Brandon Point - Kerry's Hidden Seawatching Hideaway
Brandon point is located on the north side of the Dingle Peninsula, on the outer west side of the Cloghane estuary/bay. It is reached by heading out of Tralee, following signs for Dingle. Once out of the town keep heading straight in the Castlegregory/Conor pass direction ignoring the main turn off for Dingle. When you reach the turn for the Conor pass, turn off right for Brandon/Cloghane and follow the narrow roads through Brandon village for Brandon pt.
These roads are VERY narrow and caution is advised.
A good sized car park is your destination and here you leave the car behind.
The car park is right on a cliff edge and it is possible to watch birds from here if you need to. However the height above the water is a bit of a downer and birders generally walk east along the cliff track until they reach a suitable elevation. There is a field with some semi-circular depressions and some old stone walls which make good shelter and this is the favoured spot.
Off in the distance you may well see the tip of Loop head. And it is not unusual to receive news of a rare sea-bird passing the Bridges or Ross which will reach you in about an hour's time.
A good north westerly is required to push birds into the bay to your right and have them stream back out past you. But if conditions are right you are in for a really enjoyable sea-watch in spectacular surroundings.
Brandon is well known for good counts of birds like Sabine's gulls, leaches petrels and skuas, whilst also having recorded rare sea-birds such as Black Browed Albatross, Little Shearwater, Wilson's Petrels, and Fea's petrels.
A westerly wind can produce some petrels also, though Deelick pt. a miles walk further west over the mountain is recommended in these winds (not an easy walk and not a comfortable watch-point).
In a South Westerly, Clogher Head on the west side of the Dingle Peninsula can be productive, but Islands off shore limit its potential somewhat.
None the less I have seen Long tailed Skua, Leaches petrel, Sabine's Gull and Grey Phalarope from here.
Nearby Brandon village has both accommodation and pubs/food. Choice is limited, but good quality.
Whilst usually requiring stronger wind conditions than the Bridges of Ross to produce birds, Brandon is none the less an under watched site regardless of this, and should produce more birds with frequent observations.
Brandon is a "one to watch" location. An explorers dream, this site offers more rounded birding adjacent to it on the Dingle peninsula, particularly in September when American waders can reasonably be expected on any of the small beaches or estuaries around the dingle peninsula/Tralee bay area.
A good few days in September should produce a day of north westerlies at some point, and the dilemma then becomes do you sea-watch? Or hunt waders? With Brandon there is nothing to stop you doing both. And I have had some good weekends start off with a morning sea-watch at Brandon before moving around the peninsula for waders.
On one weekend in early September, I scored 1 Wilson's, 3 Long tailed Skuas (with Poms, Bonxies and Arctics), Sabine's Gulls, Grey Phalaropes, and Leaches petrels, before heading off to find Bonaparte's Gull, Ring Necked Duck, Several pectoral sandpipers and Buff breasted Sandpipers, and one Semi-palmated sandpiper over the rest of the weekend.
That is the birding on offer in this part of the world in the right winds.
Should the accommodation in Brandon be unsuited to your liking or heaven forbid booked out, You will find numerous other locations around the peninsula, being a tourist Mecca, ranging from high end hotels to bed and breakfasts to hostels and camping.
Restaurants and Café's are not hard to come by either, and Dingle town itself has great restaurants for Seafood if your tastes run that way.
A real treat on your way out/or back from the peninsula is the Station House restaurant in Blennerville.
Have Lunch. Wait for the tide to be just right...find a rare yank!
Last edited by Pariah : Friday 23rd July 2010 at 12:16.