Bird News for Thursday 31st March

The Great Grey Shrike dominates to-days news,but there was a few other things around as well.

15 Waxwing were on the West Circular Road in Belfast (I.Graham)

A male RN Duck was at Templewater in Castleward (Spencer and Joan Marshall).

10 Waxwing were at Belfast City Hall (Chris and Tim Murphy).

50 Manx Shearwater (the first reported) went past Kearney Point over one hour. A female Brambling and 2 Tree Sparrow were at Kircubbin (Keith Bennett).

A third year Iceland Gull, Peregrine, Chiffchaff and Sand Martin were at Enniskillen Tip (Brad Robson).

A Red Kite flew over the A1 at Banbridge and 2 Buzzard farther up the road
(Fulton Somerville).

Great Grey Shrike Update 31st March

The Great Grey Shrike was again seen this morning in very difficult conditions. It was about 500m north west (left) from the junction at the old farmhouse buildings at Slievenacloy, (from the Flowbog Road). Originally very brief views were had but later it showed on hawthorn bushes. It was also visible from the Flowbog Road.
About 25 birders seen it (most from RoI), making this the largest twitch in NI in a very long time!
The bird was seen up until 19.45 at the farmhouse buildings when it disappeared, but light was fading fast at this point so hopefully it was going to roost.

Great Grey Shrike Update

The Great Grey Shrike at Slievenacloy NR has been seen again in the last few minutes (7 pm)

For details on how to access the site, go to:

Bird News Wednesday 30th March

Apart from the Great Grey Shrike (see previous post):
An adult Mediterranean Gull was at Lower Lough Erne (Brad Robson). 2 Swallow were at Belfast Central Station (Paul McCullough)
Yesterday at Lough Neagh 30 Sand Martin and a Willow Warbler were at Derrywarragh and a Willow Warbler and Swallow south of Maghery (Richard Weyl)
A Swallow was at Carrickfergus Leisure Centre (Roy Kirkwood)
3 hirundines were over the Waterside in Derry (Stephen Davis)
16 Waxwing were in trees around the front and side of Belfast City Hall, first seen early morning and then again at approx 12.30pm, when they flew off. (David Nixon & Philip McHaffie)
A Swallow and Raven over Clandeboye Heights in Bangor, (Colin Cardy)
Two Brambling were in a garden at Knock, east Belfast (W Farrelly)
Stonechat (Female) - George McKee

Great Grey Shrike Today

One was at Slievenacloy NR, Co. Antrim this afternoon. "It was seen for 20 seconds on hawthorn before doing a disappearing act. It flew behind bushes and the observer lost it". The observer is experienced in this species.
The exact location was near the top of the hill but NE of the old farmhouse along a scrappy hawthorn hedge east of the heath area. The place is a complete maze of wire fences and hawthorn bushes as far as the eye can see. The finder spent about 1 hour trying to find it again, but without success (Dermot Hughes)

Bird News For Tuesday 29th March

A Hawfinch was at Ballygally, Co. Antrim. It was seen briefly feeding in fruit trees and on the ground in a private garden at 8am. It was not seen subsequently. It will be looked for again tomorrow and if refound in the same garden access can, hopefully, be arranged. (Neal Warnock)
26 Sand Martin and a Swallow were at Lower Lough Erne Islands RSPB Reserve.(Brad Robson)
3 singing Blackcap and a Willow Warbler were at Oxford Island (Stephen Hewitt)
4 Sandwich Tern, 200 Golden Plover and a few Turnstone were at Groomsport.(Dot Blakely)
2 Slavonian Grebes were in Gretabbey Bay South, Strangford Lough. (Irish Birding)
Thanks to George McKee for this shot of a Black Guillemot on Bangor pier

Black Guillemot, Bangor Pier - George McKee

Bird News for Monday 28th March

A flock of 31 Twite was at Lough Foyle (Brad Robson).
17 Waxwing were in trees around the City Hall in Belfast. (Irishbirding)
3 Red Grouse, 8 Crossbill and a Wheatear were at Capanagh on the Antrim Plateau (Gerard McGeehan, Shirley Dunlop).
Yesterday an adult Iceland Gull was in flight over Portrush (Colin Guy) and 5 Fieldfare were at Monea in Fermanagh (Brad Robson)
A count of Lough Foyle produced a third year Iceland Gull, a Little Egret, 11 Slavonian Grebe, 26 PF Geese, 36 GWF Geese. 2 Merlin, 13 Tree Sparrow and several Sand Martin (Brad Robson).
A Treecreeper, Blackcap and 2 LT Tit were in a garden in Larne (David Gillespie).
Brambling (male) - Andrew Poots

