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 Islands 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:2011-07
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

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.
BA045Branta leucopsis    272  272   
BA122Crex crex    13  13   
BA184Larus argentatus    65  65   
BA182Larus canus    55  55   
BA018Phalacrocorax aristotelis    40  40   
BA194Sterna paradisaea    25  25   
  • 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               
  • 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

West Donegal Islands SPA consists of a series of small to moderate-sized islands lying between 700 m and 3.5 km off the north-west coast of Co. Donegal. It includes the islands of Gola, Inishmeane, Inishsirrer (the three largest), Umfin, Go, Allagh, Torglass, Tornacolpagh and Tororragaun, as well as a number of smaller rocky islets. The islands are low-lying, the highest point being Knockaculleen on Gola (68 m). The site, which includes the intervening and surrounding seas to 200 m from the shorelines, is highly exposed to Atlantic swells. The predominant habitat of the islands is grassland, with both wet and dry types represented; small areas of dune grassland also occur. Small lakes occur on Inishsirrer and Gola. The rocky shorelines have areas of boulders, shingle and coarse sand, and grade into submarine reefs, which are common in the shallow surrounding seas.

4.2 Quality and importance

The West Donegal Islands SPA supports a nationally important wintering population of Branta leucopsis. The birds use the islands for both feeding and roosting, though at times may commute to other islands off the Donegal coast, such as Inishkeeragh and Inishdooey.The also site supports a nationally important breeding population of Crex crex and is one of a suite of sites along the western seaboard that is regularly utilised by this species. Crex crex is listed on the 2010 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. This is due to population and range declines of more than 50% in the last 25 years across significant parts of its range. Nationally important breeding populations of Phalacrocorax aristotelis, Larus canus and Larus argentatus also occur at the site.

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)

Alcorn, S., Donaghy, A. and Moloney, D. (2009). Corncrake Fieldwork in North and West Donegal 2009. Unpublished Report by Birdwatch Ireland for National Parks and Wildlife Service. Barron, C. (2001). Island Feasibility Study: An Assessment of the Extent of Potential Habitat and its Management for Corncrakes (Crex crex) on Islands off the West Coast of Ireland. BirdWatch Ireland Corncrake Conservation Project. Unpublished report. Casey, C. (1998). Distribution and conservation of the Corncrake in Ireland, 1993-1998. Irish Birds 6: 159-176. Copeland, A. (2002). Delivering Corncrake Crex crex conservation in Ireland: past, present and future. Irish Birds 7: 33-42. Hannon, C. (1997). The 1995 All-Ireland Tern Survey. BirdWatch Ireland Conservation Report No. 97/1. Hannon, C., Berrow, S.D. and Newton S.F. (1997). The status and distribution of breeding Sandwich Sterna sandvicensis, Roseate S. dougallii, Common S. hirundo, Arctic S. paradisaea and Little Terns S. albifrons in Ireland in 1995. Irish Birds 6: 1-22. 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. Merne, O.J. and Walsh, A. (1994). Barnacle Geese in Ireland, spring 1993 and 1994. Irish Birds 5: 151-156. Merne, O.J. and Walsh, A. (2002). Barnacle Geese in Ireland, spring 1999. Irish Birds 7: 53-56. Merne, O.J. and Walsh, A. (2003). Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis in Ireland, spring 2003. Irish Birds 7: 173-176. Mitchell, P.I., Newton, S.F., Ratcliffe, N. and Dunn, T.E. (2004). Seabird Populations of Britain and Ireland. Poyser, London. Whilde, A. (1985). The All Ireland Tern Survey 1984. Unpublished report for the Irish Wildbird Conservancy, Dublin.


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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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