Bird News Wednesday 31st May

A possible Turtle Dove at Bennett's Avenue, Donagadee, has been reported second hand (per Robin Vage).

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was at Loughinisland (Adam McClure)

Thanks to Cameron Moore for the picture of the Garganey, to James McQueen for the picture of the Peregrine and to Terry Hanna for the picture of the House Martin.

Bird News Tuesday 30th May.

An Osprey was seen in the Antrim hills.(David Stirling) see pic 1 below.

A White-tailed Eagle was seen on Upper Lough Erne.(Sarah McCaffrey) see pic 2 below

A pair of Garganey were in the bay at Annagh on the western shoreline of Lough Beg this evening. A male Ruff was in the southwest corner (three males plus a female were there on Sunday). There was no sign of the Pec - but this is likely to have been a different bird to the two seen on 25th as these had gone by the evening, giving a total of four for Lough Beg in May, which is probably a record spring showing. (David Steele)  

Bird News Monday 29th May

Unusually a male Garganey was on the sea immediately in front of the car park / beach area at Portmuck (Ian Enlander)

At Lough Beg, an Osprey was fishing at Church Island. Also, in the bay next to Paddy's Dubh, were 2 Garganey and 2 summer plumage Ruff; nearby were 25 Whooper swans. (Colin Davies)

Thanks to Colin Davies for this pic of the Osprey at Lough Beg:


Bird News Sunday 28th May

A Pectoral Sandpiper was still in the south west corner of Lough Beg. There was no sign of the Temmicks Stint (David Steele)

A dark-bellied Brent Goose was at Glynn (Ian Graham)

The Corncrake was still calling on the road to the West Light, on Rathlin (Wilton Farrelly)

An Osprey flew steady north along the River Main at Slaght near Ballymena at 7pm, mobbed by Hooded Crows. (David Steele)

Yesterday an Osprey was spotted twice on the lower Bann near Portna Lock (Michael Flanigan)

Bird News Saturday 27th May

On Rathlin two Crossbills flew west over Kinramer early this morning. (Ric Else & Hazel Watson)

The Little Gull was still at RSPB Belfast Lough reserve this morning. (Garry Armstrong).

Thanks to Thomas Campbell for the pictures of the Reed Warbler and the Red-breasted Merganser, to Rod Gillan for the picture of the Linnet and to Michael Latham for the picture of the Yellowhammer.


Bird News Friday 26th May

A Temmincks Stint, was in the bay to the left hand side of Church Island this morning. An Osprey was also present (Billy Miskelly)

A male Whinchat half way to the West Light, Rathlin Island this morning.(Ric Else and Hazel Watson)

A Dark-belled Brent, was still at Dundrum Inner Bay, with two pale bellied Brent, Co Down.(David Nixon)

On Tory Island were a Turtle Dove, 3 Spotted Flycatchers /2 Willow Warblers /18 Collared Doves /3 Chiffchaffs /a Cuckoo / Iceland Gull and a Blackcap (Davy Hunter)
Male Eider - Christine Beggs.

Dunlin - Jason Bain.

Bird News Thursday 25th May

Two Pectoral Sandpipers were at the south west corner of Lough Beg (Davy Hunter)

The Little Gull was still at Kinnegar this morning. RSPB WoW had 240+ Common Terns, 7 Med gulls and 2 Knot, one in summer plumage (Derek Polley)

A female Great Spotted Woodpecker has been frequenting a garden in Annahilt (Garry Wilkinson)

At least two Spotted Flycatchers were in Dromore Park, Co Down (Chris Rankin)

Thanks to Stephen Maxwell for this pic of a Redpoll:

Meet the Peregrines

NI Raptor Study Group are delighted to announce that the Whitehead Peregrines are back nesting this year after their failure last year and the chicks have hatched and are going from strength to strength. Due to the position of the nest you can watch these birds from a public area as they go about their daily business - without disturbing them.

Ian Enlander, along with the Mid- and East Antrim Council, has once again organised the wonderful 'Meet the Peregrines' day where you can get great views of the adults and their chicks, and the NIRSG will be there to help tell you all about the birds and answer any questions you may have.  

'Meet the Whitehead Peregrines' is on Saturday 17th June, from 10am until noon (though you are welcome to stay on for as long as you like!) and is at the Beach Road Local Nature Reserve in Whitehead. You should bring binoculars or a telescope if you have them but don't worry if you don't.

This is a great opportunity to see wild Peregrines without disturbing them and is free and open to everyone of all ages. 

