A Hen Harrier was seen half a mile east of Groomsport this afternoon. (Geoff Jones)
A Whimbrel was among good numbers of Curlew and Oystercatchers at Belfast WOW this morning. (Derek Polley).
5 Whimbrel and 20 Knot along with good numbers of Sandwich Terns, a few Common Terns and a single Arctic Tern were at Kinnegar shore this morning. (George Gordon/Derek Polley).
A flock of 37 Brent Geese arrived at the north end of Strangford Lough this morning. (Dougie Gamble).
5 Whimbrel and a Little Egret were at Sheeplands in Co. Down. (Philip McErlean).
Thanks to Ian Jackson for the picture of a Razorbill and to Philip McErlean for the picture of the Whimbrel:
Irish Whale and Dolphin Group together with The Conservation Volunteers NI are running a training day this Saturday at Crawfordsburn Country Park visitors centre
Irish Sea Mammals - talk followed by seawatch at Grey Point
Crawfordsburn Country Park
Free event but numbers limited so please book through
An adult Med Gull was at the KFC in Antrim (Gareth Platt)
A 2nd calendar year Mediterranean Gull was at Kinnegar shore this afternoon, see picture below. (Gareth Platt).
Thanks to John Moore for the picture of the Willow Warbler, to Gareth Platt for the picture of the Mediterranean Gull and to Michael Latham for the pictures of the Whimbrel and Greenshank:
Reed Warblers are still showing in the reed bed around Kinnegoe hide at Oxford Island, see picture below. (Garry Armstrong).
A Great Spotted Woodpecker was near Kinnegoe Hide early this morning, a male Scaup was off the hide. A Ruff and a Black-tailed Godwit were at Croaghan. Two Spotted Flycatchers were along the west shore of Lough Neagh and a 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull was with Black-headed gulls at Ellis Cut. (Oscar Campbell).
A Great Skua was seen at Groomsport and 6 Storm Petrel at Burial Island.(Richard Weyl)
And thanks to Thomas Campbell for the pictures of the Gannet and the Sandwich Tern:
|Yellowhammer - Alan Bates|
Three key farmland bird species increased in number over a five-year period in response to an agri-environment scheme (AES), according to a study by the RSPB.
Yellowhammers, house sparrows and tree sparrows rose in abundance in farms taking part in the project across east County Down. Yellowhammers – a red-listed species (a bird of high conservation concern) which had been in sharp decline – were up by an impressive 78% between 2006 and 2011. Yet yellowhammer numbers continue to decline in the wider countryside where measures are not in place.
With the opening this week of the Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS), RSPB NI is encouraging farmers to sign up for this scheme that compensates landowners for undertaking work to enhance biodiversity and water quality.
EFS, administered by the Department of Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), is open to all active farmers who have management control of at least three hectares of eligible farmland. Key options in EFS highlighted by RSPB NI are provision of winter feed crop for wild birds, retention of winter stubble, creation of arable margins and creation of pollinator margins.
The RSPB farmland bird study, the first of its kind to be carried out on the island of Ireland, included face-to-face advisory work and showed that AES land management can improve the population status of farmland bird species. As well as the surge in yellowhammer numbers on farms taking part in the AES, house sparrows were up 46% and tree sparrows up 207% in the five-year period.
Kendrew Colhoun, RSPB Senior Conservation Scientist, said: “Our study was designed to evaluate whether the last AES options led to increases in the priority species the options were targeted at - and our conclusion was a resounding ‘yes’.
“We see the EFS as a critical component as part of our work to maintain biodiversity across the countryside in Northern Ireland. Our study provides unequivocal evidence that AES can deliver for key species if the correct mix of EFS options (such as ones to provide summer and winter food and nesting habitat) are targeted to the right places and coupled with advice.”
The study assessed whether changes in the abundance of priority farmland bird species differed over a five-year period between farms under AES management and a similar sample of farms not subject to the management. It was conducted in County Down, one of the last remaining areas of lowland mixed arable farmland in Northern Ireland. Three target species (house sparrows, tree sparrows and yellowhammers) showed more positive increases in abundance on the AES farms.
Prior to the current EFS being made available last year, there had been a couple of years without an available AES and this will have had a negative impact on species including the yellowhammer.
Farmer Jack Kelly, who has a farm outside Downpatrick, has employed a range of wider options on his land - including wild bird cover, overwintering stubbles, rough grass margins, pollen and nectar margins, annual wildflower margins, native hedging and a hay meadow.
