Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow. 27 September 2011
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 2012 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 annually and 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 shows a view of Cape Clear Island from the Mass Track that joins the A1 to the Glen Road looking to the southwest. Taken by Dick Coombes it shows South Harbour, parts of Ballyieragh and the renowned sea-watching point of Blanan. Cape Clear Island is situated off the extreme southwest corner of Ireland at the entrance to Roaringwater Bay, just three miles from the Fastnet Rock and its powerful light, which can be seen in the distance towards the horizon. A bird observatory was founded on the island in 1959, initially using the Youth Hostel building in the South Harbour, then for a short while occupying 'Stroma' in Lissamona before acquiring and moving to its present home in the North Harbour in 1963. To date the island has added Redhead, Black-browed Albatross, Bulwer's Petrel, Taiga Merlin, Chimney Swift, White-throated Needletail, Little Swift, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Pallas's Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Sykes's Warbler, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Fan-tailed Warbler, Grey Catbird, Siberian Thrush, Grey-cheeked Thrush, Thrush Nightingale, Indigo Bunting, White-throated Sparrow, Rustic Bunting, Black-and-White Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, American Redstart and Northern Waterthrush to the Irish List and Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Blue-winged Warbler to the Western Palearctic List as well as recording many other rare and scarce birds.
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.