Ireland & The British Isles: May 22—Jun 04, 2012
Aboard the Clipper Odyssey
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Past Field Lists:
This trip offers a marvelous combination of history, culture, and birding. Among the birding highlights will be the second largest gannet colony in the world, a fine selection of shorebirds, Common Murres, Razorbills, Atlantic Puffins, Black Guillemots, White and Gray wagtails, Goldcrests, Song and Mistle thrushes, Sedge and Willow warblers, Long-tailed Tits, and Reed Buntings.
Enjoy the Emerald Isle like never before on a British Isles expedition which includes a comprehensive Ireland tour. Discover mysterious Dun Aengus; the Cliffside monasteries and lookout towers of the Celtic monks; the Viking legacy of Waterford; and the 17th–18th century English fortresses, mansions, and elaborate gardens gracing Cork and Killarney. Rolling green glens are studded with shimmering lakes and dramatic cliffs that are busy with breeding seabirds. In true Ireland adventure travel style, we explore such islands as the Saltees, Skellig Rocks, and Blasket, as well as Scotland's Inner Hebrides by Zodiac. Northern Ireland's Giant's Causeway, a World Heritage Site, along with a visit to Scotland's Lagavulin Whiskey Distillery, make a fitting finale to our British Isles Cruise.
Among the many highlights of this cruise will be the following:
• A visit to Dartmoor National Park near Plymouth and an opportunity to bird its upland moors.
• A stop in the Isles of Scilly, 150 or so granitic isles, known for their lovely beaches, rocky promontories, and ideal climate. Warmed by the North Atlantic Drift, the Isles of Scilly have given their fortunate inhabitants the luxury of turning a passion for growing flowers into a major industry. The Isles of Scilly are also famous among British birders for the North American vagrants that turn up mainly in the fall. We will have an opportunity to look for the resident birds as we tour the subtropical gardens at Tresco Abbey.
• A visit to the privately owned Saltee Islands including Great Saltee where we'll search for puffins, murres, razorbills, gannets, and the other 47 bird species known to inhabit the island.
• A full-day excursion to Killarney where we will visit Killarney National Park. Our circular route climbs through Moll's Gap, revealing idyllic lake and mountain panoramas. We will visit Muckross House in Killarney National Park, a restored nineteenth-century Elizabethan-style manor house and gardens, where artisans ply their traditional trades and craftwork in the Kerry Folklife Centre. After lunch in nearby Killarney, we continue along the northern route, through Killorglin with its grand land- and seascapes. We pass along the shores of Dingle Bay en route to re-embark the ship in Caherciveen.
• A dawn approach to the remote and precipitous Skellig Rocks. Little Skellig is home to the second-largest colony of gannets in the world; thousands upon thousands of birds greet our arrival. In the afternoon we'll enjoy a nature walk to explore the Blasket Islands, an archipelago off the Dingle Peninsula populated by numerous seabirds and seals.
• The Dingle Peninsula, Ireland's most westerly outpost—the views from Slea Head over the seacost and off-lying islands are dramatic. We continue to Dunquin's Blasket Centre, which offers insights into the isolated island communities. We also visit the unusual Gallarus Oratory, a very early ninth-century church, built without mortar, to resemble an upturned boat. Enjoy free time in the small fishing town of Dingle to stroll and explore craft shops, or raise a pint at one of the lively local pubs.
• Sanda Island, a privately-owned island, hosts a variety of nesting and migratory seabirds. Step ashore to explore with our naturalists and stop for refreshments at the small restaurant. After lunch on board we make an expedition stop on Ailsa Craig, the volcano plug of an extinct volcano. This uninhabited island is a bird sanctuary that provides a home for puffins and huge numbers of gannets.
Easy cruising mixed with shore excursions and Zodiac expeditions.