BTO NI Conference

The annual BTO NI conference is on Saturday 5th November at Oxford Island. You can see further information and book this event at:

New Committee Member - Neal Warnock

Following the sad passing of Martin Garner, we are pleased to advise that Neal Warnock has joined the Records Committee. Neal will be familiar to many birders in Ireland, where he is perhaps best known for finding a Baillon’s Crake on Great Saltee Island in March 2012.  Other past finds include the first Woodchat Shrike for Galway and closer to home, Red-backed Shrike, Red-footed Falcon, Bonaparte’s Gull and Fea’s type Petrel in County Antrim.

Neal is an avid seawatcher and patch birder and spends most of his time birding Larne Lough and Rathlin Island. Neal has a wealth of birdwatching experience in parts of Europe, Africa and North and South America. He previously worked for BirdWatch Ireland in County Offaly and currently works as a Conservation Advisor for the RSPB, with a focus on breeding waders in the Glenwherry area of the Antrim Hills.

We welcome Neal and are confident that he will be able to make a valuable contribution.

Ian Graham, Records Secretary

Bird Records for 2016

Species in RED have yet to be accepted by the NIBARC.

Glossy Ibis
River Bann
Seamus Burns
Glossy Ibis
Ballinary ,Lurgan
Ed O'Hara
Great White Egret
Lesser Scaup
Dargan Bay,Belfast

Dargan Bay




Belted Kingfisher

River Bann



Jonathon Roberts

Glossy Ibis

Portmore Lough



Kate McAlistair/Marta Barberis
Night Heron

Dromantine Lake



Mary-Ann MacRae

Red-rumped Swallow




Garry Wilkinson
Temminck’s Stint




Phillip West
White rumped sandpiper




Gerard McGeehan

Martin Garner

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Martin Garner.

Martin was familiar to many birders in Ireland during his years spent living in Lisburn and he was one of the most talented birders ever to live on this island. In his time here he not only found many rare and scarce birds but he opened everyone's eyes to common birds. He will be remembered (amongst many things) for his work in gulls (jointly finding Thayers, many Kumliens, American Herring Gull and bringing the vagaries of Yellow-legged and Caspian Gulls to those keen to learn), finding the Tyrella Shorelark (or was it a Horned Lark?) during a bird race, Lesser Scaups, enhancing our knowledge of the Brent Geese, Eiders, Scoters, American Wigeon or simply studying continental Robins or Song Thrushes. His birding skills were immense and have been sadly missed from this island in recent years.

However Martin not only possessed brilliant birding skills. He possessed social and communication skills that meant he could communicate with anyone, no matter their level of experience or interests. He was great company to be with and was always imparting knowledge and left you full of enthusiasm. He was humble and encouraged everyone to learn - even if they (or he) made mistakes. In the last few years he has helped guide the NIBARC with many identification challenges and always provided sound advice, even when this was from his hospital bed! 

Martin was also a person of considerable faith and his ministry in areas of NI (including prisons) was no doubt challenging but he always went about this with a smile. In the last few years, Martin has fought cancer and yesterday he lost that fight. The world is a lot worse off without Martin and at this time, our thoughts and prayers are with Sharon, Abi and Emily.

The 1931 Donaghadee Ivory Gull

Thanks to a contribution from Tom Ennis, the record of the 1931 Donaghadee Ivory Gull has been re-assessed by the committee.

In reviewing this record NIBARC fully agreed with Tom Ennis and the 1931 record of an Ivory Gull at Donaghadee in 1931 has been removed from the NI List. There are two other records; a well-documented first-winter bird at Bangor (Down) during December 1978 and a first winter bird (photographed by one lucky observer) near the River Lagan, Newforge on the 2nd March 1989. Of the high Arctic pair (Ross’s Gull and Ivory Gull), the latter remains by far the most rare in Ireland.

The comments from Tom are below: 

I have been interested in this record for some time but I have only recently been successful in finding any documentation to substantiate the record. I have discovered that it was recorded in British Birds Vol. XXIV pp372-373 and I have managed to get a look at what was published in the Notes section of that issue.

My interest in this record stemmed from the fact that the bird appeared to be a long stayer, which is not very usual in this species. More commonly Ivory Gulls are only present for a few days and then “disappear”.

When I read this note I was surprised that there was no description of the plumage at all. I assume therefore that it was taken to be an adult Ivory Gull as had it been immature, the observer would surely have remarked on the black spotting and darkish face. He does go on to make statements about the bird which are not in accord with any of the Ivory Gulls I have seen. He contrasts it with the Black-headed Gulls and he states that “the somewhat greater length and more slender build of the Ivory appear accentuated.” Elsewhere he states that in flight “the Tern-like manner of the Ivory is very noticeable”. In my experience Ivory Gulls are plump and Pigeon-like and I have never come across anything tern-like in their appearance. While an Ivory Gull is bigger and bulkier than a Black-headed Gull “somewhat greater length”, although imprecise, concerns me. In describing its flight he states that its “superior grace and lightness of wing” not only separate it from the Black-headed Gulls but also from the Herring Gulls. Again this sounds more in line with his earlier statement of tern-like. He also mentions that he was struck by the intimacy (he emphasizes this) between it and the Herring Gulls. According to the literature Ivory Gulls are often aggressive to other species and are not renowned for their conviviality. Nevertheless a lost and tired bird may behave very differently from its norm.

Observers in 1931 did not have the field guides and other sources of knowledge which are available to us today. The Handbook of British Birds had not yet been published and it was well into the 1950s before the first practical methods of separating Iceland and Glaucous Gulls in the field were known. Accepting that the observer has used a degree of hyperbole in his note, I think there is nothing he has written that would not equally well apply to a white phase first winter or second winter Iceland Gull. I do not say that this definitely was not an Ivory Gull but I think it is far from proven and I do not see how it can stand as a first Northern Ireland record of Ivory Gull. A copy of the relevant pages from British Birds Vol. XXIV is below:

Glossy Ibis - 2014 a recording breaking year

One of the highlights of 2014 was the record influx of Glossy Ibis into the province with perhaps up to 6 individuals involved. Before 2010 Glossy Ibis was an extremely rare bird in Northern Ireland with the only 20th century record been one seen in 1944,( there had been previous sightings but all in the 19th century). Then in 2010 one was seen at Mullagh, Lough Beg Co.Londonderry this was the first record in 66 years. None where reported in 2011 but another was seen in 2012 on the Colebrooke River, Co.Fermanagh. There were again no records in 2013.Then in 2014 three birds were recorded in January alone. Sightings continued throughout  the winter. A bird at Oxford Island and one at Ballycarry seen on the same day, made this the first multiple record, followed by three birds seen in flight at Oxford Island in April. The last record of the year was this bird in the photo above seen at Portmore Lough in June.
Throughout the 20th century numbers declined in Europe which explains why only one record was seen  prior to 2010. Then in the 21st century birds started to thankfully increase in both Spain and France with breeding numbers increasing on a yearly basis. As winters here becomes both wetter and milder, leaving more places flooded (miserable for most of us) but ideal conditions for the Ibises. Therefore dispersing birds are now heading north which explains why so many are now been reported in Britain and Southern Ireland with flocks of up to 25 birds seen, if these trends continue, Glossy Ibis will hopefully be a regular winter sighting.

Accepted bird records for 2015.

Species in red indicate details are not known and a record submission \ further submission is outstanding:

Species Location County Date Observer \ Reporter
Black Kite Limavady Londonderry 14/04/2015 Marc Ruddock
Great White Egret Lough Beg Londonderry 19/04/2015 Keith Bennett
Snowy Owl Gortalughany Fermanagh 07/05/2015 Brad Robson
White-rumped Sandpiper Lough Beg Londonderry 28/05/2015 David Steele
Red-necked Phalarope RSPB Belfast WOW Antrim 29/05/2015 Ivan Quail / Gerard McGeehan
Tundra Bean Goose Lough Beg Londonderry 29/05/2015 David Steele
Pectoral Sandpiper Lough Beg Londonderry 30/05/2015 Godfrey McRoberts
Little Ringed Plover Kinnegar Shore Antrim 31/05/2015 Wilton Farrelly  / Stephen Maxwell
Great White Egret River Bann Antrim 05/06/2015 Willie Wilson/Eddie Manthorpe
Franklins Gull Lough Beg Londonderry 22/06/2015 David Steele
White-rumped Sandpiper RSPB Belfast WOW Antrim 27/06/2015 Stuart McKee
American Golden Plover Myroe Londonderry 19/09/2015 Neal Warnock
American Golden Plover Killough Harbour Down 30/09/2015 Tim Murphy
Yellow-browed Warbler Portrush Antrim 02/10/2015 Colin Guy \ Stuart McKee
Yellow-browed Warbler Portstewart Strand Londonderry 11/10/2015 Richard Donaghey
Great White Egret - 2 Lough Beg Londonderry 19/10/2015 Matthew Tickner
Glossy Ibis Lough Beg Londonderry 19/10/2015 David Steele
Great White Egret Ballycarry Bridge Antrim 25/10/2015 Nicky Lynn / Cameron Moore

Lesser Yellowlegs Carlingford Lough Down 26/12/2015 per NIBARC

Missing records?

If you notice any records that are incorrect or records that are missing, please send details to

All feedback is welcome.

Pacific Diver - A species new to Northern Ireland

On the 19th January 2014, whilst out walking along the shores of Lough Fea, Cookstown, Co Tyrone, Elaine Warnock spotted a Diver species swimming and diving on the water. She took some photos and passed them to a friend who immediately identified them as a Pacific Diver. The bird was last seen on the 23rd February 2014 with rumours that it had subsequently swallowed a fishing hook.

