Buff-bellied Pipit - Carrickfergus!!

A Buff-bellied Pipit has been found today at Carrickfergus Castle, Co Antrim. The bird was feeding on seaweed on the lough side and was found by Stuarty McKee.

Thank You!

We have now passed over three hundred thousand views to the NI Birds blog and thank you to everyone who has contributed sightings of rare or scarce birds, sent in pics or just been one of those viewers. We have decided to try an updated format if you are wondering about the change! We are following a format similar to our successful bird pics blog (www.nibirdpics.blogspot.co.uk) and matching that currently on your smartphone. As always, please feel free to email us feedback, news or items that may be of interest to NI birders. Many thanks again and lets hope that what remains of the Autumn delivers us some good birds!
Ian, Garry and Wilton.

Bird News Sunday 30th September

Two adult Grey-bellied Brant, were at the Maltings, Newtownards.

An adult Black Brant was at Greyabbey.

A Leach's Petrel was showing well off the sea wall at Myroe Levels, Lough Foyle at 3:55 (Neal Warnock)

The Ring-billed Gull was still at Groomsport (Stephen Maxwell)

50 Golden Plover and 2 female Goldeneye were at Oxford Island today (Mark Killops)

An Osprey was seen flying south of Sandy Bay, Larne.

A high site count of 56 Pink-footed Geese flew south-east over Mullagh, Lough Beg at 10am. 2 Greenland White-fronted Geese and 8 Ruff were also at Mullagh (David Steele).
A Wheatear, 2 White Wagtail and 3 Pale-bellied Brent were on the beach at Millisle (William Smyton).
A dark morph Arctic Skua and a Grey Plover were off the harbour at Groomsport (George Gordon)
A Great Skua was feeding off Waterfoot Beach, Co Antrim (John Loughlin)
Two Med Gull were at Whiteabbey.
Skernaghan Point, Islandmagee, Co Antrim had 1 Wheatear and 40 Linnet (Ian Enlander)
A Long-eared Owl was at Monea, Co Fermanagh (Brad Robson)
A Wheatear was in a Garden at Newtownabbey (Cecil Smith)

The Forsters Tern was still at Soldiers Point, Co. Louth

Thanks to Rob McAllister for the picture of a Shag, Stephen Maxwell for the Ring-billed Gull and Cecil Smith for a Wheatear (in his garden!)

Bird News for Saturday 29th Sept.

The 3 Buff-breasted Sandpiper remain at Myroe.

A sea-watch from Ramore Head between  07.15-12.15 had 2RT Diver, 1GN Diver,2 Sooty Shearwater 2 Leach's Petrel,26 Whooper Swan,5 Brent Geese,35 Widgeon, 30 Teal, 35 Tufted Duck,a Goldeneye, 9 RB Merganser, 11 Golden Plover, 1 Grey Pharlarope,15 Great Skua, 1Pom.Skua, 5 Arctic Tern(N.Warnock)

2  Pink-Footed Geese, 48 Greylag, 9 Little Egret, 3 Whooper Swan and 2 Greenshank were one mile north of Ballycarry Bridge (Cameron Moore).

Moneyslane,nr Castlewellan Co Down had three Red Kite and four  Buzzard.(A Prentice)

Our thanks to Stephen Maxwell for the picture of the Coal Tit (top) and to Christine Cassidy for the Ringed Plovers.

Bird News Friday 28th September

Three Buff-breasted Sandpipers were at Myroe Levels. (Bird Guides).

The Ring Billed Gull, 2 Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk were at Groomsport, a Buzzard was at Craigantlet and a Jay was on the Belmont Road in Belfast. (Stephen Maxwell).

Thanks to Stephen for this picture of the Ring Billed Gull at Groomsport.

Black Brant at Ballykelly

Many thanks to Christine Cassidy for this picture of the Black Brant seen today at Ballykelly. The bird is on the left side of the picture, to the rear of the main group of Pale-bellied Brent. The bold white neck collar is also clearly visible despite the distance.

Bird News Thursday 27th September

A Black Brant, an adult Mediterranean Gull, Dark-bellied Brent and 2 Jay were at Ballykelly. A Buzzard and 2 Little Egret were also at Lough Foyle (Theo Campbell \ Christine Cassidy)

The Glaucous Gull (pic below) was still at Ballintoy. A 2nd winter Iceland Gull flew over Portrush Golf Course this morning and the Ring Billed Gull was still at East Strand Car Park (Colin Guy)

The adult-winter Ring-billed Gull was at Groomsport and 2 Red-throated Diver were offshore (George Gordon)

Thanks to Tom McCreery for this pic of a Coal Tit and to Colin Guy for the Glaucous Gull. You can see more bird pics at www.nibirdpics.blogspot.co.uk

Sanderling - worth watching (updated)

Many thanks to everyone for comments on the ringing of Sanderling. The bird was ringed by Jeroen Reneerkens Zackenberg either passing through Iceland in spring or on the Greenland breeding grounds (Stewart Holohan).

Birdwatch Ireland also gave feedback referencing an excellent video on You Tube:


This amazing footage was taken in Greenland this summer by a Dutch team (led by Jeroen Reneerkens) who have been monitoring breeding Sanderling in Greenland for the past 6 summers. Sanderling breed in the high Arctic and migrate long-distances, wintering further south, often seen feeding along sandier shores. Based on recent colour-ringing resightings, Jeroen's work has confirmed that some of the Greenland population overwinters in Ireland (where peak counts of around 3,000 birds have been recorded on I-WeBS counts) with others moving through as they head further south to Southern Europe and Africa.

Thanks again to David Hill for the pic:

Bird News Wednesday 26th September

The third-winter Glaucous Gull is still at Ballintoy harbour along with 7 Twite.

At Grey Point north Down this morning, were 8 Arctic Skuas, 6 Manxies and a Red-throated Diver (Eric Randall). Later 2 Manx Shearwater, 2 Red-throated Diver, 3 Arctic Skua, 20 Gannet (only 2 adult), lots of Kittiwake, 4 Arctic Tern and a Common Tern were also at Grey Point (Stuart McKee).

200 Oystercatcher, Curlew, Dunlin and Redshank were at Bann Estuary. One of the Redshank was taken by a Peregrine Falcon (Francis Duffin)

5 Wheatear, a Raven, 75 Golden Plover, a Sandwich Tern, Curlew and Stonechat were between Portrush and Portstewart. Yesterday a Norwegian ringed Black-headed Gull was in Coleraine (Lowell Mills)

Thanks to everyone for flagging the colour ringed Sanderling from yesterday which we are following up on. Christine Cassidy has kindly sent in pics below of some Brent at Lough Foyle. Many of our Brent are also part of a colour ringing programme.

Bird News for Tues. 25th September

8 Whooper Swan flew over Prehan Park, Co Derry heading in the direction of the Foyle.(C.Cassidy)

 Our thanks to David Hill who braved yesterday's weather to photograph these Sanderling. As you can the extreme right hand bird has coloured rings and flags , if anyone knows where the bird has been ringed please contact the blog.  

Bird News Monday 24th September

The adult-winter Ring-billed Gull was still at Groomsport.         

No other news today, which is hardly surprising considering the weather. Here are todays pictures, a Merlin at Myroe from Stuart McKee and a young Peregrine near Groomsport from Vivienne Beck.


Successful Curlew Breeding In Co. Fermanagh

                                      BEST BREEDING SEASON FOR YEARS     

The familiar haunting call of the Curlew is evocative of a healthy, productive countryside but this once common resident of our meadows and uplands has suffered a massive decline in recent years. Now our largest wading bird, with the trademark-curved beak is making a comeback in the wonderful wilds of Lower Lough Erne Islands Reserve! The RSPB has worked hard to create the right conditions on the islands for the benefit of these beautiful birds and this area of Fermanagh is recognised as one of the best wet grassland sites in Northern Ireland for breeding waders.     

This success is the direct result of considerable investment and partnership working in the area. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) through the Natural Heritage Grants Programme has supported the work on the islands of Lower Lough Erne for many years. Since 2011, significant additional funding has been received to deliver two major restoration projects within the Lough Erne Islands. Funding from SWARD via the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme, and from Fermanagh District Council has helped us to undertake scrub clearance, install predator-proof fences and develop interpretation for visitors at Lusty More and White Island. The Halting Environmental Loss Project (HELP) funded scrub removal on a number of islands including Horse, Ferny and White Island South. HELP is delivered with funds from the European Regional Development Fund via the INTERREG IVA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.       

  RSPB Area Manager for Fermanagh Reserves, Brad Robson said “ The HELP project has already been in place for almost two years and will run until the end of 2014. Both projects are part of the RSPB’s vision to halt biodiversity loss and to save nature. Local contractors have been employed to deliver much of the habitat management elements of the projects and there has been considerable help from local landowners and farmers”.     

This year the RSPB recorded an increase in the wader population to 192 breeding pairs. This included the threatened Curlew, which signifies an important boost to the number of these distinctive birds on the island of Ireland. Birdwatch Ireland has estimated that there are only 200 pairs of Curlew left in the Republic; this year there were 39 pairs on the reserve, of which 26 pairs successfully hatched young. This is the highest total since 2006 and the first year that the population has increased since 2005, firmly establishing that these Fermanagh birds are vital to the population as a whole.     

Other waders also recorded an increase, including; Lapwing, which showed the highest breeding total in twenty years; Redshank which reached their highest total ever recorded, Snipe and Dunlin.  

Research suggests that the main causes of the decline in the rest of Ireland and the UK have been changes in land management practices and issues about the impact of predation. Non-breeding birds can be seen on other RSPB reserves such as Belfast Harbour and Lough Foyle , many will have arrived from northern Scotland and Europe to spend the winter months on our shores. Our natural environment is an amazing asset and through taking action on crucial issues both worldwide and more locally the RSPB works to ensure these amazing and special places and species are protected for future generations.    

For more information, please contact:    
Brad Robson , Fermanagh Area Manager RSPB Fermanagh Reserves.   
Brad.robson@rspb.org.uk 02866341456

Bird News for Sunday 23rd Sept.

A juvenile Buff-breasted Sandpiper is still at Myroe Levels

At Strangford Lough a Black Brant was off Castle Espie (Dot Blakely).

At Dundrum Inner Bay North a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, Grey Plover and 10 Greenshank were at Ardilea (Jeff Larkin).
Along the Antrim shore of Lough Neagh 2 Whooper Swan were near Lady Bay (Paul Toner).

3 Chiffchaff and 2 Bullfinch were at Belfast Harbour Lagoon and a female Merlin, adult Mediterranean Gull and Little Egret at Myroe Levels (Stuart McKee).

The adult-winter Ring-billed Gull was at Groomsport. 2 Red-throated Diver and 2 Wigeon flew east.
The Fosters Tern was again at Soldiers Point, Dundalk.

Our thanks to Rob McAllister for this lovely image of a Wheatear.

Bird News Saturday 22nd September

A Greater Spotted Woodpecker was at Mount Stewart high in an oak, east of the lake by inlet stream. (Keith Bennett).

An adult Iceland Gull was at Briggs this morning briefly. (Colin Guy).

At Greyabbey Bay there were 2 Slavonian Grebe. At Burial Island were 18 Red-throated Diver and 11 Common Scoter between 11.30 and 12.30. (Richard Weyl).

Rathlin Island had 4 chiffchaff, 1 blackcap, 5 siskin, 2 wheatear, 4 white wag, 2 chough, 1 little egret. Lots of finches on island (Neal Warnock)

An adult Mediterranean Gull and 1 Greenshank were in Mount Stewart bay, 1 Knot was at Portavogie and 2 Little Egrets at the Floodgates. (Keith Bennett).

The juvenile, (moulting to first-winter), Spotted Redshank was at Belfast Harbour Lagoon. In south Down 11 Little Egret, 12 Greenshank and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull were at Dundrum Inner Bay, see pictures below. (Stuart McKee).         

Yesterday a Great Skua was a mile off Donaghadee on the way out to Copeland (Francis Duffin).   

7 Whooper Swan flew over Derry and on Thursday a few late Swift were also noted there (Stephen Davis).

Thanks to Tom McCreery for another couple of great pictures of a Rock Pipit and a Stonechat and to Stuart McKee for the pictures of the 1st winter Mediterranean Gull and to David Nixon for the picture of the Grey Phalarope from Myroe yesterday.


Bird News Friday 21st September

The Bonapartes Gull was seen at Sandy Bay, Larne this afternoon (Neal Warnock)

A juvenile Grey Phalarope was showing in the channel at Myroe. 6 Buzzard were at the Levels (David Nixon).

Briggs Rocks near Groomsport had 4 Red-throated Diver, a Common Sandpiper, 4 Red-breasted Merganser and 2 Wheatear (Colin Guy)

This Pink-footed Goose was taken at Inch Lake Co Donegal to-day by David Hill.

BTO Conference - Sat 10th November 2012, Oxford Island

The annual BTO conference is on Saturday 10th November at Oxford Island. There are a wide range of speakers from the BTO, RSPB and other Conservation Organisations throughout Ireland. If you wish to attend or learn more about the event, please contact Shane Wolsely at: shane.wolsey@bto.org
A provisional programme is below:

Bird News Thursday 20th September

The Grey Phalarope was still at Craigavon Balancing Lakes, in the northeast corner of the North Lake (Jeff Larkin)

The adult-winter Ring-billed Gull was at Groomsport (George Gordon)

The Ring-billed Gull was still at the east end car park, Portrush.

Thanks to Alistair Prentice for this pic of a juvenile Coot and to Tom McCreery for the Stonechat. You can see more pics at www.nibirdpics.blogspot.co.uk

Grey Phalarope

Thanks to Joe Devlin for these pics of the Grey Phalarope at the north Craigavon Balancing Lake (taken yesterday).

Bird News Wednesday 19th September

The Grey Phalarope is still showing well on the north Balancing Lake in Craigavon this morning. (Clifford Sharp). The bird was at the east end of the North lake at 5:50pm (Keith Bennett)

Briggs Rocks near Groomsport had 2 adult Mediterranean Gull, 12 Pink-footed Geese, 6 Pale-bellied Brent, a Red-throated Diver and a pale morph Arctic Skua (Colin Guy).

Yesterday Ramore Head over two and a half hours had 2 Red-throated Diver, 15 Manx Shearwater, 35 Leach's Petrel, at least 26 Grey Phalarope, 4 Great Skua, 2 Arctic Skua and 4 Puffin (Hill Dick)

A Stock Dove was at Belvoir Park Forest this morning (Adam McClure)

At Kilmore Quay, Lisnaskea was a Water Rail and a Little Grebe with a very late family of chicks. An extremely photogenic Hedgehog is visiting a garden in Fivemiletown. Photographers are welcome so email us and we will put you in touch with Colin (Colin Bell)

An American Golden Plover was at Termonfeckin, County Louth.

Thanks to Robert McDowell for this picture of a Dipper from Glenarm Forest, and to Zach McCreery for the pic of a Sanderling. You can see more excellent pics at www.nibirdpics.blogspot.co.uk

Bird News Tuesday 18th September

The Grey Phalarope was still at Craigavon North Lake (Paul Toner).     

Copeland Bird Observatory had 8 Pink-footed Geese, 6 Greylag, 6 Scaup, a Great Skua, 2 Arctic Skua, 3 Red-throated Diver, 5 Puffin, 2 Chiffchaff, 25 Meadow Pipit, 40 Swallow, a Merlin and 2 Carrion Crow (Kerry Leonard).          

Nearby 2 Great Skua, 2 Arctic Skua, 43 Pale-bellied Brent, 2 Great Northern Diver, 5 Red-throated Diver and a Peregrine were at Briggs Rocks (Colin Guy).         

At Larne Lough the Pink-footed Goose was with 48 Greylag at 40 Acre Bay (Cameron Moore).      

At Strangford Lough 2 Gannet, 24 Sandwich Tern, 6 Ringed Plover and a Wheatear were at the Netwalk at Killyleagh (Spencer and Joan Marshall).        

A Leach's Petrel was giving views down to 20 feet in Greenore Harbour of the Lough side of Carlingford Lough (Shane Wolsey, Nicole Robinson).       

Magilligan Point this morning had 21 Sanderling and 5 Wheatear. (Christine Cassidy).       

Tullyhill just south of Strangford had 17 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, 45 Dunlin, 1 Knot, 18 Redshank, 8 Golden Plover, 21 Snipe, 1 Whimbrel, 16 Curlew, 11 Oystercatcher and 36 Ringed Plover. (Craig Nash).

Thanks to Tom McCreery for the pictures of the Grey Phalarope, Craig Nash for the pictures of the Snipe and Knot, Ian Jackson for the Peregrine picture and Christine Cassidy for the Sanderling picture.


Bird News for Monday 17th Sept.

There are now 3 Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Myroe.(Tyrone Nelson)
A moulting Grey Phalarope is on the small Balancing Lake, Co Armagh. It is at the far end of the lake furthest from the road. Not often we get the opportunity to see this species at close quaters, they are usually seen from a headland on a sea-watch. 
A Kingfisher was at Lurgan Park Lake. A Common Sandpiper, Grey Phalarope, 2 Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk were at Craigavon North Lake (Stephen Hewitt, Glen West). They considered the Grey Phalarope a juvenile moulting to first-winter and not a moulting adult.

3 Green Sandpiper were along the east shore of Lough Beg (Matthew Tickner).

Copeland Bird Observatory had a Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler, Wheatear, 78 Meadow Pipit, 52 Lesser Redpoll, 6 Siskin, 150 Swallow and 20 House Martin. A Pomarine Skua, Arctic Skua, 3 Great Skua and 2 Red-throated Diver were at sea (Kerry Leonard).

A dark morph Arctic Skua was at Briggs Rocks near Groomsport and 6 Wheatear were in the area (Colin Guy).
Our thanks to Tom McCreery who kindly sent in this image of the Grey Phalarope, which was on the small balancing lake up until 18.30.  


Two lovely images of Wheatear's the top one was taken by Alistair Prentice the bottom by Tom McCreery.

An Albino House Martin?

Many thanks to John Loughlin for the interesting pics below. John says "the pics were taken from a sailing boat on Lough Neagh on Saturday afternoon. The bird was all white and was flying with a huge flock of House Martins". The bird does on the face of it seem to be an albino House Martin.

Bird News Sunday 16th September

The Bonaparte's Gull was showing very well at Tweed's Port, Carnfunnock Bay this morning (Neal Warnock)

A Buff-breasted Sandpiper at the east end of the Myroe Lawn fields (Jeff Larkin / Philip West)

A Pink-footed Goose is at Forty Acre Bay, Larne Lough (Neal Warnock)

A Chiffchaff was near Corbally reservoir (Portrush) this afternoon (John Clarke)

The Bann Estuary was quiet with the best 1 Bar-tailed godwit, 2 Black-tailed godwit, a Peregrine falcon and 1 Sanderling (Richard Donaghey)

The female Red-created Pochard and 4 Ruff were at Inch, Donegal (Ian Graham)

Thanks to Neal Warnock for the pics of the Bonapartes and the Gyr (from earlier in the week).
You can see more pics at www.nibirdpics.blogspot.co.uk

Bird News Saturday 15th September

A juvenile Semipalmated Sandpiper is at Ballykelly on Lough Foyle this morning. A Goshawk was also seen.

The adult plumaged Ring-billed Gull was still at Groomsport (Zach / Tom McCreery - see the pic below)

Rathlin island had1 twite, 6 white wag, 2 chough, 1 little egret (island first?), bonxie off rue point and 1 pom skua, 2 arctic skua and 2 bonxie from the ferry (Neal Warnock)

In south Down 6 Storm Petrel - all new birds - were ringed last night at Sheepland near Ardglass (Declan Clarke).

28 Pochard flew past Briggs Rocks near Groomsport and 6 Wheatear were in the area (Colin Guy).

On the Antrim side of Belfast Lough 78 Red-breasted Merganser and 1,463 Eider were at Loughshore (Gerard McGeehan)

An adult Med Gull was at Kinnegar Shore (Wilton Farrelly)

Five Mediterranean Gull and four Pink-footed Geese were at Myroe Levels.

An adult Reed Warbler was trapped at Copeland Bird Observatory this morning. 100 Lesser Redpoll were present and 30 of them were ringed (Chris Acheson)

Birds at Whitehouse Lagoon this morning included 551 Black-tailed Godwit, 37 Bar-tailed Godwit, 61 Turnstone, 11 Knot and 7 Great Black-backed Gull. There were also 2 Wheatear on Dargan Road (Adam McClure)

A Buff-breasted Sandpiper is at Inch, Co Donegal.
A Pacific Golden Plover was at Derrybeg, Donegal this morning (Chris Ingram)
The female Red-crested Pochard was at Inch Lake, Donegal (Brad Robson)

Thanks to Zach McCreery for the pic below of the Groomsport Ring-billed Gull. You can see more pics at www.nibirdpics.blogspot.co.uk

Bird News Friday 14th September

The adult Bonaparte's Gull is back at  the Princess Victoria Memorial Larne Lough and an ad. Med. Gull at Sandy Bay, Larne.(Gavin Ferguson) see photo's below.

At Lough Beg a Blue-winged Teal was at Church Island. A Curlew Sandpiper and a Garganey were in the south-west corner (David Steele).

Ramore Head, between 0645-19.15 produced, 13 RT Diver, 2GN Diver, 1,500 Manx Shearwaters,47 Sooty Shearwater, 6 Storm Petrel, 20 Leach's Petrel, 4 Brent, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Grey Phalarope,158 Great Skua,1 Pom Skua, 21 Arctic Skua, 79 Arctic Tern, the escaped Gyr was seen around 11.45 (N.Warnock).
Portstewart Point had 38 Great Skua, 3 Pomarine Skua, 5 Arctic Skua, a juvenile Long-tailed Skua, 220 Manx Shearwater, a Blue Fulmar, 14 Fulmar, 16 Sandwich Tern, 37 Arctic Tern, 3 Leach's Petrel, a Storm Petrel, 2 Red-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver and 500 Gannet (Stuart McKee).

Rinagree Point between Portstewart and Portrush had a Pomarine Skua, 2 Arctic Skua and a Red-throated Diver (Colin Guy).

3 Whimbrel, 6 Dunlin and 6 Knot were at Belfast Harbour Lagoon (Dot Blakely).

The adult-winter Ring-billed Gull was at Groomsport.

Malin Head today; 200 Sooty Shears 79 Bonxies 11 Arctics 1 Leach's Petrel 3 Sabines 100's Gannet Manxies and Fulmar(A.Gillespie)

Our thanks to Gavin for providing these images of  the Bonaparte's Gull(top)and Med.Gull. 

Bird News Thursday 13th September

A seawatch from Ramore head, 07:10- 11:10 & 13:00- 16:30 had 9 Red-throated Diver, 2 Great Norther Diver, 1 Sooty Shearwater, 45 Brent Goose, 33 Common Scoter, 1 Velvet Scoter, 36 Bonxie, 4 Arctic Skua, 14 Sandwich Tern, 20 Arctic Tern and 1 Puffin. The Escaped Gyr Falcon was again present around 2pm (Neal Warnock)

The Glaucous Gull (almost into third-winter plumage) was at Ballintoy and an immature Little Gull at the mouth of the river in Ballycastle (Colin Guy)

A Flamingo species has been reported in Drogheda (Peter Phillips)

Thanks to Allen Gillespie for this great picture of a Turnstone. You can see more pics at www.nibirdpics.blogspot.co.uk

Sandwich Terns

Sandwich Terns are still along our coasts and a handful will probably over-winter. Many thanks to Alistair Prentice for these pics, including one of an adult and juvenile.