Ric Else has kindly provided this write up on finding this first for NI:
My partner Hazel Watson and I moved to Rathlin in March 2017, and with intentions to bird the island as much as possible we were optimistic about our chances of finding something good here during the spring migration period. As mid-May approached, we’d seen a decent variety of migrants but nothing particularly rare, and migration was already petering out.
On 11th May, we walked out of the house and immediately saw a couple of Spotted Flycatchers and a few Blackcaps – quite a promising start to the day! However, three hours of birding later we’d hardly seen any more migrants and, finding ourselves at the harbour, we came perilously close to calling it a day and retiring into the cafe. Somehow, we resisted the temptation and pushed on towards the eastern part of the island. We checked all the gardens along the way, and were just deciding whether to continue all the way to the East Lighthouse when a Yellow Wagtail (as at May 2020, still the only one we’ve seen on Rathlin) called several times overhead, flying in the direction of the lighthouse. Decision made, we set off after it.
Moments later, I raised my binoculars to check a distant speck in the sky above Ballyconagan, fully expecting it to be just a gull. But to my absolute astonishment it was a Black Stork! Even at that range there could be no doubt about the big gangly shape, black upperparts, white belly, and long red bill and legs. I said something along the lines of ‘oh my god it’s a stork!’ and Hazel was onto it immediately. Luckily it was drifting our way, circling high above the north cliffs, and although it was always distant it came just close enough for both of us to get photos. It circled several times, drifting ever further east and, unfortunately for all the other birders in Northern Ireland, was soon disappearing way into the distance in the direction of Scotland.
We put the news out straight away and were quickly informed that it was a first for Northern Ireland. What an outrageous bird for our first Rathlin rarity! And as newcomers to the region, thank heavens we got photos as proof!