Pacific Diver, Elaine Warnock:

Pacific Diver, John Murphy:

Bird Records accepted 2014

Bird Records accepted 2014:

Species Number  Age, Sex Location County First date Last date Observers
Glossy Ibis One Knockninny, Upper Lough Erne Fermanagh 05-Jan-14 Brad Robson
Pacific Diver One Adult Lough Fea Tyrone 16-Jan-14 28-Feb-14 Elaine Warnock
Glossy Ibis One Killough Down 22-Jan-14 Chris Murphy, Tim Murphy
Glossy Ibis One Adult Derrymacash/Oxford Island Armagh 24-Jan-14 08-Mar-14 David Clarke et alia.
Common Crane One Garron Point to Whitehead Antrim 11-Feb-14 Ian Dickey, Neal Warnock, Cameron Moore
Common Crane One Murlough Down 16-Feb-14 Garry Armstrong, Ian Graham, Wilton Farrelly
Glossy Ibis One Lough Cowey Down 13-Feb-14 Adam McClure
Surf Scoter One Adult male Newcastle/Dundrum Bay Down 02-Feb-14 01-Mar-14 Ed O'Hara, Chris Murphy, Tim Murphy 
Laughing Gull One First-winter Groomsport Down 23-Mar-14 Anthony McGeehan
Hobby One Adult Montiaghs Moss Antrim 27-May-14 19-Jun-14 Ron Price
Rose-coloured Starling One Adult Carrickfergus Antrim 14-Jun-14 17-Apr-14 Mrs J Robinson
Fea's/Zino's Petrel One St John's Point Down 14-Jul-14 Warren Fowles
Honey Buzzard One Slieveanorra, Antrim Plateau Antrim 24-Jul-14 David Steele
Barred Warbler One Juvenile Copeland Bird Observatory Down 13-Sep-14 Chris Acheson et alia
Lesser Whitethroat One Juvenile Portstewart dunes Londonderry 20-Nov-14 Richard Donaghey
Siberian Chiffchaff Two Oxford Island Armagh 26-Dec-14 13-Jan-15 Ed O'Hara, Mark Killops, N Cartmill
Red-backed Shrike One Adult male Glenwherry Antrim 24-Jun-14 26-Apr-14 Neal Warnock

Missing Records

If you notice any missing records or any inaccuracies in records, please feel free to email us at and we will be happy to make corrections.

Bird Records Accepted - 2013

The following records were accepted for 2013:

Species Number Age, Sex Location County First date Last date Observers
Spoonbill One Juvenile Strangford Lough Down 11-Nov-13 Billy Miskelly
Golden Oriole One Female Island Hill Down 15-Nov-13 Stephan Grief
Surf Scoter One First-winter male South of GarronPoint Antrim 29-Dec-13 Neal Warnock
Red-necked Grebe One Greyabbey Bay South, Strangford Lough Down 14-Oct-13 24-Nov-13 James Robinson
Montagu's Harrier One First-summer Star Bog Antrim 20-Jun-13 21-Jun-13 Bill Guiller
Wilson's Phalarope One Juvenile moulting to first-winter Belfast Lough RSPB Reserve Down 25-Aug-13 30-Aug-13 Gerard McGeehan
Crane One Adult Roe Estuary and Myroe Londonderry 29-Sep-13 01-Nov-13 Keith Bennett
Hoopoe One Greencastle, Carlingford Lough Down 17-Oct-13 Joe Devlin
American Golden Plover

One Juvenile Strangford Lough (Floodgates and Kirkiston) Down 27-Oct-13 03-Nov-13 Richard Weyl
Montagu's Harrier One First-summer male Lough Cowey and Ballyherly Lough Down 12-May-13 14-May-13 Keith Bennett
Snowy Owl One Probably first-year male Pettigo Plateau Fermanagh 10-Feb-13 15-Feb-13 Brad Robson
Hoopoe One Craigantlet Down 28-Apr-13 Mr. Rountree
Lesser Scaup One Male Kinnegoe Bay, Oxford Island Armagh 03-Feb-13 07-Apr-13 Ed O'Hara
Cattle Egret One Adult Randalstown Antrim 23-Jul-13 27-Jul-13 R Weir
Hobby One Male Brackagh Moss Armagh 25-Jul-13 16-Aug-13 Mark Killops
Hobby One County Armagh Armagh 04-Jul-13 P Allen
Avocet Three Considered juvenile Knockinelder Bay, Outer Ards Down 10-Sep-13 Keith Bennett
Wilson's Phalarope One Juvenile/first-winter Lough Beg Londonderry 08-Sep-13 15-Sep-13 Cairan Burns
Subalpine Warbler One First-year female Copeland Bird Observatory Down 26-May-13 Shane Wolsey