Jack Kelly said: “The agri-environmental scheme has been beneficial for us, providing the opportunity to help wildlife on areas of our land which may not be as productive as other areas. We were able to utilise field margins or awkward corners and turn them into havens for wildlife. The overwintered stubbles and wild bird cover plot provides my family and myself with a great spectacle over the winter when hundreds of birds come to feed on the seed. It works well within our farming practices and we would encourage other farmers to make the most of the EFS.”
Sean Woods, RSPB NI Conservation Advisor added: “The opening of the wider EFS provides the opportunity for farmers to help some of our most important species such as the yellowhammer, while receiving a financial reward. Many of our iconic farmland wildlife species rely on farmers utilising measures such as those found in the scheme. We are urging as many farmers as possible to enter EFS to help nature thrive on their land and we would also like to thank the forty-plus farmers that took part in the original research project.”
|Farmer Jack Kelly (left), his son Adam Kelly (right) and Sean Woods (RSPB Conservation Advisor, centre).|
This morning a female or juvenile Whinchat was on the beach at Newcastle in front of the golf links. (Danny Baillie).
The juvenile Roseate Tern was still at Kinnegar shore, see picture below. (Michael Latham)
Thanks to Ronnie Snoddy for the picture of the Hen Harrier, to Ginny McKee for the pictures of the Red Grouse and the Ringed Plover, to Wilf Swain for the picture of the Wheatear and to Michael Latham for the picture of the juvenile Roseate Tern:
A Green Sandpiper was in the SW corner of Lough Beg this evening.(David Steele)
This is our third trip to this fascinating island off the north coast of Donegal. On previous visits we have seen nesting Great Skuas (two pairs with a chick each), a pair of Chough, Storm Petrels (which nest on the island), Bootle Nosed Dolphins, Red Deer and Grey Seals. In addition to visiting Innishrahull we will also use chum to attract Petrels and Shearwaters to our boat. For further information contact Jim Wells on 07856235144.
A Ruff was at Myroe (Michael Latham \ Michael Savage)
A juvenile Roseate Tern was at Kinnegar this afternoon (Michael Latham)
Thanks to Michael Latham for this pic of the Ruff:
Greenshank, Thomas Campbell:
A juvenile Cuckoo was at Banagher Glen. Up to 6 Ruff was with approximately 100 Golden Plover at Myroe. (Lindsay Hodges).
Yesterday 200 Whimbrel and a Little Gull were at Dunfanaghy (Oscar Campbell)
Thanks to Lindsay for the pictures of the Cuckoo and a Kestrel and to Wilf Swain for the picture of the Greenfinch:
The Osprey at Lough Beg was seen briefly and distantly again today, see picture below. (Thomas Campbell).
Rathlin had a Hen Harrier and a Sooty Shearwater. (Ric and Hazel)
A female Marsh Harrier was seen over Reedy Flats.(Davy Knight)
Sandy Bay, Larne had 2 Sanderling,14 Dunlin,12 Ringed Plover and 7 Turnstone. Glynn had 7 Greenshank, 114 Red-breasted Merganser and a Whimbrel. (Gerald McGeehan/Shireley Dunlop)
A Reed Warbler was at the hide at the Quoile today. (Michael Latham).
A Common Sandpiper was on the Lagan in Lisburn between the Union and Moores bridges. (Eric Randall).
Several Reed Warblers were around the Kinnegoe hide at Oxford Island, see picture below. (Garry Armstrong).
One of the Reed Warblers at Oxford Island and thanks to Michael Latham for the picture of the Sedge Warbler, to Linda Thompson for the picture of the Whimbrel and to Thomas Campbell for the pictures of the Blackcap and the Grey Wagtail:
The Wood Sandpiper and a Green Sandpiper where still in SW corner of Lough Beg, an Osprey was also seen.(David Steele)
5 Tree Sparrows were in a crop field at St John's Point. (Philip Watson).
A family party of Sparrowhawks was moving through Ormeau Park in Belfast this morning. (Andrew Johnston).
The juvenile Mediterranean Gull was still at East Strand car-park in Portrush. (Colin Guy)
Thanks to Christine Cassidy for the picture of the Peregrine, to Andrew Johnston for the picture of the Sparrowhawk, to Dick Glasgow for the picture of the Dunnock and to Colin Guy for the picture of the juvenile Mediterranean Gull :