Bird News Wednesday 24th May

A Wood Warbler was singing on Rathlin, a Red-throated Diver, Grey Wagtail and the first Eider chicks were also present. (Ric Else & Hazel Watson).

Thanks to Ric for this picture of the Wood Warbler and to Chris Easton for the picture of the Grey Wagtail.

Bird News Tuesday 23rd May

An adult Dark-bellied Brent remains with 2 adult Light-bellied birds at Dundrum South Inner Bay. (David Nixon).

Yesterday a Red Kite was circling quite low over the Newcastle Road, just past the turnoff for Bryansford on the way to Castlewellan. (Helen Bradley).

Bird News Monday 22nd May

Yesterday, Lough Beg SW shore and Paddy's Dub had an Osprey off Church island, a male Garganey, 11 Shoveler, 2 Whooper swan, a Little egret, 6 Dunlin and a Common tern (Godfrey McRoberts)

An adult summer Glaucous Gull was near the Bush River at Portballintrae (Colin Guy)

2 Adult Dark-bellied Brent plus 12 Pale-bellied Brent were still at Kinnegar Shore (Tom Ennis)

The 2nd summer Little Gull was at RSPB WoW this evening. (Wilton Farrelly)

A Cuckoo was at Magilligan today (Jason Bain)

Dark Bellied Brent Update

Following the post on the 2nd May, feedback has been received from a number of readers:

Per Graham McIlwaine:
In relation to your article, the Svalbard / Greenland breeding birds are from a separate flyway population - the East Atlantic population. Whilst NI birds stage in Iceland and do actually fly over Greenland, they breed in High Arctic Canada, and our birds are called the East Canadian High Arctic (ECHA) population. 
From my own personal observations, this end-of season flush of dark-bellies, mainly juveniles in my experience, is an annual occurrence, usually encountered at places which hold birds late-season, like Dundrum, Killough and the Strangford Narrows. The sites affected are often used  late-season by staging marked pale-bellied Brent which we know have over-wintered in Normandy, France, where pale-bellied and dark-bellied brent geese are both present in considerable numbers. It would therefore be my hypothesis that these birds are being sucked into the migration of “our” birds at the southern limit of the range. I chatted to one of the Icelandic guys last week, and they regularly encounter small numbers of dark-bellies, which are presumably the same ones. Indeed, one (an adult) was caught in one of our catches there last week.

Per Alain Livory, France: 
Concerning the flocks of brent in Regnéville, France, most of the time pale and dark bellies are mixed on the salt marshes even if roughly each species keeps more or less together grazing. Dark-bellied Brent arrive first and were more numerous in the very begining of the winter season but things are quickly reversing and pale-bellied are nowadays more numerous than the dark ones unlike in the past.

Light and Dark Bellied Brent, Kinnegar Shore, 14th May 2017 - Ronald Surgenor:

Bird News Sunday 21st May

The two Dark-bellied Brent were at Kinnegar Shore and the summer breeding plumaged Ruff was at RSPB WoW Belfast (Garry Armstrong)

A Great Skua, a pale morph Arctic Skua and a Red-throated Diver flew south past the Isle of Muck, Islandmagee. (Jeff Larkin)

An Osprey was at Lough Melvin Co. Fermanagh this afternoon. (Michael Stinson)

A female Marsh Harrier was at Copeland Bird Observatory this afternoon (CBO / Richard Donaghey)

Two Great Skuas landed on the lake at Keeble in Rathlin (Brian Halligan)

Many thanks to Lilian Cummings for this pic of one of the male Ruff that have been at RSPB WoW:

Bird News Saturday 20th May

A Garden Warbler was at Kinnegar Pools (Daniel Newton)

A 2nd summer Little Gull was at the RSPB WOW reserve this afternoon.(Ron Price/Ronnie Milligan)

A Cuckoo is calling this morning near the Slievetrue Road/ Lisglass road in Newtownabbey. (George Stewart)

A drake Garganey was at the Ecos Park, Ballymena (Jeff Larkin)
Two Dark-bellied Drent geese were at Kinnegar Shore. (Wilton Farrelly)

A Red Kite was just outside Dromara this afternoon on the Castlewellan Road. A Cuckoo was calling at the edge of Drumkeeragh Forest and a Whitethroat was in scrubland near the forest carpark.(Chris and Amanda Rankin)

Two male Ruff, including one in full breeding plumage, were at RSPB WoW. (Jonny Clark)

A Whooper Swan was still in residence this morning at RSPB Portmore Nature Reserve. (Robin Brown)

Thanks to Jonny Clark for this pic of a male Ruff:

Bird News Friday 19th May

A Reed Warbler was at Lough Shark. (Joe Devlin).

