Bird News Thursday 31st May

A great-spotted woodpecker is visiting a garden in Loughgall (Dennis Lavery).
Belfast Lough RSPB Reserve had male pochard, 200+ black-tailed godwit, 2 ringed plover, 15 dunlin, 5 pairs of Med gulls and young of coot, mute Swan (5) and black-headed gull.
Lower Lough Erne RSPB Reserve, Co. Fermanagh had a Knot (just the third county record), 2 Turnstones, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Greenshank (Brad Robson).

For the third year in a row a Common Gull has bred with a Mediterranean Gull in Antrim (Gareth Platt).

Thanks to Jonny Andrews for the photo of the Great Skuas on Rathlin Island and to Gareth Platt for the Common x Med Gull pairing.


Bird News Wednesday 30th May

No birds news so far today.

Copeland Bird Observatory will be running another day trip, weather permitting, to Old Lighthouse Island this Saturday 2nd June. This is a great opportunity to see Puffins and Manx Shearwater and visit a beautiful place. The trip will leave the Eisenhower pier in Bangor at 1000 and depart the island again at 1530 to return to Bangor by 1630. The cost of the trip will be £20pp and booking is essential. A full guided tour of the island will be included. You will need to bring your own refreshments and lunch, stout footwear and waterproofs in case of either rain or spray on the boat. If you want to book a place on the trip please contact the Bookings Secretary, at ‪‬. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Bird News Tuesday 29th May

Cuckoos were heard calling at Slieve Gullion and Camlough Lake this morning (Francis Carroll).

Late news of an Osprey at Lower Lough Erne on the 26th at Ferney Island (Gary Montgomery).

Bird News Sunday 27th May

A Crossbill and small numbers of Spotted Flycatchers were on Rathlin today (Ric Else).

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen at Scarva House (Karen Elliot).

Several Whinchats and a Cuckoo were in the Antrim Hills above Cushendun (Michael Latham).

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was along the riverside walk in Ballynahinch (Ian Jackson).

Two Mediterranean Gulls were at Castle Espie (Gareth Platt).

Bird News Saturday 26th May

No bird news so far today.

Thanks to Cameron Moore for the photo of the Whinchat, to Chris Babes for the Common Tern and to Thomas Campbell for the Skylark.

Bird News Friday 25th May

No bird news so far today.

Bird News Wednesday 23rd May

A 2nd year Marsh Harrier was on Rathlin this afternoon - probably same bird from earlier this week. A single Chough was seen calling over Church Bay (Colin Guy).

Bird News Tuesday 22 May

A 2nd year Iceland Gull was at Dunseverick Castle this evening (Colin Guy).

Unusual sight at Lough Beg today of a pair of Red-breasted merganser (Gareth Bareham)

Bird News Monday 21st May

A Marsh Harrier was on Rathlin Island (Ric Else and Hazel Watson).

A Long-eared Owl was at Oxford Island (Stephen Moore).

A drake Garganey at Belfast RSPB Reserve (John O'Boyle). 

Bird News Sunday 20th May

A second calendar year Glaucous gull and 35 Sanderling were at Knockinelder Bay (Richard Weyl).
A second calendar year Glaucous Gull was at Garron Point (Neal Warnock).
A Great Spotted Woodpecker was near Hilltown (William Smiton).
Thanks to Neal Warnock for the photo of the Glaucous Gull and Michael Latham for the Whinchat.


Bird News Saturday 19th May

Ring-tail Hen Harrier seen again on Copeland (CBO).
Cuckoo at Murlough this morning (Michael Latham).

Many thanks to Dick Glasgow for the photo of the Swift and to Stephen Maxwell for the Yellowhammer.


Bird News Friday 18th May

An adult Little Gull was at Swan Island, Strangford Lough (Ron Price et al).

A female Eastern Subalpine Warbler was on Tory Island (Brian McCloskey and Gerard Murray).

A female Hen Harrier was on Copeland Bird Observatory (Wes Smyth).

