Bird News Tuesday 30th November

Thirty Waxwings were at Fitzwilliam Street in Stranmillis, Belfast. (Keith Bennett).

Bird News Monday 29th November

Two Twite were to the east of Ramore Head, Portrush and the adult Ring-Billed Gull was again in the East Strand car park (M Tickner)

The Ferruginous Duck was still at Corbet Lake.

The male Goosander was still at Loughisland Reavey.

There was no news of the Black Duck at Ward Park in Bangor being seen today.

Bird News Sunday 28th November

A Black Duck (of unknown origin as it has not been seen out of the water) was at Ward Park in Bangor at the main pond at the Castle Street end (Rory
Harman). This species would be unusual in a collection! However Ward Park holds a wide variety of feral wildfowl!
At Strangford Lough a BT Diver and 100 Tree Sparrow were at Herring Bay. 7 Slavonian Grebe were between Herring Bay and Greyabbey and another Slavonian
Grebe at Horse Island south of Kircubbin. 
20 Waxwing were at Annadale Embankment, Stranmillis (P Scott) 
2 Brambling were in a garden in Whitehead (Cameron Moore).

1000 Knot, 2 Grey Plover, 100 Golden Plover and a Little Egret were at Ballyreagh in Strangford Lough (Keith Bennett). 
A Carrion Crow was at Whitehead (I Enlander) 

Bird News for 27th Nov.

2 Mealy Redpoll and a Ferruginous/Pochard hybrid were at Craigavon Lakes.

The Ferruginous Duck was still present on Corbet Lake.

The Green-winged Teal still at RSPB Harbour Estate reserve.

5 Velvet Scoter and a Slavonian Grebe were of Macedon Point Co.Antrim (P.McCullough)

16 Tree Sparrow, 4 Yellowhammer, 150 Goldfinch were in a garden in Richill.(A.Poots)

3 Snow Bunting and a juv Peregrine were off Ballykelly Point.(T.Nelson)

1 Yellow Legged Gull was seen at Whitehouse Lagoon Co.Antrim.

Bird News Friday 26th November

The Green Winged Teal was still present at Belfast RSPB Reserve (Brian Douglas et al).
A Barn Owl has been observed in Belfast Harbour Estate.
An Adult Yellow-legged Gull was at Whitehouse Lagoon, Co. Antrim

Continuing the run of Brambling, two were at Lough shark today (Joe Devlin) and one was at Castle Caldwell RSPB Reserve (Brad Robson). 
A Brambling was also at Killywoolaghan on the Tyrone shore of Lough Neagh (Brendan McKeown). 

At Larne Lough 7 Pink Footed Geese were half a mile north of Ballycarry Bridge on the Island Magee side, 3 Twite at Sandy Bay in Larne and 3 Little Egret on the north side of Ballycarry Bridge (Cameron Moore).


Danny Boyd kindly sent in a picture of Treecreeper recently taken at the Quoile, Co. Down. A day before I was sent a picture of a Treecreeper that I had seen in Bucharest and was photographed by Cristian Mihai. Puzzled by them looking so different (particularly the wing bar) and wanting to know if the Romanian bird was actually a Short-toed Treecreeper, I checked up the Collins Bird Guide. Unknown to me was that there are two European races of Treecreeper - the Western race (macrodactyla) and the North \ Eastern Continental race (familiaris). The pictures below are of each and you can see the differences for yourself:
Treecreeper NI:
Treecreeper (Northern Ireland) - Danny Boyd

Treecreeper, Romania:

Treecreeper, Romania, Cristian Mihai

On the Romanian bird, you can see the bolder, whiter supercillium extending to forehead, wing bar is more broken with a strong black notch. The back \ mantle in this sub-species also has a lot more speckled white. Another distinguishing feature, the plain white underparts are not visible in this photograph. Something new (again) and whilst I do not expect to see one in NI, it has opened my eyes to this species!   

Gyrs & Harlequin Ducks

News today that from next June, there will be a twice weekly flight from Northern Ireland to Iceland will mean that Iceland will become closer for a unique bird and wildlife trip! The range of birding destinations with a direct flight from NI is quite limited so this will be a welcome addition. The only word of caution is you might need to extend the bank overdraft to cover the costs when you get there!