Bird News for Sunday 27th March

The Snow Goose (see Ed O'Hara's photo above) along with 4 Pink-footed Geese were amongst a mixed flock which contained Whooper Swan, Greylag and Barnacle Geese in fields just north of RSPB Portmore Lough Reserve Co. Armagh(W.Farrelly/P.West/E/O'Hara)

25/30 Waxwing were at Harberton Park off Balmoral Avenue in Belfast at 2pm. They returned there at 6pm (Kate Doherty)

3 and possibly up to 6 Great Spotted Woodpecker were at Downpatrick and the female Smew still on the River Quoile (same location as below) .(N.Price et al )

100 Golden Plover were at Ballyquintin and 3 Sandwich Tern at Ballyhenry. A fem/imm Smew and 3 Sand Martin were at Collectors Bay at the Quoile Pondage
(Keith Bennett).

20 Stock Dove and 200 Woodpigeon were in a stubble field at Portavo Reservoir (Richard Weyl)

25/30 Waxwing were at Harberton Park off Balmoral Avenue in Belfast at 2pm. They returned there at 6pm (Kate Doherty).

At Strangford Lough 10 GN Diver were at Marlfield. Another 8 GN Diver were at Gransha and 2 at Kircubbin. 8 BT Diver were south of Gransaha Point. A Chiffchaff was at Kearney (Richard Weyl).

A DB Brent, 130 Pale-bellied, 2 PF Geese, 2 adult Mediterranean Gull, 3
Greenshank and a Gadwall were at Glynn in Larne Lough (Cameron Moore).

A Chiffchaff was at Castle Espie WWT (Dot Blakely).

4 Sandwich Tern were back on Cockle Island at Groomsport. A Sandwich Tern was at Portaferry at 14 Slavonian Grebe at Greyabbey Bay South (George

Summer arrivals are arriving daily Sand Martins were reported from the Quoile and Carlingford Lough, Chiffchaffs were calling everywhere in Co.Ferm along with a singing Blackcap and on Thurs. a House Martin was reported from Co.Armagh.

Our thanks to Mark Killops who kindly sent in this superb image of a Dipper on the River Cusher in Tandragee Co.Armagh.

Black Guillemots

This is an excellent time of year to view Black Guillemots up close around harbours (and the River Lagan). Many thanks to Mark Killops for the excellent photographs taken today:

Bird News Saturday 26th March (Updated)

The Snow Goose and 2 Pink Feet were at Aghalea, Co. Armagh (Brad Robson)
The Ring-necked Duck was still at Lough Cowey, Co. Down (Keith Bennett)
A Swallow was at Mount Stewart and a Wheatear at Cloghy, Co. Down (Keith Bennett)
8 Twite were at Briggs Rocks (Wilton Farrelly)
A male Ring Ouzel was at Slemish Mountain, Co. Antrim, around the southern slopes. 10+ Wheatears were also present. (Neal Warnock)
The adult Glaucous Gull was on the rocks north of Portavogie Harbour (Keith Bennett).
At Larne Lough 2 PF Geese, an adult Mediterranean Gull, 4 Greenshank and a Gadwall were at Glynn (Gerard McGeehan, Shirley Dunlop).
8 Gadwall and 30 Sand martin were at Great Dam (Ian Mitchell).
10 Chiffchaff, 11 Tree Sparrow and 2 Reed Bunting were between Scarva and Lough Shark (Fulton Somerville).
A Little Egret, 2 male Wheatear and 2 Skylark were at Ballykelly (Stephen Davis).
A Chiffchaff was at Moneymore (John Scruff).
3 Pink-footed Geese were at Portmore Lough (Ed O'Hara)
Pink-footed Geese and Greylags - Ed O'Hara

Reminder of membership.

This is just a quick reminder to anyone who has not paid their membership for 2011. As you all know we as a club are totally self funded and rely on membership donations to fund both Flightline and the Bird Report, so if you haven't yet paid please send your cheque (make payable to NIBA) for £10.00 to Walter Veale, 9 Ballymacash Road, Lisburn, BT28, 3DX. Your continued support is very much appreciated.

Bird News for Friday 25th March.

6 Brambling (2m,4f) were in a garden in Bangor at Perry Drive/Perry Park.(Irishbirding)
8 LT Duck were off Greenisland in Belfast Lough (Gerard McGeehan).

The Ring Necked Duck was seen again at Lough Cowey.

At Strangford Lough 35 Slavonian Grebe were between Greyabbey and Kircubbin.3 GN Diver were at Kircubbin and a GN Diver and 8 BT Diver south of GranshaPoint (Richard Weyl).

At Larne Lough the DB Brent, 2 PF Geese and 3 Greenshank were at Glynn. 2Carrion Crow were of the south side of Ballycarry Bridge (Cameron Moore).

500 Black-tailed Godwit were at Lough Beg and 4 PF Geese at Mullagh (DavidSteele).

2 Waxwing were at Bellvue Zoo in Belfast at 7am (Phillip McHaffie).

Yesterday a Chiffchaff and 2 Buzzard were at the lead Mines above Conlig(Dot Blakely).

Bird News for Thursday 24th March

A Glaucous Gull was at Portavogie Co.Down(Irishbirding) Since the closure of the city dumps in Belfast and Londonderry, white winged gulls have become very thin on the ground, so this bird makes a welcome addition.

8 Snow Bunting were on Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains Co.Down(Irishbirding)

40 Waxwing were at the bottom of the Cave Hill Road in Belfast at 6.45am. 3
Brambling were in a garden at Waterloo Park (Larry Toal).

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was again seen in Downpatrick Co.Down(Irishbirding)
Peregrine, Co. Fermanagh - Ed O'Hara

Bird News Wednesday 23rd March

6 Buzzard, 2 Chiffchaff and a pair of Yellowhammer were at Sion Mills
(Hazlet Harkness).

A Chiffchaff, Peregrine Falcon and a Kingfisher were at Lower Lough Erne
Islands RSPB Reserve (Brad Robson).

2 Chiffchaff were calling near the Quoile Centre (Dot Blakely).

A chiffchaff was heard in a garden at Cairncastle,near Ballygally Co.Antrim (David Ledsham)

A Snow Bunting was at Benbradagh County Derry (Irish Birding)

The white phase Snow Goose was at Lady Bay (Irish Birding)

The drake Ferrruginous Duck was still at Lurgan Park Lake, Co. Armagh. (Irish Birding).

4 Ruddy Duck were at Oxford Island and one was at Portmore. (Irish Birding)

13 Sandwich Tern were at Portaferry. (Irish Birding)

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming at a site near Downpatrick (Irish Birding)

A Slavonian Grebe was off Greyabbey Bay South (Irish Birding)

Bird News for Tues 22nd March.

A male Ring-necked Duck was at Boa Island Co.Fermanagh. Boa (or Boho) is between Kesh and Belleek (Irishbirding)
2 Chiffchaff were singing at Rathfern Wood on Carnmoney Hill (Karl Hamilton).
Two female Brambling and two Blackcap were again visiting a garden in Kinedar Cres. in Belfast. (P.West)
Redpoll - Andrew Poots

NIOC annual photographic competition.

Just a reminder to say that the NIOC photographic competition will be held tomorrow evening in the Lecture Room at the Ulster Museum. It starts at 19.30 and admission is free, so if your free and like looking at great photos of birds then come along, everyone is welcome.

Copeland Bird Observatory AGM

The Annual General Meeting of the Copeland BO will be held on Tuesday the 22nd March 2011 at 7.30pm in the Ulster Museum.  The entrance is the door facing the Stranmillis Road. It will be open from 7.15 until about 7.40pm. If you are late, please phone me on 07770 368856 to have the door unlocked for you.
After the business part of the meeting is over,  Richard Hoy will talk about 2 months that he spent in the autumn of 2009 in Canada ringing autumn migrants, especially “Fall Warblers”. He has a lot of lovely photographs of these in the hand as well as other fascinating Canadian species.
The event is open to everyone.

Bird News Monday 21st March

The drake Ring-necked Duck was at Craigavon balancing Lake (Ed O'Hara)
At Larne Lough 3 Mediterranean Gull (2 adult and a second winter), a DB Brent, 2 PF Geese and 7 Greenshank were off Glynn Station (Cameron Moore).
7 RT Diver were off Ballymacormick Point with 130 Golden Plover, 13 Dunlin and 14 Brent at the Lagoon there. A BT Diver and 4 Purple Sandpiper were at Briggs Rocks (Jim Whitla, Margaret Adamson)
32 Brambling were recorded in a private garden in Co. Armagh (Andrew Poots
2 Great-spotted Woodpecker were at Tullybrannigan Road, Newcastle (Irish Birding)