Two Spotted Flycatcher were seen this morning along the Newry Canal near Goraghwood. (Frank Carroll).

Yesterday 12 Crossbills were at  Foglish Road, Fivemiletown. (Colin Bell).

A 2nd year Iceland Gull was with other gulls on the seafront at Portstewart. (Colin Guy).

Thanks to Neil Cartmill for the picture of the Reed Warbler and to Wilf Swain for the pictures of the Meadow Pipit and Little Egret


Bird News Thursday 18th May

A male and female Long-tailed Duck, Whimbrel and a Garden Warbler were at Lower Lough Erne islands RSPB reserve, Co Fermanagh this morning (Brad Robson)

A Red Kite flew over the Four Winds area of east Belfast this morning this morning (Dan Barry)

A male Ruff was at RSPB WoW, at times it was displaying to Black-tailed Godwits (Derek Polley)

Thanks to Derek Polley for this picture of the male Ruff and to Wilf Swain for the Swift:

Bird News Wednesday 17th May

A Quail was calling at Portmore Lough RSPB Reserve this morning (per Garry Wilkinson)

A female Marsh Harrier passed Teiges Hill near Brookeborough, County Fermanagh today (Clive Mellon)

A Whinchat was at Ballyboley, in the Antrim Hills (Adam McClure).

Not much to report from the eastern part of Rathlin today, with few migrants other than at least 8 Spotted Flycatchers. The only other notable was the first Lapwing since March. Yesterday there was another or the same Tree Pipit near the west end. (Ric Else & Hazel Watson).

In Larne a Hoopoe has been reported from a private garden in Ballylesson Road. (Birdguides).

Thanks to Linda Thompson for the picture of the Spotted Flycatchers, to Terry Hanna for the picture of the Sedge Warbler and to Lilian Cummings for the picture of the Long-tailed Tit.


Bird News Tuesday 16th May

A male Monagu's Harrier was at Lough Beg (Chris Murphy). The bird was looked for this evening without success.

The Baltimore Oriole was not seen today on Tory Island (Brian McCloskey)

At lest 15 Brent Geese were at Kinnegar Shore with at least 2 Dark-bellied Brents amongst them. At least 6 Med Gulls were seen from the roadside hide at RSPB WoW (Tom Ennis \ Tony Dodds

Yesterday a female Merlin, two Snipe and 2 Raven were at Cuilcagh Mountain, Co Fermanagh (Garry Wilkinson)

For more great pics of local birds, see:

Thanks to Michael O'Dwyer for this pic of a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Strangford and Tony Donaldson for the Red Kite:

Bird News Monday 15th May.

A Baltimore Oriole has been found on Tory Island Co.Donegal this morning. (Anton Meenan)

A single Ruff was at RSPB WoW first thing this morning (Daniel Newton)

A female Marsh Harrier was near the western end of Rathlin island this afternoon (Ric Else and Hazel Watson)

Manx Shearwaters were showing well in Belfast Lough, including Kinnegar (Ronald Surgenor and Daniel Newton)

The three Dark-bellied Brent were still at Kinnegar shore (Wilton Farrelly)

Thanks to Cecil smyth for this pic of a Meadow Pipit:

Bird News Sunday 14th May

Three Dark-bellied Brent Geese are at Kinnegar shore this morning (Ronald Surgenor)

Two Spotted Flycatchers were at St Johns Point (Daniel Newton)

Two male Garganey were on Lough Beg this morning, off Mullagh. No sign again of the White Winged Black Tern from Mullagh (David Steele).

A Red Kite was over Newcastle Promenade, it had a red or orange wing tag on the right wing. (Nichola Henry).

A 1st summer Little Gull was at Lough Beg (Gerard McGeehan / Shirley Dunlop)

Thanks to Ronald Surgenor for the picture of the Dark Bellied Brent and to Cameron Moore for the picture of the Grasshopper Warbler.


Red Kites

Any Red Kite sightings can be made to the newly appointed Red Kite Officer, or to

Of particular interest is their behaviour and location of sightings.

Any help would be appreciated.

