May we wish everyone a peaceful, prosperous and bird filled New Year

Something different!
Albinistic Chaffinch, Hillsborough, Jeff Higgott

Bird News Friday 31st December

5 Velvet Scoter and 2 LT Duck were seen off Murlough (Oscar Campbell)
An impressive count of 15+ Goosanders were on the River Main at the footbridge between Randalstown Forest and Shanes Castle. Also a Dipper there. 40+ Jays in Randalstown Forest. Another Goosander and 7 Gadwall were west of Cranfield Point. (Dermot Hughes)
The male Feruginous Duck (and hybrid), and a Mealy Redpoll were at Craigavon North Lake.
A female Smew, two female and one male Goosander were at Lough Island Reavy Co. Down
Six Little Egret were seen from Castle Espie, Co. Down.
30 Slavonian Grebes were between Ballykelly and the Roe Estuary, Lough Foyle. A female Merlin and a Peregrine were at Ballykelly. 4 Yellowhammer were nearby at Broighter Rd. Another Peregrine was at Myroe. The adult Ring-billed Gull was still at East Strand car park, Portrush (Neal Warnock)
On the Antrim side of Belfast Lough 1,178 Scaup and a male LT Duck were off
Loughshore Park. The intermedius type LBB Gull was still at Whitehouse
Lagoon (Stuart McKee).

In south Down 800 Common Scoter (in two flocks) were off Murlough along with 100 GC Grebe, 8 Scaup, 10 RT Diver and a male LT Duck. 250 Sanderling, 100 Knot and 50 Dunlin were on the beach. An even larger flock of Common Scoter was off Tyrella (Keith Bennett).

8 Brambling were in a garden in Ballyholme, Bangor.

Michael Stinson has a roost of 21 Wrens using the eaves of his house at Lower Lough Erne. This months Birdwatch magazine contains an excellent article on bird roosts.

Ring -billed Gull, Whitehouse Lagoon, Jeff Higgott
1 no.Great Northern Diver at Ballygally and another 3 at Carnlough along with 10-14 Bottlenose Dolphins (Pauline Majury)
May we wish everyone a peaceful, prosperous and bird filled New Year.

Bird News Thursday 30th December

10 Waxwings were in flight along the Shore Road near Rathcoole and an Intermedius type Lesser Black Backed Gull was at Whitehouse Lagoon. (Stuart McKee)
A female Blackcap was in a garden in Ballycastle. (P Ewart).
Greyabbey: this morning 4 Pink-footed Geese and 1 Greenland white-front with greylags on field between
Greyabbey and Mount Stewart. No sign of any snow goose this morning. 1 little egret at Ann's point.
Kircubbin: little egret at marsh by Maxol. Portaferry: 1 Sandwich tern at marina. Ballyquintin: 7 woodcock. Cloughey: 1 little egret at beach pool.
Kirkistown: 500 golden plover. Millin bay: 4 yellowhammer and a stock dove on fields just S of bay. Greyabbey bay: 7 Slavonian grebe. (Keith Bennett)
Also the White Chaffinch still 2 Blackcaps in a private garden in Hillsborough (Jeff Higgott)
A single Twite at Ballyhornan village - only 1 Skylark at Killard, no sign of finches; single sandwich tern at Mill Quarter Bay - also a lone stonechat near Kilclief. (Dermot Hughes)
Yesterday 2 Brambling at the beech trees in Cargan, and 15 Crossbill in the southern part of Glenariff forest near Dungonnell Dam (Dermot Hughes)

Bird News Wednesday 29th December

The Snow Goose was still at Anns Point \ Mount Stewart, Strangford Lough Co. Down along with the 4 Pink Feet and a Greenland White-front
16 Slavonian Grebe and a Peregrine Falcon were at Greyabbey Bay South in Strangford Lough and 2 GN Diver, 2 BT Diver and a Slavonian Grebe at
Kircubbin (Oscar Campbell, Kerry Leonard).
The 1W Ring-billed Gull was still at Whitehouse Lagoon in Belfast (Jeff Higgott, Oscar Campbell, Kerry Leonard).
10 Brambling, 8 Siskin, a male Blackcap, 4 Lesser Redpoll, 20 Goldfinch. 6 Chaffinch and 6 Greenfinch were in a garden in Carrickfergus (Shirley
18 Tree Sparrow were in a garden in Castlerock (Mervyn Guthrie).
8 Twite were at the old sewage outlet at Luke's Point, Ballyholme Bay in Bangor.
The White-cheeked Turaco (present from 2003) has survived this winter so far and was seen in a garden at Annahilt yesterday (Chris Murphy).
A Kingfisher and 9 Little Grebe were at the mouth of the Inver in Larne (David Gillespie)

It is with the deepest regret to announce the death on 23rd December 2010 of Trevor Boyd of Helens Bay, Co. Down. Trevor was a founder member of the Northern 
Ireland Branch of Butterfly Conservation and had variously been Chairman. He has also been a member of the Belfast Naturalists Field Club for 
many years. A Funeral service is being held on Friday.

