American Golden Plover, Tacumshin Lake, Co. Wexford. 28 May 2011.
(Paul & Andrea Kelly, www.irishbirdimages.com)
Irish Rare Birds Committee
The Irish Rare Birds Committee (IRBC) is responsible for maintaining a list of the birds recorded in the Republic of Ireland and in addition the inshore waters up to 30km from the nearest land or where relevant, the median point between Ireland and Great Britain. So-called ’at sea’ records, i.e. records of birds outside this 30 km limit but still within the Exclusive Economic Zone which extends to approximately 370 km (200 nautical miles) offshore or where relevant, the median point between Ireland and Great Britain are assessed and published by the IRBC in the Irish Rare Bird Report (IRBR), but are excluded from the main list.
The primary function of the IRBC is the assessment of records of certain rare and scarce species. From 2004 the results are published annually in the IRBR and previously in the Irish Bird Report (IBR) from 1953 to 2003. The most recent is the 2011 report, which along with others is available for download through this website as PDFs. In addition the IRBR is included in Irish Birds, which is published by BirdWatch Ireland. Irish Birds is available from Wings, the BirdWatch Ireland online shop.
Beginning with the 2005 IRBR, the IRBC changed its method of record submission and assessment. Generally speaking many regularly occurring and apparently seldom misidentified rarities no longer require formal documentation (although there may be occasional exceptions). The full list of species affected are included in Appendix 2. Those species which continue to require formal documentation are listed in Appendix 1. For a full account of the background and reasons behind these changes click here.
The Committee, whose members work in an honorary capacity, operates under the auspices of BirdWatch Ireland. The Committee's current membership is listed here. For a short background to its origins as well as the all time list of its members click here.
The Northern Ireland Birdwatchers' Association Rarities Committee (NIBARC) performs a similar role in Northern Ireland and the two committees work together to maintain a comprehensive record of birds found on the island of Ireland.
This month's banner image was taken by Dick Coombes and shows a view looking north from 'The Throne' over Great Saltee Island. The island lies about three miles south of Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford, is just under 220 acres in area, and along with Little Saltee Island, is designated as a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive. The Neale family have owned Great Saltee since the 1940s and their island home is visible in the picture, around which are overgrown gardens and some small trees. Nowadays the rest of the island is mostly covered in bracken and brambles. To the left in the picture is the avenue of Cordyline trees known as the 'Royal Mile'. A bird observatory was in operation on the island between 1950 and 1964 with an annual report, edited by Major Robert F. Ruttledge and John Weaving, published in the Irish Bird Report. Since the observatory's closure further survey work, including ringing of seabirds and migrants, has been undertaken regularly on Saltee. The island hosts up to twelve species of breeding seabird, mostly on its southern and western sides where there are steep cliffs. To date it has added Lesser Grey Shrike, Red-rumped Swallow, Greenish Warbler, Nightingale, Bluethroat, Siberian Stonechat, Grey-headed Wagtail, Tawny Pipit, Olive-backed Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Buff-bellied Pipit and Black-headed Bunting to the Irish List as well as recording such rarities as Bittern, Little Bittern, Montagu's Harrier, Stone Curlew, White-rumped Sandpiper, Great Snipe, Little Owl, Alpine Swift, Bee-eater, Roller, Wryneck, Red-backed Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Short-toed Lark, Woodlark, Dusky Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Barred Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Aquatic Warbler, Rufous Bush Robin, Black-eared Wheatear, Ortolan Bunting and Little Bunting.
2005 Revised Rarity List with subsequent updates (Appendix 1), click here.
2005 Supplementary Accreditation Species with subsequent updates (Appendix 2), click here.
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BirdWatch Ireland is the largest independent conservation organisation in Ireland dedicated to protecting Ireland’s birds and biodiversity.