Atlantic Pond / Marina


The Marina is one of Cork City’s most popular amenity sites. The Marina Walk is a beautiful pedestrian walkway that follows the River Lee, starting from Cork harbour towards Blackrock Village There is also an adjacent old passage railway line that connects Cork city, Blackrock, and Passage West. Not only is this area popular with people, but it is also an attractive location for urban wildlife. There are several different habitats along this route, such as the rocky shore by Blackrock Castle Observatory, coastal woodlands surrounding Blackrock Road and Blackrock Village, marshy wetlands, and native woodland near Marina Walk, and the freshwater pond at Atlantic Pond. This unique area is home to a wide diversity of species and is an excellent hotspot for birdwatching in the city.

The Atlantic Pond is a unique site for the city. Its combination of freshwater, surrounding woodland, and proximity to Cork Harbour makes it an ideal habitat for freshwater, coastal, and woodland bird species, including the grey heron that can be easily spotted nesting on the small island at the centre of the Atlantic pond. If you are very lucky, you might even spot one of the city’s incredible urban otters at Atlantic Pond. Otters are a very elusive animal, but they have been spotted here on rare occasions! Just down from the Atlantic pond is a marshy wetland surrounded by woodland, boasting an impressive diversity of native tree species which have attracted woodland birds and insect species. Blackrock Castle Observatory is the perfect habitat for wading birds and coastal plants. When the tide is low, a wide variety of bird species can be seen foraging together on the muddy banks.

Trail Entrance

These trails can be accessed from many different sides, but the most used starting point is located beside Pairc Ui Chaoimh, where there is ample parking.

Trail Length

Atlantic Pond loop – roughly 750 meters; Marina to Blackrock – roughly 2 km (extra 800 meters to Blackrock Observatory); Old Railway walk – Just under 6 km from Blackrock Castle Observatory to Atlantic Pond

Wild Walks Map

Click the image to download the map

wild walks map

Notable Wildlife

Site 1: Blackrock Castle Observatory

2 black tailed godwit

Black-tailed godwit

  • Scientific Name: Limosa limosa
  • Irish Name: Guilbneach earrdhubh
The black-tailed godwit is a large, long-legged, wader bird. In winter, their plumage is a dull grey-brown colour, however during mating season the bird takes on a red-brown colour on its head, neck and chest. Owing to their name, the bird has a striking thick black band on the tail which contrasts with white plumage. Small breeding populations have been recorded in Ireland and the UK.


  • Scientific Name: Haematopus ostralegus
  • Irish Name: Roilleach
The oystercatcher is a large stocky, black and white wader bird, with an orange bill and reddish legs. It is possible to spot this bird along almost all the Irish coast, in large numbers from September to March when winter visitors are also present.
Ringed Plover

Ringed plover

  • Scientific Name: Charadrius hiaticula
  • Irish Name: Feadóg chladaigh
Ringed plover is a small wader, identifiable by its grey-brown upper plumage and white underparts. They visually hunt for marine worms and crustacean and can be seen running along the shore, before briefly picking up food from the ground and running in a short burst again – as is common for many wader birds.


  • Scientific Name: Arenaria interpres
  • Irish Name: Piardálaí trá
Turnstone is a small stocky wader bird, with brown and white plumage and short orange legs. Native to Canada and Greenland, this species overwinters along Ireland’s coastlands from August to April. This species does not breed in Ireland.


  • Scientific Name: Calidris alpina
  • Irish Name: Breacóg
Dunlin’s name is derived from the word “dun” meaning “dull brown”. In fact, this species upper plumage is highly variable, from red/brown in the summer to brown/grey in winter. A winter visitor to Ireland, dunlin is the most common wader bird reported during the mid-winter period, with scattered breeding sites in the west. No breeding sites are reported in Cork.


  • Scientific Name: Anas Penelope
  • Irish Name: Rualacha
This species of duck is a common winter visitor to Irish wetlands including marches, freshwater, lagoons and inland wetlands. They feed on seagrass and algae, as well as grassland and cereals. They are listed as a red conservation status.

Site 2: Marina Walk and Marshy Wetland



  • Scientific Name: Garrulus glandarius
  • Irish Name: Scréachóg / Scréachóg choille
The jay is a striking bird, easily identified by its brightly coloured blue, white and pink feathers on an otherwise black wing and brown body. The jay, a member of the crow family, is also famously noisy with a loud “Hassch-haasch” call. You are more likely to hear a jay in its woodland habitat than see one as they are quite shy.
Hawthorn in flower


  • Scientific Name: Crataegus monogyna
  • Irish Name: Sceach gheal
Hawthorn is a low growing deciduous tree with spiny branches. They often grow in clusters, particularly in hedgerows, but can also grow as individual trees. In Irish folklore, it is bad luck to cut down a hawthorn as they are the homes of fairies. In fact, Hawthorn is an important foodplant for pollinators like bumblebees and solitary bees.


  • Scientific Name: Fagus Sylvatica
  • Irish Name: Crann feá
Although not a native species, the deciduous beech tree is readily found across Ireland. It can grow as high as 40 metres and has a smooth silvery bark. The fruit of the beech tree is a nut, which is protected in a small, triangular shell that is hairy on the outside. Beech trees do not flower until they are at least 40 years old.
10-spot ladybird

10-spot Ladybird

  • Scientific Name: Adalia decempunctata
  • Irish Name: Bóín Dé Deichbhallach
Unlike its name, the 10-spot ladybird can have between 0-15 red or black spots, with 6 forming a row in the middle of the body and one spot on each shoulder. Adults can be found throughout the year on deciduous trees, hedgerows, herbaceous plants and in urban areas.
Hawthorn Shield Bug

Hawthorn shield bug

  • Scientific Name: Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale
  • Irish Name: Fríd Scéithe na Sceiche Gile
Hawthorn shield bugs are common in areas with suitable shrubby plants. They lay eggs in spring and over summer the nymphs feed on hawthorn and other trees and plants. Adults appear near the end of summer before hibernating.

Site 3: Atlantic Pond

Little Egret

Little egret

  • Scientific Name: Egretta garzetta
  • Irish Name: Éigrit bheag
Little egret is a small white heron that began breeding in Cork, Ireland in 1997. The species is now found along the east coast of Ireland but is still considered rare in Ireland. They feed on a variety of animals from fish to frogs and insects.
Little Grebe

Little grebe

  • Scientific Name: Tachybaptus ruficollis
  • Irish Name: Spágaire tonn
Little grebes are a small diving bird, found in ponds and lakes across Ireland. The smallest of the grebes, they have a small round body, short neck, and small pointed bill. They have a high-pitched call.


  • Scientific Name: Gallinula chloropus
  • Irish Name: Cearc uisce
Moorhen, sometimes called a marsh hen, are a medium sized water bird. It is the most common river bird in Ireland and can often be seen out on the water or heard calling from dense vegetation nearby.


  • Scientific Name: Tadorna tadorna
  • Irish Name: Seil-lacha
This colourful duck is between the size of a mallard and a goose. They have a dark green head and neck, a red/brown chest band, black scapulars (on the top of the wings when resting), a white back and small red bill. They typically feed on mudsnails found in large numbers in estuaries.
grey heron

Grey heron

  • Scientific Name: Ardea cinerea
  • Irish Name: Corr réisc
The grey heron is the tallest bird found in Ireland. They are easily identifiable through their striking grey and white plumage. They are patient hunters, as they stand and wait for fish to swim by before catching them with their beak. However, they also feed on small mammals and insects. They are found along rivers, estuaries, and wetlands.