Arklow Boating Lake
To the north of the town of Arklow is an incredible lake and pond habitat just behind the coastal-protection barriers along the sea shore. This is an absolutely incredible area for viewing wildlife and a brilliant place for wildlife photographers to get extremely close-up views of many bird species that are normally quite difficult to get near, such as the Little Grebe (Tachybaptis ruficollis), Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) and Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus).
Remember to bring some bread, as many of the birds will take bread from your hand, such as the Greylag Geese (Anser anser)and the even larger Mute Swans (Cygnus olor). This will allow you to have an incredible degree of interraction with these wild creatures, and see their beauty extremely close-up.
The lake is situated next to a very convenient carpark and encircled by a broad, clean footpath. It is possible to sit in a car and get brilliant views of the lake's wild birds, and the area is completely wheelchair accessible and anyon can walk the full way around the lake. There are benches positioned at convenient intervals and disabled toilets are accessible in the public swimming pool building and the nearby Bay Hotel, both next to the lake.
The lake consists of broad expanses of water, reeds, bare and tree-covered islands and an overgrown area to the north where willows proliferate and provide an area wildlife can hide in, away from the gaze of visiting people. Just over the footpath from this northern area is a secluded, overgrown area of ponds that is not easily accessible to people and acts as a biodiversity corridor, allowing wildlife to come and go from the lake.
The bird species of the area alone are incredible: it is simultaneously one of the most convenient and best wildlife sites in all of Wicklow.
How To Get There:
Arklow can be reached from Dublin or Rosslare/Wexford by rail, although it must be stressed that trains are not regular and there can be a wait of hours involved. By bus, the No.002 Bus Eireann Expressway travels from Dublin Airport via Busáras (the central bus depot next to Connolly Station) to Arklow, a journey of 1 hour 30 minutes or 2 hours respectively. The No. 384 local bus service also travels from Busáras, but does so only once a day, leaving 17.45, and therefore is of little use to the casual visitor.
The best method of visiting is to travel by car or private bus or taxi. Take the N11 national primary route south from Dublin, or north from Rosslare. The access roads to Arklow will be clearly marked, and it is advisable to take the North access route. Drive along this road as it brings you into Arklow, and you will eventually come to a sharp bend in the road to the right, at a junction where you have the right of way. When you go around the bend in the road you will see a typical town street. Immediately on the left there will be a phone box. Behind the phone box is a small road. Turn down this road and follow it directly to the car park by the Arklow Boating Lake, and choose the space that is most convenient for you. If you plan to birdwatch from your vehicle it is best to drive facing forwards into one of the first set of parking spaces (on the left as you approach), which overlook the most open part of the lake.