The best around Kearney Village was 2 male Wheatears, 4 Whimbrel and 2 Stock Doves. (Robert Hart, Michael Richardson and Fulton Somerville)
A Spotted Flycatcher was seen in Slieve Gullion forest park this morning. (Frank Carroll)
2 Cuckoos were calling near the Ballynulto Road, Antrim Hills this morning (Brenda Campbell)
RSPB WoW was relatively quiet this morning with 5 Shoveler, 20+ Common Terns and 3 Arctic Terns. There were at least 6 Mediterranean Gulls but no sign of the Little Gulls in the morning. There were however 1400+ Black-headed Gulls (Derek Polley) Black Guillemot, Bangor, Jeff Silvers:
This morning a female Whinchat was on the beach at Newcastle, near Kent’s Amusements. Also an imm. Iceland gull off Newcastle harbour. (Danny Bailie).
Two Little Gulls were at RSPB Belfast Lough reserve, Sandwich, Arctic and Common Terns and a Common Sandpiper were also present, (Kevin Kirkham Brown/ Derek Polley).
The west end of Rathlin had a Wood Warbler, Garden Warbler, 2 Tree Pipits, 4 Spotted Flycatchers and good numbers of Willow Warblers and Blackcaps. (Ric Else & Hazel Watson)
Thanks to Ric Else for the pictures of the Wood Warbler and the Tree Pipit, to Kevin Kirkham-Brown for the picture of the Little Gull, to Wilf Swain for the pictures of the male Wheatear and the Willow Warbler and to Steve Grieve for the picture of the Kestrel:
The distinctive call of one of our rarest and most secretive birds has returned to Rathlin Island.
The unmistakable “crex-crex” call of the corncrake has been heard on the island, much earlier in the season than usual, prompting hopes that this iconic bird has successfully bred.
The corncrake is a red-listed species (a bird of high conservation concern) and while many people can fondly remember hearing its call in years gone by, Rathlin is the only place in Northern Ireland where the birds have been heard in recent years. Corncrakes are highly secretive and like to settle in early growing tall vegetation including nettles, cow parsley and irises.
Over the weekend RSPB staff and volunteers confirmed that the call was heard on the western end of the island – the same location as last year and in 2016.
Liam McFaul, RSPB NI Rathlin Island warden, said: “It’s fantastic news. It’s very early in the season to have a bird come back, so this is really encouraging. Corncrakes are territorial so they always come back to the place where they were either breeding or where they hatched. We’d normally first hear the call in mid-to-late May.
“Only the male corncrake calls, so hopefully this means he is home to roost. There’s a chance that this could be the offspring of the male that we’ve heard calling over the last couple of years. And because it’s so early in the season, its call could attract more corncrakes to Rathlin.”
Historically, corncrakes were common across Rathlin but they have gone into sharp decline since the 1980s. By 1989 they stopped returning on their migratory route from Africa as a regular breeder.
The birds have turned up sporadically since and the last confirmed breeding corncrakes on the island were recorded in 2000. A bird was heard calling in 2014 and again in 2016 and 2017.
However, the species can still be found in large numbers on the west coast of Scotland and in Donegal.
Over the last 15 years, RSPB NI has been engaged in specific habitat management on Rathlin in an effort to re-establish a sustainable breeding corncrake population in Northern Ireland.
RSPB NI staff and volunteers have been working hard to provide more of the breeding environment that corncrakes prefer – including suitable early vegetation cover on the island.
“We were actually involved in a project to plant nettles in the area where the corncrake can be heard now, so it could well be in those nettles that he’s making his home,” added Liam. “All of this work we’re doing is for the long-haul and the goal is to have a sustainable corncrake population on Rathlin again.
“The fact that this one is in the same area is a good indicator that breeding has been successful. So we can almost be sure that it bred last year, because the male was heard calling for 66 consecutive days.
“It’s definitely good news. If we have an established corncrake population here it could be a big tourism benefit for Rathlin.
People are known to travel to Tory Island in Donegal just because of the corncrakes there.
“It’s still early in the season, so it could well be that we hear another corncrake somewhere else on the island. That would be a really encouraging sign that the work we’re is doing for corncrakes is making a difference.”
Corncrakes are easily spooked, so members of the public are asked not to try and get in any way close to the bird if they hear its call as it is on private land and it is really important that the bird is not disturbed.
A pair of Dotterel were with a flock of Golden Plover on the fields at Myroe Levels this morning (Mervyn and Susanne Guthrie). Both birds were still showing early this evening (Brian McCloskey).
Two adult Mediterranean Gulls were observed flying over a house in Antrim (Davy Hunter)
A White-tailed Eagle was on the shores of Lough Neagh not far from Ardboe, Co.Tyrone. The bird has no wing tags. (Clare Bell) The bird was then seen at Reedy Flats this afternoon (Mark Killops)
A Ring Ouzel was on Rathlin (Ric Else / Hazel Watson)
Our thanks to Ric/Hazel for the photo of the Ring Ouzel and to Clare who sent in the photo of the White-tailed Eagle. Also to Mervyn for the pics of the two Dotterel. Another pic of the White-tailed Eagle seen at Reedy Flats kindly sent in by Mark Killops
An untagged sub-adult White-tailed Eagle was at Glenarriff today, last seen heading towards Martinstown (Mervyn Campbell)
A Little Gull, 9 Mediterranean Gulls and a Ruff were at RSPB WoW (Garry Armstrong) Later in the afternoon At Belfast Harbour Reserve this afternoon I had a Whimbrel, a Common Sandpiper and 2 adult Little Gulls (Tom Ennis)
A juv White-tailed Eagle was at Blackers rock Lough Neagh (Godfrey McRoberts)
A Whinchat along with a good fall of Greenland Wheatears were at Rue Point, Rathlin (Hazel Watson / Ric Else)
A Whinchat was in the Antrim Hills (Daniel Newton) 6 Crossbill were at Glenshane Forest (Lindsay Hodges)
The drake Ring-necked Duck was still at The Quoile (Kevin Kirkham-Brown)
An untagged Red Kite was on Acre Road, Magheralin (Brian Boyce)
Garron Point, Co Antrim had a 1st year and adult Iceland Gull (Ian Enlander)
13 Crossbill were at Lough Navar Forest Park feeding on Larch. 6 Whimbrel were seen at Portadown flying north (Brian Nelson)
Cuckoos, Grasshopper Warblers, Whitethroats, Swifts and Sedge Warblers are now widely reported. Thanks to everyone for their sightings.
Many thanks to Mervyn Campbell for this pic of the White-tailed Eagle:
The drake Ring-necked Duck was still still at the Quoike. A Ruff was also present. (Wilton Farrelly / Michael Latham)
A Glaucous Gull was at Killard (David Stirling)
At Lough Beg, a Little Ringed Plover was at Paddy’s Dubh and 300+ White Wagtail were also present. (David Steele)
Yesterday a Red kite was over Annacloy at 19.30pm (Garry Wilkinson) and late news was of a Barn Owl near Crossgar on Wednesday morning (Cynthia Rice) A Red Kite was along the Dromara Road, Dundrum (Wilf Swain)
A first year Little gull was at Cloughey Bay (Richard Weyl)