Bird News Sunday 21st April

A Yellow Wagtail, male, flavissima, was at Mullagh, Lough Beg, with a large fall 400+ White Wagtails in same area. (David Steele)

Peatlands NNR had 1 Raven, 3 Swift. Reedy Flats had 5 Whimbrel (Ed O'Hara)

2 Red Grouse and a Kestrel were at Llendrum Windfarm, Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone (Colin Bell)

A pair of shelduck visited a garden in Greenisland early this morning and grazed on the lawn! (Roger Woodward)

Thanks to Ed O'Hara for the Raven pic. You can see more pics at

Bird News Saturday 20th April

Rathlin Island had a male Common Redstart, a Yellow Wagtail, 50 Willow Warbler, 5 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 14 White Wagtail, 8 Twite and 13 Wheatear (Neal Warnock)

Oxford Island This morning had a good range of migrants including 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Sedge Warbler, 3 White Wagtail, 2 Wheatear and 2 Swifts (Ed.O’Hara / Comghal McQuillan)

An Osprey was at Creightons Green Reservoir, Holywood (Wilton Farrelly)

Two Roseate Tern were at Portmore Lough RSPB Reserve (Theo Campbell)

A Cuckoo was calling at the Quoile, the male Common Redstart was still at St John's Point. Whimbrels, Wheatears and Chiffchaffs were widespread along the Down coast. (Keith Bennett)

Two Common Terns were fishing in Belfast Lough at Greenisland the morning. (Roger Woodward)

On Copeland there was a large fall of birds on the island - 200 Willow Warblers, 25 Chiffchaff, 25 Blackcaps, 20 Goldcrests and a Whitethroat (David Galbraith)

Two Water Rail were along the tow path in a swampy field between Scarva and Acton lake. They were on the right between the path and railway track 800 metres from Scarva visitor centre (Mark Elliott)

100+ Kittiwake were at Carrickfergus harbour at 20.00 Hrs catching Ragworm (Paul McCullough)

22 Waxwing were at Cedar Grove along Old Holywood Road in Belfast (David Morrow)

At Island Magee 18 Puffin were on the Gobbins and 2 Willow Warbler and a Blackcap nearby (Cameron Moore).

2 Gadwall were at Lady Bay in Lough Neagh (Mark Smyth, Gary Brown)

A Lesser Redpoll was in a garden near Carnalea in Bangor (Tim Davis)

6 Black-throated Diver were still south of Gransha Point, Outer Ards. At Ballyquintin Point were 6 Whimbrel and 7 Wheatear. (Richard Weyl)

Rocky Point Co Donegal had 2 Whimbrel, a Willow Warbler and 12 Wheatear. Mount Charles had 4 breeding plumage male Long-tailed Ducks and 9 Great Northern Diver (Brad Robson)

Late news for yesterday - A small flock of Greylag Geese flew over Killyfaddy, Magherafelt at 11:15pm, flying west. At Moneynena, outside Draperstown, there was a Long Eared Owl, on Thursday, a Little Egret was feeding in fields with 7 Grey Herons at Toome (David Morrow)

Thanks to Ed for the pic of a White Wagtail.

Northern Flicker tragedy

Northern Flicker with tail fanned

Cooper's Hawk with Northern Flicker, note the tail feathers on the ground next to the raptor.

Remember that Northern Flicker displaying photo I posted yesterday? Shortly after the photo was taken we looked out to see this Cooper's Hawk, adult, catch a bird in our field. When we looked through the binos we could see the golden tail feathers of a Northern Flick lying next to the Cooper's Hawk!
I do not know if that was the exact same flicker I had photographed, since there were three flickers interacting. But now there is one less flicker and a well fed Cooper's Hawk. I always have such angst when I witness the swiftness of the death of a bird taken by a predator like the Cooper's. So sudden! If gives me a heightened sense of why birds in the wild are always so alert and on the lookout. One moment of inattention and you could be gone.
Then again, Cooper's Hawks are exciting raptors and they have to eat too. They're not mean, they're just hungry.

Cuckoo Records Wanted

Cuckoo (2012) - Bill Guiller

Submit Northern Ireland Cuckoo Records Online

Mark the return of Spring by listening out for the cuckoo!

Help record,what is for many, the distinctive sound of Spring – the call of the cuckoo.

Using the newly launched CEDaR Online Recording facility, the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (CEDaR) is asking birders to report when they see or hear a Cuckoo.

The Cuckoo is a rapidly declining species. It is Red Listed as a bird of conservation concern in the UK and a Northern Ireland Priority Species. By recording when you see or hear a cuckoo you will be helping increase our knowledge of this distinctive bird.
If you see or hear a Cuckoo then please visit and submit your record. 

Bird News Friday 19th April

Lower Lough Erne islands RSPB reserve Co Fermanagh this morning had 1 Whimbrel, 1 Common Sandpiper, 3 Wheatear, 1 Blackcap and a Chiffchaff. (Brad Robson).

Late news from yesterday and 2 Common Sandpiper were at Killylane. (Brenda Campbell).

A Chough was heard calling at St John's Point, the bird is probably the one seen recently at Sheepland near Ardglass. (Tim & Doris Murphy & Sharon Parr).

9 Wheatear were at Belfast Harbour Lagoon. (Ed O'Hara & Gerard McGeehan).

4 Blackcap (three of them male) and a Willow Warbler at Whitehead (Gerard McGeehan).  

The second-summer Mediterranean Gull was still on Cockle Island at Groomsport (George Gordon).

2 Swallows were at Salt Water Brig in Strangford Lough. (Nicholas Sanders).

10 Swift were at Oxford Island. (Alistair Prentice).

A Raven was in Tempo car park in Co. Fermanagh and 2 Wheatear were near Muckle Rocks, Slieve Beagh, Co. Tyrone. (Colin Bell).

Thanks to today's photographers, to Mark Killops for the picture of the Great Crested Grebe, to Margaret Adamson for the picture of the Black Guillemot, to Mervyn Campbell for the picture of the Grey Wagtail, to Christine Cassidy for the picture of the Eider and to Alex Coroliu for the second Great Crested Grebe picture. You can see more NI bird pictures at 


Bird News Thursday 18th April

A White-tailed Sea Eagle was at Lough Beg this morning (Paul Lynas)

A 2nd summer Ring-billed Gull, 1 ad. Little Gull and 1 ad. Yellow-legged Gull were at RSPB Belfast Harbour Estate.(Birdguides)

A male Common Redstart was 800 m west of the lighthouse at St John's Point. Also noted at the Point were 10 Chiffchaff, 5 Willow Warbler, a White Wagtail, Wheatear, 2 Blackcap and 3 Goldcrest. A Blackcap and Chiffchaff were at Kelly's Wood and 3 Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler and Goldcrest at Killough (Tim Murphy).

9 Waxwing were at Westbury in Cookstown (Tony McCormick).

19-20 Waxwing were visiting a garden in Knockbracken Park, east Belfast around 6pm, stayed for 15 mins before leaving.(Colum McCavana)

A first-winter Little Gull and Common Sandpiper were at Whitehead. At Island Magee a Common Sandpiper and 3 Purple Sandpiper were at Ballylumford and 9 Pale-bellied Brent and a Whimbrel at Brown's Bay.

A second-summer Mediterranean Gull and Arctic Tern were on Cockle Island.

Poyntzpass to Scarva canal walk from 8:30 - 10:30 today had...
3 Blackcap, 5 Bullfinch, c10 Buzzards, 16 Chiffchaff, 10  Goldcrest, 1 male Sparrowhawk, 1 House Martin, 4 Lesser Redpole, c50 Swallow, 33 Tree Sparrow, 35 Willow Warbler, 1 Linnet and 1 Treecreeper.(Fulton Somerville).

11 Whimbrel were seen in flight at Dundrum south Inner bay this evening, 500 Brent Geese were also present.(David Nixon)

The Bann Estuary had 600 Black tailed Godwit, 800 Redshank, 12 Dunlin, 1 Bar tailed Godwit, 50 cCurlew, 8 Golden Plover.  6 Goldeneye, 8 Sandwich Tern, 2 Tufted Duck, Teal, 4 ed breasted Merganser,  a Red throated Diver, 3 Meadow Pipit, 1 Goldcrest,1 Buzzard. (Norma Percival-Price)

3 White Wagtails were at Sandy Bay and a Whimbrel and the Pink-footed Goose at Glynn this evening (Neal Warnock)

Our thanks to Ed O'Hara for this assortment of hirundines at Oxford Island.
Christine Cassidy for the Wheatear. . Alex Coroliu for this pic of a Common Tern. Mervyn Campbell for the Shelduck  Noel Austin who captured this minx raiding a Mallard's nest and taking the goods.

Bird News Wednesday 17th April

An Alpine Swift was reported at Mussendun Temple, Castlerock, this evening.

The Black-neck Grebe was still at Oxford Island this morning. It is best viewed from The Waterside Hide (Frank Carroll)

3/4 Waxwing were still at Sainsbury's at Forestside in Belfast (David Clarke).

A Little Gull and Swift were at Belfast Harbour Lagoon (Gerard McGeehan). Yesterday 400 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot, 2 Whitethroat and 2 Willow Warbler were there (Andy Elliott)

3 Waxwing in Birch Park, Bangor this afternoon (Kerry Leonard)

Thanks to Noel Austin for this pic of a Great Crested Grebe at Oxford Island.

Northern Flicker Golden Show, Canon SX 50 HS

Three Northern Flickers were displaying in the top of our maple tree this morning. There were two males and a female. Here is a photo I took of a male displaying. He would bob his head up and down and side to side, then fan his tail, showing the beautiful golden underside. Dramatic colors on a bird are often there because they have an important function in displays.
When this display is done between two birds of the same sex it is generally competition for a mate, as here. When done between a male and a female it is part of courtship. These displays are accompanied by the "woikawoikawoika" call and are done early in the spring before nest-building occurs. Look for this fascinating Northern Flicker behavior now.
Canon SX 50 HS photo (Av, 1/500, f 6.5, 195% digital zoom.) These birds were quite far away. So glad for the telephoto power of this point-and-shoot superzoom camera.

Bird News Tuesday 16th April

The Black-necked Grebe was still showing at Oxford Island, it was calling regularly, a Common Tern, a Swift, 3 House Martins and good numbers of other hirundines were also present. (Brad Robson).

The Cattle Egret was back at Hillsborough Park Lake. It was on the left hand side of the island coming up from the main car park. In a garden at Agnaleck outside Hillsborough this morning were 1 male Blackcap, 1 female Brambling, 31 Sisken, 38 Lesser Redpoll and 17 Tree Sparrows. Everything bar the Blackcap have been present all winter and now three pairs of Tree Sparrows are investigating nest boxes .This is the the first time in nearly twenty years. (Garry Wilkinson).      

Three Waxwings were sitting in trees at Forestside Shopping Centre in Belfast at 7.45 this morning. (Chris Shaw).

A Cuckoo was at Leeke Valley near Bushmills this morning. (Kerry Leonard).

2 male and a female Blackcap were present at Oxford Island. (Jim Crozier).

20 - 30 Swallows were along the river path at Cullybackey today. (Mervyn Campbell).

2 Longtail Tits and a male Blackcap were in a garden in Gilnahirk, Belfast this lunch time. (Fulton Somerville).

At Killard today were seven Sandwich Terns, 1 Common Tern, 6 Purple Sandpiper, 3 Goldcrest, good numbers of Redshank, Turnstones, Brent Geese, Sand Martins and one Otter At Castle Island Hide at the Quoile were 2 House Martins and 20+ Swallows. (Craig Nash).

 There were about 200 Golden Plover at Ringnaree Point, just west of Portrush. (Robert Scott).

 Along the Londonderry shore of Lough Neagh a Greenshank was on the beach at Ballyronan before flying off south (David Morrow).   

A Wheatear was in flight over waste ground at Lidl's in Craigavon (Stephen Foster).

Thanks to todays photographers, to James Crozier for the first Willow Warbler picture, to Stephen Maxwell for the second Willow Warbler picture and the Kestrel picture, to Noel Autin for the third Willow Warbler picture of the day, to Adam Middleton for the Swallow picture and to Craig Nash for the picture of the Otter from Killard. You can see more NI bird pictures at


Bird News Monday 15th April.

The Black-necked Grebe still present at Oxford Island.(E.O'Hara)

1 adult Little Gull this evening at Corbally reservoir outside Portrush.(C.Guy)

At least 6 Waxwing were in the tall trees beside the Centra shop on the Balloo Rd in Bangor.(I.Graham)

A Grasshopper Warbler was nr Derrylin Co Fermanagh today, first one recorded this year. (Kerry Leonard)

First Summer Med Gull at Dundrum South Inner Bay high tide roost, 2 Sandwich Terns there too.(David Nixon)

Great Spotted Woodpecker in Morelands Meadow by Belvoir forest this morning,(Michael McLaughlin)

Out at Killard today the Sand Martins were back at their colony at least 15.
Strong passage of Swallows well over 50 passing through also 1 Whimbrel.(Craig Nash)

At Lough Shark Co.Armagh between 09.00-10.30, the Red-throated Diver was showing well and the following were noted:-
A female Blackcap, a male Bullfinch, 10 Chifchaffs, 5 Willow Warblers, 10 Swallows, 3 Grey Herons, c30 Tree Sparrows and c50 Linnets.(Fulton Somerville)

Spring migrants have arrived in good numbers on Rathlin Island, they included 17 Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 6 White Wagtail, 18 Goldcrest, a Redwing, a Twite, 2 Sandwich Tern, 10 Swallow, 1 Sand Martin, 5 Wheatear, 1 Jack Snipe and Brent Goose.(Neal Warnock).

Lots of people have reported Swallows to-day, to many to put on the blog. There seems to a major influx at last a touch of spring about the place, to everyone who reported them many thanks.

Yesterday 20 Waxwing were at Rutherglen Street at Ballygomartin in Belfast (Wallace Gillespie) and on Friday 24 were in Lisburn (George Irwin).8-10 Waxwing were feeding in a hedge in Benson St Lisburn on Sunday.(nr EHA building) (Helena Ralph)

Our thanks (from the top)to Stephen McCandless for the Black-necked Grebe,this photo was taken on Saturday. Alistair Prentice for the Jay in flight. Tom McCreery for the Great Crested Grebe. Craig Nash for the Sand Martin in flight.

NH Spring Birds Canon SX 50 HS

Common Redpoll, f.

Tree Swallows

Fox Sparrow at our feeder. (AV, 1/200, f 6.5, +.1/3, ISO 400, digital zoom 195%)

Dark-eyed Junco

Song Sparrow

Canada Goose on the pond

Ring-necked Ducks (female, l. male, r.) on a cloudy day on our pond, (AV, 1/400, -1/3, f 6.5, 400 ISO, digital zoom 400% 4800 mm equivalent, handheld.)

