bird image

Spotted Sandpiper, Leam Lough, Mullet Peninsula, Co. Mayo. 11 September 2010
(Derek Charles)

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 2013 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.


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May Banner

This month's banner image, taken by Tony Murray, shows a view of Great Saltee Island from the east. Along with Little Saltee Island it lies about three miles off the south coast of Wexford. The southern and western sides of the island have steep cliffs which are important for breeding seabirds. Much of the island is covered in bracken and brambles, however there are overgrown gardens and some trees around an old farmhouse (now in ruins) and the home of the Neale family who have owned the island since the 1940s. A bird observatory was established in 1950, which was maintained until 1964. Since the late 1970s ringing of seabirds and migrants has taken place annually. 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, Baillon's Crake, Stone Curlew, White-rumped Sandpiper, Great Snipe, Little Owl, Alpine Swift, Little Swift, Bee-eater, Roller, Wryneck, Hobby, Red-backed Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Woodlark, Short-toed Lark, Dusky Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Barred Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Aquatic Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Rufous Bush Robin, Black-eared Wheatear, Ortolan Bunting and Little Bunting.


Provisional List

The most recent Provisional List available is to April 2015.


Appendix Lists

For the 2005 Revised Rarity List with subsequent updates (Appendix 1), click here.

For the 2005 Supplementary Accreditation Species with subsequent updates (Appendix 2), click here.


BirdWatch Ireland

BirdWatch Ireland is the largest independent conservation organisation in Ireland dedicated to protecting Ireland’s birds and biodiversity.

BirdWatch Ireland