Sail Away to the Saltee Islands

Take a trip to the Sunny South east.

If you are looking for somewhere to go, to escape and spend time among some wildlife then take a trip to the Sunny South East and head for the Saltee Island’s.

The Saltee Islands

The Saltee Islands are one of the most recognizable landmarks of the south Wexford coastline. Just 5 km from Kilmore Quay, the islands are home to an array of seabirds such as puffins, gannets, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, manx shearwater, gulls as well as many other species of wildlife. A Special Area of Conservation, the islands are a unique place to visit. Definitely bring your camera along.

Puffin on the Saltee Island
Puffin – photo taken by Phil Brady
A Photography Day Out

A trip out to the Saltee Island’s really makes for a fantastic photography day out. Some of our members have made the trip and are now sharing their photos ,tips and experiences.

The Boat Trip

The boat trip to the Great Saltee Island takes about 20 minutes (you must pre-book the ferry from Kilmore Quay). It is an open boat so chances of you (or your camera) getting wet are high so be prepared! There is a cabin on the boat where you can leave your camera gear for safe keeping on the crossing.

Once you near the Island, you will transfer to a smaller boat/dingy. The boat operators are so helpful so dont worry, just watch your step and take your time when transferring you and your gear to the boat.Saltee Isalnd landing

Also the landing could involve getting your feet wet (the tide will dictate). When the tide is in, you can step directly onto the beach quite easily. If the tide is out, you will have to wade in/out to the beach, so roll up your trousers and mind your step.

There are no facilities on the island so water and snacks must also be carried over (and remember to bring all your rubbish home).

Gannet photo taken by Marie Kearns
On the Island

The best time to visit is the spring and early summer – the birds leave once the chicks can fly so by early August it is eerily quiet. The 90 acre Great Saltee Island is easily explored on a day trip including time for a picnic. Visitors typically have around 4 hours on the island. The island is privately owned by The Neale family , who kindly allow visitors to come and explore the island , so please be respectful of the island, and its residents (both human and animal!) .A flag flies when the family are in residence.

When the family are in residence on the island, day visitors are allowed on Great Saltee Island between 11am and 4.30pm only. When the family are away from the island visitors are allowed prior to the 11am. The boats will operate more regular so make sure to check with them when the sailings are.

A Protected Habitat

The islands are a protected habitat and are home to over 200 species of birds. Most people are unaware that a licence is required to take video or photographs of a wild bird ”on or near a nest containing eggs or unflown young”.  BirdWatch Ireland asks all photographers please respect the law and refrain from photographing birds at or near their nest.

The saltee Island view
Beautiful Saltee Island photo taken by Rosie Cummins
The Puffin
Atlantic Puffin
Puffin on Saltee Island photo taken by Catherine Doheny

The Puffins are one of the most popular sightings on the island, along with the Gannet colony.

There are three types of puffins and the Saltee species are Atlantic Puffins. The males build the nests, which are burrows in rocky cliffs either in soil or amongst the rocks. They can also use existing rabbit burrows to nest in. Breeding season is between April and mid August and the rest of the year is spent at sea.

Things to remember

When visiting the island, remember this is home to some amazing species of birds and wildlife, respect their home and dont disturb their nests or young. Watch and enjoy from a safe distance.

There are steep cliff edges on the Island so make sure you are safe and dont go too near the edges. There is also many burrows throughout the island, so watch your step.

If you bring anything on to the Island, make sure you bring it all back home with you.

When photographing the birds, a long zoom lens is recommended. It allows you to sit at a comfortable distance from the birds and really observe them in their natural habitat.

Enjoy your time on the Island, remember to just sit and watch the birds, they are amazing creatures and sometimes we get too busy watching through the lens, we forget to actually look at them and observe their behaviours.

If you decide to Sail away to the Sunny south east and visit the Saltee Islands make sure you tag us and share your experience

Check out our Facebook to see more photos taken by Rosie, Phil, Marie and Catherine.

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