Thursday, 31 March 2011

Bird News Thursday 31st March

The first picture of the first Northern Irish Great Grey Shrike in 3 decades ......anywhere in the world! Many thanks to Victor Cashera

Everybody's been a little bit distracted today!

In Co. Antrim
The Great Grey Shrike was seen briefly in flight at Slievenacloy, Belfast Hills. However conditions are poor. Update seen well at 9.45 all present have seen it. (including Andrew!) (who didn't sleep very well last night and when he did was dreaming of shrikes)

15 Waxwing were at the West Circular Road, Belfast.
The white phase Snow Goose was at Portmore Lough

In Co. Fermanagh:
At Enniskillen Tip a 3rd winter Iceland Gull, Chiffchaff and Sand Martin was present (Brad Robson)

In Co. Londonderry:
2 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff and 2 Buzzard were at Moyola Waterfoot

In County Down
The adult Glaucous Gull was still at Portavogie
50 Manx Shearwater past Kearney in one hour.
Female Brambling and 2 Tree Sparrow Kirkubbin (all Keith Bennett)
The male Ring Necked Duck was at Castleward

In Co. Tyrone:
10 Buzzard, 2 Chiff-chaff, 2 Willow Warbler and a Swallow were at Sion Mills
A Chiff-chaff was at Slieve Beagh


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Ballygally Hawfinch Photo

As usual we are ahead of the game and here is the first picture of the Hawfinch seen recently in Ballygally. Its a cracker and is coming to seed which has been put down for it after its initial discovery.

I'm a Murderer? No, Ross Towers is.

Yeah, he's a murderer. Many moons ago we paid for Ross to go to the states and take bird photos for us. We even bought him a camera. Now look at what he's up to - he's taken our advice a step too far. We're more than happy to add pictures of dead things to our Dead Gallery but we draw the line at putting the boot down and leaving tyre prints on their heads. The man's gone completely radio rental.

Punxsutawney Phil (well, his ex-wife)

A Rat

.....and a Grey Squirrel

.....and do you know what the worst thing was? - he didn't eat any of it!!! The man has obviously never heard of Groundhog Meatloaf. Or Rat Jambalaya?  Or 69 Slices of Squirrel with Squeezy Spraycan cheese? All staples on Chez Veale Evening Bistro's Texan Grill nights. If you can eat 4 Turkey Vultures in one sitting you get a free can of Bud.

London 2012 Olympics

With the London 2012 Olympics now only 18 days away the excitement is building. For the first time ever Fishing is included as an Olympic Sport and Northern Irelands best bet for a Medal is Sammy the Redshank. Sammy who trains at Newfordge Lane has caught up to 2 tonne of fish a day, most of which he eats himself.
Many thanks to Ian Dickey for this photo!

Jack the Cat

Chris Baines, Pat Baines long suffering husband sent this rather forlorn looking photo of their long suffering Cat, Jack Baines. Poor Jack. Pat stuck 2 celery sticks on Jacks ears to try and make him into a Hare so that she could boast to her friends about their exotic pet. However Jacks life is now a misery and even the local Mice laugh at him, he is thinking of running away.
Thanks to Pat and Chris for photo.

Spot the Bird (Part 215)

Answer to Part 214: Shelduck

Dipper best photograph ever

Following on from Marks brillaint photo of a Dipper earlier in the week our resident Alien Correspondent Pat Baines has sent us a picture of a Dipper she took on her local beach. Pat who is half woman, half vulcan and half Marsian is currently have to re-do her Spaceship Driving Test as she got 20000000 points for speeding. Those Pluto Traffic Cops are mustard. Lars Svennson is extremely interested in this colour variant of Dipper.
Thanks to Pat for this stunning Dipper photo (we think!)

Mad Friday Cancelled

We have decided to cancel Mad Friday as it was getting too predictable. But we have come up with a completely new and original idea. Mad Thursday, really clever we think. To kick off Mad Thursday we showcase the three legged Squirrel named Jeremy who is teerrorising visitors to Lurgan Park Lake. He lost his front right leg in a boating accident when he was 7 and is extremely bitter. He steals from the Rich and gived to the moderately poor.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Bird News Wednesday 30th March

In Co. Antrim:
A Great Grey Shrike was at Slievenacloy Nature Reserve, in the Belfast Hills, west of Divis Mountain (Dermot Hughes) STILL PRESENT THIS EVENING. Refound by Chris Veale (D. Charles, C. Veale, W.Veale) All hail the unblockers! (I'm pretty sure that's a Lee Scratch Perry song)

From flowbog road (see below) walk up the hill to the farmhouse and along the path to the left.

