Islay Boat Trips

The weather conditions for the incoming week are to improve significantly and the boat trips from Ballycastle to Islay will run from Wednesday until Sunday.

Seats can be booked by contacting Jim Wells on

Bird News Sunday 31st August

The Little Stint, 6 Curlew Sandpiper and 8 Ruff were at Belfast Lough RSPB reserve this morning. (Ian Graham, Philip West, Gerard McGeehan, Shirley Dunlop).

Two Ruff were at Lough Mourne, Carrickfergus, but there was no sign of the Little Stint this morning. (Ian Graham, Philip West).

At Portmuck this morning a feeding seabird flock had approximately 1,500 Kittiwake, 1,200 Manx Shearwater, 500 auks, 100 Gannet, 1 Great Skua with a minimum 28 Harbour Porpoise. (Ian Enlander).

A Whimbrel was in the lagoon at Ballymacormick Point near Groomsport this afternoon. (David McCormick)

2 White Wagtail were the best at Lough Beg, Co Derry (Richard Hunter).

 4 Pale-bellied Brent, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, a Ruff, 5 Greenshank and 11 Little Egret were at Islandhill at the north end of Strangford Lough (Shirley Dunlop, Gerard McGeehan).

A juvenile Mediterranean Gull was at Ballycastle seafront this afternoon. (Colin Guy).

A Common Sandpiper was at Kinnegar Pool (Joe Lamont)

The Pectoral Sandpiper was still at Blanketnook (Wilton Farrelly)

Thanks to David McCormick for the picture of the Whimbrel.

Willow Warbler

Bird News Saturday 30th August

Lough Mourne this morning still had the. Little Stint + 140 Black-tailed Godwit (Ian Enlander)

6 Curlew Sandpiper, 10 Ruff and a juvenile Little Stint were at Belfast Harbour Lagoon this morning. (Stuart McKee). Water levels have fallen and the site is attracting a lot more waders.

A juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper is at Blanket Nook, Co Donegal. 15 Ruff and a Little Stint were also present (Brad Robson)

The immature Spoonbill was seen off the embankment, about 1.5miles west of the Floodgates car park at Newtownards. A Little Stint and 11 Wheatear were also present. (Wilton Farrelly)

Whitehead had a dark phase Arctic Skua. Ballycarry Bridge had 7 Little Egret, a Whimbrel and a GreenshankHelens Bay had an adult Med Gull and 2 Hoodie/Carrion hybrids (Ian Enlander)

A Great Skua was seen from a fishing boat in Belfast Lough off Grey Point/Helen's Bay (Brian Meharg)

As well as the Curlew Sandpiper and the Little Stint, 7 Knot (one in summer plumage) and 8 Bar-tailed Godwit in summer plumage were present at the Belfast Harbour Estate (Joe Lamont, Tom Ennis)

An Osprey from Scotland has migrated over NI in the last few days. See:

Below is a pic of the Spoonbill from Wilton Farrelly:

Bird News Friday 29th August

A Whinchat was at the Colebrooke River mouth, Co Fermanagh (Brad Robson).

Two Swifts were over Templepatrick at 10 am this morning. (Sandy McWilliams).

Seven Swifts were over Newcastle Main Street, with about 150 Swallows. (Peter Casey).

200 Sandwich Tern were on the rocks at Ballymacormick Point. Another 50 Sandwich Tern and 3 Turnstone were on Cockle Island and a Wheatear on the way down to the Watch House. (George Gordon).

Thanks to Karl Martin for the Kestrel pictures.

Bird News Thursday 28th August

Approximately 800 seabirds were feeding/roosting on Briggs Rocks this morning consisting of adult and juvenile 
Common Terns, Arctic Terns and Kittiwakes. A juvenile Mediterranean Gull was present within the flock. (Colin Guy)

2 Swift flew south over Islandhill about 11am (Dick Haydon)

The Little Stint, although elusive, was seen again at Lough Mourne near Carrickfergus. 2 Ruff were also present (Stuart McKee)

At about 7:45pm this evening there was 7 swifts flying over the Hogstown Road near Donaghadee. (David McCormick)

Many thanks to Dick Glasgow for this pic of a Wren and Stuart McKee for the Little Stint. You can see more bird pics at :

Bird News Wednesday 27th August

2-3 Arctic Skuas were chasing terns off Kearney, Outer Ards, this evening. (Keith Bennett)

Two late Swift were over the County Hall, Coleraine this morning. (Jim Flanagan)

A very late Goldfinch nest was found in a garden at Kilmore, Lurgan. It had three large chicks which were just about to fledge. (Jim Wells)

A Swift was today over Derrygonnelly, Co Fermanagh (Brad Robson)

200 Sandwich Tern (4 of them colour-ringed), 50 Common Tern and a Greenshank were at the west end of Ballymacormick Point in Belfast Lough. A Whimbrel was at the lagoon at the east end (George Henderson)

An Arctic Skua offshore at Barr Hall Bay, at about 4pm this afternoon (David McCormick)

Thanks to Dick Glasgow for this pic of Siskins:

Bird News Tuesday 26th August.

A Reed Warbler was in the reed bed at Carrick Leisure centre this evening, obviously a bird migrating as they do not breed there. (Paul McCullough)

Yesterday a Little Gull was at Killough harbour. (David Clarke/John Pyper)

6 juvenile ruff with 5 black-tailed godwit using shallow, temporary, pool at edge of field on Longfield Level, Lough Foyle. (Gareth Bareham and Philip Carson)

You can share bird news at or on Twitter @NIbirds


Swallow - Christine Cassidy.

Bird News Monday 25th August

A Great Skua went past Kearney (Outer Ards) this morning, heading south. (Keith Bennett)

This morning Manx Shearwater movement past Donaghadee was at about 700 per hour (Richard Haydon)

Yesterday there was a passage of 50 House Martin over McArts Fort on Cavehill. (Andy Elliott)

Our thanks to Ginny McKee for the pics. below. The top is a Sandwich Tern and below that an Common Tern. Also to Rob McAllister for the Black-headed Gull. 

Bird News Sunday 24th August

An Osprey was at Eshywulligan near Rosslea in Fermanagh heading south-west just after 9am (Clive Mellon)

4 Ruff, 3 Dunlin, 160+ Black-tailed Godwits and a Wheatear were at Lough Mourne (Wilton Farrelly)

A Ruff was at Whitehouse Lagoon (Wilton Farrelly)

Two Common Sandpiper were seen along the Clanrye River this morning. (Frank Carroll)

18 Ruff, 10 Greenshank, 95 Black-tailed Godwit and a juvenile Sanderling (rare there) were along the  western shore of Lough Beg. Seven Little Egret (a site record) were also seen (David Steele)

A Whimbrel was feeding near Cockle Island in Groomsport (William Smiton)

Blanket Nook had 12 Ruff, 1 juv Little Egret, 1 juv Water Rail, 2 Pintail and 3 White Wagtail. Inch Lough had a Water Rail, 1 Pintail and a Spotted Flycatcher. Myroe had 9 White Wagtails (Brad Robson)

Thanks to Dick Glasgow for this pic of a male Sparrowhawk:

Bird News Saturday 23rd August

A Long-tailed Skua, 2 Pomarine Skua and a Grey Phalarope  were seen from Bloody Foreland this morning (Chris Ingram)

A juvenile Little Gull was at RSPB Belfast Harbour Reserve (Wilton Farrelly)

2 Ruff, a Greenshank and 100 Golden Plover and were at Myroe Levels. 3 Ruff, 3 Sanderling and a Common Sandpiper were at the Bann Estuary (Gerard McGeehan)

Below is a pic of the juvenile Little Gull. Thanks to Karl Martin for the Curlew:

Bird News Friday 22nd August

A Ruff and a Spotted Redshank were at Kinnegar Pools this morning. (Adam McClure)

A few Swifts are still lingering. Three swifts were at Tesco, Carrickfergus at 9:10 (Chris Shaw) and a Swift was with House Martins on Church street, Cookstown (Tony Mc Cormick)

A flock of 12 Buzzard were east of Lough Shark this morning.(Fulton Somerville)

Lough Mourne had the same wader count as yesterday, but no trace of the Green Sandpiper. (David Clarke/John Pyper) 

10 swifts and a Ruff were at Reedy Flat (James O'Neill)

Five pairs of adult Swifts continue to roost every night in swift boxes in Brookeborough. (John Young)

Thanks to Tony Donaldson for this pic of a Willow Warbler:


Islay Boat Trips

Two boat trips to Islay will leave Ballycastle at 10am this Sunday 24th August and Tuesday 26th August.

About 40 people have already been out to Islay and everyone saw Golden Eagle and most also had good views of Chough and Peregrine.

