Happy Easter!

Eastern Cottontail

Happy Easter Everyone!

Bird News Sunday 31st March.(Easter Sunday)

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was at Belvoir forest, Belfast  it was seen and heard drumming nr the car-park. (Daniel Barry)

A Brambling was seen along the Newry Canal.(Alistair Prentice)

A Chiffchaff was at RSPB Belfast Harbour Reserve (Chris Sturgeon)

Whitehead seafront this evening had 200+ Kittiwake feeding offshore with approx 12 Manx Shearwater also present. (I.Enlander)

28 Waxwing at Sainsbury's Carpark Carrickfergus today. The Ring billed Gull was at Carrickfergus harbour. A Med Gull adult was at Carrickfergus Leisure Centre ponds.(Paul McCullough/Ann Dowling) The flock of Waxwing at Sainsbury's had numbered 40 birds.(Pauline Majury)

Our thanks to(from the top) Alistair Prentice for this fine photo of a freshly arrived Wheatear. Also to Tom McCreery for the Jay. Stephen Maxwell for the Black Guillemot. 

Cetacean information

In the past week there have been 2 dolphin strandings at Whitehead - an adult
Bottlenose Dolphin on monday and a sub-adult Common Dolphin today - this is unprecedented especially for species that are both comparatively uncommon in these waters. 2 ending up within a few hundred metres of each other at Whitehead may suggest there are more out there.

I would be grateful if anyone noting a cetacean corpse could contact Ian Enlander with the details and/or report it through the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group website. Northern Ireland Environment Agency are keen to recover any corpses for post-mortem and this can be arranged more quickly if you let Ian have the details.

email: ian.enlander@doeni.gov.uk
mobile: 07860408345

Pileated Woodpecker Wow Factor!

Pileated Woodpecker, male, head shot, Canon SX 50 HS
Av, 1/50, f 6.5, ISO 400, +1 1/3, 400% digital zoom ratio

This was shot on Auto, 1/100 sec., f6.5, 400% digital zoom ratio, not cropped

Here are the pair

Here is the female, she has a darker eye and no red coming off base of bill.

AV, 1/40 sec., f/6.5, +1, ISO 400, 195% digital zoom ratio

Pileated Woodpeckers were active in our yard this morning. They convened on a dead stub of a palm tree we had deliberately not cut down, it was left for the woodpeckers. A great chance for photography. I used my Canon SX 50 HS camera, the powerful little point-and-shoot superzoom. I tried many different things in terms of shooting with this camera, including Auto setting, Av setting, using standard digital zoom pushed to the 400% limit (the equivalent of 4800mm) and the digital zoom with the 2x teleconverter, as well as adding exposure compensation for this back-lit situation.
What is so addictive about this camera is getting these intimate, close, eyeball shots that give you such an appreciation for the bird. The Wow factor.
P.S. If you want my tips for using this camera, email me. Email address link is at the top right of this blog.

Bird News Saturday 30th March

A Chiffchaff was at kiltonga reserve this morning around 7:20 am (Chris Henry)

The blue phase Snow Goose was still at Lough Nacnean, Co Fermanagh (Wilton Farrelly)

The drake Ring-necked Duck and Green-winged Teal were still at Dunfanaghy New Lake, Co Donegal.

Killybegs had at least 3 juvenile Glaucous Gulls this afternoon; also 3 juvenile Iceland Gull and an adult Mediterranean

The adult Ring billed Gull was at Carrickfergus Harbour today. Also ten Waxwing at the Sainsburys carpark. 5 Long tailed Duck from the harbour (Paul McCullough)

On Rathlin were long-tailed duck, 4 wheatears, merlin, 2 scandinavian rock pipits (Neal Warnock)

Two Mediterranean Gulls at the bay at Kilclief, beside GAA grounds. One was an adult in full breeding plumage and the other was coming into 2nd Summer plumage. A Brambling was also in a Garden at Spa (David Nixon)

A Brambling & 12 Waxwings were in a private garden in the Waterside, Derry (Christine Cassidy)

A Short-eared Owl was at Ballyquintin Point and 4 Black-throated Diver and 2 Great Northern Diver south of Gransha Point in Strangford Lough. (Richard Weyl)

A Red Kite was 2.5km south west of Slieve Croob today around 1pm (D Wilson)

A Brambling was at Acton lake in a mixed flock of Chaffinch and Redpoll. Two Chiffchaff were calling on towpath between Scarva ANC Acton lake. A male Blackcap was also present (Mark Elliott)

8 Snow Bunting were at the old landfill site along Hightown Road above Glengormley and 2 female Brambling in a garden at Waterloo Park in Belfast (Larry Toal)

A Mealy Redpoll was at Belfast Harbour Lagoon (Stuart McKee).

At least 18 Redwing, a Grey Wagtail and Treecreeper were along the Lagan towpath at Drum near Hilden (Margaret Adamson)

There was no positive news on the Kildeer today.

Some excellent pics received today which are at: wwwnibirdpics.blogspot.co.uk

Thanks to Paul McCullogh for the Waxwing pic, Christine for the Brambling and Dessie Loughry for the Mallard pic.

Rings & Things

Stephen Maxwell took these pictures at Belfast Lough RSPB reserve, all featuring Black-tailed Godwits. The first two birds showing their BTO rings and the third with a Cockle hitching a lift on it's foot, something that has been seen more than once at the reserve.

Stokes Guides Migration Madness, Prothonotary Warblers now!

Beautiful Prothonotary Warblers are entering the Gulf States now. One was seen this morning on Sanibel, FL. We will bring you Migration Madness updates on who is migrating when, sponsored by our just published, The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern Region and Western Regions. Stayed tuned here and Like our Don and Lillian Stokes facebook page to see updates on migration.

Bird News Friday 29th March

A drake American Wigeon is at the Quoile Pondage, to the left of the hide, with Wigeon and Teal. An adult Mediterranean Gull was in Killyleagh harbour. (David Nixon).

(At 2pm the American Wigeon was visible from far end of road past countryside centre. Not visible from hide in current location - Keith Bennett)

A Kildeer has been reported at the north part of the estuary at Killybeggs in Co. Donegal. Viewed from the R263 causeway G724780.

The drake Lesser Scaup was still off the Discovery Centre at Oxford Island (Jeff Larkin)

Two adult Mediterranean Gulls are at Sandy Bay, Larne (Neal Warnock)

16 Waxwings are back in Whyte Acres Banbridge this morning (Karen Elliott)

A male and 3 female Bramblings were still visiting a garden off the Belmont Road, Belfast (Philip West)

The blue phase Snow Goose is still at Lough Macnean, Co Fermanagh.

The Iceland Gull is still at Corbally Reservoir.

A small flock of Waxwings were at Springhill House National Trust today, circa 25, eating berries in the walled garden at 2 pm. About 5 were still some there at 3:30. (Kevin Kirkhambrown).

A Mealy Redpoll is visiting a garden in Richhill, Co. Armagh. (Andrew Poots).

At Larne Lough a Pink-footed Goose, adult Mediterranean Gull and Greenshank were at Glynn (Gerard McGeehan).      

Last night at 10pm a Barn Owl was seen at Annagh lane at Lough Beg (Seamus and Ciaran Burns). 

Thanks to today's photographers, to Andrew Poots for the pictures of the Mealy Redpoll, to Kevin Kirkhambrown for the pictures of the Waxwings, to Dessie Loughrey for the picture of the Grey Heron and to Alistair Prentice for the Treecreeper picture. You can see more NI bird pictures at www.nibirdpics.blogspot.co.uk


NI Black-headed Gull Ringing Project

In November 2012, Adam McClure began a colour-ringing project looking at Black-headed Gulls here in Northern Ireland. The main objective of the project is to learn more about the species here, through determining dispersal / natal fidelity from a colony, movements of adults from breeding and wintering grounds and migration movements within Ireland and from Great Britain and continental Europe.

Over this winter, 36 Black-headed Gulls have been caught (by hand!) and fitted with orange colour-rings which are engraved with a four digit, alphanumeric code. Currently, there have been over 100 re-sightings of NI study birds and although there have been none away from wintering grounds, it’s very encouraging that people are seeing and reporting their sightings.
It is hoped that this spring, as wintering birds disperse, we will receive sightings from breeding grounds and in the summer young birds in several colonies will also be fitted with colour-rings which will provide accurate information of when and where they were born.

In an effort to raise awareness of the project and to encourage the reporting of colour-ringed birds in Northern Ireland, Adam is running a blog which the public can access to keep up to date with how the study is progressing: www.bhgullsni.blogspot.co.uk and he can be contacted at bhgni@ymail.com

Adam is also keen to hear about reports of Black-headed Gulls from elsewhere, seen in Northern Ireland, which will provide more detail and allow a bigger picture to emerge of where birds are coming from to breed or winter here. During winter 2012-13, there have been colour-ringed birds from as far away as Norway, Poland and Lithuania recorded in Counties Antrim and Down, as well as birds from closer to home from Scotland, England and Co. Mayo.

Below are pics of an example of a NI BHG colour-ring (by Kevin Mawhinney), a pic of re-sighting of 2ABF (by Neville McKee) and locations of sightings.:

Happiness Is... If You're An Author - New Stokes Guides!

Stokes Field Guides

Here is a display of our just published, The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern and Western Region, as well as our national guide, published in 2010, The Stokes Field Guide To The Birds of North America, that was in Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge bookstore yesterday where we did a book signing. We signed so many books! It is so fun to meet people and know our books will help birders identify and enjoy birds more! Our new regional guides are based on our national guide and contain all the latest information on birds and over 2,000 photos each. They are now available nationwide. Hope you get a copy and enjoy them!

Bird News Thursday 28th March

14 Waxwings were in Killaire Avenue, Bangor this morning. There was also one in Birch Drive, Bangor, on 25th March. (Kerry Leonard)

About 30 Waxwing were still at Culmore Point, Derry (Martina Boyle)

A 1st year Iceland Gull was at Corbally Reservoir, Portrush A Wheatear was at Ballintoy and the Glaucous Gull still at Ballycastle (Colin Guy)

The blue phase Snow Goose was seen at Lough Macnean, Co Fermanagh.

9 Waxwings were still hanging around Ross Bay, Waterside, Derry. 8 Buzzards were around Myroe. 2 Little Egret on the Foyle. A flock of approx 300 Greylag Geese , One wearing a Orange neckband ABZ ... (probably one of the 27 caught and ringed at Inch a few months ago) (Christine Cassidy & Ray Brogan)

A Cormorant was showing at RSPB Harbour Belfast along with 5 Snipe & Black Guillemot. (Jim McKeown)

3 Chough are back on Rathlin (James Robinson)

3 Swallow, a Peregrine Falcon and a possible Saker (with jesses) were at Sandy Cove caravan site near Millisle (Aaron Devlin)

32 Waxwing were at Sainsbury's car park in Carrickfergus (Gerard McGeehan)

2 Sandwich Tern and a Gannet were at Briggs Rocks near Groomsport (Margaret Adamson)

Thanks to Martina for these pics of the Culmore Waxwings:


Occasionally we do publish non bird pics as all birders enjoy our wildlife.
Seeing an Otter is always a rewarding experience and these pics of an Otter by Chris Colhoun are some of the best we have received. Enjoy!
(As with all pics on our Blogs, they are not to be used without the Photographers permission. We are happy to pass on requests to use a Photographers pics).

Bird News Wednesday 27th March

9 Waxwings were at Richmond Drive, Tandragee again today (David Knight)

A Brambling was in a garden in Warringstown (Tom McCreery)

An adult Med Gull was at Drains Bay and a Great Northern Diver off Ballygally Head this afternoon (Adam McClure)

A Sand Martin was at Lower Lough Erne islands RSPB reserve, Co Fermanagh today (Brad Robson)

Thanks to David Knight for this pic of a Waxwing, Tom McCreery for the Brambling and Alistair Prentice for the Dipper. You can see more pics at www.nibirdpics.blogspot.co.uk

The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern and Western Region getting 5 Star Reviews!

We're already getting 5 star reviews!
"Don and Lillian Stokes hit it out of the park with their new... guide"
(Thermal Birding)
"The new Stokes regional guides are a must-have for serious birders"
"This book suits my needs perfectly"
"Jam-packed with some of the best bird photography out there"
"Written and created with Intelligence and exacting care... I highly recommend trying one"
(10,000 Birds)

We have a book Signing today 10 am to 12 noon at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel, FL. Come see us! Our The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern Region and The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Western Region were just published and are available now nationwide at stores and online!

Order Now!

Announcing The Winners of The New Stokes East/West Field Guides and Answers to Quiz

And the 10 winners of autographed sets of The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern Region and The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Western Region are:

Claude Morgan
Jesse Yannes
Lauren Leon
Ron Ezetta
Ryan O'Donnell
Charlotte Wasylik
Eric Wilhite
Chloe Walker
Janine Martin
Kimmo Heiskanen

Congratulations to the winners, if you are a winner, please send us your mailing address here.

Note: Tomorrow we are doing a book signing from 10 am to 12 noon at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge bookstore on Sanibel Island, FL. Be sure and catch us on May 10th for our book signing and keynote address at The Biggest Week in American Birding, OH.

Below are the photos and answers to the Stokes Big Countdown Bird Quiz. Thanks to all for participating! If you didn't win, we hope you will all still get the guides, they will really help you with your bird ID skills!

Order Now:

Pine Warbler, female

Here's another view of the Pine Warbler

 Bobolink. winter plumage

Hermit Thrush

Blue-winged Teal, female

Savannah Sparrow

Northern Harrier, juv., faded 

Red Knot, winter

Cerulean Warbler, female

Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3rd winter