Returning home from FL to NH, here are some of the birds that greeted us. The feeders were busy with flocks of about 60 Common Redpolls and 50 Dark-eyed Juncos. Both will soon more on to their breeding grounds. A beautiful Fox Sparrow is visiting the feeders, one of my favorites. It too will move on to northern breeding areas.
Tree Swallows are here in numbers claiming their nesting boxes. We have about 15 nesting pairs and this time of year there is much fighting over boxes. Song Sparrows were singing. They breed here as do the Canada Geese. Ring-necked Ducks are migrants on our pond, so dramatic looking. This morning we had a Bald Eagle swooping on them, but it did not catch any.
All photos were shot with the Canon SX 50 HS. This camera loves good light and you can do pretty well in Smart Auto with good sunlight. The challenges are in low light. I mainly shoot in AV, as it gives you some of the most control over the camera. I use exposure compensation, often changing it, as well as ISO, in between photos to suit the lighting situation. With the Fox Sparrow I added plus compensation because it was a backlit bird. The Ring-necked Ducks were very far away, in low light, yet I still got a photo with a painterly quality, kinda dramatic. I handheld it at the far range of the digital zoom, where the camera goes to 4800mm. If you want my tips for using this camera, email me, email is at top right of blog.
Speaking of spring migration, will you be ready to ID all the birds you see? Our just published, The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern and Western Regions will help you, especially if you take bird photos!

Bird News Sunday 14th April

The Black-necked Grebe was still off the Waterside Hide, Oxford Island (Wilton Farrelly)

An early sighting of a Swift today over Woodlawn Heights in Richhill this evening at 6.45pm. (Andrew Poots)

At the Quoile was the Marsh Harrier, a 2nd year male, 200 Teal, a pair of Great-crested Grebe, 2 Swallow 2 Sandmartin, 4 Pintail and 10 Wigeon. (Norma Price)

Two male Brambling were visiting a garden in Co Armagh (Kevin Kirkham-Brown)

A female Hen Harrier was at the Brickworks at WWT Castle Espie.

Lough Shark had 7 Chifchaffs, 4 Willow Warblers, 13 Swallows, 5 House Martins, 2 Sand Martins and 8 Great Crested Grebes (Fulton Sommerville)

A Green Sandpiper was still at Creightons Reservoir, Holywood (Wilton Farrelly)

Visible migration was reduced at Copeland Bird Observatory but a male Common Redstart, male Blackcap, 30 Goldcrest and 2 Fieldfare were present (David Galbraith)

20 Waxwing were off Rosemary Park in Bangor and 10 Swallow at the Comber Estuary seen from the service station along Downpatrick Road (Dot Blakely)

Several Waxwing were in Lisburn (John Scott)

Good numbers of House and Sand Martin were at The Battery along the Tyrone shore of Lough Neagh and good numbers of Swallow at Ballyronan (Brendan Corr)

A Little Egret was at Ballycarry Bridge in Larne Lough (Stephen Foster)

5 Sand Martin and 2 Swallow, in Sionmills Co Tyrone (Brian Hegarty)

Circa 100 hurindines were seen flying over the road North of Ballyronan, inc 6 House Martins. Also, 54 Whooper Swans were still at South Lough Beg (Ciaran Burns)

A Crossbill was at Crocknagrally area of Mullaphad Forest nr Fivemiletown Co Tyrone today (Colin Bell)

Swallows, Sand Martins, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs have been reported today from numerous sites throughout NI.

Thanks to Alistair Prentice for this Black Guillemot pic.

Bird News Saturday 13th April

The Black-necked Grebe was still off the Waterside viewing platform at Oxford Island, an Osprey was fishing in Kinnegoe Bay in the early afternoon, a Common Sandpiper was on the shore behind the Discovery Centre, good numbers of Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Swallow were present and 3 House Martin were also seen. (Ed O'Hara)

Another Osprey was on the shore of Lough Neagh, seen from the hide at Randalstown Forest. An inland Kittiwake was also seen on the Lough. (Jeff Larkin / Michael Jackson)

A Goshawk spent most of the day at Copeland Bird Observatory. Also noted over the day were 80 Goldcrest, 3 Wheatear, 10 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 40 Blackbird, 30 Robin, 18 Fieldfare, 7 Redwing, 6 Song Thrush, 30 Skylark moving west in 2/3s, 3 Swallow, a House Martin, 2 Sandwich Tern and 6 Chaffinch (David Galbraith)

Along the Tyrone shore of Lough Neagh 5 Swallow, 200 Golden Plover and 8 Gadwall were at Blackers Rock (Godfrey McRoberts)

2 Common Tern, a Peregrine, 2 Willow Warbler and a Swallow were at the RSPB Belfast Harbour Reserve (Adam Middleton/Margaret Adamson). A Common Sandpiper and Jay were also seen there (Gerard McGeehan)

5/6 Waxwing were feeding on berries in a garden along Holywood Road in Belfast and 4 Buzzard were over the Four Winds in Newtownbreda (David Clarke)

2 Sand Martins, 4 Chiffchaff, 9 Swallow, 3 Blackcap and 400 Scaup were between Ballyronan Marina and Traad Point Lough Neagh this morning between 10-11am.
(Ciaran Burns).

6+ Sand Martin's and 3 Swallow's feeding over the Lower Bann at the Loughan, Coleraine. (Richard Donaghey)

A Little Egret was along the Comber Greenway at Dundonald this morning. (Jenny Pyper)

A Short-eared Owl and a Whimbrel were at Ballyquintin Point (Richard Weyl)

2 Common Sandpiper, 6 Purple Sandpiper and a Sanderling were along the shore at Ballycastle. (Neal Warnock)

The Common Tern and two Willow Warblers were at RSPB Belfast Harbour Reserve (Adam Middleton)

2 Swallow were on the Comber Greenway (Stephen Maxwell)

Thanks to Ed O'Hara for these pictures from Oxford Island of the fishing Osprey, the Black-necked Grebe and the Common Sandpiper. The bottom photograph is from Michael Jackson of the Osprey at Randalstown Forest.

Bird News Friday 12th April

The Black-necked Grebe was still showing well at Oxford Island this morning, 2 Swallow and a Willow Warbler were also seen. (Frank Carroll).

About 20 Waxwings were at a garden off the Ormeau Road, Belfast this morning. (Robert Scott).

A Red-throated Diver was at Lough Shark, Co Down. (Joe Devlin).

Two Waxwings were in Birch Drive, Bangor, this afternoon. (Kerry Leonard/Joan Leonard).

Killard this evening had 2 Swallow, 5 Wheatear, a Common Sandpiper, a Jack Snipe, 10 Goldcrest in the gorse, a Curlew and a Grey Plover. (Craig Nash).

12 Crossbill were feeding on larch cones near the Priest's Bridge in Tollymore Forest Park (Ann McComb).    

A Swallow was at Lower Lough Erne Islands RSPB Reserve (Brad Robson).    

On Tuesday 12 Waxwing were at Ardglanagh near Ballysaggart Lough in Tyrone (Darryl McConnell).

2 male Wheatear were in the snow at Slieve Croob in Co. Down this afternoon. (Adam McClure).

Rathlin Island had 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Greenshank, a Jack Snipe, 15 Goldcrest, 2 Merlin, 14 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing including 1 in song, 22 Wheatear and a Sand Martin. (Neal Warnock).

A Chiffchaff was at Ardglass golf course, 2 Wheatear (male and female) at Killough coastguard, a Chiffchaff and Goldcrest at Kelly's Wood, 18 Fieldfare and a Redwing in the fields beside the wood and 3 Goldcrest, 4 migrant Song Thrush and a Chiffchaff at St John's Point (Tim Murphy).   

At Island Magee a Sandwich Tern, Red-throated Diver, adult Mediterranean Gull, 7 Wheatear and Common Sandpiper were at Brown's Bay (Cameron Moore).

Thanks to today's photographers, to Alistair Prentice for the picture of the Mistle Thrush, to Stuart McKee for the picture of the Common Tern at the Belfast Lough RSPB reserve, to Mervyn Campbell for the picture of the Goldcrest, to Noel Austin for the picture of the Coot,to Wilbert Hollinger for the picture of the Long-tailed Tits, to David Hill for the picture of twoBlackcaps, to Stephen Maxwell for the picture of the Treecreeper and to Alex Coroliu for the picture of the partial albino Oystercatcher. You can see more NI bird pictures at