If you are interested is either trip please contact 
Jim Wells on 07856235144

Bird News Thursday 21st August

A Long-eared Owl was seen at Castlebawn waste grounds heading towards the airfield at around10:30pm last night (Adam Middleton)

A Cuckoo was just off exit 6 / B95 on the M2 on the outskirts of Antrim (Mark Smyth)

2 Garganey, 28 Ruff, a Green Sandpiper and 6 Little Egret were at Lough Beg (David Steele)

A juvenile Mediterranean Gull was at Whitehouse Lagoon in Belfast (Stuart McKee)

A short seawatch at Ramore head this evening produced 3 Great Skuas, along with 250 Manx Shearwaters. Earlier another Great Skua was seen flying along cliffs east of Ballintoy Church (Colin Guy)

At Lough Mourne were 3 Sanderling, 6 Redshank, 14 Ringed Plover, 4 Ruff, 130 Black Tailed Godwit, 1 Dunlin, 1 Green 
Sandpiper. and a couple of White Wagtail. (Stuart McKee)

You can report rare and scarce bird news to or Twitter @nibirds

Thanks to Dick Glasgow for the pic of the Sparrowhawk, William Smiton for the Fulmar and Stuart McKee for the Green Sandpiper. You can see more bird pics at

Bird News Wednesday 20th August

A Ruff, a Common Sandpiper and a Wheatear were at Kinnegar Pool, Belfast (Wilton Farrelly)

At least 16 Little Egret and 4 Wigeon were seen around Castle Espie \ Comber Estuary \ Newtownards Floodgates (Brian Murphy)

At Lough Mourne near Carrickfergus which is partially drained, were a little stint, a green sandpiper, 4 ruff, 144 black tailed godwit, 2 common sandpiper, 8 ringed plover, 3 dunlin, a redshank, 18 teal and a white wagtail. (Richard Weyl)

A Jay, Kingfisher and 2 Common Sandpiper were at Blackers Rock along the Tyrone shore of Lough Neagh (Godfrey McRoberts)

Thanks to Christine Cassidy for this pic of a group of four Buzzards over a garden in Derry:

Bird News Tuesday 19th August.

The Garganey were still showing at Reedy Flats, Lough Neagh this afternoon. (Birdguides)

4 White Wagtail were at the Gobbins and a Swift over Carrick. (Kerry Leonard)

A Whimbrel was in flight over Ballyholme, Bangor. (George Henderson)

Meadow Pipit.

Bird News Monday 18th August

Three 'tame' and watchable Garganey are still at the east of Reedy Flats this afternoon. Emerson's had 12 Ruff, a Black-tailed Godwit, Peregrine hunting Lapwing and 2 Goldeneye. Yesterday at Oxford Island, the winds forced down 5 Turnstone, one Knot and 6 Black-tailed Godwits. (Oscar Campbell)

Thanks to Christine Cassidy for this pic of a Turnstone:

New Arrivals

Two new arrivals in time for the Birdfair this weekend and which may be of interest to local birders are:

The Collins Bird Guide App
A long time in the making but worth the wait! This smartphone App of the leading field guide is sure to be a hit. You can see more at:

The Challenge Series
The first of a series from Martin Garner that looks at identification of autumn migrants, residents and vagrants. You can see further details at:

Bird News Sunday 17th August

Ramore Head had in ten hours 1 ad Sabine's Gull, 38 Great Skua, 3 Arctic Skua,19 Sooty Shearwater, 1 Storm Petrel, 5 Common Scoter, 1750 Manx Shearwater, 14 Whimbrel, 79 Sandwich Tern,21 Arctic Tern. (Neal Warnock)
Also a Cory's Shearwater seen there in the morning. (Stuart McKee)

The Bann Estuary had a Little Egret and 2 Ruff, 4 Knot along with 2 Greenshank at Whitehouse Lagoon.(Stuart McKee)

5 Little Egret where roosting at Paddy's Dub, Lough Beg.(Godfrey McRoberts)

Malin Head Co.Donegal this morning had a Cory's Shearwater, 2 Great Shearwater, 2 Balearic Shearwater, 1 Long-tailed Skua, 47 Sooty Shearwater, 13 Great Skua, 7 Arctic Skua and 2 Pomarine Skua. (Ronan McLaughlin)

Melmore Head Co.Donegal had... 2 Great Shearwater, 61 Sooty Shearwater 13 Great Skua, 5 Arctic Skua  3 Arctic Tern and a Storm Petrel.(Eric Randal)

Glenoo Mountain nr Fivemiletown had 2 Crossbill, 9 Jay and a Buzzard.(Colin Bell)

Below is a video link taken in Dick Glasgow garden of a Buzzard.

Lapwing - Karl Martin.

Med. Gull - Cameron Moore.

