The 2005 IRBR marks a new departure for rare bird recording in Ireland in that data and information, collected through a radically altered recording system which was put into place on 1st January 2005, are presented for the first time. A number of factors (principally, the recent technical advances in digital photography and the upsurge in the number of rarity photographs being published on the Internet, in addition to improved observer competence) enabled us to employ more pragmatic, observer-friendlier methods, under which numerous species no longer require formal documentation and assessment. All known rarity sightings are now published and updated on a monthly basis in the Provisional List of Rare Bird Sightings on the IRBC website. Observers are invited to contribute by examining the List and supplying, wherever relevant, additional information so that the record, when published in the IRBR, will be as accurate as possible. Full details and background information relating to the new recording system were published in Irish Birds 7: 413-418 and can also be accessed on the IRBC website here.
The simplicity of this new system, combined with the high level of acceptance and cooperation with which observers of rare birds in Ireland have embraced it, have resulted in a substantial increase in the number of rare and scarce bird sightings qualifying for publication in this Report. At the same time, this increase underlines the fact that no more than a handful of sightings from previous years remain undocumented; the IRBC warmly welcomes late submission of such records for inclusion in future Reports. The publication of the Northern Ireland Bird Report Vol. 16, which covers the years 2003 and 2004, enables us to update the record here with respect to Northern Ireland.
A significant change of format in this Report is the inclusion of all records and full details of long-staying rarities, first seen during the year prior to the one covered by the Report, e.g. overwintering ducks, geese and waders seen in the winter 2004/2005, many of which have already been published. Although the new format entails repetition of previously published information, we believe that the Report should present as full a picture as possible for the year in question.
Two species were recorded in Ireland for the first time in 2005: Green Heron Butorides virescens (seen in Cork in October) and Barrow's Goldeneye Bucephala islandica (seen in Down in November and December). A Rough-legged Buzzard Buteo lagopus of the North American subspecies sanctijohannis, found injured in Clare in October, was the first confirmed Irish record of this form. In addition, the second Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus (Dublin and Down), second Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti (Wicklow), fifth Elegant Tern Sterna elegans (Meath) and fifth and sixth Grey-cheeked Thrushes Catharus minimus (Cork) were recorded during the year. This Report also includes belated publication of the first Tundra Bean Goose Anser fabalis rossicus (Louth 1993), third Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis (Antrim 2004), third Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor (Donegal 1990) and fifth Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans (Dublin 2002). Autumn seawatching produced record totals of Fea's/Zino's Petrels Pterodroma feae/madeira and Wilson's Petrels Oceanites oceanicus as well as good numbers of Long-tailed Skuas Stercorarius longicaudus. The occurrence of Hurricane Wilma, off the east coast of the USA in late October, was responsible for exceptional influxes of Laughing Gulls Larus atricilla and Chimney Swifts Chaetura pelagica, and the year was also notable for influxes of Spoonbills Platalea leucorodia and Hawfinches Coccothraustes coccothraustes. Five species of rare heron were recorded during the spring, including the first Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis and Purple Herons Ardea purpurea since 1999.
P.Milne and D.G.McAdams (on behalf of the Irish Rare Birds Committee)
BirdWatch Ireland, 1 Springmount, Newtownmountkennedy, Wicklow.