Bird News Thursday 31st January

The male American Wigeon was at the mouth of the Drowes River. Tullaghan, Co. Leitrim (Seamus Feeney)

The Bittern showed this morning from the causeway at Inch Island, Co Donegal. Two drake Smew were also present (C Gillespie, B Campbell and R Bennett)

14 Waxwing were feeding in Comber Square this afternoon, close to The Progressive (Nu Graham)

A Red Kite adult was sighted low over Portaferry about 14:00 (Nicholas J A Sanders)

An adult Little Gull was just over the harbour wall at Ardglass. A Hen Harrier was at Slievemoyle cottages between Strangford and Raphoe and a female Brambling, 3 Tree Sparrow and 11 Linnet in a garden at Aghnaleck near Hillsborough (Garry Wilkinson).

The adult Ring-billed Gull, 12 Purple Sandpiper and 2 Red-throated Diver were at Groomsport (Ivor McDonald)

At Flatfield on the River Lagan, Co Down this afternoon at 3pm were: Whooper Swan – 100, Lapwing – 200, Curlew – 6 and a Yellowhammer – 1. Also large numbers (200+) of Fieldfares and Redwings (Clive Mellon)

A count at RSPB Portmore Lough Reserve yesterday had very high counts of 1790 Golden Plover and 1006 Lapwing on the meadows (Amy Burns) Also at Portmore, a Male brambling was at the feeders today (Brad Robson)

A female Brambling is in a garden on the Lismenary Road, at the last house on the LHS going out of the village (Brenda Campbell)

Thanks to Alistair Prentice for this pic of a Buzzard. You can see more pics at

NIOC Photographic Competition


Just a reminder that you can send sightings of rare and scarce birds to us at:
Telephone Flightline: 028 91 467408

Text: (0)7973403146 or (0)7511 684 398
Twitter: #nibirds

Many thanks to everyone who sends in sightings, pictures and general birding information.

Bird News Wednesday 30th January

The Bonaparte's Gull was at Sandy Bay this afternoon. (Adam McClure).

Around 70 Waxwings were on the Pond Park Road in Lisburn this morning. (Robert Scott).

A ring tail Hen Harrier was at Inch Lake this morning from the foot bridge hide (Boyd Bryce)

Weekend Big Garden Birdwatch observations on the Portstewart Road, Coleraine included 3 Bullfinch, 3 Siskin and a male and female Brambling (Ken Perry, Hill Dick and Peter Robinson).

3 Brambling, a male Blackcap and 20 Chaffinch were in a garden in Lisburn (Vernon Carter).   

Yesterday 4 Brambling and 12 Linnet were in garden in Carrickfergus (Gerard McGeehan) and 12 Siskin and a Whimbrel were at Belfast Harbour Lagoon (Andy Elliott).

Portmore Lough Events

Adam McClure- Tonight 7.30: Breeding Red Kites in Northern Ireland: The Story so far

Fionnbarr Cross- 19th 7.30 Feb Garden birds: Their secret lives and Identification

All welcome: Refreshments provided. Members £1. Non Members £3

NIOC Sam Penny Memorial Lecture and photographic competition.


Bird News Tuesday 29th January

18 Waxwing were at the Maxol garage car park, Ballynure, Co Antrim (Brad Robson, Neal Warnock and Giles Knight)

The Iceland Gull was still at the McConnell Weir in Belfast at lunchtime today (Clive Mellon)

A male Brambling was at Portmore Lough RSPB reserve (Amy Burns)

3 Brambling were visiting a garden in Lisburn (V.Carter)

3 Brambling were visiting a garden on the Belmont Road, Belfast (Philip West)

Yesterday the drake American Wigeon was still present yesterday at the mouth of the Drowse River, Tullaghan, Co. Leitrim. (Michael Stinson)

Bird News Monday 28th January.

The Norwegian ringed Waxwing found dead in Limavady was a first-calendar year male ringed on 26th October at Store Faerder 59.0409N 10.3148E. It had moved 1,140km from there to Limavady (Declan Clarke).

The adult Ring-billed Gull was at Groomsport and a Red-throated Diver flew east past the harbour (George Gordon).


Our thanks to Craig Nash for this lovely image of a Long-tailed Tit.(above) and to Tom McCreery for his equally stunning photo of this Stonechat.

Bird News Sunday 27th January

10 Waxwings were in a field at Mount Stewart on the Outer Ards. (David McCormick).

A Ring-necked Duck was at Great Dam west of Strangford Lough (Derek Polley)  

A Slavonian Grebe was close to the harbour at Groomsport (Simon Morton).  