Late news for yesterday:  A Red Kite was seen flying north by the main A6 just outside Drumahoe - (by Lismacarol ). (Davy Hunter)

Ring-necked Duck: Ed O'Hara

Littoralis Rock Pipit

This is an excellent time of year to look for the littoralis sub-species of Rock Pipit (also known as Scandanavian Rock Pipit). So far one or two birds have been seen at Orlock point \ Briggs Rocks, County Down. Any coastal area with washed up seaweed is probably worth looking at!
If you are unfamiliar with this bird, it is illustrated in the Collins Bird Guide. A summary of the features of the bird seen yesterday at Briggs rocks are:

Overall greyer than nominate Rock Pipit (the mantle was greyer), a narrow white supercillium extending behind the eye, a very strong white eye ring, pale wing bars, all black bill and dark legs. With regard to the underparts, the base colour is cleaner than nominate Rock Pipit and less heavily streaked. The Briggs Rocks bird was also showing a light pink flush to the throat.

These birds are typically seen in early spring as they migrate to north-east Europe. As they moult in to their breeding plumage they become much easier to identify. Strangely the Briggs Rocks bird was seen to collect nesting material!
Below are photographs of birds that Ronan McLaughlin observed in Cork during the last week:

Bird News for Sunday 20th March

A male Ring-necked Duck was at Craigavon Lakes (Gerard McGeehan, Shirley Dunlop).
8 Black-throated Diver were south of Gransha Point in Strangford Lough and 2 Slavonian Grebe north of there. 5 GN and 2 RT Diver were between there and the Dorn and 16 Sandwich Tern at Portaferry - some of them considered new arrivals (Richard Weyl).
2 Long-tailed Duck were at Lady Bay of the Antrim shore of Lough Neagh (Paul Toner).
A RT Diver was at Glenarm Harbour (William Smyton).
2 Swallow were along Ballydrain Road near Comber (Dot Blakely)

The Snow Goose along with 1 Pink-footed Goose and 2 Barnacle Geese were in fields north of Portmore Lough Co.Armagh(E.O'Hara/M.Killops)

10 Waxwing were again on the West Circular Road in Belfast (I.Graham)

12 Twite and the Littoralis Rock Pipit were at Briggs Rocks (W.Farrelly)

1 Black throated Diver and 4 Slavonian Grebes were at Greyabbey Bay South this morning, but conditions were quite choppy there, not ideal conditions for viewing. Elsewhere 5 Little Egret were at the Floodgates and good numbers of Tree Sparrow and a few Yellowhammer were amongst mixed flocks feeding in stubble fields around the Ballyhenry Point area on the Ards penisula. 14 Sandwich Tern were at the marina in Portaferry, (G.Armstrong/P.West)
2 Great Spotted Woodpecker were at Newcastle Co.Down and another 2 at a site in Downpatrick
5 Purple Sandpiper were at Groomsport, one of the most reliable places to see this wader.(Irishbirding)
Barnacle & Greylag Geese - Ed O'Hara

Bird News Saturday 19th March

2 Black-Throated Diver, 4 Great Northern Diver were at Monaghan Bank, Strangford Lough, 20 Slavonian Grebe were at Greyabbey, 2 Little Egret, 8 Pintail, 3 Greenshank, 20 Black-Tailed Godwit were at Anne's Point, 1 Little Egret was at Ballyreagh near Newtownards,3 Sandwich Tern were at the marina in Portavogie, also 2Purple Sandpiper here, 20+ Tree Sparrow at the farm at Ballyquintin, also a female Merlin, 5+ Stock Dove and the Ring Necked Duck were at Ballyherly Lough. (Keith Bennett)

A Wheatear and a Chiffchaff were at Killard. (Craig Nash)

8 Waxwing, a singing Chiffchaff and a singing Treecreeper were at PeatlandsPark (Stephen Hewitt, Paul Burrows, John and Gillian Faulkner).

A Merlin at Burial Island. Single Little Egrets were at Anne's Point and Drumfad. On Thursday a LE Owl was calling at Portavo Reservoir (Richard Weyl).

1 Waxwing was still at Derrymacash in Lurgan. (Ed O'Hara)

Thanks To Ed O'Hara For His Waxwing Picture

Waxwing, Derrymacash, Lurgan - Ed O'Hara

Bird News for Friday 18th March

A Bewick's Swan was with 100 Whooper at Derryhirk, Anagallon by the river Goudy (Keith Bennett).
3 Goosander at Lough Island Reavy Co. Down.(Ed O'Hara)
2 Brambling were visiting a garden in Kinedar Cres, in Belfast. (P.West)
2 Waxwing were at Derrymacash Co.Armagh. (M.Killops)
11 Purple Sandpiper were in Newcastle Co. Down (Ed O'Hara)
6 Tree Sparrow were in Armagh.(Irishbirding)
A DB Brent, Carrion Crow, 2 Pintail, 2 PF Geese, 3 Greenshank and 2 adult Mediterranean Gull were off Glynn in Larne Lough (Cameron Moore).

Goosander - Ed O'Hara

Waxwing - Mark Killops

A bird in the bus.....

Norma Price kindly sent us this local news item from a friend:

One of our school buses was brought in for a routine service, but a fault with a headlight was discovered and it had to be removed. Once it had been taken out of the bus, the mechanic discovered a nest built at the bottom of the lightwell. The nest had the remains of a blue egg in it, and we are assuming it was built last year. It was a Blackbirds egg.
We simply have no idea how a bird managed this.  The bus was out and about every school day.  In addition to actually getting in there, the bird had to go in under the bus, fly up between the radiator and the front grill, "take the first right", and then dive down under the lamp.  Amazing stuff!

Bird News St. Patricks Day

A Scandanavian Rock Pipit was at Orlock Point, County Down. 
The Ferruginous Duck was at Lurgan Park lake.
A Whimbrel was on Rathlin Island.
The Snow Goose and 2 Barnacle Geese, 50+ Tree Sparrow, 4 Buzzard & 500 Golden Plover were are Portmore Lough.
3 Chiffchaff were singing at Oxford Island. 3 Ruddy Duck were also there. (Ed O'Hara)
2 Female Brambling were in a garden at Knock, east Belfast.
The Ring-necked Duck was at Ballyherley Lough, near Portaferry. (Keith Bennett)
2 Waxwing were at Derrymacash, Lurgan (Ed O'Hara)

Tree sparrow - Ed O'Hara
Ruddy Duck & Pochard - Ed O'Hara
Waxwing - Ed O'Hara

Bird News Wednesday 16th March

1,300 Greylag were at Grange along the River Foyle. They were in two flocks - one of 1,050 birds and the other of 250 birds. At least 50 PF Geese were with the larger flock (George Henderson).
Yesterday the Ferruginous Duck was at Lurgan Park Lake. The Snow Goose was with 400 Greylag at Portmore Lough. A Ruddy Duck was also seen and another 4 Ruddy Duck were at Kinnegoe Bay (Tom Ennis, Anthony Dodds).

32 Waxwing were on West Circular Road, Belfast (Ian Graham)
2 Wheatears were at Skernaghan Point, Islandmagee, Co. Antrim (Neal Warnock)
A female Scaup was at Crom, Co.Fermanagh. (Stphen Scarlett, Stewart Jennings and John Sey)
A Chiffchaff was singing along the Newry canal (Frank Carroll)
An adult Mediterranean Gull was at Dundrum Inner Bay South (Ian Jackson)

The White-winged Scoter was still at Rossbeigh, Co. Kerry (Irish Birding)

Bird News for Tues.15th March

27 Waxwing were on the West Circular Road in Belfast. (I.Graham) 
2 Waxwing, Derrymacash, Lurgan. Co. Armagh. (Ed O'Hara) 
30 Whooper Swans, at Corlatt, Newtownbutler, Fermanagh, 3 Ravens and 2 Buzzards, Crom, Newtownbutler, Co. Fermanagh (Stephen Scarlett).
3 Twite were at Carnlough and 2 at Glenarm, Co. Antrim (Irish Birding)
A Carrion Crow and a Carrion/Hooded Crow Hybrid, Magheramorne, Larne Lough. 5 Mediterranean Gulls,
off Dalaradia Point, Magheramorne, Larne Lough.  Three adults, a 2nd Winter and a 1st Winter (unringed). The 3 adults and the second winter were calling and displaying over Swan Island. (Neal Warnock)
Waxwing - Ed O'Hara
Waxwing - Ed O'Hara

Bird News Monday 14th March

2 Twite were at Carnlough, Co. Antrim and another was at Twite, Glenarm, Co. Antrim. (Neal Warnock)
The Ring-necked Duck was at Lough Cowey (Irish Birding)
The White-winged Scoter remains in Kerry.
Twite - Neal Warnock
Lesser Black-backed Gull, Kinnego Marina - Ed O'Hara
Oystercatcher, Oxford Island (blown in land from Sunday's gales?) - Ed O'Hara

Ring necked Duck Lough Cowey Co Down

Thanks to Nigel Moore for his photo's of the RND taken yesterday at Lough Cowey on the Ards penisula.

We would like once again to thank everyone who contributes to the blog, it is very much appreciated

Bird News Sunday 13th March

The Ring-necked Duck was at Ballyherly Lough. 2 Little Egret were at Saltwater Bridge, 8 Sandwich Tern at Portaferry and 10 Stock Dove at Ballyquintin (Richard Weyl).
3 Slavonian Grebe and a BT Diver were at Kircubbin and 2 Grey Plover at Ballyquintin. A GN Diver and a Greenshank were at Kearney (H McCullough).
8 Waxwing were at Craigavad (Patrick Kietly).
2 Swallow were at Inch Abbey (Dot Blakely).
The Snow Goose was grazing along with Greylag Geese near Portmore Lough at Hollow Road (it is on the right driving  from Aghalee towards Portmore near Ballymcilranny). Over 1000 Golden Plover were also at Portmore Lough. (Norma Price)

The drake Ferruginous Duck was still at Lurgan Park Lake (Ed O'Hara)
At fields at Derryhirk Inn, Aghagallon Co. Antrim were150+Whooper Swans and 5 Bewick Swans
5 Sand Martin and 2 Ruddy Duck were at Oxford Island
30+ Tree Sparrows were at Portmore Lough (all Ed O'Hara)

2 fem Brambling and a male and female Blackcap were visiting a garden in Kinedar Cres in Belfast.(P.West)

Yesterday a Whimbrel was at Seahill and 900 Eider and a RT Diver between Holywood and Grey Point (George Henderson).
Bewicks Swan (left bird) & Whooper Swan - Ed O'Hara
Late news for yesterday: 2 Sand Martins, the first records of the Spring, were on the River Lagan today near Union Bridge, Lisburn (Eric Randall)
Sparrowhawk - Andrew Poots

Bird News Saturday 12th March

The male Ferruginous Duck was at Lurgan Park Lake (Stephen Foster).

The male Ring Necked Duck was at Lough Cowey. 210 Golden Plover were at Ballyquintin and 4 Sandwich Tern and 2 Carrion Crow at Portaferry. A Purple Sandpiper was at Portavogie and roughly 800 Golden Plover at Belfast Lough RSPB Reserve (Keith Bennett).

25 Slavonian Grebe, 3 Black Throated Diver and 2 Red Throated Diver were between Greyabbey and Herring Bay. 2 Common Scoter were at Burial Island (Richard Weyl).

2 Brambling were in a garden in Ballymena (Richard Gray).

In Donegal a drake Green Winged Teal, drake Ring Necked Duck and a Pink Footed Goose were at Dunfanaghy New Lake. A Ring Necked Duck/Tufted Duck hybrid was at Lough Fern. (Wilton Farrelly).

Curlew, Belfast Lough RSPB Reserve - Ed O'Hara

On this date

11th March 1850 saw Northern Ireland's first King Eider found in Belfast Lough, there has been 9 records since, the last a female off Greenisland found on the 25th June. The females are pretty nondescript, but the males are stunning individuals.

Bird News for Friday 11th March

Two fem. Brambling were visiting a garden in Kinedar Cres in Belfast.(P.West)

A male Hen Harrier was seen at Clabby Co Fermanagh.

A female/imm Smew was at Clea Lakes this morning(R.Price/M.Taylor)

Bird News for Thurs. 10th March

An Iceland Gull was seen at the RSPB Belfast Harbour Estate.(Irishbirding)
32 Purple Sandpiper at Annalong Co. Down today (Joe Devlin)
A female Peregrine seen on several occasions hunting over Bangor town centre. Also a female Sparrowhawk at Seacliff Road and a male Sparrowhawk at Bryansburn Road  Bangor. (Colin Cardy)

For those interested in a long twitch, the White-winged Scoter was still showing off Kerry today.

Pied Wagtail (male) - George McKee

Bird News Wednesday 9th March

4 Waxwings were in Cherryvale Park, Ravenhill Rd, and a Merlin flew over Rosetta towards Forestside. (Dermot Hughes)

A Tree Sparrow and 4 Brambling (one a male) were in a garden in Whitehead
(Cameron Moore).

Yesterday 9 Twite were along the shore north of Ballywalter (George

A female Brambling has been present all week in a private garden in Killyleagh. (Irishbirding).

Bird News for Tues 8th March

A north eastern Jackdaw was reported from the Markethill Road in Armagh.(C.Sharpe)

73 Whooper Swan,4 Greylag,11 Canada Geese and hundreds of Starling were at Ports, Newtownbutler,Co.Ferm.(S.Scarlett)

15 Red-throated Diver were at Portmuck, Islandmagee(S.Dunlop/G.McGeehan)

A Greater Spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming at the entrance to Belvoir Park Forest, Belfast. Another bird was reported from a private garden in Ballyclare recently.
Eider, Crawfordsburn - George McKee

Bird News Monday 7th March

A Barn Owl has been hunting near Killard, Co. Down (Craig Nash)
A female Brambling and 4 blackcap were visiting a garden in east Belfast
15 Waxwing were in Glengormley (Irish Birding)
Black Guillemot - Ed O'Hara

Jackdaw, Co. Down - Martin Garner

Bird News Sunday 6th March

The male Ring Necked Duck was at Lough Cowey and a female/immature Smew off the hide at Quoile Pondage (Keith Bennett).

2 Pink Footed Geese were with 30 Greylag at Clea Lakes (Richard Weyl).

A Dark Bellied Brent, 2 Greenshank, a Carrion Crow and 3 Mediterranean Gull (2 adult and a first winter) were off Glynn Station in Larne Lough (Cameron Moore).

A wintering Chiffchaff was singing at Antrim Road Waterworks in Belfast and a Blackcap in a garden in Skegoneill (Stuart McKee).

50 Waxwing at Carnmoney in Belfast (Irish Birding).

Some late news. A flock of 25 Bewick's Swan at Myroe Levels on 24th February was the highest count here since February 2003 (Kerry Leonard).

Reedy Flats had 150 Whoopers, 1000 Golden Plover, 100 Curlew, and 200 Greater Scaup
Oxford Island had 2 Ruddy Duck (Ed O'Hara).

Thanks To Ed For This Shot Of A Ruddy Duck At Oxford Island Today

Ruddy Duck, Oxford Island - Ed O'Hara

Lough Beg Bittern

Many thanks to Philip McGrath for reporting this rare NI bird. Philip says:  'I came across this bittern on 28th January 2011 on Lough Beg Co Londonderry. I am a member of South Derry Wildfowling Club and this bird was found on our club ground at the Toomebridge end. I knew straight away this was a rare bird but it had been there a while so wasn't easy identified'. It is presumed that the bird sadly died during the extremely cold weather in December \ January. Contrary to press reports at the end of last year, Bittern has not 'returned to Ireland'. Whilst very rare, they are reported occasionally.
Bittern - Philip McGrath

Possible Heinei Common Gull

Stephen Foster has been studying a Common Gull at Lurgan Park Lake that is different to the other Common Gull. Whilst not definite, the bird does show characteristics of the heinei race. Stephen has kindly provided the photo below:
Fair play to Stephen for taking the time to pay attention to subtle differences in this Common Gull flock!

Bird News Saturday 5th March

Yesterday 20 Waxwing were in Larne (David Gillespie).

The drake Ferruginous Duck was at Lurgan Park lake. 30 Scaup were at Oxford Island and 31 Whooper Swans at Closet Meadows.
Ferruginous Duck - Ed O'Hara

Greater Scaup - Ed O'Hara
A drake Ring-necked Duck was at Ports, Newtownbutler, Co. Fermanagh. (Walter Veale) 
The 1st Winter drake Ring-necked Duck (now in adult plumage) was at Lough Cowey. 6 Great Northern Diver and 2 Slavonian Grebe were at Kircubbin (Keith Bennett)
3 Velvet Scoter were at Murlough, with the Common Scoter.
3 Black Throated and a Red throated Diver were between Kircubbin and Gransha Point. 28 Slavonian Grebe, a RT Diver and 2 BT Diver (one in near summer plumage) were at Greyabbey (Richard Weyl).
The second winter Common Gull with the dark mantle showing characteristics of Russian heinei Common Gull was still at Lurgan Park Lake (Stephen Foster).
A male Brambling was in a garden in Ballymena (Richard Gray).

A Third Winter Kumliens Gull, 3 adult Yellow-legged Gulls and an adult Intermedius \ fuscus Lesser Black-backed were at Enniskillen Dump. (Is this now the only dump in NI which attracts gulls?)
Melanistic Pheasant, Carnfunock Country Park - George McKee

Bird News for Friday 4th March.

Goldie was fortunate that the Harbour Sparrowhawk took Friday off and sent a trainee instead'

Thanks to Brian Douglas for the amusing caption above, picture was from the RSPB Harbour

4 Goosander were at Lough Island Reavy Co.Down 2 male and 2 fem type.(Irishbirding)

At Strangford Lough a BT Diver was at Kircubbin and along the Outer Ards a RT Diver at Ballyquintin Point and 2 Sandwich Tern between Ballywalter and Ballyhalbert (Harold McCourt).

6 Gadwall (4 of them male) and 4 Pochard were at Hillsborough Park Lake and 20 Eider (most of them male) at Kinnegar shore (Davy Brookes)

A male Brambling was in a garden in Ballymena (Shirley Gray).

Some late news from yesterday the Snow Goose was seen at the RSPB Portmore Lough Reserve and the Ferruginious Duck was at Lurgan Park.(Irishbirding)

Bird News Thursday 3rd March

A Bewicks Swan, along with 5 Whooper Swan, was at Moorlough, near Lisanaskea, Co. Fermanagh (Declan Coney).
A redhead Smew was at the Quoile (Paul Scott)
4 Long Tailed Duck and 2 Great Northern Diver were off Fisherman's Pier in Carrickfergus. 9 Red-throated Diver were at Brown's Bay on Island Magee (H McCullough).
A Ring-billed Gull was at Donnybrewer (Irish Birding)

The RSPB are keen to learn of any new breeding sites for Red Kites in NI. Please contact them directly or email ourselves at and we will pass details on.
Red Kite & Hooded Crow - Pat O'Hare

Bird News Wednesday 2nd March

Late news from yesterday eight Waxwing were feeding in gardens on the Beechill Road in South Belfast. (James Robinson).

3 Little Egret, 6 Brent, 250 Greylag, 5 Red Breasted Merganser and large numbers
of Shelduck were between the Roe and Myroe (C Stewart).

The first winter male Ring Necked Duck was at Ballyherly Lough and a female/immature Smew at the Quoile Pondage (H McCullough).

A Barn Owl was at Crossgar roundabout at 7.30pm. It flew up the Ballynahinch
Road (Spencer Marshall).

At Larne Lough the Dark Bellied Brent and Long Tailed Duck were off Glynn Station. An adult Mediterranean Gull was also seen (Cameron Moore).

Yesterday a Short Eared Owl was at Carnalbanagh before flying off north (Don Scott).

A good tip for Birders.

Just on the story of the car being broken into at Oxford Island at the week-end, I received a good tip a number of years ago regarding an RSPB sticker on my car window, certain people know that birders carry expensive gear binoculars/scopes/cameras etc, do not put stickers on your car windows that way the thieves will not be able to target your car and do not leave bird books/magazines lying in your back seat put everything in your boot out of sight.

Bird News for 1st March.

At Strangford Lough the GWF Goose, Barnacle Goose and 400 Greylag were at Anne's Point. 19 Slavonian Grebe and 6 RT Diver (5 of them in a flock) were at Greyabbey Bay South. 8 BT Diver (all in one flock) were on the south side of Kircubbin Bay (Stuart McKee).

A Carrion Crow and 2 Carrion x Hooded hybrids were on the shore at Holywood (Stuart McKee).

Two Greater Spotted Woodpeckers were in Tollymore today, about half a mile down river from the car park. (Ron Price)

Portmuck, Islandmagee 500++ guillemot feeding north of Isle of Muck with 15 Harbour Porpoise present. Another 300+ guillemot flew north with 20 approx Red-throated Diver (2 in near full summer plumage) in the area(I.Enlander)

A Sparrowhawk was hunting at Adelaide Park on the Lisburn Road in Belfast.(R.McQuillan)

On this date

The 1st March is certainly a memorable date for gull lovers, in 1931 the first Ivory Gull was found, an adult bird seen off Donaghadee and stayed into April,( wouldn't be to many of us around to-day who seen that bird), there has been 2 records since though, one in Bangor in 1978 which was well photographed and one in 1998 at New Forge Lane in Belfast which was only identified at a latter date when photo's of the bird appeared, another bird now would be greatly received by many.

1997 North Foreshore Tip in Belfast was when Northern Ireland's first Thayer's Gull was found, an extremely difficult bird to identify and even to-day the taxonomy of Thayer's Gull is still not certain.