Bird Records for 2019

The following records for 2019 are under consideration. If you notice any omissions or corrections, please let us know.

Hawfinch Gosford Forest Park Jan-19 Clifford Sharpe
Hoopoe Dan Winters Ancestoral Home, Armagh 14th January Stuart McKee
Lesser Scaup Dargan Bay, Belfast, Antrim 30th January 2019 Tom Ennis
American Wigeon Lough Beg, Antrim 29th January 2019 / 21st February 2019 David Steele / Jeff Larkin
Golden Eagle Rathlin 2nd February 2019 Ric Else \ Hazel Watson
Glossy Ibis Tully Cut, Portmore, Antrim 18-Feb Nigel Ireland
Firecrest Raithlin Island, Antrim 03-Mar Ric Else/Hazel Watson
Chaffinch, African ssp Gilford, Down 31st March Graham Patterson
White-tailed Eagle (2) Boho Island, Fermanagh 6th March 2019 Hugh Delaney
Rock Pipit - Littoralis Whitehead, Antrim 13th March 2019 Cameron Moore
Lesser Whitethroat Gortin, Omagh, Tyrone From 2018 Various
Golden Eagle Rathlin 11th April 2019 Ric Else \ Hazel Watson
Tree Pipit Rathlin 30th April and 13th May Ric Else \ Hazel Watson
Bee-eaters (2) Ballyquintin, Portaferry, Down 15th May 2019 David Thompson
Alpine Swift Templepatrick, Antrim 18th May 2019 Majella Callaghan
Lesser Yellowlegs Castle Espie, Down 30th May 2019 Fiona Waton \ Ross McIlrath
American Golden Plover Rathin, Antrim 3rd June 2019 Ric Else \ Hazel Watson
Hobby Antrim Hills 11th June 2019 Ronald Surgenor
Long-billed Dowitcher RSPB WoW Belfast 16th June 2019 Daniel Newton

Bird Records for 2018

The following species are under assessment. If you identify any omissions or corrections needed, please let us know.

American Black Tern Bann estuary 10th Sept Ian Dickie
Bairds Sandpiper Myroe 27th Sept Stuart McKee
Gyrfalcon Ramore Head, Co Antrim 9th March John Clarke
Hobby Banagher Glen 20th August Christine Cassidy /Lindsay Hodges
Hoopoe Parkanaur Forest 25th Oct Paul Topliss \ Paul Sharpe
Lesser Yellowlegs Myroe 23rd Nov Derek Brennan
White Stork Larne 16th May Colin Guy
American Golden Plover Myroe 22nd Sept Garry Armstrong
American Golden Plover Rathlin Island 7th Sept Ric Else \ Hazel Watson
American Golden Plover Bann Estuary 30th October Birdguides
American Wigeon Lough Beg 18th June David Steele
Buff Breasted Sandpiper Myroe 18th September Brad Robson \ Matthew Tickner
Buff Breasted Sandpiper Myroe 22nd September Garry Armstrong \ Wilton Farrelly
Dotterel Myroe 1st May Mervy Guthrie
Dotterel Antrim Plateau 18th October David Steele
Ferruginous Duck Oxford Island, Co Armagh 1st April Jeff Larkin
Glossy Ibis Strabane 2nd Jan Brian Hegarty
Glossy Ibis Portmore Lough 19th Jan RSPB
Great White Egret Lough Beg 9th April David Steele
Great White Egret Lough Beg 14th Oct David Steele
Great White Egret Lower Lough Erne 15th Oct Peter Taylor
Hawfinch Glenwherry 15th May Gregory Moorehead
Honey Buzzard Banagher Glen, Co L'Derry 27th July David Steele
Lesser Whitethroat Gortin, Co Tyrone Dec-18
Lesser Yellowlegs Myroe 25th November Derek Brennan
Pacific Golden Plover Myroe 28th October Birdguides
Tree Pipit (4) Rathlin Island April, May, August Ric Else \ Hazel Watson
White-rumped Sandpiper Myroe 22nd September Neal Warnock
White-rumped Sandpiper Barmouth 22nd September Theo Campbell
White-rumped Sandpiper Balls Point, Co L'Derry 1st October Neal Warnock
White-rumped Sandpiper(3) Roe Estuary, Co L'Derry 20th October Birdguides
White-rumped Sandpiper (2) Roe Estuary, Co L'Derry 28th October Neal Warnock
White-rumped Sandpiper(2) Balls Point, Co L'Derry 29th October Stuart McKee
White-rumped Sandpiper (3) Roe Estuary, Co L'Derry 25th November Stuart McKee
White-tailed Eagle Glenariff 29th April Mervyn Campbell
White-tailed Eagle Blackers Rock 29th April Godfrey McRoberts
White-tailed Eagle Ardboe \ Reedy Flats, Lough Neagh 30th April Clare Bell \ Mark Killops
White-tailed Eagle Rathlin Island 1st May Ric Else \ Hazel Watson

Bird Records for 2017

Records shown in RED have not yet been accepted by NIBRC. If you have any information on these sightings, we would be pleased to receive further information:

Lesser Scaup Belfast Lough/Down 18th January Stuart McKee.
Gyrfalcon Gawleys Gate/Armagh 20th January Rob Martin
American Wigeon Dundrum Inn. Bay 4th March David Nixon
Yellow-browed Warbler Copeland Bird Obs. 11th March Chris Acheson
Water Pipit Millisle 9th April Richard Weyl
Long-billed Dowitcher Quoile pondage 24th April Tony Donaldson
Dotterel Myroe/L'derry 30th April Neal Warnock
Little Ringed Plover Lough Beg. 2nd May Davy Hunter
Black Stork Rathlin Island 11th May Richard Else
White-winged Black Tern Lough Beg. 11th May David Steele
Montagu's Harrer Lough Beg. 16th May Chris Murphy
Temmincks Stint Lough Beg. 26th May Billy Miskelly
Bonapartes Gull Bar Mouth/L'derry 16th June Birds Ireland
Little Ringed Plover Lough Beg. 23rd June David Steele
Golden Oriole (heard only) Ballyroney/Down 9th July Dave Allen
Bonapartes Gull Whitehead/Antrim 20th July Cameron Moore
American Golden Plover Myroe/L'derry 30th August Hill Dick
Buff-breasted Sandpiper Myroe/L'derry 31st August Jeff Larkin
Red-necked Grebe Mullagh 8th September David Steele
Buff-breasted Sandpiper(2) Myroe/L'derry 10th September Michael Latham
Pectoral Sandpiper Quoile pondage 17th September Billy Miskelly
American Golden Plover Myroe/L'derry 3rd October David Nixon/Trevor Wilkinson
Wryneck Copeland Bird Obs. 8th October CBO
Firecrest Kearney/Down 17th October Ian Graham
Grey-bellied Brant Strangford Lough 17th October Tom Ennis/Tony Dodds
American Golden Plover Bann Estuary.Derry 22nd October Stuart McKee.
Red-necked Grebe Bann Estuary.Derry 23rd October Colin Guy
White-rumped Sandpiper Lough Beg/Derry 29th October David Steele
White-rumped Sandpiper Lough Beg. 31st October David Steele

Red-flanked Bluetail - A species new to Northern Ireland

Red-flanked Bluetail was a new and unexpected bird for Northern Ireland in an autumn of rare birds. It was originally found on the evening of Saturday 8th October by Tim Murphy, just reward for the many hours that he has put in birding at St Johns Point and Kellys Wood. The bird was then present first thing the following morning. However it was then prone to disappearing for long periods but over the following days it was seen by most birders who visited Kellys Wood. The last report of the bird was the 13th October.

This bird represented the first record for NI and the sixth for the island of Ireland. The species has enjoyed a westward population expansion in Scandinavia in recent years but it was still an unexpected record.

