Catchment News

Loughrea birdwatching and beach clean-up

Caitríona Cunningham from Clean Coasts tells us about a recent event where the community got involved in birdwatching and a clean-up of the Blue Flag beach in Loughrea.

Clean Coasts groups from Loughrea Tidy Towns and the local St. Brendan’s Boys National school went birdwatching in January 2019, at an event organised by Clean Coasts, the LA Waters Programme, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Loughrea Lake has been awarded the prestigious International Blue Flag award for the past number of years for its excellent water quality, provision of environmental information and education and safety and services such as lifeguards and toilet facilities.

Loughrea Lake is home for about 3,000 birds during winter, with about 15 species living there, and on the day they saw Black-headed gulls, a lesser Black-headed gull, drafts of Coots, Pochards, Mute Swans and Mallard Ducks.

Recent Birdwatch Ireland surveys also recorded Little Grebes, Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants, Shovelers, Tufted Ducks, Goldeneyes, Lapwings and Great Black-backed gulls. Most of the water birds are migratory and come to Ireland to overwinter from northern countries, and need a safe, undisturbed area with clean water and good feeding to get through winter. Loughrea Lake is a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EU Birds Directive as it has nationally important populations of Shoveler and Coot.

Bird Watch Ireland have recorded a dramatic decline by nearly 50% of the number of water birds at Loughrea over the last 30 years. The decline in birds can be due to what is happening during their breeding season elsewhere, the severity of the winter, and local factors.

After the bird-watching event Loughrea Lake Tidy Towns volunteers, and 4th & 5th class pupils from St. Brendan’s Boys National School along with their teachers Mr. Pearce Mulhall and Patricia Callaghan conducted a beach clean-up of Loughrea Lake. Speaking at the Loughrea Lake’s beach clean, Clean Coasts Officer Caitríona Cunningham said, “every single piece of litter removed during the beach clean is one less piece of litter that will pollute the beautiful Loughrea Lake or harm its wildlife.”

Caitríona Cunningham, Clean Coasts

Learn more:

Up-to-date water quality information for Loughrea Lake is available on throughout the bathing season, which runs from 1 June to 15 September –

Who is involved?

Quite simply, everyone in Ireland has a role to play. This can be from something as simple as making sure you don’t pollute your local stream, or a local community working together to establish a Rivers Trust to enhance the rivers and lakes in their area, to a Government Department or Agency helping a Minister implement a new policy to help protect and enhance all our waterbodies.

This website has been developed and is maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is a collaboration between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Local Authority Waters and Communities Office.


Local Authority Waters Programme

The Local Authority Waters Programme coordinates the efforts of local authorities and other public bodies in the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan, and supports local community and stakeholder involvement in managing our natural waters, for everyone’s benefit.


Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is responsible for coordinating the monitoring, assessment and reporting on the status of our 4,829 water bodies, looking at trends and changes, determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives and measures for each.


Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government

The Department is responsible for making sure that the right policies, regulations and resources are in place to implement the Water Framework Directive, and developing a River Basin Management Plan and Programme of Measures that will be implemented after public consultation and sign off by the Minister.