Earlier on this autumn we mentioned a minor Crossbill invasion. Many thanks to Tyrone Nelson for the photographs below which Tyrone took near Baronscourt, earlier this week. 72 birds were seen.

Bird News Thursday 25th November

30 Bramblings were at Islandnabracky near Martinstown, Co. Antrim, at reference D145148

Another 16 Bramblings were near Cargan at reference D166177 (R Weyl)

28 Waxwings were in flight over Monkstown shops.

The Green Winged Teal was still at Belfast Lough RSPB Reserve.

A single Jack Snipe was at Springwell forest.

Green-Winged Teal

The Green Winged Teal has again been reported from the Belfast Harbour RSPB Reserve today - Thursday 25th. (Paul Scott).
Below are pictures of the bird that was at Inch Lake, Co Donegal on the 23rd November, kindly supplied by Dermot Breen:

Green-Winged Teal, Inch, Donegal (bird to rear) - Dermot Breen

Green-Winged Teal - Inch, Donegal, Dermot Breen

Bird News Wednesday 24th November

A Green Winged Teal was at Belfast Harbour Estate (G McGeehan).
A Snow Bunting was at Termin Hill, Co L'Derry (D Steel)
49 Waxwing were along the Annadale Embankment (S McKee)
At Newtownbutler (Crom and Corlatt), Co Fermanagh, birds seen included 7 Jay, 1 Raven, 10 Great Crested Grebe and 15 Fieldfare. (S Scarlett)

Bird News Update Tuesday 23rd November

Sixty Waxwing were at Woodside industrial estate east of Ballymena (Richard Weyl).

There was a Green Sandpiper the Six Mile Water near Paradise Walk in Templepatrick, this is the fourth winter that a bird has been present at this site. (Sandy McWilliams).

A high count of sixty five Snipe were at the flooded field at Mountnorris, Co. Armagh. (Joe Devlin).

A male Smew and a Green Winged Teal were at Inch Lake, 11 Slavonian Grebe at Blanket Nook, but there was no sign of the Snow Goose reported last week. (Dermot Breen).

Kestrel - George McKee

Shrike Location

The Shrike that was seen at Carrickarede on Saturday was past the National Trust hut, on the way out to the rope bridge. Walk past the hut for about 1 - 2 minutes and it was in a Hawthorn hedge on the left hand side. The bird was looked for in the general area this morning without success. However it would still be worthwhile checking the area.

Bird News Tuesday 23rd November

The Shrike Sp. was looked for for about 90 minutes this morning with no success. However, information on the exact location is being sought as it is a large area to cover.

In Donegal, a second hand report has come in that there was a Snow Goose and 130 Pink Footed Geese at Blanket Nook last week (Dermot Breen)

Bird News Update - 22nd November

In addition to the news in the previous postings (including the Shrike report, the Ferruginous Duck and Waxwings),  a female Goosander was at Ballymena's Ecos Park (J.Larkin) and 6 Long tailed Duck showing well of Fishermans Pier in Carrickfergus.

Long Tailed Tit, Quoile - Danny Boyd

Shrike Alert!

Always an extremely rare bird in NI, a shrike species (possibly a grey species?) was seen at Carrickarede, Co Antrim on Saturday. It was seen along a Hawthorn Hedge, along the path at the site.

Buzzards - Help Wanted

There is study due to commence shortly on our breeding Buzzards. The study will look at prey items in nests and also see a number of buzzards wing tagged. The project is being undertaken under license from the BTO and NIEA and in association with the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group. Eimear Rooney is undertaking this work and is seeking help. If you know of a Buzzard nesting site that could be part of the study, she would be pleased to receive details. Information will be treated confidentially.
You can contact Eimear at:  or mobile: 07743068931

Buzzard  - Marc Ruddock

Bird News Monday 22nd November

The Ferruginous Duck was still at Corbet Lough outside Banbridge. Also 12 Whooper Swan there. There was also a hybrid with the Tufted Duck (Pochard x Tufted?).
Circa 50 Waxwing were on show opposite Cutters Wharf, Stranmillis. In the sunshine, the birds were largely hawking insects over the Lagan as opposed to feeding on the considerable berry crop.

In Donegal a Black-necked Grebe was at Dunfanaghy New Lake, along with two Pink footed Geese. Fanad Head had 100+ Eider, 51 Long-tailed duck and 3 Snow Bunting. (D Breen). 