A pair of Whinchats were near Capanagh Forest in the Antrim Hills (Derek Polley).

Thanks to Brad Robson for this photo of a Garden Warbler from Lower Lough Erne RSPB Reserve.

Bird News Thursday 17th May

A drake Garganey was at Kinturk Flat, Lough Neagh today. 22 Whimbrel were at Lower Mullan, Lough Neagh (John O’Boyle)

A Great Skua flew east of Portstewart Head today, also a Red Throated Diver was off the Head (Sean Hickey)

Three White-billed Divers were off the east end of Tory Island today (Brian McCloskey)

A Cuckoo was at Altnahinch Dam (Joe Lamont)

11 Garden Warbler territories were on Lower Lough Erne Islands RSPB Reserve Co Fermanagh today (Brad Robson)

Thanks to Fulton Sommerville for this pic of a Sedge Warbler:

Bird News Wednesday 16th May

A White Stork was seen flying north near the A8, a short distance from Larne at 7pm this evening (Colin Guy)

An Osprey flew over Belfast tonight at 9 o clock, heading towards Belfast Lough (Stephen Corr)

Probable Common Redpoll that was on Rathlin, Patrick Barton:

Shelduck, Wilf Swain:

Bird News Tuesday 15th May.

A Little Ringed Plover was seen at Paddy's Dub, Lough Beg, although it is mobile.(David Steele)see bottom pic

A Hawfinch was visiting a garden in Glenhead Road, Glenwherry, Ballymena. (Gregory Moorehead) see photo below

A 2nd year Glaucous Gull was flying over Ballycastle Road, Coleraine.  Another 2nd year was seen flying over Gateside Road Coleraine later in the day - possibly the same Bird - (Colin Guy)

A male Mandarin was between Shawsbridge and the Minnowburn car park. The bird also flew so not pinioned (Sam Thomas)
On Sunday a Common (Mealy) Redpoll was at Kebble on Rathlin. (Patrick Barton).

Bird News Monday 14th May

A 2nd year Mediterranean Gull is attempting to breed with a Black-headed Gull at Castle Espie, see picture below. (Jonathan Clark)

Bird News Sunday 13th May

RSPB WoW had this morning, a 2nd summer Little Gull and 16 Med gulls - 13 adult, 2 1st year and a 2nd year. (Stuart McKee)

A Red Kite was over the centre of Lisburn this morning.(Eric Randall)

The Corncrake continues to call on Rathlin (Daniel Newton)

Two White-billed Divers were off Tory Island (Brian Carruthers)

A 3rd year Iceland Gull was near Dunseverick Harbour.  Yesterday a Tree Pipit was seen briefly bathing at a puddle on the White Rocks Road Portrush (Colin Guy)

Thanks to John Moore for this pic of a Whitethroat:

Kestrel, Wilf Swain:

Bird News Saturday 12th May

A female hybrid aythia showing characteristics of Pochard and Tufted Duck was at the Quoile this morning; A 2cy Iceland Gull and 21 Whimbrel were in Killough Harbour (Chris Murphy)

A female Whinchat was on Lighthouse Island CBO.

2 Red Kite where near Katesbridge and a Cuckoo at Murlough Nature reserve.(Bill Guiller)

Brackagh Reserve had a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a pair of Bullfinch (Peter Guy)

A male Bluethroat has been reported below the caravan site behind the low wall at Gyles Quay, Co Louth. (Louth Bird News)

A Hen Harrier was seen over Bangor this afternoon, it was being mobbed by a Sparrowhawk.(James McClean)

Red Kite - Bill Guiller.

Bird News Friday 11th May

A Pomarine and Arctic Skua were seen flying over Mew Island this morning. A Little Gull was also seen (CBO).

Another Tree Pipit was on Rathlin this evening. (Ric Else & Hazel Watson).