Gerard Murray:

James O'Neill:

Baird's Sandpipers in 2016

Baird's Sandpiper is an extremely rare wader in NI with only 4 accepted records prior to 2016. However 2016 was marked by a further two records, including one very long staying bird.

The first bird was found on the 3rd September 2016 at Myroe and present until at least the 1st October 2016. The second bird was found by Neal Warnock at RSPB WOW on the 23rd September. Both birds were juveniles and at times showed well. The Belfast bird could however go missing in the vegetation for long periods of time.

Whilst 2016 was a good year in the UK and Ireland for Baird's Sandpiper, this was not the case for other nearctic waders. For example, there was only a single report of a Buff Breasted Sandpiper in 2016 for NI.

Baird's Sandpiper, Myroe, Garry Armstrong:

New Committee Member - Stuart McKee

We are pleased to announce that Stuart McKee has joined the Northern Ireland Rare Bird Committee.

Stuart is an extremely experienced, knowledgeably and familiar birder in Northern Ireland. He has found may rarities in his time and has an active interest in bird recording in bird recording. Indeed he is one of the few birders in the field who still keeps notebooks!

Bird Records for 2016

Records shown in RED have not yet been accepted by NIBRC. If you have any information on these sightings, we would be pleased to receive further information:

Species Location County Date
Glossy Ibis River Bann Antrim 17/01/2016 Seamus Burns
Glossy Ibis Ballinary, Lurgan Armagh 23/01/2016 Ed O'Hara
Great White Egret Caledon Armagh 25/01/2016 per NIBARC
Lesser Scaup Dargan Bay,Belfast Antrim 06/02/2016 per NIBARC
AmericanWigeon Dargan Bay Antrim 26/03/2016 Per NIBARC
Belted Kingfisher River Bann L’Derry 22/04/2016 Jonathon Roberts
Glossy Ibis Portmore Lough Armagh 01/05/2016 Kate McAlistair/Marta Barberis
Night Heron Dromantine Lake Down 18/05/2016 Mary-Ann MacRae
Red-rumped Swallow Murlough Down 31/05/2016 Garry Wilkinson
Temminck’s Stint Myroe L’Derry 31/07/2016 Phillip West
White rumped Sandpiper Belfast Down 03/08/2016 Gerard McGeehan
Bairds Sandpiper Myroe L'Derry 03/09/2016 per NIBARC
White rumped Sandpiper Myroe L'Derry 13/09/2016 Jeff Larkin
Tree Pipit Killough Down 14/09/2016 Tim Murphy
Common Yellowthroat Bann Estuary L'Derry 18/09/2016 Stuart McKee
Buff Breasted Sandpiper Myroe L'Derry 21/09/2016 Jeff Larkin
Bairds Sandpiper RSPB WOW, Belfast Down 23/09/2016 Neal Warnock
Red Flanked Bluetail Kellys Wood,St Johns Down 08/10/2016 Tim Murphy
Red-breasted Flycatcher Kearney Down 08/10/2016 Stuart McKee
Common Crane Lough Macnean Fermanagh 09/10/2016 Brad Robson
White-winged Black Tern  Portmore Lough Armagh 18/10/2016 Gavin Ferguson
Great White Egret Lowery Bay Fermanagh 20/10/2016 Anmy Burns
Isabelline Shrike Murlough Down 04/11/2016 Dan Baillie
Great White Egrets (2) Lower Lough Erne Fermanagh 29/11/2016 Brad Robson

New Committee Member - Neal Warnock

Following the sad passing of Martin Garner, we are pleased to advise that Neal Warnock has joined the Records Committee. Neal will be familiar to many birders in Ireland, where he is perhaps best known for finding a Baillon’s Crake on Great Saltee Island in March 2012.  Other past finds include the first Woodchat Shrike for Galway and closer to home, Red-backed Shrike, Red-footed Falcon, Bonaparte’s Gull and Fea’s type Petrel in County Antrim.

