FAUNA OF KERRY GEOPARK Traditionally, economic development in the Kerry Geopark region has been intrinsically linked to the landscape which resulted in a number of animals being selectively bred to meet agricultural requirements. Examples of such animals include:
Bog Pony These small, sure-footed, versatile ponies were used on family holdings in the mountains and valleys of Kerry for centuries. They were known as Hobbies. It is thought that this name may have been derived from a practice in Irish-speaking areas of calling "Hup, Hup" repeatedly to a pony to attract it home to the farmyard. This practice is known in Irish or Gaelic as obaireacht. The modern name - Kerry Bog Pony - reflects the qualities of their living and working environment.
Kerry Cattle Bred to adapt to the harsh climate and rocky terrain of the Kerry Geopark region, these animals are able to survive outside during the winter by growing an extra thick coat. However, they are most noted for their ability to produce high quality milk from a diet consisting entirely of rough pasture.
In terms of wild fauna, Kerry Geopark boasts two globally rare species:
Natterjack Toad (Bufo Calamita) Irish: Cnádán - the only toad species in Ireland and easily recognized by the yellow stripe that runs down its back. This stripe is part of its camouflage, being a replica of the sand sedge which is a common plant in this toad's habitat.
Kerry Spotted Slug (Geomalacus Maculosus) generally grows to approximately 7-8cm in length, has a dark brown body with light brown spots. It is (apparently) the only slug species that will curl itself into a ball when it is disturbed. It has a Lusitanian distribution, which describes animals and plants that only occur along the western seaboard of Europe and not in the interior of counties. The Kerry slug likes wet weather and feeds on lichens living on rocks and lower tree trunks. It is an important species and is well protected appearing under Annex II and Annex IV of the European Union Habitats Directive.
Wild goats roam the area and deer can occasionally be sighted near wooded areas.
BIRDS OF KERRY GEOPARK Birds are plentiful here, from the small - which include the Wren, Robin, Yellowhammer, Stonechat and Wagtail - to the large seabirds, including all species of Gull: Heron, Curlew, Cormorant, Razorbill and Gannet.
Both of the Skellig islands are well known for their seabird colonies, and together comprise one of the most important seabird sites in Ireland, both for the population size and for the species diversity. Among the breeding birds are European Storm-Petrels, Northern Gannets, Fulmars, Manx Shearwaters, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Common Guillemots, Razorbills and Atlantic Puffins (with 4000 or more puffins on Great Skellig alone). Both Small Skellig and Puffin Island (near the Glen) are sanctuaries for seabirds. Smaller numbers of Choughs and Peregrine Falcons can also be seen. One spectacular bird to look out for is the White-Tailed Sea Eagle, reintroduced to Killarney National Park, a pair have nested near Waterville and been spotted fishing in Lough Currane and off Derrynane.