Alan Ferguson

Bird News Saturday 13th May

There was no sign of the White-winged Black Tern at Lough Beg early this morning. There were 2 Osprey and 3 male Ruff (Garry Armstrong)

Kinnegar Shore this morning had 2 Dark-bellied Brent and 9 Pale-bellied Brent. 9 Knot were also present, some in summer plumage. (Wilton Farrelly) Later 13 Brent Geese: 3 Adult Dark-bellied and 10 Pale-bellied were there (Guy Hamilton and Tom Ennis)

A Tree Pipit was at the west end of Rathlin this evening. Also 4 Spotted Flycatchers and a Fieldfare were present (Ric Else and Hazel Watson)

Elsewhere on Rathlin today were 3 Whinchat, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Cuckoo & 2 Twite (Neal Warnock)

A Spotted flycatcher and 18 Sanderling were at  Kearney. (Richard Weyl)

Thanks to Lindsay Hodges for this pic of a presumed Greenland Wheatear and Ric Else / Haze Watson for the Tree Pipit:


Bird News Friday 12th May

At Lough Beg were the White-winged Black Tern still showing well north of long point, 2 Ospreys, 6 Ruff in sum plummage and an Arctic Tern (Davy Hunter)

A Common Redstart was seen at the west end of Rathlin, a Corncrake was also calling on the island. (Ric Else & Hazel Watson).

A juvenile male Great Spotted Woodpecker was on a feeder in a garden in Annahilt. (Garry Wilkinson).

At least 2 Cuckoos were calling on Rathlin this morning. (Kevin Kirkham-Brown).

A mixed pair of Mediterranean Gull and Common Gull are attempting to nest on a roof in Antrim, this is the second year that they have attempted to breed. Another adult and an immature Mediterranean Gull are also present. (Gareth Platt).

A Cuckoo was at the carpark at Murlough Nature Reserve. (David McCormick).

A Corncrake was calling this evening on Rathlin (Ric Else & Hazel Watson)

Thanks to Linda Thompson for the picture of the Spotted Flycatcher, to David Hill for the picture of the Sedge Warbler, to Stephen Maxwell for the picture of the Swallow and to Gareth Platt for the picture of the Mediterranean Gulls.

Bird News Thursday 11th May / Black Stork

A Black Stork flew east past the east light at Rathlin this morning at 11:03. This would be the first record for NI. Unfortunately the bird was heading in the direction of Scotland! (Ric Else and Hazel Watson). This is possibly the same bird that was seen on the 22nd April in Mayo (per Irish Birding).

A Yellow Wagtail was also seen on Rathlin. (Ric Else and Hazel Watson)

White-winged Black Tern was seen over Lough Beg. (David Steele)

Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were at Gosford Forest Park (John Anderson)

Three Cuckoos were sighted at Murlough Nature Reserve. (C and T Haire)

The Bann estuary had c900 Dunlin, 50 Sanderling, 3 Whimbrel, 50 Ringed Plover; also 1 Grey Plover still in non-breeding plumage. Altikeeragh high ground above Downhill held 3 Cuckoos. (Hill Dick/Peter Robinson)

Thanks to Ric Else for this pic of the Black Stork:


Bird News Wednesday 10th May

A Pectoral Sandpiper and two Wood Sandpipers were at the south west corner of Lough Beg this afternoon (Davy Hunter)

The first two Spotted Flycatchers of the year were on Rathlin island this morning. Also two Grasshopper Warblers, a Redwing, and an increase in waders with 3 Sanderling, 3 Whimbrel and 54 Dunlin. (Ric Else and Hazel Watson).

2 summer plumage Great Northern Diver were very close inshore at Ballygalley, Co Antrim. (Ian Enlander).

Two Ospreys were over Lough Beg this evening. The Pectoral Sandpiper and the Wood Sandpipers were present but flew off at 7.30 and 8.00 respectively. (David Steele).

Thanks to Noeni Bryars for the picture of a Dunlin and to Ric Else for the picture of the Sanderling.


Bird News Tuesday 9th May

Late news for yesterday was that a Hoopoe was seen near the entrance to Tubbys Farm, Hillsborough, Co Down. (per Eric Randall)

A White-billed Diver was seen off Tory Island (Robert Vaughan)

A Grasshopper Warbler, Whinchat, Jackdaw and two late Fieldfares were at the west end of Rathlin this morning. Four Common Sandpipers and a Grey Wagtail were at the harbour. Redwing and Whinchat were seen yesterday, plus a little influx of Whitethroats and Blackcaps. It has been a good week for Whinchats with possibly as many as nine different individuals seen around the island. (Ric Else and Hazel Watson)
12 Brent Geese were still present at Kinnegar shore: 2 Ad. Dark-bellied Brents plus 10 Pale-bellied Brents today. (Tom Ennis)
The Marsh Sandpiper was still at the Swords Estuary today.

Thanks to Rod Gillan for these pics of Common Terns at RSPB WoW: