Database release:

For Special Protection Areas (SPA),
Proposed Sites for Community Importance (pSCI),
Sites of Community Importance (SCI) and
for Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)



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1.1 Type


1.2 Site code


1.3 Site name

West Donegal Coast SPA

1.4 First Compilation date


1.5 Update date


1.6 Respondent:

Name/Organisation:National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

1.7 Site indication and designation / classification dates

Date site classified as SPA:2006-11
National legal reference of SPA designation No information provided


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2.1 Site-centre location [decimal degrees]:


2.2 Area [ha]


2.3 Marine area [%]


2.4 Sitelength [km] (optional):

No information provided

2.5 Administrative region code and name

NUTS level 2 code Region Name
IE01Border, Midland and Western
IE01Border, Midland and Western

2.6 Biogeographical Region(s)

Atlantic (0.00 %)


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3.1 Habitat types present on the site and assessment for them

No habitat types are reported for the site

3.2 Species referred to in Article 4 of Directive 2009/147/EC and listed in Annex II of Directive 92/43/EEC and site evaluation for them

Species Population in the site Site assessment
G Code Scientific Name S NP T Size Unit Cat. D.qual. A|B|C|D A|B|C
      MinMax  Pop.Con.Iso.Glo.
BA200Alca torda    322  322   
BA103Falco peregrinus     
BA009Fulmarus glacialis    1879  1879   
BA184Larus argentatus    229  229   
BA018Phalacrocorax aristotelis    86  86   
BA017Phalacrocorax carbo    71  71   
BA346Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax    56  56   
BA188Rissa tridactyla    1037  1037   
BA199Uria aalge    366  366   
  • Group: A = Amphibians, B = Birds, F = Fish, I = Invertebrates, M = Mammals, P = Plants, R = Reptiles
  • S: in case that the data on species are sensitive and therefore have to be blocked for any public access enter: yes
  • NP: in case that a species is no longer present in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Type: p = permanent, r = reproducing, c = concentration, w = wintering (for plant and non-migratory species use permanent)
  • Unit: i = individuals, p = pairs or other units according to the Standard list of population units and codes in accordance with Article 12 and 17 reporting (see reference portal)
  • Abundance categories (Cat.): C = common, R = rare, V = very rare, P = present - to fill if data are deficient (DD) or in addition to population size information
  • Data quality: G = 'Good' (e.g. based on surveys); M = 'Moderate' (e.g. based on partial data with some extrapolation); P = 'Poor' (e.g. rough estimation); VP = 'Very poor' (use this category only, if not even a rough estimation of the population size can be made, in this case the fields for population size can remain empty, but the field "Abundance categories" has to be filled in)

3.3 Other important species of flora and fauna (optional)


Population in the site


Group CODE Scientific Name S NP Size Unit Cat. Species Annex Other categories
     MinMax C|R|V|PIVVABCD
Cepphus grylle    155  155             
Larus marinus    15  15             
  • Group: A = Amphibians, B = Birds, F = Fish, Fu = Fungi, I = Invertebrates, L = Lichens, M = Mammals, P = Plants, R = Reptiles
  • CODE: for Birds, Annex IV and V species the code as provided in the reference portal should be used in addition to the scientific name
  • S: in case that the data on species are sensitive and therefore have to be blocked for any public access enter: yes
  • NP: in case that a species is no longer present in the site enter: x (optional)
  • Unit: i = individuals, p = pairs or other units according to the standard list of population units and codes in accordance with Article 12 and 17 reporting, (see reference portal)
  • Cat.: Abundance categories: C = common, R = rare, V = very rare, P = present
  • Motivation categories: IV, V: Annex Species (Habitats Directive), A: National Red List data; B: Endemics; C: International Conventions; D: other reasons


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4.1 General site character

Habitat class % Cover

Total Habitat Cover


Other Site Characteristics

The West Donegal Coast SPA comprises separate sections of the Co. Donegal coastline and extends from Muckros Head in the south, northwards to Slieve League, Malin Beg, Rocky Point, Glen Head, Slieve Tooey, Maghera, Loughros Point, Dunmore Head, Aran Island, Magheradrumman, Carrickfin, Carnboy, Bunbeg, Magheragallan, Lunniagh, as far as Carrick, to the south of Bloody Foreland. The site includes the high coast areas and sea cliffs of the mainland and Aran Island, the land adjacent to the cliff edge, areas of sand dunes/machair at Maghera, Mullaghderg, Braade/Carrickfin/Carnboy, Magheragallan and Lunniagh/Carrick, and also several areas further inland of the coast at Croaghmuckros and Slieve League, north of Glencolumbkille and south of Dunmore Head. A low-lying area of land on the coast at Bunbeg used by roosting Chough is also included. The high water mark forms the seaward boundary, except at Tormore Island where the adjacent sea area to a distance of 500 m from the cliff base is included. Most of the site is underlain by granite and quartzite, though various other, particularly metamorphic, rock types also occur; rocks of Carboniferous age are found at Muckros Head.

4.2 Quality and importance

The site supports a nationally important population of breeding Chough, a Red Data Book species that is listed on Annex I of the E.U. Birds Directive; 40 breeding pairs were recorded from the site in the 1992 survey and 56 in the 2002/03 survey. Concentrations of breeding pairs occur on the Glencolumbkille Peninsula, from Killybegs in the south to Loughros Beg Bay in the north and on Aran Island. On Aran the exposed maritime situation coupled with sheep grazing has resulted in large areas of short sward suitable for foraging Chough. Flocking activity is centred on some of the extensive sand dune systems present; flocks of 76, 22 and 40 birds were recorded at Carrick, Dooey and Sheskinmore respectively in October 2004. The site supports a Peregrine population (2-6 pairs in 2002); this species is listed on Annex I of the E.U. Birds Directive. The site also holds important populations of Fulmar (1,879 pairs), Cormorant (71 pairs in 1999 and 2006), Shag (86 pairs), Herring Gull (229 pairs), Kittiwake (1,037 pairs) and Razorbill (322 pairs). Puffin have been recorded breeding on Tormore in the past, with an estimated 3,000 birds in 1970, though such high numbers are no longer considered to occur. Small groups of Barnacle Goose, also an E.U. Birds Directive Annex I species, occasionally graze on the sward on top of the stack. The West Donegal Coast SPA is also of importance for breeding Twite and Ring Ouzel, both Red-listed species.

4.3 Threats, pressures and activities with impacts on the site

The most important impacts and activities with high effect on the site

Negative Impacts
RankThreats and pressures [code]Pollution (optional) [code]inside/outside [i|o|b]
Positive Impacts
RankActivities, management [code]Pollution (optional) [code]inside/outside [i|o|b]

Rank: H = high, M = medium, L = low
Pollution: N = Nitrogen input, P = Phosphor/Phosphate input, A = Acid input/acidification,
T = toxic inorganic chemicals, O = toxic organic chemicals, X = Mixed pollutions
i = inside, o = outside, b = both

4.4 Ownership (optional)

No information provided

4.5 Documentation (optional)

Berrow, S.D., Mackie, K.I., O'Sullivan, O., Shephard, K.B., Mellon, C. and Coveney, J.A. (1992). The Second International Chough Survey Ireland. Irish Birds 5: 1-10. Bullock, I.D., Drewett, D.R. and Mickleburgh, S.P. (1983). The Chough in Britain and Ireland. British Birds 76: 377-401. Environment and Heritage Service (2000). Biodiversity in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Species Action Plan: Chough. Environment and Heritage Service, Belfast. Gray, N., Thomas, G., Trewby, M. and Newton, S.F. (2003). The status and distribution of Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax in the Republic of Ireland 2002/03. Irish Birds 7: 147-156. Hardey, J., Crick, H., Wernham, C., Riley, H., Etheridge, B. and Thompson, D. (2009). Raptors, A Field Guide for Surveys and Monitoring. Scottish National Heritage. Hunt, J., Derwin, J., Coveney, J. and Newton, S. (2000). Republic of Ireland. Pp. 365-416 in Heath, M.F. and Evans, M.I. (eds). Important Bird Areas in Europe: Priority Sites for Conservation 1: Northern Europe. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No. 8). Lloyd, C. (1982). Inventory of Seabird Breeding Colonies in Republic of Ireland. Unpublished report, Forest and Wildlife Service, Dublin. Madden, B. (in prep.). Breeding Survey of Peregrine Falcons in the Republic of Ireland, 2002. Unpublished report to NPWS, Dublin. Mitchell, P.I., Newton, S., Ratcliffe, N. and Dunn, T.E. (2004). Seabird Populations of Britain and Ireland. Poyser, London. Newton, S., Donagh, A., Allen, D. and Gibbons, D. (1999). Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland. Irish Birds 6: 333-344. Norriss, D.W. (1995). The 1991 survey and weather impacts on the Peregrine Falco peregrinus breeding population in the Republic of Ireland. Bird Study 42: 20-30. Trewby, M., Gray, N., Cummins, S., Thomas, G. and Newton, S. (2006). The Status and Ecology of the Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax in the Republic of Ireland, 2002-2005. BirdWatch Ireland Report, Kilcoole. Trewby, M., Gray, N., Cummins, S., Thomas, G. and Newton, S. (in prep.). The breeding season and foraging behaviour of Choughs Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax in three Irish Chough Important Bird Areas.


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6.1 Body(ies) responsible for the site management:

No information provided

6.2 Management Plan(s):

An actual management plan does exist:

No, but in preparation

6.3 Conservation measures (optional)

No information provided



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