As mentioned in the previous post, Waxwings are showing well along the River Lagan. There are at least 110 birds.
A stunning photograph which captures these birds really well has been sent in by Craig Nash:

Waxwing - Ormeau Embankment, Craig Nash

Bird News Sunday 21st November

There are still large numbers of Waxwing along the River Lagan in Belfast.
The largest group spent an hour in the morning at the corner of the Ormeau
Embankment and Ravenhill Road before flying into Ormeau Park (John Pyper).
60 were still at Lagan Meadows (Bernard Anderson). At least 30 Waxwings were in the Stranmillis area - on both sides of the river near Cutters Wharf and Stranmillis Weir (James Robinson)
At Strangford Lough a GWF Goose and Slavonian Grebe were at Ann's Point and another 7 Slavonian Grebe at Greyabbey Bay South (Richard Weyl).

A Belfast Lough a Slavonian Grebe was at Greenisland (Gerard McGeehan). 

8 - 10 Little Egrets were on Lough Foyle (L McClatchey)
Three Black-throated Diver, one Slavonian Grebe and one Little Egret between Greyabbey and Kircubbin (James Robinson)

A first winter female Surf Scoter was at Murvagh, Co. Donegal (D Breen).

Bird News Saturday 20th November Update

70 Waxwing were at Stranmillis in Belfast - both at the boat club and Stranmillis College car park (Garry Wilkinson).
The male Ferruginous Duck was at Corbet Lough.
150 Wigeon, 300 Lapwing, 2 Greenshank and 29 Brent were at Roe Estuary (C Stewart).
55 Sanderling, 2 RT Diver and 3 Grey Plover were at Castlerock (Mervyn Guthrie).
Yesterday the Goosander and a Chiffchaff were at Ballycastle as well as Waxwings heard calling. The adult RB Gull was at Portrush East Strand car
park (Colin Guy).

Bird News for Saturday 20th November

Two sizeable flocks of Twite have been reported today. 25 were at Whitehead Seafront (Ian Enlander) and 40 were at Ballintoy Harbour, Co. Antrim. (Geoff Campbell).
Two extremely late Swallow were at Ballycastle along with a drake Long-tailed Duck (G Campbell)
The female Blue-winged Teal was again at the North Bull, Co. Dublin (

Little Egret with Flatfish, Dundrum - Angus Kennedy

Golden Plover flock - Floodgates, Newtownards, George McKee

Bird News for 19th Nov.

The Waxwing flock at Stranmillis in Belfast has increased to an impressive 110 birds, certainly worth having a look at over the weekend.

50 Waxwing were at Peters Hill at the bottom of the Shankill Road Belfast.

22 Black - throated Diver were of Newcastle,(a new NI record) along with 11 GN Diver, 25 RT Diver, 600 Common Scoter and 45 GC Grebe, most have been the Divers AGM, amazing numbers(F.Somerville/J.McKevitt)

The Ferruginous Duck was back on Corbet Lake and a Red Kite was seen in the area.(F.Carroll)

Copeland Bird Observatory Events

Copeland Bird Observatory are holding a number of events over the next few months including:
Nov 23rd - Adam McClure will be presenting on the Montrose basin, Scotland, and Janet Wilson from the RSPB will discuss sustainable communities.
Jan 25th - Kerry Leonard will report on bird ringing in Kenya
Mar 22nd - AGM and Richard Hoy will talk about rining Fall Warblers in Canada.

Meetings take place at the Ulster Museum, Stranmillis, and further details can be obtained by calling 07770 368856.

Bird News for 18th Nov.

30 + Waxwings were seen and heard in flight over Holywood town centre at 16.30, probably going to roost (I.Graham)

Little Egrets at the Floodgates, Newtownards

Many thanks to George McKee for the picture below of Little Egrets feeding at the Floodgates, Newtownards.

Little Grebes on the Lagan

Our thanks to Danny Boyd who took these superb images of a Little Grebe from the River Lagan a few days ago. For those of us who try our hand at photographing birds it can be very frustrating to say the least, but when we get results like this it is surely worth it.

Bird News for 17th Nov.