Pintail - Strangford Lough, George McKee

On this date.

The 28th December 1988 saw the first Laughing Gull for the province, found in Lurgan Park Lake Co. Armagh, it remained until the 7th Jan 89. The nineties saw a run of records when this american gull was seen nearly annually, but then records dried up and it wasn't until this year that we had a long overdue one which was found in Ballycastle. The first for Ireland was a bird found in Co.Cork in Aug.1968 and the first for Britain was found in Sussex in July 1923.
(The photo above is of this year's Ballycastle bird )

Bird News Tuesday 28th December

A White phase Snow Goose was with 300 Greylag geese between Greyabbey and Anns Point, Strangford, at J570680 between 1100 and 1400. Ask permission to park at end of lane. Also 4 Pink-footed Geese and 1 Greenland White-fronts. 18 Slavonian Grebe and 4 Black-Throated Diver at nearby Greyabbey Bay. (Richard Weyl)
10 Brambling,2 Waxwing, and a Siskin were in a garden at Prospect Road in Carrickfergus.(P.Majury)
1w RB Gull and an ad Med.Gull were at Whitehouse Lagoon in Belfast. A Blackcap and a near pure white Chaffinch were in a garden in Hillsborough.(Jeff Higgott)
4 Brambling were in a garden in Ballyholme.
Another Brambling was in a garden this time in Coleraine.(irishbirding)
3 Twite and a Skylark at Sandy Bay, Male and female Brambling and a Yellowhammer at Curran Point, Larne Lough (Neal Warnock).
100 Siskin were at Antrim Marina (feeding on Alder) 50 Linnet and 50 Goldfinch were in gardens in and around the Parkhill Road in Antrim.
.A Little Egret,2 Stonechat,1 Bar-tailed Godwit,6 Brent, 50 Dunlin, and Turnstone were at Killard Point,the large flock of Woodcock that gathered there over the last few weeks have disappeared.(D.Gillespie)
60 Skylark were along Springwell Road in Groomsport and 30 Siskin just off the ring road at Balloo in Bangor.(G.Henderson)
Late news for yesterday from Larne Lough:
1 redhead Goosander, mouth of the Inver River, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Greenshank and a Whooper Swan at Glynn Station, 4 Knot and a Carrion Crow south of Ballycarry Bridge. 210 Greylag, 43 Pink-footed Geese, 8 Whooper Swans and a Little Egret at Church Bay. (All Neal Warnock)

Work of the Northern Ireland Bird Photographers

If you photograph birds then you should consider entering some of your shots in the annual NIOC Bird Photograph competition which is being held on 23rd March 2011. There are categories for beginners, intermediates and advanced photographers and also for digiscopers. You can download an entry form here:

Bird News Monday 27th December

A 1st winter male Goosander and a male Brambling were at Reedy Flats, Lough Neagh.
A Waxwing was seen at Cabin Hill Gardens, Belfast
20/30 Waxwings were at Leg Park beside the Model School in Carrickfergus (Cameron Moore)
6 Waxwings were along the avenue beside the golf club also in Carrickfergus (Edward Sterling)
4 Waxwing were in Larne (Bertie Spence)
2 Brambling and 2 Blackcaps were in a garden at Ballyholme in Bangor.
4 Brambling, 2 Tree Sparrows, 2 Fieldfares and a Mistle Thrush were in a garden outside Downpatrick and at Killard there were 21 Woodcock, (down from 72 yesterday), 2 Grey Plover, 16 Ringed Plover, 60+ Dunlin, 80 Turnstone, and 5 Purple Sandpiper. (Craig Nash).
There were 5 Longtailed Ducks, 2 male and 3 female at Fishermens Quay, Carrickfergus.

A number of photographs have been added to our 'Recent Photographs' page (click on the page link above). In particular look out for Mark Killops atmospheric winter bird shots!

Blue Tit - Mark Killops

Bird News for Sunday 26th Dec.

Andrew Poots had at least 40 Brambling in his Garden at Richhill, Co. Armagh. An impressive garden record

A male Brambling was visiting a garden in Thornhill Drive, Magherafelt along with around 50 Chaffinch, over the last few weeks it has been amazing how many Bramblings have been reported from gardens, all down of course due to the severe weather that has gripped the country.
At Strangford Lough a BT Diver was at Horse Island and 2 Slav. Grebes and 2 Scaup at Greyabbey Bay.(R.Weyl)
4 Brambling were visiting a garden in Dunmurry.(C.Acheson)
2 fem/imm Goosander were along the River Maine at Slaght Bridge.(D.Steele)

Our thanks to Joe Devlin who kindly sent in this photograph of a Woodcock which he took on farmland at Poyntzpass Co.Down to-day.

Bird News 25th December

33 Brambling (two thirds male and one ringed) were in a garden in Carrickfergus. 3 Fieldfare, 2 male Siskin and 8 Lesser Redpoll were also
seen (Shirley Dunlop).
In south Down a Tree Sparrow (a new garden bird there) and Bramblings were at Killough. A Shoveler, Woodcock and 4 Tufted Duck were at Killough
Harbour. 22 Grey Heron, a female Gadwall and a female Scaup were at Ardglass Harbour. Lots of Snipe, 10 Woodcock, a Whooper Swan, Merlin, Buzzard, Kestrel and
Sparrowhawk were between Ballyhornan and Killard (the Snipe and Woodcock were along the side of the road). 4 Greylag were in fields at Kilclief and a
few Yellowhammers and Tree Sparrows also noted (all Chris Murphy).
A Blackcap was in a garden along Skegoneill Avenue in Belfast (Stuart McKee)
and a Fieldfare in a garden at Island Magee (Robert McDowell).
Dargan Bay, Belfast, this morning had 100+ Pochard in with the usual 500+ Scaup and 100 Tufted Duck. 
Also 25 Coot. 250 Dunlin at Whitehouse lagoon. (Keith Bennett)


For most of us views of Woodcock tend to be at dusk as birds leave wooded areas to feed in fields at night. However with this cold snap (the coldest December on record?), birds have been pushed to coastal areas and gardens. Craig Nash has below taken some superb photos of Woodcock.


Bird News Friday 24th December

30 Brambling, 35 Tree Sparrow and 3 Yellowhammer were in the garden of Andrew Poots in Richhill, Co.Armagh
20 Waxwing Ballyvoy, 10 Ballycastle, Co. Antrim (Irish Birding) 
Killard point - at least 10 woodcock, 50 snipe (they were everywhere), 100s skylarks, 4 yellowhammer, 1 merlin, 1 grey plover, 10s redwing, Portaferry - 1 woodcock at edge of A20 just N of town, Kilclief - 1 little egret flew by, 1 greenshank, Island Park, Newcastle - 1 female brambling, 10s redwing, 5 lesser redpoll (all Keith Bennett)
1 Snow Bunting with the large flock of Skylark (600+) outside Coleraine (see previous news item from Wednesday).
3 Little egret at the Floodgates today (R Scott) 
6 Brambling (3 of them male) and a Meadow Pipit were in a garden in Killough (Chris Murphy). 
3 Brambling were in a garden in Waterloo Park in Belfast and a Meadow Pipit along the North Circular Road (Larry Toal). 
A male Brambling was in a garden near the sports field at Lagan Valley Country Park (David Crea). 
A Snipe was at the Shimna Bridge in Newcastle and another Snipe in a field beside the east edge of Tollymore Forest Park (Ann McComb)
40 no. snipe were feeding on roadside verges and fields between Carnfunnock and Drumnagreagh hotel, Co. Antrim today.
Snipe - Pauline Majury

Happy Christmas from all at the NIBA \ NI Birds Blog

From all at the NIBA and the NI Birds Blog we would like to wish you a happy Christmas and a peaceful and bird filled new year. We would also like to THANK EVERYONE who has, over the last 12 months, helped in any shape or form - whether it be reporting sightings, Flightline, compiling the bird report, providing photographs or general news. As a voluntary service, we rely on your help and assistance and we all collectively get more out of our hobby with your support and contribution.
As ever, enjoy your birding, no matter what the weather is.

Fieldfare, Danny Boyd

Bird News Thursday 23rd December

A Waxwing was in a garden at Ballygally, Co. Antrim (Neal Warnock)
A Goosander, River Derg near Killeter Co. Tyrone and a Hen Harrier (Male) near Killeter. (Tyrone Nelson)
10 PF Geese were seen in flight at Belfast Lough RSPB Reserve (Gerard McGeehan). 
A Waxwing, Blackcap and large numbers of LT Tit were in a garden in Comber (Chris Shaw).
11 Brambling were at Monea in Fermanagh (Brad Robson).
At Larne Lough 186 Greylag were at Church Bay and 69 PF Geese in the next field (Cameron Moore).
37 Brambling were in a garden at Island Magee. Of those ringed there all were birds of the year and females outnumbered males by 5:1 (David Galbraith).
18 Brambling were in a garden in Whitehead (Cameron Moore).
On Tuesday a Little Auk was seen at the Maidens off Larne (David Galbraith).
3 Waxwings in the front of a garden at Heston Drive , Carrickfergus. 
Waxwing - Neal Warnock

Bird News Wednesday 22nd December

3 Short-eared Owls, a Merlin, large numbers of woodcock and Snipe, as well as a large flock of Skylarks and Redwing were at Killard (C.Nash)
10 Waxwings and 150 Redwing were at the Fortwilliam roundabout along the M2. (Stuart McKee).
Other Waxwings, probably part of the flock seen beside the M2 at Glengormley earlier, were on the Belfast side of the Sandy Knowes exit of the M2 at 9.00am. (Richard Grey)
A garden in Carnalea, Bangor has had regular visits from 3 Tree Sparrows, 3 Brambling (1F and 2 M) feeding on Niger seed, a female Blackcap, 2 - 3 Lesser Redpoll, up to 6 Redwing and occasional Fieldfare. (Derek Polley)
A Brambling was in a garden in Sion Mills. (H Harkness)
3 Woodcock were at Stormont in Dundonald. (Paul McCullough).
A garden in Brunswick Road, Bangor has had 3 Blackcaps (D Polley)
A Yellowhammer (locally uncommon) was at Carnfunock Country Park, Co. Antrim, feeding with Skylarks and Reed Buntings (Neal Warnock)
60 Redwings and 6/8 Mistle Thrushes were at Abbey Home in Newtownards. (Jim Whitla)
A Jack Snipe flew past a car on Kings Road and flew back in the direction of Dundonald. (Robert McDowell)

Blackcap - Derek Polley

Brambling - Derek Polley

More Waxwings

Many thanks to Allen Gillespie for these photos of birds from Sunday on the Whitewell Road, Belfast:

Impact of the cold Weather

The note below from Ken Perry shows the problems our birds are facing:

Yesterday (Monday afternoon) I decided to follow up on John Clarke's Sunday observations and found the Skylarks still feeding in a tightly-packed flock in the same area (about 50m north of the big roundabout on the Portrush side of Coleraine).  The main road between Coleraine and Portrush has been very slow in recent days with traffic passing by at <30mph.  The roads have been treated recently by the DOE with a 50/50 mix of grit and salt.  A low mix doesn't get rid of the compact skim of snow upon an underlying layer of ice so it's all quite dangerous.

However the main road (opposite two houses) adjoins a small 2-acre triangular field of rough stubble (covered with deep snow) with deep low hedges and suffice it to say that there were over a thousand passerines within the field foraging between and below the ground cover of stubble and weeds.  Clearly there must be the remains of some crop under the snow and 50 or so Woodpigeons were feeding away close to the smaller birds (800 Skylark,  50 Tree Sparrow,  40 Yellowhammer,  300 Chaffinches,   Stonechat 1).

I have never seen such a large gathering of Skylarks but that's only the beginning of the story as the larks were feeding out on the main road.  50 - 100 birds were playing games with the passing traffic.  It's a weird game as they forage directly in the path of the cars until the cars are so close they are likely to be hit.  Then they flush as one flock, rejoin their friends within the adjoining field and within moments a fresh group flies out into the road again.  This goes on all day as John and I discovered yesterday.

It may be that the DOE have used a type of grit which the larks find irresistable but as John discovered on Sunday cars were hitting some of the birds and bodies were strewn about.  The four injured/stunned birds that John brought home sadly died (John noted that the birds were very thin and in poor condition) and so I drop you this sad note just to flag up that this strange behaviour might be replicated elsewhere ..... ?

I've never seen anything like this before.  Very strange, and besides what were 800 skylarks doing in a Coleraine field in December !
Skylarks - John Clarke

Bird News for Tuesday 21st Dec.

6 Brambling, 40 Chaffinch, 1 Lesser Redpoll 1 Treecreeper, 4 Song Thrush, 4 Goldfinch and 5 Greenfinch were in a garden in Killough.(C.Murphy)

5 Waxwing and 3 Brambling were in a garden at Prospect rd, Carrickfergus (Pauline Majury).
Waxwing, Carrickfergus - Pasuline Majury

17 Brambling were in a garden in Whitehead.(C.Moore)

A Brambling was along Waterloo Road in Lisburn at the gates to the reservoir.

A Brambling was at Magheraveely, Co Fermanagh (Stephen Scarlett)

90 Pied Wagtail were seen going to roost outside Iceland in Bridge St Belfast. (D.Clarke)

Scores of Redwing were seen in the Ballysillan/Cavehill area of Belfast. (A.Elliott)

Yesterday a Waxwing was along the hedgerow nr Cushendall Boat Club (C.McNaughton)

It is ironic that on the shortest day of the year that temperatures would drop as low as the date.

On this date.

21st December 1957 was the date that the first Hooded Merganser turned up in the Province. It was found on Acton Lake Co.Armagh and it is probably one of our most controversial records. The identification is not a problem, but were they orginate from certainly is.
Hooded Mergansers are regularly kept in wildfowl collections for obvious reasons, so trying to differentiate between a genuine wild bird and an escaped \ captive one is very difficult for any bird committee. Having said that they do migrate down the eastern states of North America and any bird doing that surely have a chance of getting blown of course and landing in Britain/Ireland. Other North American wildfowl regularly turn up without ever being questioned, so was the 1957 record a wild bird? Who knows, lets give it the benefit of the doubt and say it was. It would take another 50 years before a HM was accepted onto the British List when in 2008 the BOU decided that birds which turned up on Outer Hebrides(2000) Northumberland (2002) and Shetland (2006) were thought to be of wild origin.

Bird News Monday 20th December

70/80 Waxwings were in trees along Derry Road, Glengormley at 3.30pm today.

4 Waxwings, a Snipe and a Blackcap were along Skegoniel Avenue in Belfast and 16 Skylarks flew over Antrim Road Waterworks. (Stuart McKee).

3 Bramblings were still at Randalslough near Monea in Co. Fermanagh. (Brad Robson).

A Brambling was still present at Islands Park, Newcastle, along with 12 Siskins, 6 Redpoll, 10 Goldfinch, 30 Redwing and 4 Fieldfare.

A pair of Bullfinch, 4 Little Grebe, 55 Teal and 40 Wigeon were at the Ardilea inlet, Co. Down.

8 Yellowhammer were in a private garden in Ardilea.

At Greenisland there were 20 Grey Plover and 2 Red Breasted Mergansers.

At Keel Point there were 69 Brent Geese, 13 Black Tailed Godwit, 12 Goldeneye and 4 Bullfinch.

26 Purple Sandpiper, 35 Turnstone and 26 Redshank were at Newcastle Rock Pool.

Our most stunning winter visitor ?

A few more images of to-day's Waxwings on the Whitewell Road. These stunning birds surely go down as one of best looking winter visitors, that is of course if you know different.

Bird News Sunday 19th December

The Ferruginous Duck was on the Closet River, Oxford Island, Lough Neagh (Garry Armstrong)
Circa 70 Waxwing were on the Whitewell Road, Belfast also a Blackcap was feeding in a garden beside the Waxwings (Ian Graham et al)
An estimated 800 Scaup were in Dargan Bay, Belfast (Wilton Farrelly)

Another 29 Waxwing were at Ballynure Co.Antrim (E.Flynn)

15 Waxwing, 20 LT Tit, 6 Fieldfare, 8 Redwing, and 4 Mistle Thrush were at Ballycastle(P.Ewart)

Around Belfast a Kingfisher was at Whitehouse Lagoon a female Blackcap at Hazelbank and 100 Tufted Duck amongst the huge Scaup flock at Dargan Bay(K.Bennett)

5 Brambling, 5 Fieldfare, 15 Redwing and 30 Lesser Redpoll were in a garden in Dunmurry (C.Acheson) - a pretty impressive garden list Chris.

A male Blackcap was at Scarva visitors centre and a Kingfisher at the canal.(Cairon Elliott)

A SE Owl was at Killard Co.Down with an impressive supporting cast which included 4 Woodcock, 25 Snipe, 3 Brambling, 3 Yellowhammer, 1 Merlin, and hundred's of Linnet, Goldfinch and Skylark. The female Smew was still at the Quoile pondage. (C.Nash)

A Sparrowhawk was in a garden in Bangor(F.Duffin)

Look out over the next couple of days for overwintering Blackcaps, the harsh weather is driving these birds into gardens in search for food.

For those who fancy a twitch the American Robin was seen to-day at Inishcrone in Sligo.

On this date.

18th December 1955 was the surprising late date that the first Greater Yellowlegs was seen in Northern Ireland. Found at Downpatrick Marshes Co.Down. Since that date there have been another 4 records. The last record was a well watched individual which turned up at the Quiole Pondage Co.Down in 2004 and it stayed from the 24th May until the 15th June.

Whitewell Road Waxwings

A few of the huge flock of Waxwings on the Whitewell Road, belfast to-day. Not too many berries left on the Hawthorn hedges so they well probably move on very shortly.

Bird News Saturday 18th December

16 Bramblings in a garden, Richhill, Co.Armagh. (Andrew Poots)
450+ Waxwing, the largest flock of the winter so far in Ireland, has been reported from the Whitewell Road, Belfast.
The redhead Smew was just below the Killyleagh Road bridge at the Quoile (Keith Bennett)

Waxwings were also in flight over Belfast Castle and 3 Brambling were in a garden in Waterloo Park in Belfast.(L.Toal)

In Ballymena a Waxwing was at Colonsay Park.(J.Larkin) and a Brambling, Redwing and 2 Blackcap in a garden along Ballymoney Road.(I.Miller)

An ad Med Gull was at Whiteabbey opposite the New Abbey takeaway(P.McCullough)

6 Brambling, 15 Redwing, 30 Lesser Redpoll and a Fieldfare were in a garden in Dunmurry and unusually for that area 3 Lapwing were seen in flight (C.Acheson)

4 Brambling were at Randalshough nr Monea in Fermanagh.(B.Robson)

A Fieldfare was in a garden in the Ballysillan area in Belfast (Andy Elliott).

2 Brambling, 4 Lesser Redpoll, 11 chaffinch , 6 goldfinch on feeders at Fourwinds, Belfast (Bryan Monson)

It's obvious because of the severe weather, that a lot of the reports of recent are off birds seen in peoples gardens. Andy's record above is a reminder to look out for winter Thrushes that come to our gardens looking for food. It was only yesterday that a flock of about 40 Redwing landed in my next door neighbour's garden in Belfast, but unfortunately they didn't stay long.
Brambling, Belfast - Danny Boyd

Bird News Friday 17th December

What was almost certainly a Bittern has been reported from a small lough on private farmland near Ballynahinch. (Ian Jackson).

50 Waxwings were in Larne. (Bertie Spence).
8 Bramblings were in a garden in Carrickfergus. (Shirley Dunlop).
3 Bramblings were at Sharman Park, Stranmillis, Belfast. (Peter Cush).
Single Bramblings were at Cyprus Avenue in Belfast, (Danny Boyd), and at Bowens Lane, Lurgan. (Stephen Hewitt).
The harsh weather has been pushing Fieldfares into gardens.

A single Waxwing was on the Belfast Road in Newtownabbey, near the old Montracon factory.
A male Blackcap was visiting a garden at Marguerite Close, Newcastle, 8 Long-tailed Tits were at feeders and 2 Bullfinches were also seen.
35 Skylark and 2 Little Egrets were at Dundrum Inner Bay South and 10 Redwing were just south of Clough.
Fieldfare - George McKee

Brambling & Greenfinch - Danny Boyd

Bird News Thursday 16th December

Well the weather forecasters have it correct - loads of snow tonight. As for the birds, todays news included:
A very high winter count of 68 Pink Footed Geese at Church Bay in Larne Lough (a
mile north of Ballycarry Bridge on the Island Magee side). 
A flock of 120 Greylag - considered Icelandic birds - was in the next field. 
2 Peregrine Falcon and 3 Greenshank were also noted. 200 Fieldfare and 200 Redwing were
near Mill Bay on Island Magee and 4 Brambling in a garden in Whitehead. (All Cameron Moore) 
Thanks to Cameron for these shots of the 1st winter Mediterranean Gull with a yellow leg ring that has been present at Ballycarry Bridge 
1st W Med Gull, Ballycarry Bridge, Larne L. - Cameron Moore

Foreign Bird Trip Reports

A number of people have emailed us asking about trips that local birders have been on. We have created a page dedicated to such reports and if you look at the top right of the page you can click on the item labeled 'Foreign Bird Reports' to access this page.
The purpose of the page is not to hold trip reports (this is already undertaken by some other excellent web sites e.g. Traveling Birder). Instead it is to give details on destinations and trips that local birders have visited in the hope that they can provide a point of contact if you are thinking about a future trip. In addition, with many countries now served by direct flights from Dublin and Belfast, more birding destinations are now 'closer' than ever. If you have a trip report that you would like to have a link to, please email us at:
Caspian Plover, Israel - Garry Armstrong

Bird News for 15th Dec.

Thanks to Craig Nash who sent in the above photo of the female Smew still present at the Quoile pondage, there was also 5 Goldcrest, 6 Bullfinch a Treecreeper and a Kingfisher.
12 Brambling were with 500 Chaffinch in a kale field at Slievekirk nr Derry. (D.Steele)
27 Waxwing were along the Ballycorr Road nr the old quarry in Ballyclare.(E.Flynn)
2 Brambling were still between Ballywalter and Greyabbey and a Grey Plover at Ballyquintin.
Along the North Coast 11 Slav. Grebes were off Ballykelly and a Dipper at the mouth of the river.The ad RB Gull was still at East Strand car park in Portrush.

Bird News Tuesday 14th December

The redhead Smew was just downstream of the bridge over the main road to Killyleagh at the river Quoile. (Spencer Marshall).

38 Twite, 2 Jacksnipe and 50 Snipe were at the small marsh near Newtownards airport at the north end of Strangford Lough. (Richard Weyl).

30 Siskin were at Castle Espie. (David Clarke).

A Mediterranean Gull was along the seafront at Portstewart. (Mathew Tickner).

The first winter Mediterranean Gull with the yellow ring was still at Ballycarry Bridge, Larne Lough. (Cameron Moore).

A Mealy Redpoll was in a garden in Coleraine, a Brambling was in the same garden last Friday. (Richard Hoy).

20 Waxwings were at the main Co-op on the Lisburn Road, Belfast. (Dave Allen).

Another 42 Waxwings were at Osborne Gardens, Lisburn Road, Belfast.

15 Waxwings were at the York Street flyover of the M2, another 8 or 9 Waxwings were along the Shore Road at Fortwilliam and a Woodcock flew over the Knockbracken Road. (David Clarke).

4 Brambling were with approximately 500 Chaffinches at Kiladeas, Co. Fermanagh and a Crossbill was in a private garden at Randalslough, Monea, Co. Fermanagh. (Brad Robson).