Neal is an avid seawatcher and patch birder and spends most of his time birding Larne Lough and Rathlin Island. Neal has a wealth of birdwatching experience in parts of Europe, Africa and North and South America. He previously worked for BirdWatch Ireland in County Offaly and currently works as a Conservation Advisor for the RSPB, with a focus on breeding waders in the Glenwherry area of the Antrim Hills.

We welcome Neal and are confident that he will be able to make a valuable contribution.

Ian Graham, Records Secretary

Martin Garner

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Martin Garner.

Martin was familiar to many birders in Ireland during his years spent living in Lisburn and he was one of the most talented birders ever to live on this island. In his time here he not only found many rare and scarce birds but he opened everyone's eyes to common birds. He will be remembered (amongst many things) for his work in gulls (jointly finding Thayers, many Kumliens, American Herring Gull and bringing the vagaries of Yellow-legged and Caspian Gulls to those keen to learn), finding the Tyrella Shorelark (or was it a Horned Lark?) during a bird race, Lesser Scaups, enhancing our knowledge of the Brent Geese, Eiders, Scoters, American Wigeon or simply studying continental Robins or Song Thrushes. His birding skills were immense and have been sadly missed from this island in recent years.

However Martin not only possessed brilliant birding skills. He possessed social and communication skills that meant he could communicate with anyone, no matter their level of experience or interests. He was great company to be with and was always imparting knowledge and left you full of enthusiasm. He was humble and encouraged everyone to learn - even if they (or he) made mistakes. In the last few years he has helped guide the NIBARC with many identification challenges and always provided sound advice, even when this was from his hospital bed! 

Martin was also a person of considerable faith and his ministry in areas of NI (including prisons) was no doubt challenging but he always went about this with a smile. In the last few years, Martin has fought cancer and yesterday he lost that fight. The world is a lot worse off without Martin and at this time, our thoughts and prayers are with Sharon, Abi and Emily.

The 1931 Donaghadee Ivory Gull

Thanks to a contribution from Tom Ennis, the record of the 1931 Donaghadee Ivory Gull has been re-assessed by the committee.

In reviewing this record NIBARC fully agreed with Tom Ennis and the 1931 record of an Ivory Gull at Donaghadee in 1931 has been removed from the NI List. There are two other records; a well-documented first-winter bird at Bangor (Down) during December 1978 and a first winter bird (photographed by one lucky observer) near the River Lagan, Newforge on the 2nd March 1989. Of the high Arctic pair (Ross’s Gull and Ivory Gull), the latter remains by far the most rare in Ireland.

The comments from Tom are below: 

I have been interested in this record for some time but I have only recently been successful in finding any documentation to substantiate the record. I have discovered that it was recorded in British Birds Vol. XXIV pp372-373 and I have managed to get a look at what was published in the Notes section of that issue.

My interest in this record stemmed from the fact that the bird appeared to be a long stayer, which is not very usual in this species. More commonly Ivory Gulls are only present for a few days and then “disappear”.

When I read this note I was surprised that there was no description of the plumage at all. I assume therefore that it was taken to be an adult Ivory Gull as had it been immature, the observer would surely have remarked on the black spotting and darkish face. He does go on to make statements about the bird which are not in accord with any of the Ivory Gulls I have seen. He contrasts it with the Black-headed Gulls and he states that “the somewhat greater length and more slender build of the Ivory appear accentuated.” Elsewhere he states that in flight “the Tern-like manner of the Ivory is very noticeable”. In my experience Ivory Gulls are plump and Pigeon-like and I have never come across anything tern-like in their appearance. While an Ivory Gull is bigger and bulkier than a Black-headed Gull “somewhat greater length”, although imprecise, concerns me. In describing its flight he states that its “superior grace and lightness of wing” not only separate it from the Black-headed Gulls but also from the Herring Gulls. Again this sounds more in line with his earlier statement of tern-like. He also mentions that he was struck by the intimacy (he emphasizes this) between it and the Herring Gulls. According to the literature Ivory Gulls are often aggressive to other species and are not renowned for their conviviality. Nevertheless a lost and tired bird may behave very differently from its norm.

Observers in 1931 did not have the field guides and other sources of knowledge which are available to us today. The Handbook of British Birds had not yet been published and it was well into the 1950s before the first practical methods of separating Iceland and Glaucous Gulls in the field were known. Accepting that the observer has used a degree of hyperbole in his note, I think there is nothing he has written that would not equally well apply to a white phase first winter or second winter Iceland Gull. I do not say that this definitely was not an Ivory Gull but I think it is far from proven and I do not see how it can stand as a first Northern Ireland record of Ivory Gull. A copy of the relevant pages from British Birds Vol. XXIV is below:

Glossy Ibis - 2014 a recording breaking year

One of the highlights of 2014 was the record influx of Glossy Ibis into the province with perhaps up to 6 individuals involved. Before 2010 Glossy Ibis was an extremely rare bird in Northern Ireland with the only 20th century record been one seen in 1944,( there had been previous sightings but all in the 19th century). Then in 2010 one was seen at Mullagh, Lough Beg Co.Londonderry this was the first record in 66 years. None where reported in 2011 but another was seen in 2012 on the Colebrooke River, Co.Fermanagh. There were again no records in 2013.Then in 2014 three birds were recorded in January alone. Sightings continued throughout  the winter. A bird at Oxford Island and one at Ballycarry seen on the same day, made this the first multiple record, followed by three birds seen in flight at Oxford Island in April. The last record of the year was this bird in the photo above seen at Portmore Lough in June.
Throughout the 20th century numbers declined in Europe which explains why only one record was seen  prior to 2010. Then in the 21st century birds started to thankfully increase in both Spain and France with breeding numbers increasing on a yearly basis. As winters here becomes both wetter and milder, leaving more places flooded (miserable for most of us) but ideal conditions for the Ibises. Therefore dispersing birds are now heading north which explains why so many are now been reported in Britain and Southern Ireland with flocks of up to 25 birds seen, if these trends continue, Glossy Ibis will hopefully be a regular winter sighting.

Accepted bird records for 2015.

Species in red indicate details are not known and a record submission \ further submission is outstanding:

Species Location County Date Observer \ Reporter
Black Kite Limavady Londonderry 14/04/2015 Marc Ruddock
Great White Egret Lough Beg Londonderry 19/04/2015 Keith Bennett
Snowy Owl Gortalughany Fermanagh 07/05/2015 Brad Robson
White-rumped Sandpiper Lough Beg Londonderry 28/05/2015 David Steele
Red-necked Phalarope RSPB Belfast WOW Antrim 29/05/2015 Ivan Quail / Gerard McGeehan
Tundra Bean Goose Lough Beg Londonderry 29/05/2015 David Steele
Pectoral Sandpiper Lough Beg Londonderry 30/05/2015 Godfrey McRoberts
Little Ringed Plover Kinnegar Shore Antrim 31/05/2015 Wilton Farrelly  / Stephen Maxwell
Great White Egret River Bann Antrim 05/06/2015 Willie Wilson/Eddie Manthorpe
Franklins Gull Lough Beg Londonderry 22/06/2015 David Steele
White-rumped Sandpiper RSPB Belfast WOW Antrim 27/06/2015 Stuart McKee
American Golden Plover Myroe Londonderry 19/09/2015 Neal Warnock
American Golden Plover Killough Harbour Down 30/09/2015 Tim Murphy
Yellow-browed Warbler Portrush Antrim 02/10/2015 Colin Guy \ Stuart McKee
Yellow-browed Warbler Portstewart Strand Londonderry 11/10/2015 Richard Donaghey
Great White Egret - 2 Lough Beg Londonderry 19/10/2015 Matthew Tickner
Glossy Ibis Lough Beg Londonderry 19/10/2015 David Steele
Great White Egret Ballycarry Bridge Antrim 25/10/2015 Nicky Lynn / Cameron Moore

Lesser Yellowlegs Carlingford Lough Down 26/12/2015 per NIBARC