9 Greylag Geese, 89 Whooper Swan and 300 Lapwing were at Corlatt, Newtownbutler, Co.Ferm.(S.Scarlett/J.Sey)

The Ring-billed Gull was still at East Strand car park in Portrush and 3 Twite were east of Ramore Head(M.Tickner)

The Ferruginous Duck was back on Corbet Lake Co.Down(T.Ennis)

8 Waxwings were reported from Birch Green, Glengormley

Bird News for 16th Nov.

Thanks to G.McKee who kindly sent in these photo's of the Waxwings still at Lagan Meadows in Belfast this morning, the flock contained about 30 birds

200 Whooper Swan, 250 Lapwing, 1 Buzzard, 1000+Starling were at Corlatt, Newtownbutler Co.Ferm.(S.Scarlett/ J.Sey)

For all you avid twitchers out there the American Coot was still showing at Termoncarragh on the Belmullet penisula Co.Mayo. It's a long drive from Northern Ireland so anyone feeling adventurous
enough to go, the very best of luck.

For the record this is only the second time ever that a American Coot has been found in Ireland the first was back in 1981 which stayed for two months, there has also been about half a dozen records from Britain.

A pale Great Skua was at Whitehouse Lagoon in Belfast before flying off towards Duncrue St.(P.McCullough)

The dark Great Skua, 2 fem/imm. LT Duck and a Slav.Grebe was off Macedon Point. 3 male LT Duck off Carrick and a male LT Duck off Holywood.(S.McKee)

A GN Diver and a Greenshank were at Lower Lough Erne islands RSPB reserve(B.Robson)

1 Snow Bunting was at Sandy Bay in Larne (C.Moore)

16 Waxwings (which now seen to be everywhere) were along the Racecourse Road in Ballymena.(R.Hunter)

Some late news from yesterday(15th) the Great Skua was still of Macedon Point along with 4 Whooper Swan.(G.McGeehan)

Plenty of interesting birds around at the moment,not least the Great Skua's which seem content to stay around Belfast Lough and Waxwings which are been reported from most counties.

Thanks again to everyone who text/e-mail/ring any news of interesting birds.

Bird News Monday 15th November

A "redhead" Smew was off Mullagh at Lough Beg (David Steele, George Henderson).

A single Waxwing was in a garden in Ardoyne Avenue (John Fitzsimmons).

A Merlin was attacking a feral pigeon in Donegall Street in Belfast (David Clarke).

Yesterday a SE Owl was at Murlough Nature Reserve in south Down (per Chris Murphy). 
An American Coot was found today on Belmullet.
Below is a picture of a Kingfisher at Kiltonga by George McKee:

Sunday Bird News Update

One Great northern Diver off Groomsport this morning showing lots of remaining summer plumage plus a single little egret and a flock of around 20 reed bunting and tree sparrows. (James Robinson)

On Tuesday there was a report of a dead great northern diver near Ram's Island on Lough Neagh which has been picked up by the Ulster Museum for the skin collection.

10 Little Egrets were near the Floodgates at Newtownards (George McKee)

How close can you get???

For some simply amazing photographs of Waxwings on Fair Isle, see the Fair Isle blog at:

Bird News Sunday 14th November

Up to 30 Waxwings were at Lagan Meadows, Belfast (Danny Boyd et al) 
On the Antrim side of Belfast Lough the Great Skua and 2 LT Duck were off Loughshore Park (Stuart McKee).
A Slavonian Grebe was off Macedon Point (George Gordon) and 3 Whooper Swan at Dargan Bay (Ian Mitchell).
22 Crossbill were at Ballyboley Forest (Gerard McGeehan).
A Little Egret was at Ballymacormick Point (George Henderson).
A Goosander was seen at Corbett Lough, Co. Down.


Below are photographs of some of the birds seen today (Sunday) \ last few days at Lagan Meadows (Knightbridge Car Park \ Bladon Drive). many thanks to Danny Boyd for these:

Bird News for 13th Nov.

Not a lot to report to-day except for more Waxwings, 10 were along the road between Ballygawley and Augher.(W.Farrelly)

Bird News Friday 12th November

3 Waxwings at Leggs Mushroom Farm near Castle Caldwell, county Fermanagh (A.Burns \ B Robson)
100 Waxwing were at the Lagan Meadows in Belfast - at one stage adjacent to Knightsbridge Manor (John Lyons).
2 Waxwing were in Saintfield (Norma Price).
12 Little Egret at Castle Espie (R Smith)

Mark Carmody has contributed a number of photographs to this web site already. However this shot of the Semipalmated Sandpiper at Ballycotton, Cork is stunning. Unfortunately the bird was attacked by a raptor and suffered damage (note the blood staining at the base of the wing). Semipalmated Sandpiper is still an extremely rare bird in NI with only 9 records.

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Ballycotton, Cork - Mark Carmody

Osprey - Garden Tick

Stephen Scarlett kindly sent in this photograph of an Osprey from his garden in Fermanagh. The photograph was taken in September.

Bird News for 11th Nov.

Waxwings dominate the news with a flock of 60 in Ballycastle (G.Campbell) and a flock of 6 were reported from the Shankill Road in Belfast.(D.Weir)
Another 20 were reported from Moygashel nr Dungannon.(D.Coney)

As predicted earlier from the blog it looks to be an invasion year, keep a look out, even your own garden with suitable food supply. From a distance they tend to look like a flock of Starlings,even in flight so pay a little extra attention to any such flock and you could be rewarded with your very own flock of these wonderful looking birds.

A female Snow Bunting was at Portrush east strand (M.Tickner)

Bird News for 10th Nov.

A Richard's Pipit was seen and heard in flight at Temain Hill which is between Garvagh and Limavady (D.Steele)

It is quite ironic that only last week the finder was watching quite a number of these large pipit's on the pivot fields in Dubai in 40 degrees heat, I am sure the last thing he expected to-day was finding one in is own back yard and the temperature, maybe not quite 40.

This is the 7th time that Richard's Pipit has been recorded in Northern Ireland, the first been back in 1968. The date fits in perfectly to all previous records,they tend to be a late autumn migrant(late Oct-early Nov.) A bird very hard to see on the ground most records are birds only heard while flying overhead, the call however is very distinctive like a House Sparrow shreep .

Elsewhere to-day 3 Waxwing were on the Ormeau Road,city side just before the bridge.(B.Douglas)

An imm. Great Northern Diver was at Kells Point, SW Lough Neagh. (D.Hughes)

The Ferruginous Duck and 35 Little Grebe were at Corbet Lake (F.Somerville/J.McKevitt).

A Jack Snipe and 2 Red Grouse were at Slieveard nr Gortin Forest (C.Mellon)

A remarkable record of a Woodcock, which flew across High St in Belfast city centre (R.Gray)

Bird News for 9th Nov.

3 Waxwing and a Goosander were at Ballycastle Co.Antrim and 25 Snow Bunting at Carnlough (G.Campbell)

10 Whooper Swan, 2 Gadwall, 7 Little Egret and a Carrion Crow were at Larne Lough and 2 Purple Sandpiper at Sandy Bay (C.Moore)

11 Sandwich Tern were still at Portaferry,these birds may well overwinter (J.Foster)

A LT Duck was at Donnybrewer Lough Foyle (J. Wray)

Bird News for 8th Nov.

A Ferruginous Duck was on Corbet Lake Co.Down (D.Knight)

6 Waxwing were on the Moylena Road, Antrim (D.Hunter)
2 Slavonian Grebe, a Long tailed Duck 7 Red throated Diver and 150 Black Guillemot were at Macedon Point (S.McKee)
A second winter Med. Gull was at Portrush east strand car park (C.Guy)

Bird News for 7th Nov.

A Little Auk was seen close to the shore at Tyrella beach Co.Down ( D.Hughes)

6 LT Duck and 7 RT Diver were at Fisherman's Pier in Carrick and 33 Whooper Swan and a Greenshank at Glynn Station ( G.McGeehan)

2LT Duck a Slavonian Grebe and a RT Diver were of Macedon Point Co.Antrim (S.McKee)

120 Whooper Swan were in the fields behind Castle Espie and 246 Eider of the Brent hide (D.Blakely)

Bird News Saturday 6th November

2 Lesser Canada Geese considered 'parvipes' types, along with a Pink-footed Goose, were at Belfast Lough RSPB reserve, before flying off south (T Ennis).
2 Brambling were at Boho Island, Co Fermanagh (Irish Birding).
Yesterday, 2 adult White-fronted Geese were seeen flying southat low level, at Tattymoyle, north of Clabby, Co. Fermanagh (possibly heading for Slieve Beagh or Lendrums Bridge). (D Hughes)

Rathlin Seabird Centre

The RSPB's Rathlin Seabird Centre enjoyed its higest ever visitor count this year. Nearly 17,000 visitors made it to the Islands Seabird Centre at the West Light. If you have not managed to visit it yet, it is one of NI's top nature reserves and a truly amazing place. It is best visited in May, June and July when seabird activity is at its highest.
RSPB Seabird Centre, West Light, Rathlin

Friday News Update

8 GWF Geese were in flight over Cullybackey (Jeff Larkin).
4 Whooper Swans flew over Crom, Fermanagh. (S Scarlet)
Yesterday a Barn Owl was along Waterloo Road in Lisburn (Gary Wilkinson).
Another was also seen at Loughgall (N Harrison).
Also from yesterday we have a description of 2 RN Grebe (one an immature) at
Kinnegoe Bay, Oxford Island (Stephen Hewitt).

Bird News Friday 5th November

11 Waxwing were seen at Springwell Forest (between Limavady & Coleraine) (T Nelson)
A Little Egret and a Pheasant were at Belfast RSPB Reserve (B Douglas & R Scott)

The Northern Harrier is showing at Tacumsin, Wexford (Irish Birding)

A 'Baltic Gull' ???

Before anyone gets excited, its not a real Baltic Gull. However, on 2nd November 2010 Stephen Foster had an adult Black-headed Gull at Newcastle (on beach beside Glen River car park) with a black colour ring.  It had "P309" in white letters. He has now received the full details by e-mail of the origin of the bird and it was ringed in March 2010 at a dump in Lithuania!  The sighting is the farthest west of any Black-headed Gull ringed during the project. Any further sightings of this bird or others with black "Pxxx" rings should be submitted to Vytautas Pareigis.

Bird News Thursday 4th November

A pair of Dark-bellied Brent at Finlay's Road Bay on Strangford Lough this afternoon(G McIlwaine)
Yesterday, 20 Pink-footed Geese were seen flying NW past Killough, Co. Down (C Murphy)

Bird News Tuesday 3rd November

A Brambling was visiting a private garden in Richill, Co. Armagh (A Poots)
2 Brambling were at Killough (C Murphy).
A Yellowhammer was at Lisbarnet Road, Comber (J Millar)
 4 small parties of Whitefronts and a party of 12 Whooper Swans few south-east over Templepatrick on Sunday over an hour. The flightline was approximately over Cast Upton,and all birds seemed to follow the same flightline - despite going through at significantly different times. (N McKee)
12 Little Egret were at Castle Espie (R White)
A 'second hand' report has come in that the Black Brant was at the Floodgates again today.
12 Redwing and 4 Fieldfare were at Inch Abbey (D Blakely),
5 Slavonian Grebe were at Greyabbey Bay South (Flightline).
Yesterday, a Snow Bunting was at Slieve Beagh, between Tyrone \ Monaghan.

The American Northern Harrier was seen again today in Wexford.

Buff-bellied Pipit Wexford

If you are still looking for that Buff-bellied Pipit, excellent footage of the weekends Wexford bird is at:

Bird News Monday 1st November

12 Little Egret were at Castle Espie.
Many thanks for a number of Barn Owl reports! On Saturday, there was a Barn Owl hunting in BallyKelly, Lough Foyle, at around 7 in the morning. (K McElkearney)
Late news for last Tuesday: 350 - 400 eider at the mouth of Belfast Lough in rafts from 8 -12 up to 30 - 40, with almost exact numbers of males/females in each raft. Also 2 Great Northern Divers. (I McKee)
The Portrush Ring-billed Gull, Danny Boyd, October 2010

Waxwing Winter?

Disappointingly, reports of Waxwings in the last few days have not reached the numbers anticipated. However there is still plenty of time left for an 'Invasion'. The RSPB are also encouraging gardeners to avoid cutting hedges with berries. Please let us know if you are lucky enough to come across any!


Great Skua, Belfast Lough

A Great Skua has been reported from Belfast Lough in the last few days. Gerry O'Neil has kindly sent us pictures of a bird that he photographed in October - at the Hermitage, Co. Louth. The bird was 'wrecked' after strong easterly winds. Could this be the same bird that's currently in Belfast lough?