 The adult Ring-billed Gull was at the harbour and 75 Grey Plover were close to the causeway at Islandhill in Strangford Lough (Shirley Dunlop, Gerard McGeehan).  

2 Little Egret and 38 Grey Heron were in a flooded field along the Lower Bann at Toome (Ciaran and Seamus Burns).     

The Bann Estuary hide had 50 Sanderling, 60 Teal, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 17 Lapwing, 10 Redshank and 3 Dunlin. A Fulmar and 2 Stonechat were at Ballintoy Harbour (Mark Smyth, Gary Brown).    

The adult Little Gull was showing well at Craigavon South Lake (Tom Ennis).

A Little Egret was on the main lake at Castle Espie. (Jim McKeown).

5 Red Kites were on the Castlewellan Road at Banbridge, 12 Sanderling were at Tyrella, 2 Little Egret and 2 Great Northern Diver were at Kilclief. (Ed O'Hara).

A male Brambling was visiting a garden in Shilnavogey, Co. Antrim. (Tom Swann).

40+ Yellowhammer were in wild bird cover fields at Ballynanny Road, Dromorebrague, near Loughbrickland. (Joe Devlin).

A flock of 20 Siskin were at Belfast Lough RSPB Reserve. (Chris Henry).

Thanks to todays photographers, to Zach McCreery for the Kittiwake, Ed O'Hara for the Little Egret, Stephen Maxwell for the Ring-billed Gull, Chris Colhoun for the Siskin and Christine Cassidy for the Yellowhammers. You can see more NI bird pictures at


Bird News Saturday 26th January

At Barr Hall Bay, the Green-winged Teal (and an otter) was still present. At Ballyquintin Point a Short-eared Owl and a Jack Snipe were also seen. (Richard Weyl)

The 3rd Winter Ring-billed Gull was still at Groomsport Harbour

The 2nd winter Iceland Gull was still at McConnells Weir, Belfast.

The adult Glaucous Gull was still at Ardglass Harbour, a Black Redstart was at Corbett's Beach, Tyrella. (Keith Bennett)

A male Brambling continues to visit a garden at Spa, Co Down (David Nixon)

A Female Brambling and at least 20 Yellowhammer were at the Toye outside Killyleagh (Jason Starbuck)

1700 Barnacle Geese, 2 Little Egret and an impressive 77 Chough were at Malin Head, Co Donegal (Christine Cassidy)

A Pink footed Goose was with 20 Greylag and 34 Whooper Swans at Lower Lough MacNean, Co. Fermanagh (Kerry Leonard)

A Jack Snipe was at the old landfill site along Hightown Road above Glengormley and 4 Brambling (2 of them male) in a garden at Waterloo Park in Belfast (Larry Toal)

Thanks to Cameron Moore for this picture of a Twite taken at Whitehead. You can see more pics at

RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch

This weekend is the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. You can complete it on Saturday or Sunday and it only takes an hour. You can find out further details at:

Waxwing Fatality \ Ringing Recovery

This Waxwing was killed by a car in Limavady. It was ringed in Stavanger, Norway and it's ring number was 8B 63061. If you can provide any further information on this bird, when it was ringed, whether it has been retrapped anywhere, we would be pleased to hear from you.
Stavanger is in south west Norway and this recovery shows just how far our Waxwings have travelled this winter.

Thanks to David McCool for the pictures and information.


Bird News Friday 25th January

72 Waxwings were feeding in the hedgerow at Old Bridge, opposite Woodside Heights, Woodside Road, off the Strabane Old Road, Derry. They then flew down to Prehen Playing Fields to feed on berries beside the Foyle Search and Rescue Building, Derry. See pictures below. (Christine Cassidy).

A Water Rail was at Belfast Lough RSPB reserve, see picture below. (Anne Guichard).

 22 Waxwings were along the Pond Park Road in Lisburn this evening. (Richard Donaghey)

A Great-spotted Woodpecker was seen at Stoney Road, Dundonald per Adam McClure.

90 Sanderling were at Castlerock beach (Mervyn Guthrie).     

10 Yellowhammer were still at Kircubbin near the yacht club. A possible Ring-necked Duck was at Great Dam but this has still to be confirmed (Derek Polley). 

Thanks to todays photographers, to Christine Cassidy for the Waxwing pictures, to Anne Guichard for the Water Rail picture, to Martina Boyle for the Song Thrush picture and to David McCool for the Goldcrest picture. You can see more NI bird pictures at


Bird News Thursday 24th January

The Iceland Gull was seen again at McConnells bridge on the River Lagan.

The Ring-billed Gull is still at Groomsport along with a Sandwich Tern (Kerry Leonard)

At Strangford Lough 10 Yellowhammer were in a stubble field behind the yacht club and 8 Eider at the Maltings (Derek Polley).

 Our thanks to Chris Colhoun for this picture of a Jay.

Bird News Wednesday 23rd January

The adult Ring-billed Gull was still at Groomsport (Tom Ennis).

A Woodcock and 2 Snipe were flushed from a ditch during a farm walk near Hillsborough (Lowell Mills).

19 Waxwings were along the Pond Park Road in Lisburn this morning. (Richard Donaghey).

The 2nd winter Iceland Gull was still at McConnell's Weir in Belfast and the Green Winged Teal was still in Bar Hall Bay at Ballyquintin. (Bird Guides).

A mixed flock of 90 redwing and fieldfares were in stubble fields at Groomsport, a Merlin was also hunting in the fields, a Buzzard was in the area, also a flock of 25 linnets, and 11 pheasants. Little grebe and small number of Brent Geese were in the bay and a roost of 150 lapwing. A Great Northern Diver was offshore. (Gilly Irwin).

A Red Breasted Merganser was in Whitehouse Lagoon. (Stephen Maxwell).

Thanks to todays photographers, to Christine Cassidy for the Snow Bunting, Twite and Little Egret pictures and to Alan Gallagher for the Water Rail and Reed Bunting pictures.



Bird News Tuesday 22nd January

52 Waxwings were in north Belfast, the Mediterranean Gull was still at Whitehouse Lagoon. Half a mile past the entrance to Roe Valley Country Park, on the Limavady side, a finch flock had 150 Linnet, 80 Tree Sparrow, 10 Yellowhammer, 40 Reed Bunting and a few Chaffinch and Greenfinch, see pictures below. (Stuart McKee).

A Short Eared Owl, 2 Little Egret, 2 Knot and a Grey Plover were at Killard, two Brambling were also present amongst a large flock of Chaffinches. (Craig Nash).

At Larne Lough 160 Fieldfare and 20 Redwing were at 40 Acre Bay. A Twite, Carrion Crow and Little Egret were at Ballycarry Bridge (Cameron Moore).

A flock of between 40 and 60 Redwing were seen in flight over the Castledona/Castlemore area of Castlereagh this morning. (David Smylie).

Thanks to todays photographers, Stuart McKee for the Waxwing and Tree Sparrow pictures and Craig Nash for the Blackcap and Long-tailed Tit pictures. You can see more NI bird pictures at


Bird News Monday 21st January

A flock of around 20-25 Waxwings were feeding on hawthorns beside the Citybound slip road of the M2 from the international airport (Chris Shaw)

The two drake Smew were at Inch, Co Donegal (David Hill)

The 2nd winter Iceland Gull was at McConnells Weir on the River Lagan, Belfast (W Farrelly)

5 Waxwing were at Sainsbury's in Carrickfergus and 6 Long-tailed Duck at Greenisland Sea Park (Gerard McGeehan)

6 Waxwing were at Sandyknowes Crescent in Glengormley (Mark Smyth)

500 Chaffinches in first stubble field immediately n.of KIllough village on Killough Road. Among them a few Skylarks, Tree Sparrows, Yellowhammers, Reed Buntings and Linnets. Also 10 Raven and 2 Buzzard. In Killough Harbour were 1 Great Northern Diver, 111 Brent Geese (only 5 juvs.), 88 Teal, 62 Wigeon, 1 Shoveler, c.100 Dunlin (including one in summer plumage!) - (Chris Murphy)

Late news from yesterday was of 3 Waxwings visiting a garden in Magherafelt. (Kevin Beattie).

Thanks to David Hill for the pics of the Smew below.

Bird News Sunday 20th January

14 Waxwings were feeding on ground cover cotoneaster in Ardarawood, Comber. Along the Comber Greenway, there was a sizeable flock of some 50 - 60 Waxwings (Chris Shaw)

The Green-winged Teal was still at Barr Hall, near Ballyquinton Point, Co Down.

A female Brambling was visiting a garden at Gilnahirk, Belfast, this morning (Ron Price)

10 Waxwing were at Strandmillis YMCA this afternoon

5 Twite and a GN Diver were at Mill Bay Islandmagee.(I.Enlander)

A Waxwing and a Brambling were beside the car park at the Portmore Lough RSPB reserve.(G.Armstrong)

At least 2 Slavonian Grebe were at Whiterock in Strangford Lough (Simon Morton).

A flock of 200 finches was at Flatfield along the River Lagan. A Goldfinch and 2/3 Linnet were amongst them but the rest appeared to be Twite (Vernon Carter).

2 Twite were at Brown's Bay on Island Magee and 2 Blackcap in a garden in Whitehead (Cameron Moore).

5 Yellowhammer were visiting a garden in Richill.(A.Poots) 

 Our thanks to Stephen Maxwell for the pic of the Iceland Gull currently at McConnells Weir on the River Lagan and also to P.Wedderburn for this leucistic Chaffinch which was seen at Maguirebridge Co Ferm.Also to Bobby Cunningham for the Blue Tit and finally to Christine Cassidy for this Redshank. 

Bird News Saturday 19th January

50 Waxwing were at Glenhill Park, Belfast, BT11 (Chris Veale)

5 Waxwings were feeding in gardens in Old Mill Heights, Culcavy, Hillsborough. (Garry Armstrong).

12 Waxwing were at Ardarawood, Comber this afternoon (Chris Shaw)

A first winter Glaucous Gull was at Ardglass Harbour (Keith Bennett)

The drake Ring-necked Duck was still at Lough Money, Co Down. (Keith Bennett).

A male and female Brambling were visiting a garden of the Belmont Road, Belfast (Philip West)

A female Brambling was in a garden at Parkland Ave, Lisburn (Colin Mitchell)

The Cattle Egret was still at St Johnstone, Co Donegal this morning.

The Bittern showed well from 4.30 to dusk at Inch, Co Donegal. Also a male Smew and 1 Pinkfoot (Brad Robson and Matthew Tickner)

The 2nd winter Iceland Gull was at McConnells Weir, Belfast this morning (Paul Scott)

2 calling Waxwings flew over the tow path near Lagan Valley Hospital this afternoon (Eric Randall)

2 Black-throated Diver were at Greyabbey in Strangford Lough. On the Down side of Belfast Lough the adult Ring-billed Gull was at Groomsport and a Whimbrel nearby at Sheep Point (Richard Weyl)

In south Down a Black Redstart, 12 Twite and 25 Knot were at the south end of Tyrella beach. A Greenshank was at Killough Harbour (Simon Morton, Jill Campbell)

A female Brambling and 4 Siskin were in a garden at Waterloo Park in Belfast (Larry Toal)

A male Brambling, 30 Tree Sparrow, a male Blackcap and a male Bullfinch were in a garden in Castlerock (Mervyn Guthrie)

Well done to regular contributor Ron Price for his RSPB Presidents Award in relation to volunteering.

Thanks to Cameron Moore for this pic of a female Blackcap. You can see more pics at

Blackcap - Cameron Moore

Waxwing - Garry Armstrong

Bird News Friday 18th January

The Green Winged Teal was still at Bar Hall Bay, Ballyquintin, Co. Down. (Keith Bennett).

5 Great Northern Divers were just off the harbour, seen from the ferry. (Stephen Dunstan).

Sandy Bay, Lough Neagh had 12 Goldeneye, 2 Gadwall, 2 Mallard, 5 Coot and 2 Mute Swan, Tunny House had 200 Whooper, 12 Greylag Geese, Lady Bay/Brankinstown Road had 2 Mallard, 1 Teal, 1 Shelduck, 3 Lapwing, Portmore Lough RSPB had approx. 30 Chaffinches, 12 Tree Sparrows, 1 Lesser Redpoll, Diamond Lane had 60 Whooper Swan. (Chris Murphy).

The American Wigeon was still at Tullaghan in Leitrim. The Bittern and a male Smew were at Inch Island Lake. (Dermot Breen/John Murphy).

An adult Yellow-legged Gull was at Whitehouse Lagoon in Belfast. (Stuart McKee).

Thanks to Stephen Maxwell for this picture of a Siskin, one of two at Belfast Lough RSPB reserve.

NI Red Kite Project - Talk at Rostrevor

In partnership with Newry & Mourne Biodiversity Officer, the next RSPB talk on Northern Ireland Red Kites will be on Thursday 24 January at 7.30pm - St. Bronagh’s GAA, 5-7 Mary Street, Rostrevor, BT34 3AY

There is no entry charge, but we ask for a small donation which will go directly to the Northern Ireland Red Kite Project. There will also be free posters available and an opportunity to buy red kite pin badges (£1 each) and cuddly red kite toys (£7 each or two for £10 – saving you over £4 on the catalogue price). Any money raised from the sale of these will also go directly to the NIRK project. To book your place, please contact:

CBO Winter Meeting - Tue 22nd January at 7:30pm

A bit of birding around India with Ian Enlander and What happened to the ducks? The mysterious decline of the Lough Neagh diving ducks – by Irena Tománková

Ian Enlander relates this tale of an extended journey around India. His travels included visits to conservation sites and nature reserves, and he also managed to take in some of the major cultural highlights of this incredible country. Although birds were certainly targeted, Ian also encountered a range of land mammals and reptiles. He even made time to ‘do’ some cetacean watching, and ‘ticked off’ several new species including some on the IUCN Red List of endangered species.

Ian commenced his journey in the remarkable backwater wetlands of Kerala. He then travelled from the hot lowlands to the freezing cold of the high eastern Himalayas. In Sikkim he walked through snow draped rhododendron forests, and at lower altitude experienced the fabulously diverse birdlife of the temperate scrub. His final stop was in the Bay of Bengal, at the enormous brackish wetland complex of Chilika – the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest in the world. In his talk Ian will try to convey some of the magic that is India.
Our second guest speaker, Irena Tománková, is completing her PhD study at QUB on the causes of diving duck population declines on Lough Neagh. In the 1980s and 1990s the Lough hosted numbers in excess of 100,000 waterbirds including significant populations of diving ducks such as Pochard, Tufted duck, Scaup and Goldeneye. However, in the winter of 2000/01 the populations of diving ducks crashed.
Irena will summarise some of the results of her studies, explaining how she investigated site-related factors such as trophic changes and food resource availability, and explain the wider role of migratory short-stopping as she attempts to answer the question... “What happened to the ducks?”
Admission to CBO winter meetings at the Ulster Museum is free and open to all.

The meetings commence at 7.30 pm, and finish at 9.30 pm.

Please use the Stranmillis Road entrance.

Bird News Thursday 16th January

A flock of 14 Waxwings were feeding on a hawthorn tree along the Brankinstown Rd. Aghalee (Amy Burns)

The Iceland Gull, (2nd-winter) was still at McConnell's Weir, Belfast.

40 Waxwing were still in the Pond Park Road area, Lisburn.

The Bittern was seen again from the Causeway to Inch Island, Co Donegal (Christine Cassidy, Dermot McLaughlin, Carol Gillespie and Brenda Henderson)

A Peregrine was seen hunting over the M3 flyover this morning whilst sitting in traffic (Matthew Warwick)

500 Brent were at the Roe Estuary (Christine Cassidy - see pic below)

Bird News Wednesday 16th January

20 - 30 Waxwing were at Cable Road, Whitehead (David Turnbull)

The Bittern was again today at Inch, showing from the Causeway.

22 Waxwing were at 41 Downshire in Carrickfergus and 4 Brambling in a garden in Whitehead. At Larne Lough 3 Little Egret were at Ballycarry Bridge (Cameron Moore)

Thanks to Chris Colhoun for this Turnstone pic:

Bird News Tuesday 15th January

The adult Bonaparte's Gull was showing well at Sandy Bay, Larne this lunch time. (Neal Warnock).

Late news from yesterday the Ring-billed Gull was showing well at Carrickfergus Castle, see picture below. Today 4 Snipe were at Belfast Lough RSPB reserve. (Stephen Maxwell).

A Chiffchaff is still visiting a garden in Groomsport. (Sam Scott).

A group of 16 waxwings were feeding on haws today at the junction of the Ballyminymore Road with the Garlandstown Road in Glenavy, Co Antrim at 3.30pm. (Andrea Johnston).

The Little Gull is still at the Balancing Lakes in Craigavon although it can be hard to locate at times, see pictures below. (Noel Austin).

A flock of approx. 100 Redwing and Fieldfare were at the Belfast Playing Fields, Mallusk and a Buzzard was seen taking a Crow, see picture below. (Cecil Smyth).

In Donegal the Bittern was still at Inch Lake and the Cattle Egret was still at St Johnstone. (Irish Birding).

Thanks to today's photographers, Stephen Maxwell for the Ring-billed Gull and the Snipe, Noel Austin for the Little Gull, Chrisine Cassidy for the Pied Wagtail and Cecil Smyth for the Fieldfares. You can see more NI bird pictures at