Bird News Saturday 16th August

Bloody Foreland this morning between 0630-0900 had 8 Cory Shearwaters, 1 Balearic, 254 Manx, 6  Storm Petrels, 1 Bonxie and 4 Red-throated Divers (Chris Ingram)

Three Garganey were very close and watchable at the east end of Reedy Flats; also 12 Ruff, 5 Goldeneye, a Wigeon and 10 Common Swift there. Oxford Island had 2 Reed Warblers showing; also one Ruff and 20 Common Terns. (Oscar Campbell)

Three Ruff and a Little Egret were at Belfast Harbour estate (Wilton Farrelly)

A Spotted Redshank was at Whitehouse Lagoon. 4 Swift were over Skegoneill Avenue in Belfast (Stuart McKee)

The immature Spoonbill was at the Quoile Pondage. In Strangford Narrows 3 Little Egret were at Cloghy Rocks and a juvenile Ruff, 200 Sandwich Tern, a Greenshank, Peregrine, 30 Dunlin and 70 Ringed Plover at Kilclief (Gerard McGeehan)

Two Ruff were at Lough Mourne (Neal Warnock)

Conditions look excellent for a sea watch on the north coast tomorrow, particularly with the possibility of an elusive NI Cory's.

Thanks to Christine Cassidy for this pic of a Purple Sandpiper:

Bird News Friday 15th August

79 Whimbrel, 6 Ruff, 2 Knot and 22 Greenshank were at Blanketnook in Donegal. (Chris Ingram)

The 3 juvenile Ruff were still at Belfast Harbour Lagoon and the second-winter Little Gull was back at Kinnegar Pool (Joe Lamont).

 A Swift was over the town hall in Carrickfergus (Gerard McGeehan).

A pair of Sparrowhawks fledged young in the Stormont Estate. Flying young were seen this week. (Jim Wells).

3 Little Egrets were on Larne Lough near Ballycarry railway station this afternoon. (Bill McCullough).

A Swift was over Whitehead (Adam McClure)

Tonight at Glenoo Mountain near Fivemiletown Co Tyrone there was 1 Kestrel, 1 Dipper, 2 Jay,1 Buzzard, and a group of 20+ Mistle Thrush. (Colin Bell).

Thanks to Dick Glasgow for the Buzzard pictures, the warbler pictures are from Oxford Island.

 Buzzard - Dick Glasgow
 Buzzard - Dick Glasgow
 Sedge Warbler
 Willow Warbler
Reed Warbler

Bird News Thursday 14th August.

3 juv. Ruff (2male and a female) and 20 Bar-tailed Godwit(7 partial summer plumage) where at RSPB  Belfast Harbour estate.(Tom Ennis)

2 juv Greenshank where at Kinnegar shore but no sign of the Little Gull.(George Gordon)

A Kingfisher was at Strand Lough and a male Ruff,Whimbrel,10 Greenshank,10 Little Egret and 21 Sandwich Tern at Killough.(Tim Murphy)


Male Hen Harrier.

Bird News Wednesday 13th August

Bloody Foreland, Co Donegal today had a Long-tailed Skua, 3 Arctic Skuas, 14 Bonxies and 3 Sooty Shearwaters (Chris Ingram)

Melmore Head this morning (0720 - 1230) produced 1 Cory's, 1 Great, 15 Sooty and 1400 Manx Shearwaters; also 7 Bonxie, 2 Arctic Skua, 2 Puffins and 4 Storm-Petrel. (Oscar Campbell)

Malin Head this morning had a Cory's Shearwater, also Great Shearwater, Grey Phalarope, 7 Sooty Shearwaters and 2 Arctic Skuas (Ronan McLaughlin)

A single late Swift was with a flock ofHhouse Martins over the house in Whitehead, Antrim this evening (Adam McClure)

Kilcummin Head, Co Mayo 05.40-19.00 had a Fea's type petrel 1, long-tailed skua 4, great shearwater 2, cory's shearwater 1, pom skua 2, arctic skua 12, bonxie 20, sooty 20, sabs 2, storm petrel 9, r t diver 2, (Brad Robson et al).

Ramore Head late this evening (after 1945 hrs) had 2 light phase and one dark phase Arctic Skuas. A male Common Scoter was offshore and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull was on the grass area at Lansdowne nearby. (Colin Guy).

Thanks to Noeni Bryars for this pic of a Common Tern feeding young at Belfast Harbour Reserve:

Bird News Tuesday 12th August

The Little Gull was still present at Kinnegar (Wilton Farrelly)

From Melmore Head today - 1 Cory's past at 0800 and 4 Great Shearwaters between 1030 and 1330. Also 12 Sooties, 9 Bonxies, 3 Storm Petrel, 4 Arctic Skua, 12 Arctic Tern and two Basking sharks. Yesterday evening at Melmore, 3 Cory's and one Sooty went through 1700 - 1930 (Oscar Campbell)

A juvenile Ruff and 2 Common Sandpiper were at Belfast Harbour Lagoon (Stuart McKee, Joe Lamont). 

Two juvenile Ruff flew in off the sea at Millisle where 5 Sanderling were on the beach and an adult Mediterranean Gull was at Ballywalter (Stuart McKee)

The Bann Estuary had 1 Little Egret, 2 Ruff and 1 juvenile Mediterranean Gull (Hill Dick)

A juvenile Med Gull was in Killough Harbour today. Of 15 species of wader in Killough this week peak counts included Redshank (376), Greenshank (17), Curlew (124), Oystercatcher (198) and Turnstone (97). Seven Little Egrets are roosting on Coney Island (Chris Murphy).

Another juvenile Mediterranean Gull was at Ramore Head this evening (Colin Guy)

Thanks to Chris Murphy for these pics of a Swallow feeding young:

Bird News Monday 11th August

7 Cory Shearwaters passed Melmore Head by 9am this morning (Eric Randall)

17 Little Egrets were at Castle Espie / the Comber Estuary this morning.

Malin Head this morning had 9 Cory Shearwaters, 8 Great Shearwaters, 2 Balearic Shearwaters and a Sooty Shearwater (Ronan McLaughlin)

Thanks to Bobby Moffett for the Sparrowhawk with prey and Dick Glasgow for the Buzzard:

Bird News Sunday 10th August

A Fea's type petrel passed close to Kilcummin Head, Co Mayo in light winds and calm sea at 13.05 (Brad Robson - this same bird was seen 3hrs 20 mins later at Annagh Head by Dave Suddaby). Also seen in a 12hr seawatch at Kilcummin were 33 Cory's, 3 Great Shearwaters, 1 Balearic Shearwater, 15 Sooty Shearwarers, thousands of Manx, 2 Arctic Skua, 3 Bonxie, a Storm Petrel and 4 Common Dolphin (Brad Robson)

A Barn Owl was seen early this morning on Newmills road, Dungannon, Co Tyrone. (Tony Mc Cormick)

2 summer-plumage Knot, a Common Sandpiper and Greenshank were at Belfast Harbour Lagoon (Gerard McGeehan)

On National Hen Harrier ( ) day, many thanks to Dick Glasgow for these pics of male and female Hen Harriers:

Bird News Saturday 9th August

A Roseate Tern was on the planks at Belfast Harbour RSPB Reserve (Stuart McKee)

3 Common Sandpiper and a Kingfisher were this morning along the Newry Estuary. (Frank Carroll)

The Little Gull was still at Kinnegar Pool along with a Common Sandpiper (Wilton Farrelly)

A juvenile Cuckoo was at Killard. (Angus Kennedy).

Thanks to Stuart McKee for the record shot of the Roseate Tern and to Angus Kennedy for the pictures of the juvenile Cuckoo:

Bird News Friday 8th August.

The Cattle Egret was on the island in Hillsborough Lake this evening(18.30) Garry Armstrong.

A seawatch at Melmore Head up until 10:00 this morning produced a summer plumaged Black-throated Diver flying  west close inshore. Also 500 Manxies, 6 Common Scoter and 2 Bonxies, and a Grasshopper Warbler (Oscar Campbell)

There are two seats on the fast boat from Ballycastle to Islay which leaves to-morrow morning(Saturday) if interested contact Jim Wells on 07856235144.

Slightly further afield...A Wood Sandpiper,  4 Ruff where at Inch and 3 Ruff at Blanket Nook Co.Donegal. (Chris Ingram)


Bird News Thursday 7th August

4 Cory's Shearwaters went past Melmore Head, Co Donegal, between 1630 to 1950, plus 300 Manx and 14 Sooties. Also one Arctic Skua, Puffin, 8 Arctic Terns (Oscar Campbell)

Yesterday a White-tailed Eagle was at Knockninny marina at Upper Lough Erne. It had a wing-tag F and was present to dusk (Colin Gates)

Bird News Wednesday 6th August

The moulting Little Gull was at Kinnegar Pool along with a Common Sandpiper this afternoon. (Brian Murphy)

A Long-eared Owl was at Killinchy (Catherine Nixon)

2 juvenile Mediterranean Gull (one with a green ring) were at Whitehead (Cameron Moore)

Aghatirourke, Cuilcagh Mountain, Co Fermanagh had 2 Red Grouse, a juv Cuckoo and an impressive count of 47 Raven (Brad Robson)

You can share your rare or scarce bird news and pictures via

Thanks to Dick Glasgow for this pic of a Buzzard: