Glossy Ibis - 2014 a record breaking year.

One of the highlights of the year so far has been the influx of Glossy Ibis sightings throughout Northern Ireland. The bird seen in flight over Lough Cowey Co.Down this week brings the total to 6 reported birds.
It has been an ideal opportunity for most people to catch up with this species in Northern Ireland as they have been widely dispersed throughout the province. It is of course impossible to know how many birds are involved as they are highly mobile, but the fact that two birds (one in Ballycarry and one at Oxford Island) were seen on the same day means that this is the first ever multiple record in NI.

Glossy Ibis have been recorded in the past. A lot of the old records are from the 19th century and then a gap until the first 20th century record in 1944. It would be another 66 years before the next accepted record, when in 2010  one was found at Mullagh, Lough Beg. No birds where reported in 2011,  but in 2012 one was photographed on the Colebrook river Co.Fermanagh. None were recorded in 2013.

In the 20th century Glossy Ibis numbers declined sharply right across Europe, explaining why only one bird was recorded here. The early 21st century has seen a turn of fortune for the species with birds spreading south west back into Spain and France with breeding numbers thankfully increasing each year. It is these birds that are spreading into Britain and Southern Ireland, sometimes in flocks of up to 25 birds.

Glossy Ibis like to feed in flooded fields, so the weather in spite of it being miserable for so many, has been perfect for the Ibis, although very wet the temperatures have remained relatively mild. So if you are about the province and come across a flooded field with a strange looking Curlew in it,  just pause a moment and take a second look.

The photos below show both the Oxford Island and the Ballycarry birds courtesy of Mark Killops and Cameron Moore.

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