A Northern Ireland mega!!!! Only 4 records in the 20th Century!
From the Flowbog Rd. (click on Flowbog Rd., Lisburn) entrance to Slievenacloy walk up the track to the farmhouse/ toilet block area. The bird was first seen on Wednesday afternoon North-east of the farmhouse buildings, on a hedge near an area of heathland on higher ground behind the buildings.
(Access can also be gained from the Ballycolin Rd as well, follow the path in past the cattle crush on your left, stay on the main path and you will also reach the farmhouse.)

There are now 16 Waxwings at Donegal Square West, beside Belfast City Hall (lunchtime) (David Nixon and Phililp McHaffie)

In Co. Down:
A Sparrowhawk was at the Ulster Wildlife Centre, Crossgar (E. McGuiggan)

Here's a Couple of shots from longtime contributor Mr. Clancy Eccles

Thanks to Jon Lees for this pic of a Blue Tit - check out more of Jon's images at:


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Spot the Bird (Part 214)

Answer to Part 213: Wood Pigeon

Vintage Rude

Thanks to Stephen Longster for this pic of Great Skuas about to get it on. This picture was taken in 1996 in Handa Island - now, Great Skuas live a long time so there's a fair chance the same pair could still be at it this year!!

The oldest recorded age for a Great Skua is 34 years 6 months 18 days (set in 2007)

Here's a picture of a Red Grouse taken at the same spot - it'll have been munched by something by now!

Camellia Parker Bowles

Ive been saving these for a week or so waiting for a day like this, dark damp and pretty rotten. These Royals of the Flower World were kindly sent in by Mark Smyth and they are crackers!

Thanks Mark


No bird photos today but tune in on Friday as we have a rather mad selection including another fantastic Dipper photograph. Hopefully this photo and the next post will cheer you all up this morning on this horrible day. This photograph was taken by Ian Dickey at the RSPB Reserve in Belfast and does in fact show a couple of Cranes, you see 2 bird linked things!Thanks to Ian for this photo.

Identifying birds by song

Training for bird-watchers

Learning bird songs and calls is perhaps the most challenging part of becoming a bird-watcher. There is no substitute for getting out in the field, preferably with someone more experienced who can help you. This course is designed for those who know their common or garden bird species but would like to learn the songs of those commoner species. It would also suit those with some song knowledge of commoner species but who would like to expand their experience. This is not a series of ‘Dawn Chorus days’ but a practical training course to help you learn. The course will consist of three morning visits to different habitats. To give the widest opportunity for participation the course will run three times at different geographical areas across Northern Ireland. Exact locations for each outing will be confirmed nearer the time. The areas are: East (first venue Crawfordsburn); North (first venue Randalstown Forest); and South (first venue Oxford Island).
Each three day course will give a basic introduction to the commoner species but you are free to mix and match days at other locations. If you wish you may only attend one or two days but it is recommended that you attend a minimum of three days. When it comes to learning bird song repeated practice is the key and the more training days you undertake, the more you will learn and the more you will get out of it. The course tutor is Kerry Leonard. Kerry is a professional ornithologist and surveyor who has been bird-watching for 27 years, is an ‘A’ class bird ringer and trainer and the BTO volunteer representative for Co. Down.

If you would like to join one or more of the one day courses please contact

Kerry at
Booking is essential and numbers will be strictly limited, each training day is subject to sufficient numbers of participants.

Identifying birds by song

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Bird News Tuesday 29th March

In Co.Antrim
A Hawfinch was reported from a garden in Ballygally

In Co. Fermanagh:
The drake Ring-necked Duck was still at Boa Island, Lower Lough Erne

In Co. Down:
2 singing Yellowhammers were near Inishargy Bog

2 Great Northern Divers were off Kircubbin

2 Slavonian Grebe were off Greyabbey Bay South

A Little Egret was at the Floodgates, Newtonards

Thanks to Emmanuel Zachariah Zaccipahm for these shots of a Collared Dove and a Starling


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Spot the Bird (Part 213)

Answer to Part 212: Kestrel

We Have Been Warned!!

Stinko, Limp and

14 Bog Lane, Sewage Works
Belfast Harbour Estate

28 March, 2011
Cheeseman and Charles
No Fixed Abode
Dear Sir or Madam:
Our clients, the MCGarry brothers, forthwith known as " nobirds ", have brought to our attention the fact that you have been casting dispersions about their birdwatching prowess and techniques.
We will have you know that it is a well known fact that they ALWAYS see any birds they go looking for.
Nobirds are so good they can even see the same birds, at the same time and in the same place, annually.
Nobirds were quite happy to accept the petty jealous comments from lesser birders on your so-called Nibirding Blog but feel it has gone on for long enough.
It is with regret that Nobirds have employed us to keep an eye on your Blog with the brief that we should persecute whenever possible.

J.P. Cringeworthy
Groveller to Stinko, Limp and Grunge

More Moths - 29th March

Thanks to Shelagh Henry for these pics of an Early Thorn Selenia dentaria

The last of the Holiday snaps!

A couple of late processed photos. Lack of variety which we apologise for, but heye what can we do about it!

Goosey Looseys

Craig Shaw and Tristan Reid are not very nice fellows. They are also not very good photographers but they have paid us £20 each if we would use a couple of their Gooseys pictures which were taken on Sunday. It s a tough decision because of the poor quailty but after checking that LIDL had a sale on in their Off Licence (10 bottles of Buckfast for £20) we have decided to use them. Craig said that his pictures are actually a Pink-footed Goose and Tristan said his are of a Snow Goose. We think they are deluded or having a laugh. We have mixed the pictures up as we don't know which are which!

Many thanks to Tristan and Craig for the great photos and being a good laugh (we hope!)


Just to show you all how completely random this blog is and how little thought we put into it here is a Siskin. I found this photo at the back of the drawer and thought everyone needs to see that on a Tuesday! Many thanks to Geoff Campbell for the great photo. Check Geoffs nature pictures at

Irish Hare

Look at these gorgeous animals and great photos. But i am getting suspicious! Ian Dickey won't tell me where he photographed these and i think they may be from his stuffed Mammall cupboard. I am onto him! Many thanks to Ian for these crackers!
Thanks Ian

Monday, 28 March 2011

Bird News Monday 28th March

In Co.Londonderry: A count of Lough Foyle produced: 11 Slavonian Grebe, 26 Pink Footed Geese, a 3rd winter Iceland Gull, 36 Greenland White-fronted Geese, 31 Twite, 2 Merlin, 13 Tree Sparrows +Sand Martins (Brad Robson) A good haul if ever there was one!

In Co. Fermanagh: A Swallow was on the Lisnaskea-Maguiresbridge Rd (Colin Bell)

In Co. Antrim: The white phase Snow Goose was at Aghagallon (Ed O'Hara) 17 Waxwings were in front of the City Hall in Belfast (Ronald Surgenor)

3 Red Grouse, 8 Crossbill and a Wheatear were at Cappanagh

In Co. Down: Thanks to Stephen McCandless for these superb shots of Peregrine Falcons mating and in flight (taken on Saturday in Co. Down). Hard to beat!!

A Sandwich Tern was off the North Pt. at Murlough NNR and a Willow Warbler was near Murlough House. A Mink was seen at the mouth of the Corrigs River (Dan Bailie) A Sparrowhawk was at Castleward Caravan Park, Strangford (Ed McGuiggan) 2 pairs of Bullfinches were feeding on apple buds in a garden at Ardrragh near Rathfriland (Shelagh Henry) Thanks to Shelagh for this photo of one of the pairs!

Many thanks to Ronald Surgenor for this gorgeous Gannet photo.

Lucky Ronald was on Rathlin Island on Saturday - "massive amounts of gannets heading north past the east lighthouse and plenty of small flocks of razorbills/guillemots, 4 buzzards, 2 raven, 1 peregrine. also had a chiffchaff calling at Ballymena bus centre." Thanks to Ronald for these snaps from the weekend as well.

Check out Ronald's Flickr page or we'll call round to your house tonight for dinner.

Late News from Yesterday:

A Chiff-chaff was at the 12 Arches, Dundrum Inner Bay South (D. Bailie)

A Mandarin Duck was at Newcastle Boating Lake (Leonard Charles - nw up to 109 and he hasn't seen Willow Warbler yet, record year in the making for sure)

Republic of Ireland Pick of the bunch was the 5 Tundra Bean Geese at Lurgangreen, Co. Louth (


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More Micros - 28th March

Thanks to John McClean for this photo of Rhigognostis incarnatella

Spot the Bird (Part 212)

Answer to Part 211: Stock Dove