Bird News Saturday 30th April

At Ardmore on the south shore of Lough Neagh 96 Whimbrel were in fields just east of Emerson's Sand Pit and at least 60 White Wagtails were around the pit itself. Further west at Reedy Flat there were 14 Whimbrel, 2 Ruff and 2 Pintail. (Garry Armstrong).

A possible Eagle species was seen high over Ravenhill this afternoon, drifting east. (Ian Mercer) Coincidentally a bird drifting earlier at 12:30 over the Ballygowan Road, Carryduff, was felt to be a Golden Eagle (Chris Shaw)

A Great-spotted Woodpecker was drumming in Ballysallagh Forest Craigantlet (Jonny Clark) 

Another Great-spotted Woodpecker was in woods near the Argory, Co Tyrone.

Auks were returning in numbers to Gobbins cliffs today, including one pair  of Puffins. A male Whinchat and three Wheatear were at Glenhead Rd, Glenwhirry. (Richard Gray)

Yesterday the Red Kite was seen again at Junction 9 of the M1 (Martin Pettinger)

The 1st year Little Gull was still at Portavoe Reservoir, Orlock (Colin Guy)

Thanks to Wilf Swain for this pic of a Meadow Pipit: 

Bird News Friday 29th April

A first summer Iceland Gull was at the RSPB WOW reserve. Also four Whimbrel there and another at Kinnegar Shore (Stuart McKee)

Lower Lough Erne islands RSPB reserve Co Fermanagh this morning had 29 White Wagtail, 15Whimbrel and 21 Black-tailed Godwit (Brad Robson)

A Spotted Redshank in summer plumage was at the Bann Estuary today on the Porstewart side of the river, it was with six Whimbrel. (John Clarke)

Bird News Thursday 28th April.

Details on the Belted Kingfisher are in the previous blog post.

A Marsh Harrier was seen flying at Carrickfergus, along Belfast Lough this afternoon (Gerard McGeehan)

A 1st winter Iceland Gull was at the WOW Belfast reserve.a Ruff was also present (Tim Murphy/Derek Polley) )

Late reports from yesterday of two Glossy Ibis flying in an easterly direction over Carryduff, Belfast.(Birdguides)

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming nr the Belmont Rd area of East Belfast. (Gilly Irwin)

Also a Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming nr Lisnarick Co.Ferm. further evidence that GSW are spreading in a westerly direction (Gareth Buchanan)

A 3rd winter Glaucous Gull was at Portballintrae (Colin Guy)

Grasshopper Warbler - Patrick Barton. 

Great Spotted Woodpecker - Gareth Buchanan

Belted Kingfisher

A male Belted Kingfisher was seen on a branch overhanging the river in Mountsandel forest above the Cutts, River Bann, on the evening of Friday 22nd April. The bird was seen twice that evening. It has since been looked for unsuccessfully. It is however worthwhile keeping an eye on the Bann in the Coleraine / Castlerock area in case it still remains. (Jonathan Roberts)

Further info: "It was seen from the northern bank from the path as is rises to overlook the Cutts on the river, there are lots of overhanging trees at this point within Mountsandel forest"

Bird News Wednesday 27th April

A pair of Ravens this morning were on a rooftop on Royal Avenue Belfast - above Mace near CS supplies. (Vincent Kinnaird)

Another pair of Ravens were seen at Castle Park, Bangor (Noeni Bryars)

3 Whimbrel and a Med Gull were at Green Island Carlingford Lough Co Down (Charles Wilkinson)

A Raven was being mobbed by a Hooded Crow over Killyleagh. (Spencer & Joan Marshall)

There were 24 Ruff at Reedy Flat this evening, mainly males (some in near-full summer plumage), along with around 100 Whimbrel, 40 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Whooper Swans and a Grasshopper Warbler. (James O'Neill)

You can see more pics of local birds at

Thanks to Jeff Silvers for these pics of Whimbrel at Groomsport today:

Bird News Tuesday 26th April

A 1st-year Mediterranean Gull was seen flying north-east over Keady Mountain near Limavady this afternoon - an unexpected sighting at this location! (David Steele).

Small numbers of Swifts and Sedge Warblers along with good numbers of Blackcaps and House Martins were at Oxford Island. (Gilly Irwin).

A pale phase Arctic Skua and 200+ Manx Shearwaters were seen off Ramore Head this evening. (Colin Guy).

A Little Gull was still at the  Quoile Pondage today and the Dark-bellied Brent Goose was still with 150 Brent at Dundrum South Inner Bay, best seen from Keel Point car park at high tide. (David Nixon).

A Black Redstart was reported from Magherafelt. (Birdguides).

Thanks to Christine Cassidy for the picture of the male Sparrowhawk and to Attracta McKinley for the picture of the female Sparrowhawk.


Rathlin White-tailed Eagle

Many thanks to Neal Warnock for these superb pics of the Rathlin White-tailed Eagle (taken on Saturday). In one of the pics you can see the size difference compared to a Buzzard!

Bird News Monday 25th April.

2 Ruff where at the WOW RSPB reserve.(Noeni Bryars) see pic below.

Late news from yesterday 20+ Sedge Warblers, 5 Blackcap, 3 calling Water Rails with 4 pairs of Scaup present at Blackers Rock, Lough Neagh.(Godfrey McRoberts

Ruff - Noeni Bryars.

Bird News Sunday 24th April

Late news for yesterday is at Reedy Flat in the evening there was a female Merlin which was hunting Snipe; a kestrel, 12 Ruff, (including males moulting into summer plumage) in among a flock of 100 Golden Plover. Also two late Whooper Swans, 15 Whimbrel and 3 Swifts. (James O'Neill).

This morning a flock of 200+ Whimbrel and 150 Black-tailed Godwit were in fields just east of Emerson's sand pit at Ardmore on the south shore of Lough Neagh. 4 White Wagtail were at the Discovery Centre at Oxford Island. (Garry Armstrong)

A 2nd cal-year Iceland Gull was at Drains Bay, Co. Antrim (Neal Warnock)

Ballymacormick Point had 6 Whimbrel and a White Wagtail (Wilton Farrelly)

Grasshopper Warblers were calling in the reedy field on the right between Knock Bridge and Moneypenny Lock along the towpath towards Portadown (Karen Elliott)

A first year little gull at Portavoe Reservoir. (Richard Weyl)

The Merlin was still at Reedy Flat today, along with 2 Wheatear, c.60 Whimbrel and 10 Ruff. (James O'Neill)

Thanks to James O'Neill for this picture of a female Merlin:

Some of the 200 Whimbrel at Ardmore.

Bird News Saturday 23rd April

The White-tailed Eagle was giving colossal views this morning at Coastguards to East Light on Rathlin. (Neal Warnock)

The first summer Med Gull, a second summer and an adult Ring-billed Gulls were all at the RSPB WOW reserve (Stuart McKee)

The drake Ring-necked Duck was still at Inch, Co Donegal (Brad Robson)

A male Whinchat was at Craigmacagan Lough, Rathlin (Neal Warnock)

As well as the Whinchat Rathlin also had 5 Whimbrel, 7 Wheatear and 4 Brent Geese. (Colin Guy).

A Dark-bellied Brent Goose was at Dundrum inner bay (David Nixon)

Inch lough and levels Co Donegal as well as the male Ring-necked Duck (displaying to Tufties) had 1 ad Med Gull on the island, also 1 leucistic Black-headed Gull, 169 White Wagtail, 15 Common Tern, a Sedge Warbler. Blanketnook had 15 Common Tern, 130 Whimbrel, a Ruff, 1 White Wagtail and a Sedge Warbler (Brad Robson)

Thanks to David Nixon for the picture of the Dark-bellied Brent Goose, to Linda Thompson for the picture of the Wheatear and to Brad Robson for the picture of the Ring-necked Duck:


Bird News Friday 22nd April

Two Cuckoo, Red Grouse and Grasshopper Warbler wear near Sixmilecross this morning. (Adam McClure).

At least two Cuckoos were at Murlough. (Dougie Gamble/Jim Crozier).

2 pairs of Mediterranean Gulls were at Belfast Lough RSPB WOW reserve. (Stephen Maxwell).

Last night a singing Grasshopper Warbler was briefly seen at Round Lake, Fivemiletown. (Naomi & Colin Bell).

A Red Kite was over the Scarva Road in Banbridge. (Karen Elliott).

A leucistic Chaffinch was in the grounds of Mount Stewart, the same bird was present last year. There is a short video of the bird here (Margaret Adamson).

A Cuckoo was calling at Fews Forest, Newtownhamilton (Clifford Sharpe).

A late report from Tuesday is of an eagle species adjacent to the River Maine, Lough Neagh. (Sam Andrews).

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was feeding in Creagagh Wood near Cushendun. (Patrick Barton).

An adult Mediterranean Gull was on Swan Island today in Strangford, it was very territorial and seemed to be paired with a Black-headed Gull. (Dermot Hughes).

Thanks to Stephen Maxwell for the pictures of the Mediterranean Gull and the Black-tailed Godwit and to Margaret Adamson for the picture of the leucistic Chaffinch.


Dawn Chorus Broadcast - Radio Ulster

Sunday 1 May

Live on BBC Radio Ulster from Midnight


Hear BBC Radio Ulster presenter Annie-Marie McAleese and Dr Kendrew Colhoun from the RSPB on International Dawn Chorus Day (Sunday 1 May) as they link up with RTÉ and across Europe to celebrate this ornithological opera.


Following from the success of last year’s link-up, Anne-Marie will once again be joining RTÉ’s Derek Mooney and, in addition this year, several other broadcasters from across Europe live on air throughout the night – including Radio Russia, NRK Norway, and BBC Radio 4.


Presenter Anne-Marie, along with Dr Colhoun, Senior Conservation Scientist with the RSPB, will be at Tollymore National Outdoor Centre, outside Newcastle, in County Down.


This year’s Dawn Chorus programme runs from Midnight until 7am offering listeners the chance to hear some fascinating conversation about the nature of birdsong, and the wonder of the chorus itself as our avian friends wake up across Europe.

Bird News Thursday 21st April

A sub adult Golden Eagle was south of Cappanagh Forest this morning, soaring for about 15 minutes. Yesterday 20th, a Cuckoo and Grasshopper Warbler were near Bushmills. (Dermot Hughes)

A Reed Warbler was along the Newry Canal at Carnbane this morning (Frank Carroll)

A Great-spotted Woodpecker was seen at Newforge on the River Lagan (David Gotto)

A Whitethroat was at Groomsport this morning - incidentally equals last year's early date. (Julian Greenwood)

The Red Kite was seen again near the Moira Roundabout (David Gotto). It was also seen at 11am this morning, outside Moira, 1/4 mile up Lisburn Rd (Linda Magee)

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming today near Ballynahinch (Ian Jackson)

3 Swift were at Lurgan train station (Stephen Foster)

32 Whimbrel, 6 White Wagtail, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, a Sedge Warbler  and a Cuckoo were at Lower Lough Erne Islands RSPB Reserve, Co Fermanagh (S McCaffrey, Amy Burns, Brad Robson)

A good movement of Common Gulls went through RSPB WOW Reserve and included an adult Ring-billed Gull (a new bird). Also present were twelve Whimbrel (Stuart McKee)

5 Swifts were over Edenderry yesterday (Sam Thomas)

Six whimbrel were at Ballyholme beach this afternoon. Also four Swifts were over central Lisburn this evening. (Suzanne Belshaw)

A Cuckoo was at Peatlands Park. (David Gill)

A 1st year Glaucous Gull was at Dunfanaghy Estuary, Co. Donegal (Colin Guy)

Thanks to David Gotto for the pics of the Great-spotted Woodpecker and the Red Kite:

Bird News Wednesday 20th April

A White-tailed Eagle was seen on Rathlin Island this morning (Damien McFaul) - also see further sighting details below.

A Golden Eagle was seen flying over the RSPB Portmore Lough reserve at 11.45am(RSPB staff)

A pair of Red Kites seen soaring over Castlewellan Rd, area of Banbridge this afternoon. (David McCreedy)

A Great Spotted Woodpecker has been heard and seen over this past week or so at Drum Manor ,near Cookstown. Heard it drumming this morning and Ian McNeill, yesterday morning. (Ronnie Irvine)

20 White Wagtail, 7 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Whimbrel wee at lower Lough Erne Islands RSPB reserve this morning. Also a Cuckoo was bear Boho Co Fermanagh (Brad Robson)

The White-tailed Eagle was seen again flying low pursued by a Raven over Church Bay, Rathlin at 5pm (presumably Damien's bird). This bird has no wing-tags. Also seen on Rathlin during the day - a Short-eared Owl, 2 Pink-footed Geese, a Ring-tailed Hen Harrier, a 2nd year Glaucous Gull,1 Sedge Warbler, 1 female Merlin, 20+Wheatears, 5 White Wagtails and a Chough (Colin Guy).
Collectors  Bay at the Quoile had 1  Little Egret, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Common Tern and 2 Common Sandpiper. 60+ Brent Geese were on the Strangford side of the causeway on Castle Island Road. (Derek Polley).

First year Med Gull was at the RSPB WOW reserve today (Stuart McKee)
Thanks to Damien for this pic of the White-tailed Eagle:

Bird News Tuesday 19th April

Late news for yesterday is that a Swift was seen at Oxford Island (Margaret Adamson)

A White Wagtail and 6 Common Sands were at lower Lough Erne islands RSPB reserve, Co Fermanagh (Brad Robson).

2 Twite were still at the boatyard in Whitehead. (Ian Enlander).

The Red Kite was seen again near Moira. (David Stirling).

6 Whimbrel and 350 Brent Geese were at Dundrum South Inner Bay and a Stock Dove was at Ardilea. (David Nixon).

A leucistic Jackdaw was in a carpark opposite the harbour in Ardglass, see picture below. (John Moore)

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was in Rostrevor Forest. (David Cooper)

At Belfast Lough RSPB WOW reserve there was a pair of adult Mediterranean Gulls and a pair of second summer Mediterranean Gulls on the tern raft. Both pairs showed courtship behaviour and the second-summer pair were mating! There was also a Grey Plover present. Also 6 Whimbrel were at Kinnegar. (James O'Neill)

Thanks to Wilf Swain for the picture of Sanderling and to John Moore for the picture of the leucistic Jackdaw..


Bird News Monday 18th April.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming in Kilbroney Forest Park, Rostrever. (Kate Leneghan)

10 Greenland White-fronted Geese, 3 little egrets and still a flock of 400+ brent geese at Myroe levels today. (Gareth Bareham)

The Red Kite was seen around 4.00pm close to the M1 roundabout at Moira (James Erwin)

Male Blackcap - Cameron Moore. 

Bird News Sunday 17th April

Three second year and four adult Med Gulls were at RSPB WOW reserve in view at same time. Also three Whimbrel and two Ruff. One Common Sandpiper was at Kinnegar pool. (Stuart McKee)

There was a juvenile Golden Eagle seen today in County Antrim. (David Stirling).

Three Garganey (two males and a female) were on Lough Beg today, along with good numbers of other duck including 900 Teal and 40 Shoveler. Also, 26 Ruff with the godwit flock on the western shoreline and another five Ruff at Paddy's Dub. 25 White Wagtails were at Mullagh. (David Steele).

A first year Med Gull and an adult Ring-billed Gull (a smaller individual than the last bird) were at the RSPB Belfast WOW reserve this evening (Stuart McKee).

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen in Lady Dixon Park in Belfast. (Irish Birding).

Thanks to Linda Thompson for this picture of a Black Guillemot.


Bird News Saturday 16th April

3 White Wagtail and 2 Whimbrel were at lower Lough Erne islands RSPB reserve (Brad Robson)

A first summer Little Gull was at Blanetnook, Co Donegal (Brian Murphy)

The flock of Golden Plover in Antrim is now up to approx 500. During the day they are on a warehouse roof in Enkalon Industrial Estate. A very large unidentified bird of prey was also seen flying south over Antrim. (Mark Smyth)

The female American Wigeon was seen again at Dargan Bay (Birdguides)

Thanks to Stephen Maxwell for this pic of a Fulmar:

Peregrine Killed at Glenwherry

Unfortunately the persecution of our local birds of prey continues and it seems likely that a Peregrine has been shot at Glenwherry. You can read more at:

Anyone with information can contact police on the non-emergency number 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555.

Bird News Friday 15th April

A Glaucous Gull was at McAuleys' Lough near Spa, this morning. It is possibly the same bird that was seen there in July 2015 as it is in 2nd winter plumage. (David Nixon)

2 Single Buzzards  also a Peregrine Falcon and a Kestrel where between Maze and Moira on M1.(Paul Allen)

A Common Sandpiper was on Upper Lough Erne (Sarah McCaffrey)

There was a high count of around 450 Sand Martin at Oxford Island today. Also 4 Whimbrel at Reedy Flat. (James O'Neil)

A Cuckoo was calling near Coa, Co Fermanagh (Amy Burns)

Don't forget you can see local bird pics at

Bird News Thursday 14th April

Yesterday a Grasshopper Warbler was at Coa, Co Fermanagh (Amy Burns)

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was near the old courtyard, Castle Archdale country park, Co Fermanagh. A Blackcap was singing at Ely Lodge (Brad Robson)

A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling near Sixmilecross this morning. (Adam McClure)

Groomsport, Co.Down today had a Whimbrel, a Common Sandpiper, 5 male Wheatear, 30 Sandwich Terns, 6 Common Scoter and 6 Golden Plover (Paul McCullough)

A Cuckoo was calling at Cappagh in Tyrone (Michael McLaughlin)

A Blackcap was singing at Upperlands Dam near Maghera (David Morrow)

At the south west end of Ballypatrick forest, opposite the turn off to Cushendun at approx 12-45pm a Golden Eagle was soaring and was then mobbed by a Buzzard (Sean Hickey)

A male Merlin was on Rathlin today - other summer visitors on the island including 12 Wheatears, a Common Sandpiper, numerous Willow Warblers, Sand Martins, and Swallows. 8 Wigeon also seen. (Colin Guy)

Thanks to Colin Guy for this Rock Pipit taken at Ballintoy:

Bird News Wednesday 13th April

A Great Northern Diver in full summer plumage was just off shore at Holme Bay, Killyleagh in Strangford Lough. (Spencer & Joan Marshall). 

4 Wheatear were at the Belfast Lough RSPB WOW reserve. (Gerard McGeehan). 

There was no sign of the Osprey at Corbet Lake, Banbridge, up to 1300 hrs today, but 1 Red Kite and 4 Buzzards were present, plus increasing numbers of Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin. (David McCready).

A Common Sandpiper was feeding on seaweed at Ballycastle beach. (Colin Guy).

Whitehead had 2 Wheatear, 1 Common Sandpiper and 7 Sandwich Tern this morning. (Ian Enlander).

Spring has sprung at Belfast’s Window on Wildlife

Join the RSPB NI team at Belfast’s Window on Wildlife (WOW) this Saturday 16 April for a guided tour around the reserve at Belfast lough to see what spring has to offer.

You can enjoy local wildlife in the unique setting of the RSPB NI nature reserve in the heart of the city’s busy docklands, with panoramic views of Cave Hill and north Belfast. Reserve warden Chris Sturgeon will show you what is on offer away from the visitor centre, taking you around the reserve to give you different viewpoints of the lagoon and its wildlife.


The walk takes place on Saturday 16 April from 10.30am to 12 noon, admission is free for members and £5 for adult non-members or £3 for children. This price includes admission to the reserve.

To book your place email or call 028 9046 1458 


Bird News Tuesday 12th April

A Great Skua was off Islandmagee (Kerry Leonard)

An Osprey was at Corbet Lough and last seen heading off towards the River Bann. (Andy Cleeve)

Thanks to Cameron Moore for this pic of a male Wheatear at Whitehead:

Bird News Monday 11th April

A flock of approximately 30 Twite are feeding in a manure sprayed field on the path from Ballintoy Church to Carrick-a- Rede. 3 White Fronted Geese flew over White Rocks, Portrush. (Colin Guy).

Yesterday Blacker’s Rock on the western shore of Lough Neagh in Co. Tyrone on Sunday had the following - 15 White Wagtail, 7 Sand Martin, 3 Swallow with singing Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff, 70 Golden Plover were present with 2 Greylag Geese and 8 Whooper Swan. Also 5 pairs of Gadwall and 1 pair of Shelduck. (Godfrey McRoberts).

Yesterday evening 2 House Martins were over Castleview in Killyleagh. (Spencer & Joan Marshall).

3 White-fronted Geese, over 5,000 Golden Plover, up to 18 Whooper Swans, 4 or 5 White Wagtails and 8 House Martins were in fields at Donnybrewer and Longfield Point, Lough Foyle. (Gareth Bareham).

Bird News Sunday 10th April

The Red Kite has been reported from Moira again at approximately 12:45.

The drake Ring-necked Duck was still at Castle Ward. The adult Little Gull and a female Goosander were at the Quoile. The Red Kite was also showing at Tyrella. Good numbers of Manx Shearwaters were passing St Johns Point. (Garry Armstrong / Ian Graham)

A 2nd summer Ring-billed Gull was at Reedy Flats Co.Armagh.(Birdguides)

9 Twite remain at the boat yard in Whitehead.(Birdguides)

A 1st winter Med Gull was at Sandy Bay, Larne.(Neal Warnock)

Ring-necked Duck (right bird) and Tufted Duck 

Bird News Saturday 9th April

At 9.30am an untagged Red Kite (almost certainly the same bird I have seen three times now in this area) was near the old Sheddings Pub on the road between Ballymena and Carnlough/Glenarm. It was generally heading in the direction of Slemish. (Colin Urwin)

A male Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming and then seen near the entrance kiosk to The Argory, near Moy this afternoon. (Kenneth Anderson)

Myroe Levels had 29 Greenland Whitefronts and 18 Greylag Geese (Wilton Farrelly)

4 adult Mediterranean Gulls were soaring and calling high above Brigg's Rocks this morning. The 1st winter Little Gull was also seen again. (Colin Guy)

Thanks to Wilfie Swain for this pic of a Song Thrush:

Bird News Friday 8th April

A Jack Snipe was near Sixmilecross this morning and Red Kite over Moira roundabout. (Adam McClure).

2 adult Mediterranean Gulls were calling and flying above Cockle Island, Groomsport. 250 Golden Plover were also in the air. Another adult Mediterranean Gull was near Brigg's Rocks where 8 Whooper Swans were seen flying North. (Colin Guy).

2 Mediterranean Gulls, a Pink-footed Goose and a Greenshank were at Glynn in Larne Lough. (Cameron Moore).

A 1st winter Glaucous Gull and a probable Glaucous type hybrid were in Coleraine today, between the Ballycastle Road and the Cresent. (John Clarke).

Two 1st winter Glaucous Gulls, 2 Little Egret, 5 Eider and 800 Golden Plover were in Killough Harbour. (Tim Murphy).

Thanks to Cameron Moore for the pictures of the Mediterranean Gulls and the Pink-footed Goose, to John Clarke for the pictures of the Glaucous Gulls and to Christine Cassidy for the picture of the Sparrowhawk.

Bird News Thursday 7th April.

2 ad Med. Gulls were in the WOW RSPB Belfast reserve.(Stephen Maxwell)

A Med Gull was in the Halford's car park at the Abbey Centre, Newtownabbey.(Jim McKeown)

A 1st year Iceland Gull still at mouth of Inver River in Larne. Bird often found on Asda warehouse roof. (Neal Warnock)

A first winter Little Gull was feeding at Brigg's Rocks this morning (Colin Guy)

Willow Warbler - Linda Thompson.

Bird News Wednesday 6th April

An immature White-tailed Eagle was hunting around the reed beds and scrub at the extreme south end of Lough Beg this evening - the bird has no wing-tags. Also 38 Greenland White-fronted Geese and 30 White Wagtails (first of the spring) on the fields. 1000 Black-tailed Godwits and 25 Ruff were on the western shoreline of the Beg. (David Steele)

Swallows, Wheatears, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers are now reported widely. Thanks to everyone for sharing their sightings.

Thanks to Wilfie Swain for this pic of a Buzzard being mobbed by a Hooded Crow:

Bird News Tuesday 5th April

Two adult Mediterranean Gulls were still at Belfast Lough WOW RSPB Reserve.(Stephen Maxwell)

Thanks to Stephen for the picture of the Mediterranean Gull and to Wilf Swain for the picture of the Kestrel

Have you seen a red kite?‏


 RSPB NI is calling on the public to help build a clearer picture of the country’s red kite population.
Red kites are magnificent birds of prey which were sadly persecuted to extinction more than 200 years ago because people mistakenly saw them as a threat to livestock.
However, back in 2008 the conservation charity joined forced with the Welsh Kite Trust and the Golden Eagle Trust to reintroduce the species to Northern Ireland’s skies
Over two years, dozens of young red kites were released into County Down and every year since 2010 these re-located kites have produced their own chicks.

Unfortunately, the project hasn’t been without its setbacks, with a number of birds dying from natural causes or as a result of poisoning.

The current population is thought to stand at around 12 breeding pairs and, although no further releases are planned, it’s vital the charity continues to monitor the population until it is at a sustainable level - estimated to be around 50 pairs.

  With a dedicated team of volunteers and a seasonal Red Kite Monitoring Officer in place, RSPB NI is carrying out detailed on-the-ground monitoring but the more pairs of eyes searching the skies the better!

While County Down remains a hot-spot, red kites have been seen all over Northern Ireland as far away as Fermanagh.

Robert Straughan, RSPB NI Red Kite Monitoring Officer, said; “People will be able to easily identify red kites with their rusty-red colouring, forked tail, white patches under each wing and inky black wing tips, not to mention their five-and-a-half-feet wingspan!

“A dedicated team of staff and volunteers have been out tracking and monitoring movements for months, but we can only be in one place at one time and local people are often in a much better position to notice potential breeding behaviour.”

He added: “It’s a sad fact that some people misunderstand these birds. They lack the strength to pose a threat to livestock and are happy living off carrion, or ‘roadkill’, but some people incorrectly believe they are a danger during the lambing season.

“Red kites are a protected and causing them harm is an offence under the Wildlife Order (NI) 1985, so we are also asking people to keep an eye out for and report any signs that persecution is happening.”

To report a red kite sighting, email Sightings where wing tags are read are most helpful but even sightings of untagged kites, or where the tags could not be read, are also extremely useful.

 If you suspect that red kites may be breeding nearby, RSPB NI ask that you contact them as soon as possible as, once the trees in which the birds are nesting come into leaf, it is very difficult to locate the nests.

For more information contact Claire Barnett (RSPB NI Senior Conservation Officer). Email or call 028 9049 1547.

Bird News Monday 4th April.

The drake Ring-necked Duck was still at Templewater, Castleward NT. An adult Little Gull was at the Quoile pondage.(Tom Ennis/Tony Dodds)

A Blue Fulmar landed on the cliff at the Gobbins (Kerry Leonard).

Bird News Sunday 3rd April

The drake Ring-necked Duck was at Castle Ward, Co Down. Strangford had two second summer Med Gulls and a leucistic Black-headed Gull. An adult Little Gull was at the Quoile. (Wilton Farrelly)

Chiffchaff, Sand Martin and Swallows are now reported widely in NI. At least 4 Swallows, two House Martins and two Chiffchaff were along the Broadwater between Aghalee and Soldierstowm this afternoon (Nigel Moore). Blackcap, Willow Warbler & Chiffchaff were at Craigavon Lakes today. (Karen Elliott) and the same species at Kinnegar (Daniel Barry).

Two Med Gulls were at RSPB Belfast WOW Reserve (It is believed that there may be up to 5 Med Gulls frequenting the reserve), also 2 Ruff and 2 Sand Martin's present. (Tom Ennis)

The first spring Arctic Terns (3) were at Cockle Island, Groomsport (Gareth Platt). 3 Sandwich Terns were also there (Gareth Platt / George Henderson)

It is worth noting that a Dark-eyed Junco was on the Isle of Man today!

Ring-necked Duck:

Bird News Saturday 2nd April

A Red Grouse, singing Curlew and a Willow Warbler were near Llendrum Wind Farm, Fivemiletown this morning (Colin Bell)

A second summer Ring-billed Gull, three Med Gulls and two Ruff were at RSPB Belfast WOW reserve (Wilton Farrelly)

15 Sandwich Tern were at Kinnegar shore (Stuart McKee)

Inch Lake Co Donegal had an immature White-tailed Eagle, 1 seemingly pure male American Wigeon at the north end, 2 hybrids American / Euasian Wigeon in front of hide and 1 Little Egret (Brad Robson)

Swallows were at Glenarm Marina today (Linda Thompson)

Bird News Friday 1st April

Two Wheatears and three House Martins were at Creighton's Green Reservoir, Holywood this afternoon. (Julian Greenwood).

Yesterday a Willow Warbler was singing near Moore's Bridge, Lagan and another at Quoile near the Discovery Centre. Five Sandwich Tern were on the east side of Killard Point. (Dougie Gamble).

A juvenile Iceland Gull was at the Barmouth. (Birdguides). 

6 Swallows were at Ross, Lough Boho, Co. Fermanagh. (Brad Robson).

4 Sandwich Terns were on the shingle beach at Kinnegar this morning. (Gilly Irwin).