bird image

Desert Wheatear, Bray Head, Co. Wicklow. 13 November 2011
(Tom Shevlin,

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.

April Banner

This month's banner image was taken by Mark Carmody and shows a view of the cliffs along the eastern side of Great Saltee Island that are home to mixed colonies of Kittiwake, Razorbill and Guillemot. Up to twelve species of seabird breed on the island including two colonies of Gannet. Great Saltee is just under 220 acres in area and lies about three miles south of Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford. Along with Little Saltee Island, it is designated as a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive. A bird observatory was in operation on the island between 1950 and 1964 and an annual report, edited by Major Robert F. Ruttledge and John Weaving, was published in the Irish Bird Report. Since the closure of the observatory further survey work, including ringing of seabirds and migrants, has been undertaken regularly on Saltee. Most of Great Saltee is now overgrown with bracken and brambles but there are some trees and the remains of gardens around the few buildings on the northern side of the island. 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, 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, Great Reed Warbler, Rufous Bush Robin, Black-eared Wheatear, Ortolan Bunting and Little Bunting.

Appendix Lists

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

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

BirdWatch Ireland