Bird News Saturday 30th September

Ballymacormick Point, Co Down had a Bonxie and an Arctic Skua (Wilton Farrelly)

In flooded meadows along the  Newry Canal today between Poyntzpass and Jerrettspass there was a minimum of 29 Ruff. (Joe Devlin).

A late Swallow and a Kingfisher were seen this morning along the Newry Estuary. (Frank Carroll).

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was in trees at the mouth of the Closet River at Oxford Island this morning. (Garry Armstrong).

A Wheatear and a Red Grouse were seen at Capnagh (Gerard McGeehan / Shirley Dunlop).

An adult winter Mediterranean Gull and 2 Sandwich Tern were on Cockle Island at Groomsport (George Gordon).

About 30 House Martins and a single Swift were seen high over Limavady mid morning. (Raymond Fulton)

Thanks to Noeni Bryars for the picture of the Wheatear taken on Divis Mountain.


Bird News Friday 29th September.

A Little Stint and 50 Ruff where at Mullagh, Lough Beg this evening.(David Steele)

3 first winter Black Terns, 1 adult Arctic Tern and 25 Sandwich Terns were feeding between Minerstown beach and St John's Point lighthouse. (Tim Murphy)

Our thanks to Stephen Foster for this stunning pic.of a Gannet.

Bird News Thursday 28th September

RSPB WOW had 9 Ruff, a Peregrine, and a Stonechat. A Water Rail was seen briefly in the cut channel in the reed bed to the left of the observation room. (Derek Polley)

Many thanks to Stephen Maxwell for this picture of a Sparrowhawk with a Black-tailed Godwit - the Godwit survived!


Bird News Wednesday 27th September

A Mediterranean Gull was in Newcastle. (Leonard Charles).

Thanks to Lilian Cummings for the picture of the Black-tailed Godwit.

Guillemot Wrecks

There have been reports from the Firth of Clyde of Guillemots dying-off, potentially from a pox similar to puffinosis.

If you are out and about on the coast and see any wrecked seabirds, it would be helpful if you could report them to me (location, date, any signs of disease) and if possible take a photo.

Many thanks,

Dr Katherine Booth Jones,
British Trust for Ornithology Northern Ireland,
Northern Ireland Environment Agency,
Klondyke Building,
Cromac Avenue,
Gasworks Business Park,
Malone Lower,
Belfast, BT7 2JA.

Peregrine Watch hailed a success!

 Below is an update on the first season of Peregrine Watch - a bit of good news this morning for all of you interested in raptor conservation!

So far the story has been picked up here;

And you can hear Dr Marc Ruddock speaking about Peregrine Watch this morning on Good Morning Ulster at 7:26am, 0:56:40 in to the programme

The joint approach once again shows how PSNI are making wildlife crime a priority and Peregrine Watch is helping insure that those who are determined to persecute birds of prey need to be looking over their shoulder at all times - now we have eyes in the sky!

Dr. Eimear Rooney,
Raptor Officer,
NI Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group.

Annual UK Peregrine Watch Scheme in Northern Ireland hailed a success
 Following the successful launch of Operation Raptor in March 2016 the PSNI have continued to show their commitment to tackling wildlife crime by contributing to a UK initiative named
 “Peregrine Watch” throughout 2017.
Peregrine Watch is an ongoing initiative to prevent and stop any peregrine persecution and this can include theft of eggs and chicks from nests and/or the killing of adults and/or chicks through poisoning, shooting or trapping at any time of the year.
The PSNI have been using the latest technology to help prevent and combat wildlife crime. Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA), more commonly known as ‘drones’, fitted with specialist cameras, have been used throughout the nesting season to monitor ‘hot-spot’ areas across Northern Ireland where crimes against birds of prey.
The Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group (NIRSG), who monitor peregrine breeding sites every year across Northern Ireland, have said “There was a very clear reduction in the number of persecution incidents recorded at peregrine sites this year. The average number of successful nests in Northern Ireland each year is 49 – in 2017 there were 55.
Among these was a nest site in Co. Armagh at which persecution has been recorded for at least the past 30 years, and for the first time in 15 years a pair of peregrines at this site was successful in producing young. In total, 138 peregrine chicks have fledged this year, compared to the average annual production of 109. We still recorded a number of suspected persecution incidents, but overall this was certainly lower than in an ‘average year’.”
PSNI Wildlife Liaison Officer, Emma Meredith, said, “We are delighted to have been of assistance in the fight against wildlife crime, and are pleased to be able to continue to work with our partners. As far as we are aware, the Police Service of Northern Ireland is one of the first Police Services in the UK to use this technology in this way. We are pleased to be able to effectively target hotspot areas and areas further afield as and when required so we can work with our partners in the hope that we can all prevent this type of crime and reach our ultimate goal to combat wildlife crime.
She continued “The Police Service of Northern Ireland take all types of crime seriously and this includes wildlife crime such as shooting, poisoning or trapping of birds of prey. On occasions, baits (examples such as a rabbit carcass or sausages) have been laid laced with poison in the public domain. Be under no illusion that some poisons could also be fatal to humans, not only wildlife suffers but also any child, adult or pet could find and ultimately consume poisoned baits. Given the potential dangers of this and other poisons, for the first time PSNI began to use the PSNI drones fitted with specialist cameras to assist in prevention and if possible catching the perpetrators, who if caught will be reported to the Public Prosecution Service. I would also ask if anyone find what they suspect to be a poisoned bait or suspicious dead bird to leave it in situ and call the police on 101.”
Sgt. Scott Fallis said, “I was very happy to be involved with Peregrine Watch, and have been involved with NIRSG scientists over the last couple of breeding seasons in monitoring nest sites, and ringing peregrine chicks. This is an element of wildlife crime which PSNI take very seriously to ensure these birds are protected for future generations to enjoy. We will robustly investigate any form of persecution of these birds not only at nesting time but throughout the year, alongside any other protected species.”

Bird News Tuesday 26th September

Two Arctic Skuas (one light, one dark phase) were seen from the Rathlin Ferry. The island was breezy and quiet apart from 2 Wheatears ,a Carrion Crow and about 10 White Wagtails. (Colin Guy)

5 Ruff were at the south end of Dundrum South inner Bay today. Another 2 Ruff were in North Inner Bay, at the mouth of Blackstaff River. (David Nixon)

2 Willow Warbler in Groomsport on the trees near the house on the Point (Margaret Adamson)

Many thanks to Jason Bain for this pic of a Bar-tailed Godwit:

Bird News Monday 25th September.

The RSPB Belfast Harbour reserve had 5 Ruff, (a winter plumaged male and 5 juv) a Little Stint and a Kingfisher. (Tom Ennis/Stephen Maxwell/Denis Connolly )

A Kingfisher was at the Lagan weir this evening. (Paul McCullough)

A Kingfisher was also at the Sam Thompson bridge, Victoria Park.(Tony Dodds)

The best on Tory Island today was a Lesser Whitethroat (Brad Robson)

A morning seawatch at Portmuck had 3 Manx Shearwater + 1 dark phase Arctic Skua harassing Kittiwake (Ian Enlander)

Ad winter plumaged male Ruff.- Stephen Maxwell.

RSPB NI on the lookout for red kite volunteers

IT’S a pivotal time for red kites in Northern Ireland – and RSPB NI needs your help.

Northern Ireland has been home to these stunning raptors for nine years now since their reintroduction in 2008 thanks to RSPB NI, the Golden Eagle Trust and the Welsh Kite Trust. They are a spectacular sight and people continue to be enchanted and excited every time they see one.

However, our red kite population is small and vulnerable to persecution and natural losses. Sadly, just last month, a young red kite was shot dead in Moneyslane in Co Down.

RSPB NI has been successful in securing funding for our exciting new RKites Project, which is specifically geared towards safeguarding the species in NI and strengthening the link between people and this amazing bird.

“Now we need active ‘on the ground’ volunteers to help monitor red kites across counties Down and Armagh,” says Alan Ferguson, RSPB NI’s RKites Project Officer.

“We need to find out where their territories are, where they nest, and where they roost so we can accurately monitor their population.

“This is a great opportunity to put your skills to the test and learn some new ones. Species recognition, record-keeping and attention to detail are important aspects of this role, but full training and mentoring will be provided.”

The RKites Project has received £97,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) - made possible by money raised by National Lottery players - and additional funding from Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. The Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group (NIRSG) and Mourne Heritage Trust will help to provide support.

As well as looking for volunteers, we would also encourage anyone who sees a red kite to report the sighting via - telling us the time, date and location of your sighting and any wing tag colours, letters or numbers. We were actually able to find two new territories this year as a direct result of people contacting us, so information from the public is crucial.

Having lived side by side with us for several years now, many people are fiercely protective of them. And why shouldn’t they be? They are your red kites and they need your help.

* For more information on putting your name forward to become a red kite volunteer, contact RSPB NI’s Red Kites Project Officer Alan on 07527 665668 or email 

Bird News Sunday 24th September

A male Hen Harrier was seen from the cliff path just west of Dunseverick Castle. (Colin Guy).

10 Crossbills were in Capanagh Forest and up to 12 Ruff were at Belfast Lough RSPB Reserve. (Michael Latham).

A neck-collared Dark-bellied Brent Goose was at Islandhill, this is the sixth time that this bird has been seen at Islandhill since September 2015. (John Moore).

An Arctic Skua and 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls plus many Auks and Kittiwakes, 15 Common Scoter, Dolphins and Porpoises were feeding off Larne today. (Neal Warnock).

The best on Tory Island was a Lesser Whitethroat and 4 Willow Warblers (Brad Robson)

Thanks to Michael Latham for the picture of the Crossbill and to John Moore for the picture of the Dark Bellied Brent.

Bird News Saturday 23rd September

The American Golden Plover was with 400 Golden Plover in the field behind the pumping station along the track at Ballykelly. (Tom Ennis).

A Little Stint and 2 Ruff were in the Bann Estuary this afternoon. (Theo Campbell and Richard Donaghey).

  A late Swift and 28+ Twite were at Ballintoy Harbour this morning (Richard Donaghey).

5 Ruff were at Belfast Lough RSPB reserve this morning. (Garry Armstrong).

Bird News Friday 22nd September

3 Pomarine Skua, 1 Arctic Skua, 6 Great Northern Diver, 7 Arctic Tern, 30 Manx Shearwater and 50 Black Guillemots flew past St John's Point between 12noon-2pm. (Tim Murphy)

33 Ruff and a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper were at the Mullagh, Lough Beg (David Steele)

12 Pink-footed Geese were at Myroe (David Hill)

There was no sign of the reported Red-breasted Flycatcher today.

A Curlew Sandpiper and 2 Ruff were at the Bann Estuary (Colin Guy)

A Barn Owl was seen this evening on open ground close to Dermott Hill, west Belfast (Stephen Corr)

Thanks to Wilf and David for the pics below:

Pink-footed Geese, David Hill:

Male Sparrowhawk, Wilf Swain: 

Bird News Thursday 21st September

A Red-breasted Flycatcher has been reported by Brendan McKeown, at Kinrush airfield, Co Tyrone. He is happy to take birders to see it. You can call him at 02886737924 to arrange viewing.

Yesterday, as well as the American Golden Plover and the Lapland Buntings, there were 10 Med Gulls, and a presumed Black-headed x Med Gull hybrid (Dave Bakewell)

The best around Newcastle Harbour today was a Wheatear, 17 Turnstone and 23 Sanderling (Fulton Sommerville) 

3 Lapland Bunting, a Hen Harrier, c40 M Thrush and 11 White Wagtail were at Fair Head, Co Antrim (Richard Donaghey)

12 Ruff were at Lough Beg (David Steele)

6 Ruff and a Kingfisher were at RSPB WoW (Derek Polley)

Thanks to Dave for the pics of the presumed hybrid (top) and an adult Med Gull (bottom):

Bird News Wednesday 20th September

The adult American Golden Plover was still at Ballykelly along with two Lapland Buntings (Big WP Year team - Claes Wikstrom, Eric Rask, Marten Wikstrom).

The Lapland Bunting was still along the cliff path near the Giant's Causeway. (Colin Guy).

The Bann Estuary had a high count of 33 Snipe feeding on open mud-flat (Hill Dick/Peter Robinson)

Thanks to the Big WP Year team for this picture of the American Golden Plover and to Hill Dick for the picture of the Snipe.

Bird News Tuesday 19th September.

A Lapland Bunting was on the Giants Causeway path towards Runkerry Point.(Colin Guy)

3 Ruffs were at the south end of Dundrum South Inner Bay  (same area where 3 were seen regularly last winter). An adult Mediterranean Gull was with 300 Sanderlings at the high tide roost between the Glen River and Rock Pool in Newcastle. (David Nixon)

Yesterday..a Chough was near Rue Point , Rathlin. The island was otherwise rather quiet with 2 Chiffchaffs, a flock of 20 Skylarks and a pale phase Arctic Skua from the Ferry The Chough may be the last NI Bird with no breeding this year.(Colin Guy)

Our thanks to David Nixon of the ad. Med. Gull. Also to Dave Bakewell who kindly sent in these pics of the American Golden Plover(right hand bird) and the Buff-breasted Sandpiper,(the Plover and Sandpiper where both photographed yesterday).  

Bird News Monday 18th September

The adult American Golden Plover and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper were in a ploughed field next to the pumping station on the embankment just east of Ballykelly marsh (Dave Bakewell)

3 Med Gulls and 3 Slav. Grebes where also seen at Ballykelly.(Ric Else/Hazel Watson) 

A single Chiffchaff was at Kearney this morning.Guy Hamilton)

Our thanks to Steve Kent for this pic of an adult Sabines Gull seen off Nairn, Co Donegal on the 12th September: Also to Cameron Moore for the pic of the 2nd winter Med. Gull

Bird News Sunday 17th September

A Pectoral Sandpiper was at the Quoile, halfway towards the Yacht Club (Billy Miskelly)

Seven Ruff were at Belfast Lough RSPB this morning showing well outside the Observation Room. (Garry Armstrong).

A female Hen Harrier was at Castle Ward, see picture below. (John Moore).

The Red-necked Grebe was still off Mullagh, Lough Beg, 15 Ruff were also present. (David Steele).

A Hen Harrier, 2 Knot, 4 Twite and a Whitethroat were on Rathlin. (Ric Else & Hazel Watson).

Below is one of the Ruff from Belfast Lough RSPB and thanks to John Moore for the picture of the Hen Harrier and to Lilian Cummings for the picture of the Bar-tailed Godwit:


Two Million Thanks

Many thanks to everyone who uses the NI Birds Blog. We have now reached over 2 million hits and would therefore like to thank all who use the Blog. However the biggest thank you goes to those who provide news items, share updates, photographs and feedback. It is greatly appreciated as every user and contributor is the life blood of this Blog.
Many thanks for your support.

Bird News Saturday 16th September

The adult American Golden Plover was still in the ploughed field next to the pumping station at Ballykelly (Garry Armstrong / Wilton Farrelly)

A juvenile Curlew Sandpiper was at the Bann Estuary (Ian Dickey / Richard Donaghey)

Myroe had a Dark-bellied Brent, a Pink-footed Goose, 2 Ruff, a Slavonian Grebe & 3 Med Gulls (Neal Warnock)

American Golden Plover with Golden Plover:

Bird News Friday 15th September

The Bann Estuary had a juv Sabine's Gull off the hide.(see photo below); also 1 Curlew Sandpiper and a Ruff. (Hill Dick/Derek McIntyre).

Two adult Mediterranean Gulls were at Portrush East Strand. (Matthew Tickner).

Thanks to Hill Dick for the picture of the Sabine's Gull and to Derek Pollet for the picture of one of the Ruff from Belfast Lough RSPB yesterday.


Mandarin Ducks

We would be pleased to receive details of any records of Mandarin Ducks in NI to understand the current status of the species. If you have seen any birds recently, please email us details to

Female Mandarin, Gareth Platt:

Bird News Thursday 14th September

Ten Ruff were at RSPB WoW this morning (Derek Polley)

Sea watching from Rue Point, Rathlin this morning produced: 1 Storm Petrel, 3 Great Skuas, 4 Arctic Skuas, 40 Brent Geese, 7 Common Scoters and 1 Arctic Tern. (Richard Else and Hazel Watson)

A juvenile Little Gull was at RSPB WOW (Daniel Newton)

A seawatch at Melmore, Co Donegal Produced 46 bonxies, 18 Arctic Skuas, 2 Poms, 31 Sooties, 30 Arctic Terns, 125 Kittiwakes, 2 Common Scoter, 4 Red-throated Diver and a Great Northern Diver. A Peregrine was also seen making repeated attempts to catch Manx Shearwaters and then a Dunlin (Eric Randall)

Thanks to Stehen Maxwell for these pictures of two Ruff at RSPB WOW:

Bird News Wednesday 13th September

The Red-necked Grebe and two Ruff at were Lough Beg this morning (Richard Hunter)

A single Purple Sandpiper was along the coastal path 100m west of Pickie Fun Park / breakwater, Bangor (Derek Polley)

Lough Foyle today had an American Golden Plover and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Ballykelly (with 750 Golden Plover in a ploughed field heading towards Myroe). A Little Stint was at Myroe lawn fields. Also 3 Ruff and 58 Little Egret in the area (Brad Robson, Gareth Bareham and Matthew Tickner)

Bird News Tuesday 12th September

At least 9 Ruff, all juveniles, were at Belfast Lough RSPB reserve this afternoon. (Tom Ennis & Tony Dodds).

The Red-necked Grebe was still off the Mullagh at Lough Beg. (David Steele)

5 Arctic Skua, a Great Skua, 14 Red-throated Diver, 6 Arctic Tern, 1200 Manx Shearwater, a 1st winter Mediterranean Gull and 1 adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose flew past St John's Point. 1400 Razorbill and 400 Kittiwake were feeding at sea. 2000+ Meadow Pipits, 30 White Wagtails, 20 Skylark and 2 Redpoll migrated south over St John's Point in the morning. (Tim Murphy)

Thanks to James Rankin for the picture of the Sparrowhawk with it's Woodpigeon prey.

Bird News Monday 11th September

Seawatching at Rue Point, Rathlin 0800-1130, this morning produced: 1 (probably 2) adult Sabine's Gull, 1 Leach's Petrel, 1 Arctic Skua, 6 Great Skuas, 16 Sandwich Terns, 12 Arctic Terns, 5 'commic' terns, 15 Wigeons and a Whimbrel. (Ric and Hazel)

Seawatching at Ramore Head had an adult Sabines, 10 Arctic Terns, 2 Arctic Skuas, 7 Bonxies, 8 Storm Petrels, 6 Leaches Petrels, 30 Manx , and two Great Northern Divers (Stuart McKee, Gerard McGeeban and Shirley Dunlop)

At Myroe, the two Buff-breasted Sandpipers were still present (Tom Ennis, Carol Gillespie and Ray Bennett)

Further seawatching from Ramore Today at Ramore Head, 0700 - 1100  had 1 Pomarine Skua , 4 Sooty Shearwaters, 12 Leach's Petrels, 2 Arctic Skuas, 1 Bonxie, 26 Wigeon, 8 Common Scoters, 9 Arctic Terns and 8 Brent Geese. Between 1730 - 1930 there were 9 Leach's Petrels, 1 Sooty Shearwater, 1 Bonxie , 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver and 100 + Manx Shearwaters. A number of Brent Geese were seen arriving from  the North West this afternoon at Portballintrae - approximately 200 in four flocks (Colin Guy)

The Red-necked Grebe, 4 Ruff and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit were at Lough Beg today, (Gareth Bareham and Matthew Tickner). The adult Med Gull was at Portrush East Strand. 10 Leach's Petrel and 4 Bonxie were at Ramore this evening. (Matthew Tickner)

An Arctic or Pomarine Skua was seen distantly on Lower Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh this evening (Brad Robson)

Thanks to Noeni Bryars for this pic of a Ruff (one of 8 today) at RSPB WoW:

Bird News Sunday 10th September

Two Buff-breasted Sandpipers are at Myroe throughout the day (Michael Latham) Two Curlew Sandpipers were also present (Gerard McGeehan / Shirley Dunlop)

9 Ruff were at RSPB WoW (Kevin Kirkham)

At Magilligan Point at 4pm in a strong westerly wind were 5 Arctic Skua ( 4 dark 1 pale) and 1 Bonxie all flying west into Lough Foyle. An Arctic Tern was also on the beach. (Raymond Fulton)

At Burial Island, Co Down a Pomarine ‎Skua,,an Arctic Skua and 14 Red-throated Diver were seen. The hybrid Ring-billed Gull was back at Millisle (Richard Weyl).

Thanks to Michael for the pics of the Buff-breasted Sandpipers and a Curlew Sandpiper: