This report adds three species to the Irish List, two from the current year (Black Scoter Melanitta americana and Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica) and one from 2013 (Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii). It also confirms the previously announced decision to reassign Red-breasted Goose Branta ruficollis to Category A of the Irish List from Category D, following a review of one at North Slob, Wexford from October 1997 to March 1998.
A Bulwer’s Petrel off Galley Head, Cork on 1st August 2013 becomes the first record of this pan-oceanic petrel. This record took longer than usual to assess in order to allow time to seek the opinion of several seabird experts. Consequently, the committee would like to thank both Bob Flood and Steve N.G. Howell for their considerable help and advice with this record.
In Kerry, a male Black Scoter was discovered in Dingle Bay off Rossbeigh in January. It remained until early April, returning the following October to Rossbeigh, and to Waterville for a couple of days in November. White-winged Scoter Melanitta deglandi was added to the Irish List at the same location in 2011 (Irish Birds 9: 453) and the same birder was involved in both discoveries.
Galway has added six species to the Irish List since 2007, and now adds Hudsonian Godwit. It was found in the west of the county at Inishdawros in July, where it remained for just a single afternoon, disappointing all those hoping to add the species to their Irish list. Fortuitously and quite remarkably, the same individual reappeared the following September on the Aran Islands, where it remained for three days allowing many grateful birders twitch what had previously proved a lost cause.
These additions continue an unbroken sequence of new species added to the Irish List since 1976. In the main this involves new records, although others have been the result of new data emerging from time to time that elevates subspecies to full species status. The Irish List now stands at 478 species with another eleven placed in Category D and two in the ‘At sea’ category. A pdf copy of the Irish List is available for download through the IRBC’s website, where an explanation of the category system in use is outlined also.
Other notable records in this report include; the second Slaty-backed Gull Larus schistisagus (Donegal), third Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum(Clare) and Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapilla (Cork), fourth Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti (Wicklow) and Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis (Cork), fifth Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus (Cork) and Two-barred Crossbill Loxia leucoptera (Mayo), fifth and sixth Hooded Mergansers Lophodytes cucullatus (Donegal) and sixth Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus (Mayo) and Elegant Tern Sterna elegans (Kerry).
The backbone of the IRBC’s system for recording occurrences of rare birds in the Republic of Ireland is the Provisional List, which is updated regularly. Most of the data in this report were taken directly from the 2015 Provisional List. The IRBC expresses its sincere gratitude to all those who provided information during 2015, either directly or indirectly. The committee also extends its grateful thanks to Kieran Fahy, Kieran Grace, Aidan G. Kelly and Killian Mullarney for their invaluable assistance.
J.Hobbs (on behalf of the Irish Rare Birds Committee)
BirdWatch Ireland, Unit 20, Block D, Bullford Business Campus, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow.