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Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Ballycotton, Co. Cork. 11 September 2010
(Richard T. Mills)

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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March Banner

This month's banner image shows a view of Kilcoole Marsh and beach from just south of The Breeches looking north. Taken by Dick Coombes it also shows part of the main Dublin to Wexford rail line, a small area of the Irish Sea to the right and in the distance, from left to right, the Great Sugarloaf, Little Sugarloaf and Bray Head. The area, which is in north Co. Wicklow, is a mix of salt marsh, tidal channels, reed beds, farmland and shingle beach. The beach hosts breeding Little Terns, which have been monitored by a BirdWatch Ireland protection scheme since 1985. Immediately beyond the bank that is visible below Bray Head is Webb's Field, now owned by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. To date the area has added Ortolan Bunting to the Irish List and recorded such rarities as Black Brant, Blue-winged Teal, Surf Scoter, Bittern, Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Black Kite, Northern Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Rough-legged Buzzard, Little Ringed Plover, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint, Baird's Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, Gull-billed Tern, Franklin's Gull, Alpine Swift, Wryneck, Red-footed Falcon, Hobby, Gyr Falcon, Bearded Tit, Shore Lark, Short-toed Lark, Red-rumped Swallow, Tawny Pipit and Water Pipit.


Provisional List

The most recent Provisional List available is to February 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