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Bird Records for 2019

The following records for 2019 are under consideration. If you notice any omissions or corrections, please let us know. We are particualrly interested in receiving further information about those species in red. You can email in descriptions or pictures of any of the species below to:

HawfinchGosford Forest Park January 2019Clifford Sharpe
Lesser ScaupDargan Bay, Belfast, Antrim30th January 2019Tom Ennis
American WigeonLough Beg, Antrim29th Jan 2019 / 21st Feb 2019David Steele / Jeff Larkin
Golden EagleRathlin2nd February 2019Ric Else \ Hazel Watson
Glossy IbisTully Cut, Portmore, Antrim18th February 2019Nigel Ireland
FirecrestRaithlin Island, Antrim3rd March 2019Ric Else/Hazel Watson
Chaffinch, African sspGilford, Down31st March 2019Graham Patterson
White-tailed Eagle (2)Boho Island, Fermanagh6th March 2019Hugh Delaney
Rock Pipit - LittoralisWhitehead, Antrim13th March 2019Cameron Moore
Lesser WhitethroatGortin, Omagh, TyroneFrom 2018Various
Golden EagleRathlin11th April 2019Ric Else \ Hazel Watson
Blue-headed WagtailPortrush21st April 2019Colin Guy
Tree PipitRathlin30th April / 13th MayRic Else \ Hazel Watson
Bee-eaters (2)Ballyquintin, Portaferry, Down15th May 2019David Thompson
Alpine SwiftTemplepatrick, Antrim18th May 2019Majella Callaghan
Lesser YellowlegsCastle Espie, Down30th May 2019Fiona Waton \ Ross McIlrath
American Golden PloverRathin, Antrim3rd June 2019Ric Else \ Hazel Watson
White-tailed EagleKnockninny, Co Fermanagh7th June 2019Robert Scott
HobbyAntrim Hills11th June 2019Ronald Surgenor
Long-billed DowitcherRSPB WoW Belfast16th June 2019Daniel Newton
Golden EagleFair Head, Co Antrim21st June 2019Dennis O'Sullivan
Woodchat ShrikeDonaghadee23rd June 2019Billy Miskelly
HobbyPortmore Lough RSPB25th June 2019Joe Furphy
Glossy IbisPortmore Lough RSPB June 2019Various
Ruddy ShelduckBann Estuary4th JulyVarious
Yellow \ Blue-headed WagtailOxford Island20th July 2019Kevin Kirkham
Long-billed DowitcherLough Beg31st JulyDavid Steele
Tree PipitRathlin Island10th August 2019Ric Else \ Hazel Watson
Stilt SandpiperRathlin Island11th August 2019Ric Else \ Hazel Watson
Cattle EgretRSPB WoW Belfast22nd August 2019Derek Polley
White-tailed EagleRathlin Island28th August 2019Ric Else \ Hazel Watson
American Golden Plover Ballykelly14th SeptemberNeal Warnock
Lesser WhitethroatPortaferry10th SeptemberDermot Hughes
American Golden PloverBallykelly14th SeptemberNeal Warnock
HobbyLough Beg, Antrim8th SeptemberGodfrey McRoberts
Cattle EgretLough Beg, Antrim5th SeptemberDavid Steele
Red-eyed VireoRathlin, Antrim29th SeptemberWilton Farrelly
Melodious WarblerRathlin, Antrim29th SeptemberDennis Weir \ Stuart McKee
Common NighthawkGalgorm, Antrim3rd OctoberFergus Auld \ Dot Blakely
King EiderCarrickfergus, Antrim6th OctoberCameron Moore
American Golden Plover Ballykelly11th OctoberTheo Campbell
American Golden Plover Galgorm, Antrim13th OctoberDenis O'Sullivan
Great White Egret Rathlin Island24th OctoberTom McDonnell
Pallas's WarblerKearney, Co Down27th OctoberRichard Weyl
White-rumped SandpiperRSPB WoW Belfast30th OctoberGerard McGeehan \ Shirley Dunlop
Great White Egret Lower Lough Erne4th OctoberAndrew Gallagher
White-rumped Sandpipers (7+)Myroe November 2019Various
Great White Egret Lough Beg, AntrimLast 6th NovemberDavid Steele
White-rumped Sandpipers (3)Lough Beg, Antrim4th NovemberDavid Steele
American Golden Plover (juv)MyroeOctober / NovemberMichael Latham et al
Red-necked GrebeBelfast Lough, Co Antrim16th NovemberStuart McKee et al

Bird Records for 2018

The following species have been assessed. If the record is in red, it has not yet been accepted and needs to be assessed further or further information is required. If you can assist by providing further information, please feel free to contact us at

American Black TernBann estuary10th SeptIan Dickey
Bairds SandpiperMyroe27th SeptStuart McKee
GyrfalconRamore Head, Co Antrim9th MarchJohn Clarke
HobbyBanagher Glen20th AugustChristine Cassidy /Lindsay Hodges
Lesser YellowlegsMyroe23rd NovDerek Brennan
White StorkLarne16th MayColin Guy
American Golden PloverMyroe22nd SeptGarry Armstrong
American Golden PloverRathlin Island7th SeptRic Else \ Hazel Watson
American Golden PloverBann Estuary30th OctoberBirdguides
American WigeonLough Beg18th JuneDavid Steele
Buff Breasted SandpiperMyroe18th SeptemberBrad Robson \ Matthew Tickner
Buff Breasted SandpiperMyroe22nd SeptemberGarry Armstrong \ Wilton Farrelly
DotterelMyroe1st MayMervy Guthrie
DotterelAntrim Plateau18th OctoberDavid Steele
Ferruginous DuckOxford Island, Co Armagh1st AprilJeff Larkin
Glossy IbisStrabane2nd JanBrian Hegarty
Glossy IbisPortmore Lough19th JanRSPB
Great White EgretLough Beg9th AprilDavid Steele
Great White EgretLower Lough Erne15th OctPeter Taylor
HawfinchGlenwherry15th MayGregory Moorehead
Honey BuzzardBanagher Glen, Co L'Derry27th JulyDavid Steele
Lesser Whitethroat blythiGortin, Co TyroneDec-18Various
Lesser YellowlegsMyroe25th NovemberDerek Brennan
Pacific Golden PloverMyroe28th OctoberBirdguides
Tree Pipit (4)Rathlin IslandApril, May, AugustRic Else \ Hazel Watson
White-rumped SandpiperBarmouth22nd SeptemberTheo Campbell
White-rumped Sandpiper (2)Myroe \ Roe Estuary, Co L'Derry22nd September - 29th OctoberNeal Warnock et al
White-rumped Sandpiper (3)Roe Estuary, Co L'Derry25th NovemberStuart McKee
White-tailed EagleGlenariff \ Blackers Rock29th AprilMervyn Campbell et al
White-tailed EagleRathlin Island1st MayRic 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

Update, July 2019:
Following the publication of the review of the 1931 Donaghadee Ivory Gull (as below), the Committee were provided with additional information surrounding the record. This included:
1) The Ivory Gull was seen by a number of observers – at least 3 and probably more - not just the author and the lighthouse keeper as suggested indirectly in the BB note – and at least one of those observers was astute to note the call.
2) The description provided in BB was not in itself a text to solely judge the bird. 
3) Some credentials of the author and lighthouse keeper were presented.
4) A third party with extensive experience of the species supported the identification

It is recognised by the Committee that historic sightings such as this are challenging for a number of different reasons. However the Committee have reviewed the additional information and reinstated this record which is the first accepted record of the species in Northern Ireland. 
We are grateful to everyone who provided feedback and comments on this record.

The basis of the previous reassessment was the information provided below:
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: