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Northern Ireland

Whitethroat Sylvia communis ©Ian Dickey

Birding Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is currently part of the United Kingdom in the north-east of the island of Ireland, variously described as a country, province or region. Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland. In 2011, its population was 1,810,863, constituting about 30% of the island's total population and about 3% of the UK's population.

Northern Ireland consists of the six counties in the north east of the island of Ireland. These counties are no longer administrative units, but are still convenient recording areas (except in the case of Lough Neagh, where five of the county boundaries meet at various points in the largest inland body of water in the British Isles – it covers 153 square miles).

Northern Ireland was covered by an ice sheet for most of the last ice age and on numerous previous occasions, the legacy of which can be seen in the extensive coverage of drumlins in Counties Fermanagh, Armagh, Antrim and particularly Down. The centrepiece of Northern Ireland's geography is Lough Neagh, at 151 square miles (391 km2) the largest freshwater lake both on the island of Ireland and in the British Isles. A second extensive lake system is centred on Lower and Upper Lough Erne in Fermanagh. The largest island of Northern Ireland is Rathlin, off the north Antrim coast. Strangford Lough is the largest inlet in the British Isles, covering 58 square miles.

For a small area it has diverse habitat. The coastline encompasses four major estuaries (Lough Foyle, Belfast Lough, Strangford Lough and Carlingford Lough). The Lower and Upper River Bann, River Foyle and River Blackwater form extensive fertile lowlands, with excellent arable land also found in North and East Down, although much of the hill country is marginal and suitable largely for animal husbandry. The Mourne Mountains in south county Down have the highest ground with Slieve Donard at 2,796 feet, and over a dozen peaks over 2,000 feet. A lot of county Antrim is an elevated basalt plateau between 1,000 and 1,200 feet. Fermanagh in the southwest is the Lakeland of Northern Ireland with Upper and Lower Lough Erne, and numerous small lakes dotted across the landscape. Tyrone and Londonderry have the rather bleak high ground of the Sperrin Mountains. Yet it is possible to drive nearly anywhere from the capital Belfast in several hours.

Top Sites

Further information

See each county page for top birding locations…

Contributor

County Recorder

George Gordon

2 Brooklyn Ave, Bangor, Co Down, BT20 5RB

028 9145 5763

nimbus10111947@gmail.com

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 343

Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

Birds in Ireland

Clive D Hutchinson & John Busby | T & A D Poyser | 2010 | Hardback | 215 pages, b/w illustrations, b/w ddistribution maps, tables |

ISBN: 9781408137017

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Breeding Birds of Britain and Ireland: Nests, Eggs, Nestlings, Fledglings and Habitats

By Peter Castell & Richard Castell | BirdGuides | 2009 | DVD-ROM | 3000 images |

ISBN: 9781898110512

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Collins Bird Guide

(The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe) | by Killian Mullarney, Lars Svensson, Dan Zetterstrom & Peter Grant | Harper Collins | 2010 | Paperback | 392 pages, 3500 colour illustrations, 700 colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9780007268146

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Collins Top Birding Spots in Britain and Ireland

by David Tipling | Harper Collins | 1996 | Paperback | 320 pages |

ISBN: 000220035X

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland

By Mark Golley & David Daly | Bloomsbury Publishing | 2016 | Paperback | 208 pages, colour illustrations |

ISBN: 9781472917461

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Finding Birds in Ireland: The Complete Guide

By Eric Dempsey & Michael O'Clery | Gill & Macmillan | 2014 | Paperback | 389 pages, 300 colour photos, colour maps |

ISBN: 9780717159253

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Birds of Ireland: A Field Guide

By Jim Wilson & Mark Carmody | The Collins Press | 2013 | Paperback | 272 pages, plates with colour photos |

ISBN: 9781848891791

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Complete Field Guide to Ireland's Birds

By Eric Dempsey & Michael Cleary | Gill & Macmillan | 2010 | Paperback | 272 pages, 250 colour illustrations |

ISBN: 9780717146680

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Crossley ID Guide: Britain & Ireland

by Richard Crossley & Dominic Couzens | Princeton University Press | 2013 | Paperback | 301 pages, 310 plates with colour photos, 250 colour distribution maps |