Bird News Thursday 10th May

The best around Kearney Village was 2 male Wheatears, 4 Whimbrel and 2 Stock Doves. (Robert Hart, Michael Richardson and Fulton Somerville)

A Spotted Flycatcher was seen in Slieve Gullion forest park this morning. (Frank Carroll)

2 Cuckoos were calling near the Ballynulto Road, Antrim Hills this morning (Brenda Campbell)

RSPB WoW was relatively quiet this morning with 5 Shoveler, 20+ Common Terns and 3 Arctic Terns. There were at least 6 Mediterranean Gulls but no sign of the Little Gulls in the morning. There were however 1400+ Black-headed Gulls (Derek Polley)

Black Guillemot, Bangor, Jeff Silvers:

Wheatear, Paul & Niall Mulvenna:

Bird News Wednesday 9th May

A Cuckoo was calling at Drumack Road, Rasharkin. (John Loughlin).

Thanks to Ian Jackson for the picture of the Wheatear:

Bird News Tuesday 8th May

2 Cuckoos were at Murlough NNR this morning  (Chris Henry)

2 Whinchat were in the Antrim Hills bear Capanagh (Paulina A’Damato / Antrim Coast Pics)

A Chough was at Fair Head this evening around 6:45pm (Robert Plant)

Thanks to Paulina for the pic of the Whinchats:

Bird News Monday 7th May

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen flying north on Rathlin (Neal Warnock)

Little Gull still at the WOW reserve in Belfast.(Michael Latham)see pic below.

A Cuckoo was calling nr the Straid Rd at Clare Forest, Ballycastle.(James Shields)

Another Cuckoo was seen on the road from Comber to Killyleagh .(Margaret Adamson)

Wilton Garry and myself would like to thank everyone who send in reports and photographs, it benefits the wider birding circle, so please keep sending them in, it's all very much appreciated.  

Bird News Sunday 6th May

Glenhead Road, Glenwherry had four Wheatear, three Crossbills  (2 ad and a juv ) and a Cuckoo this morning. (Richard Gray)

RSPB WoW has the pair of Little Gulls and 11 Mediterranean Gulls (Garry Armstrong)

Two Reed Warblers were singing at Kinnegar Pools this afternoon. (Clive Mellon)

Tory Island had a juv White-billed Diver at the east end (Robert Vaughan). Yesterday an adult was also seen (Ger Murray)

Fanad Head had a first winter Glaucous Gull, 2 Corncrake and 30+ Long-tailed Duck in summer plumage (Wilton Farrelly).

Three Crossbill were at Slievanora, see picture below. (Michael Latham).

A 2nd year Iceland Gull was near the Giants Causeway and a 3rd year Glaucous Gull near Dunseverick Castle. (Colin Guy)

The Corncrake is still calling on Rathlin (Kevin Kirkham-Brown)

Thanks to Michael Latham for the picture of the Crossbill and to Mark Killops for the picture of the Swift:


Bird News Saturday 5th May

This morning a female Whinchat was on the beach at Newcastle, near Kent’s Amusements. Also an imm. Iceland gull off Newcastle harbour. (Danny Bailie).

Two Little Gulls were at RSPB Belfast Lough reserve, Sandwich, Arctic and Common Terns and a Common Sandpiper were also present, (Kevin Kirkham Brown/ Derek Polley).

The west end of Rathlin had a Wood Warbler, Garden Warbler, 2 Tree Pipits, 4 Spotted Flycatchers and good numbers of Willow Warblers and Blackcaps. (Ric Else & Hazel Watson)

Thanks to Ric Else for the pictures of the Wood Warbler and the Tree Pipit, to Kevin Kirkham-Brown for the picture of the Little Gull, to Wilf Swain for the pictures of the male Wheatear and the Willow Warbler and to Steve Grieve for the picture of the Kestrel:

Bird News Friday 4th May

A Mealy Redpoll is visiting a garden in Richhill, see picture below. (Andrew Poots).

An adult summer plumaged Little Stint was at Paddy's Dub, Lough Beg this evening. (David Steele).

A Raven was on City Hall in Belfast this afternoon. (Janice Ritchie).

Bird News Thursday 3rd May

A Red Kite was reported from Dromore Road, Lurgan (Colin Douglas)

Arctic Terns were back at RSPB WoW (Daniel Newton) and at least 8 Mediterranean Gulls were seen (Derek Polley)

Bird News Wednesday 2nd May

The Dotterel were still present this afternoon at Myroe (Richard Donaghy / John Cusack)

The Dark-bellied Brent was still in Dundrum South Inner Bay today, along with 52 Light-bellied birds. 10 Whimbrel were also at the high tide roost (David Nixon)

Dotterel, Myroe - Richard Donaghey:

Dark-bellied Brent, David Nixon:

Bird News Tuesday 1st May

A Spotted Flycatcher was seen along the Riverside Walk, Ballynahinch this afternoon. (Ian Jackson).

Both a White-tailed Eagle and a Red Kite were on Rathlin today. (Ric Else & Hazel Watson).

Thanks to Wilf Swain for the picture of the Sparrowhawk:

Corncrake makes its north coast comeback!

The distinctive call of one of our rarest and most secretive birds has returned to Rathlin Island.

The unmistakable “crex-crex” call of the corncrake has been heard on the island, much earlier in the season than usual, prompting hopes that this iconic bird has successfully bred.

The corncrake is a red-listed species (a bird of high conservation concern) and while many people can fondly remember hearing its call in years gone by, Rathlin is the only place in Northern Ireland where the birds have been heard in recent years. Corncrakes are highly secretive and like to settle in early growing tall vegetation including nettles, cow parsley and irises.

Over the weekend RSPB staff and volunteers confirmed that the call was heard on the western end of the island – the same location as last year and in 2016.

Liam McFaul, RSPB NI Rathlin Island warden, said: “It’s fantastic news. It’s very early in the season to have a bird come back, so this is really encouraging. Corncrakes are territorial so they always come back to the place where they were either breeding or where they hatched. We’d normally first hear the call in mid-to-late May.

“Only the male corncrake calls, so hopefully this means he is home to roost. There’s a chance that this could be the offspring of the male that we’ve heard calling over the last couple of years. And because it’s so early in the season, its call could attract more corncrakes to Rathlin.”

Historically, corncrakes were common across Rathlin but they have gone into sharp decline since the 1980s. By 1989 they stopped returning on their migratory route from Africa as a regular breeder.

The birds have turned up sporadically since and the last confirmed breeding corncrakes on the island were recorded in 2000. A bird was heard calling in 2014 and again in 2016 and 2017.

However, the species can still be found in large numbers on the west coast of Scotland and in Donegal.

Over the last 15 years, RSPB NI has been engaged in specific habitat management on Rathlin in an effort to re-establish a sustainable breeding corncrake population in Northern Ireland.

RSPB NI staff and volunteers have been working hard to provide more of the breeding environment that corncrakes prefer – including suitable early vegetation cover on the island.

“We were actually involved in a project to plant nettles in the area where the corncrake can be heard now, so it could well be in those nettles that he’s making his home,” added Liam. “All of this work we’re doing is for the long-haul and the goal is to have a sustainable corncrake population on Rathlin again.

“The fact that this one is in the same area is a good indicator that breeding has been successful. So we can almost be sure that it bred last year, because the male was heard calling for 66 consecutive days.

“It’s definitely good news. If we have an established corncrake population here it could be a big tourism benefit for Rathlin.

People are known to travel to Tory Island in Donegal just because of the corncrakes there.

“It’s still early in the season, so it could well be that we hear another corncrake somewhere else on the island. That would be a really encouraging sign that the work we’re is doing for corncrakes is making a difference.”

Corncrakes are easily spooked, so members of the public are asked not to try and get in any way close to the bird if they hear its call as it is on private land and it is really important that the bird is not disturbed.