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Snowy Owl, Tarmon Hill, Mullet Peninsula, Co. Mayo. 15 August 2009
(Mark Carmody,

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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July Banner

This month's banner image shows a view of Blacksod Bay and The Mullet peninsula in Co. Mayo looking north from Tarmon Hill. Taken by Dave Suddaby it shows much of the low-lying part of the peninsula gradually rising to the area around Erris Head on the right with the town of Belmullet below it. The spit of land known as Moyrahan Point may be seen in the foreground and the village of Carton is just visible on the left. The peninsula is about twenty miles long and is connected to the rest of Co. Mayo by a narrow isthmus at Belmullet. The sheltered inlet of Blacksod Bay lies between The Mullet and the Mayo mainland. There are a range of habitats locally including sea cliffs, sandy beaches, machair, lakes and marsh land. Historically the Mullet hosted an intermittent breeding colony of Red-necked Phalaropes between 1900 and the 1980s, which was the most southerly colony in the world. To date the area has added American Golden Plover, Ring-billed Gull and Barred Warbler to the Irish List as well as recording such rarities as Tundra Bean Goose, Snow Goose, Cackling Goose, Canada Goose, Black Brant, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Black Duck, Ring-necked Duck, King Eider, Surf Scoter, Black-browed Albatross, Wilson's Storm-petrel, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Glossy Ibis, American Coot, Little Bustard, American Golden Plover, Dotterel, Upland Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, Collared Pratincole, Forster's Tern, Ivory Gull, Laughing Gull, American Herring Gull, Thayer's Gull, Pallas's Sandgrouse, Snowy Owl, Bee-eater, Gyr Falcon, Red-eyed Vireo, Red-backed Shrike, Short-toed Lark, Red-rumped Swallow, Subalpine Warbler, Booted Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Cedar Waxwing, Citrine Wagtail, Buff-bellied Pipit, Arctic Redpoll, Ortolan Bunting and Blackpoll Warbler as well as a Category D record of Falcated Duck.

Provisional List

The most recent Provisional List available is to May 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