ISBN: 9780691151946

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Where to Watch Birds in Ireland

by Paul Milne & Clive Hutchinson | Christopher Helm | 2009 | Paperback | 336 pages |

ISBN: 9781408105214

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

Irish Tourist Board

53 Castle Walk Street, Belfast - Phone (028)9032 7888
http://www.ireland.ie/

Northern Ireland Tourist Board

Belfast Welcome Centre, 35 Donegall Place - Phone (028) 9024 6609 belfastwelcomecentre@nitic.net
http://www.discovernorthernireland.com for the many regional tourist offices, details can be obtained here

Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens

Northern Ireland BT9 5AB. Phone (028) 9038 3000. Fax (028) 9038 3003
http://www.habitas.org.uk/cedar/

Organisations

NIRBC Northern Ireland Rare Birds Committee

Webpage

Northern Ireland Rare Birds Committee - Maintaining the NI Bird List

Northern Ireland Birdwatchers Association

Website

Contact George Gordon, 2 Brooklyn Avenue, Bangor, Co Down, Northern Ireland BT20 5RB Phone (028) 9145 5763. E-mail gordon@ballyholme2.freeserve.co.uk - Runs Flightline Birdline updated daily (028) 9046 7408 to hear the latest news or to leave a message. Flightline is not a premium line (calls are only charged at local rates); and is a service provided by Northern Ireland Birdwatchers Association. It can also be sent via e-mail.

Northern Ireland Ornithologists Club

Website

The Northern Ireland Ornithologists' Club was formed in 1965. its purpose then, as now, was to focus the interests of active and enthusiastic birders. The club's activities are arranged by a committee, elected at the Annual General Meeting held each January. These activities are mainly fortnightly meetings, which take the form of illustrated talks by club members or guest speakers, held between October and April, and a series of Field Trips. The club tries to have at least two of the speakers from outside Northern Ireland. Each year the club also organises a major exhibition of colour transparencies taken by Northern Ireland bird photographers.

Royal Society for Protection of Birds

Webpage

Northern Ireland is home to all sorts of wonderful wildlife, from lolloping Irish hares to soaring red kites, not to mention stunning scenery as far as the eye can see. With RSPB NI reserves dotted across the country, it’s never been easier to get close to nature right on your doorstep.

Wildfowl and Wetland Trust

Website

Centre at Castle Espie in Strangford Lough. 78 Ballydrain Road, Comber, Co Down. Phone (028) 9187 4146 or (028) 9187 2517

Forums & Mailing Lists

nibirds

News & Sightings

Report sightings to: Email nibirds@live.co.uk, Text: 07973 403 146 or 07870 863 782 or Twitter: @nibirds See localbird pics at: www.nibirdpics.blogspot.co.uk

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Birding Pal

Information

Local birders willing to show foreign visiting birders around their country - if you are prepared to return the favour to visitors to your country…

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2008 [05 May] - Mark Hows

Report

Arriving in a dull and dreary Dublin at 6am, at least we avoided the rush hour and made good progress north, a quick food stop in Newry…

Blogs

Margaret Adamson - Birding For Pleasure

Blog

Birds, Nature, Photography in UK and other countries I have visited - I have taken up bird watching later in life however I became very enthusiastic from the beginning and was greatly encouraged by other bird watchers. For the past 5 years I have led a bird group in my town and have become a guest speaker on cruise ships talking about Birds around the world…

Other Links

Birdwatching in Northern Ireland

Website

EVERY VISITOR becomes a birdwatcher in Northern Ireland. The presence of a huge variety of bird species, in large numbers, in such a small area, soon becomes delightfully apparent. This is why ornithologists from all over the world are flocking here in greater numbers than ever…

Wild Bird Food Shop Northern Ireland

Website

Welcome to the online Home of Wild Bird Food Shop Northern Ireland. We are part of Temple Garden and Farm Shop, at the Temple crossroads,Between Lisburn to Saintfield and Carryduff to Ballynahinch,just 10 mins from Belfast.