Bird Report

The latest copy of the Northern Ireland Bird Report is available for £10. If you email your name and address to we will send a copy out in good faith. This report is the result of work by not only the observers but also the voluntary team who work hard to produce it. As always, the contribution by everyone is appreciated!

Bird News Monday 13th December

The fem/imm Smew was on the Quoile River, Co. Down just below the Killyleagh Road bridge. (Ron Price)
An impressive count of 2500 Knot were at the Gasworks, Mount Stewart, Co Down (Ian Enlander)
A male Brambling was in a garden in Spa (David Nixon) and a Brambling was in a garden in Gilbourne in Gilnahirk in Belfast (Ron Price).

The 1W Mediterranean Gull (with a yellow ring) was seen again at Ballycarry Bridge in Larne Lough (Cameron Moore).

In Fermanagh 3 Red Grouse were on the Pettigo Plateau and 2 Woodcock at Springfield (Brad Robson).

Yesterday 220 Whooper Swans were in the fields near the car park at Islandhill at the north end of Strangford Lough (Dot Blakely). 

Thanks to Cecil Smith for the picture below of a Common Seal breaking the ice at Stranmillis. 
Common Seal, Stranmillis, Cecil Smith

Bird News Sunday 12th December

A Brambling was in a Garden at Gilbourne Court, Gilnahirk, along with a Blackcap (Ron Price). 
15 Waxwing were in flight over Ballycarry Railway Station and 94 Greylag (probably Icelandic birds), 9 Whooper Swan and a Little Egret in the nearby
fields (Gerard McGeehan).

In Fermanagh a new Brambling was at Randalshough near Monea and a Crossbill at Lough Navar (Brad Robson).

The fem/imm Smew was seen again at Lough Beg (David Steele). 
A Brambling was in garden at Glastry on the Ards Peninsula (Richard Weyl).
Seven Brambling were in Bangor (Craig Nash)
40 Fieldfare and 10 Redwing were in the hedgerows at Island Tasserty railway
bridge between Coleraine and Portstewart (Alan Davis). 

Belfast Ormeau Park had 20 redwings this morning. About 20 yellowhammers at Kircubbin (field edge ca 2km inland from today)

Another flock of at least 20 yellowhammers at Marlfield (N of Portaferry)

1 tree sparrow at Ballyhenry Island (N of Portaferry). Another tree sparrow at Tieveshilly (N of Ballyquintin)

1 woodcock and 10 snipe flushed at Ballyquintin. Also 50 golden plovers there, and 1 carrion crow.

1 Grey Plover at Barr Hall Bay (W of Ballyquintin)

200 golden plovers at Kirkistown

20 whooper swans in a field by A20 just N of Kircubbin. Lough Cowey had a pair of Pochard (all Keith Bennett).
Brambling - Craig Nash

Brambling - Craig Nash

Bird News Saturday 11th December

69 Waxwing were at Glenview along Crawfordsburn Road in Bangor (Richard Gray).
At least 20 Waxwing were at Ormeau Embankment in Belfast (Pat Gordon).
50 Waxwing were at High Street, Belfast (Keith Bennett)
30 Waxwing were at Eliza Street and 5 at High Street, Belfast. (James Robinson)

At Larne Lough 100 Greylag, 7 Whooper Swan and 2 Woodcock were on the north side of Ballycarry Bridge - the Greylag are likely to be Icelandic birds as this count is much higher than the usual feral ones (Ian Enlander).
2 LT Duck were off Fisherman's Pier in Carrickfergus and a Little Egret at Ballycarry Bridge (Keith Bennett).

4 Brambling were with 50 Chaffinch between Greyabbey and Ballywalter at the Ards Peninsula (McCullough).

A Carrion Crow was at Crawfordsburn Beach (Richard Gray)

A Little Egret flew east at Orlock Point (Richard Weyl).

Dunlin, Strangford Lough - George McKee

Bird News Friday 10th December

250 Waxwing were at St George's Church along High Street in Belfast (Andy Elliott).

40 Waxwing were at Ballycastle (P Ewart).

A Water Rail was at Portmore Lough RSPB Reserve (Paul Toner).

3 Woodcock were at Randalshough near Monea in Fermanagh (Brad Robson).

A 1W Mediterranean Gull was at Ballycarry Bridge in Larne Lough and a female Brambling in a garden in Whitehead (Cameron Moore).

Yesterday a fem/imm Smew was showing well along the River Quoile near the Visitor's Centre (Ivor McDonald).

A Barn Owl was along the Hillhall Road near Lisburn close to the primary school (Garry Wilkinson)
Lesser Redpoll - Craig Nash

Bird News for 9th Dec.

A Green Sandpiper was reported at the upper reservior at Conlig.(B.Bullar)

The PF Goose was still present at the RSPB Harbour Estate(T.Ennis)

2 Brambling were at Randalshough nr Monea in Ferm. (B.Robson)

2 Yellowhammer were along Shore Road in Killyleagh, a Greenshank t Gibbs Island and 5/6 Bullfinch and a Lesser Redpoll at Delamont Country Park.

Martin Garner - Birding Frontiers, a date for your diary

Martin Garner will be giving a talk and presentation on bird identification, at CI Sports Club, east Belfast, on Friday 11th February @ 7:30pm.

In March, Martin visited us and gave a facinating presentation on many aspects of birding ID that was backed up with his down to earth presentation style. This is not a talk about birds that you will rarely see, but rather some interesting angles on birds whether they be in the garden or on a remote headland in late autumn.
There will be a small cover charge.

Bird News Wednesday 8th December

2 Woodcock and a Pink Footed Goose were at Belfast Lough RSPB Reserve (Gerard McGeehan).

A Woodcock, 25 Snipe, 20 Golden Plover, 20 Lapwing and a few Skylark were at Ramore Head - all unusual birds for there (Matthew Tickner).

Out at Killard, Co Down today, 3 Woodcock and an estimate of 3000 Linnets if not more, were feeding in a
field opposite where you park to walk out to Killard (Craig Nash). When they are disturbed it looks like a miniature starling flock swirling around in the sky. Craig has also put some footage on You Tube showing this:
Linnets - Craig Nash
Craig also took this photo of a Woodcock in flight - a rare photo in itself:

Woodcock - Craig Nash
There were eight Whoopers on the Quoile just down from the visitor centre.
Whooper Swans - Craig Nash
20 Waxwing were seen flying over Fitzwilliam Street, Belfast (Keith Bennet)
A Brambling was at Carran Lough, Co. Fermanagh (Brad Robson)
8 Brambling were at Richill, Co. Fermanagh (Irish Birding)

Oxford Island Photos

Thanks to Ed O'Hara who kindly sent in these photos of a Redwing, Robin and Song Thrush that he took at Oxford Island over the weekend. As temperatures plummet to -15 in some parts of the province it is truly amazing how any of our wintering birds manage to survive.

Golden Eagle Poisoned in Tyrone

The bird was found on 1st November 2010, outside the village of Killeter in west Tyrone, with a partially full crop, suggesting that it had eaten recently. It was then taken away by police for testing. The post-mortem has since revealed that it was poisoned by carbofuran, which has been banned in the UK since 2001.
The bird was collected as a chick from the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, in June 2010 and reared and released in Glenveagh National Park, Co Donegal by the Golden Eagle Trust as part of an ongoing project to restore Golden Eagles in the Republic of Ireland.
The dead bird was fitted with a 70g satellite transmitter before it was released in August 2010. Satellite tracking showed that the dead bird spent several weeks around the release area before wandering down to Killeter Forest in Tyrone, where it had been since mid-October.

Bird News for 7th Dec.

A Hen Harrier was seen this afternoon at Killard Point Co.Down (C.Nash)
Hen Harrier - Craig Nash
50 Waxwing were again feeding in Fitzwilliam St in Belfast.(Fitzwilliam St is situated between the Lisburn Rd and University Rd)

3 Waxwing and a Redwing were on the Maxwell Road in Bangor (D.Blakely)

4 Brambling were in a garden in Whitehead(C.Moore) and another Brambling was in a garden in Brookeborough Co.Ferm(J.Young)

Yet another Brambling along with 25 Tree Sparrow in a garden in Richill (A.Poots)

5 Velvet Scoter along with 4 Common Scoter were again seen of Macedon Point (S.McKee)

5 Woodcock were in Monea in Fermanagh plus a Jack Snipe and yesterday 4 PF Geese were nr Kesh(B.Robson)

3 Woodcock were in a garden in Dundonald

The GW Teal was a mile north of Ballycarry Bridge in Larne Lough on the Islandmagee side. There were still PF Geese at Church Bay and 3 Purple Sandpiper at Sandy Bay (C.Moore)

A Blackcap was at Ballysillan playing fields in Belfast (A .Elliott)

Bird News Monday 6th December

20 Waxwings were still feeding on Rowan berries at 42 Fitzwilliam Street, Stranmillis, Belfast. (Keith Bennet).

The adult Ring Billed Gull and 1st winter Mediterranean Gullwere still at Portrush East Strand car park and, unusually, 80 Skylark were trying to feed in the car park. Several Snipe were on Ramore Head. (Matthew Tickner).

3 Sandwich Tern were at Portaferry Marina. (Jack Foster).

In addition to the Sandwich Tern reported at Drumfad Bay yesterday an adult Mediterranean Gull and a Jack Snipe were also present. (Richard Weyl).

Thanks to Ed O'Hara for this smart picture of a pair of Gadwall taken at Oxford Island yesterday

Pair of Gadwall, Oxford Island, Co. Armagh