still you will be able to see that this bird has an orange face and blue colouring on its back. A very similar bird is the Swift, a bird that also feed on insects and is very hard to photograph. The main difference between these two birds is that the Swallow has a long forked tail while in the Swift it is much shorter.

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