2007 saw two additions to the Irish List, Cackling Goose Branta hutchinsii (one seen in Down in October) and Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura (one found in Galway in November). Three species were recorded for the second time. A Bufflehead Bucephala albeola was discovered in Clare in January and two Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola seen in the northwest (in Mayo and Galway) in June and October were the second and third respectively. Two Blyth's Reed Warblers Acrocephalus dumetorum found almost simultaneously in Cork and Mayo in October were likewise the second and third, following the late emergence of the first in 2006 (also published in this report). A total of six Buff-bellied Pipits Anthus rubescens in Cork, Clare and Wexford during the autumn constituted the third to eighth records. Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis and Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus were likewise recorded for the third time, the former in Wexford in late July and the latter in Cork in October. The fourth Marsh Warbler Acrocephalus palustris was located in Wexford in June, while the fourth Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata was seen in Cork in October.
Rare subspecies recorded during the year included the first Black-headed Wagtail Motacilla flava feldegg (Londonderry) and the fourth American Black Tern Chlidonias niger surinamensis (Galway), while the first Irish (and only second European) record of the North American race of Merlin Falco columbarius columbarius (Cork, in 2000) is also published in this report.
The spring of 2007 was overall an unexceptional one. Rare southern herons were in short supply, the most notable record concerning a Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides in May, followed by another in July. The largest Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus flock recorded since 1934 put in a brief appearance in Kerry in April. Passerine highlights included three Red-rumped Swallows Cecropis daurica, two very late Shore Larks Eremophila alpestris in the extreme southwest and only the second spring Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola. For the first time since 1998, no spring Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus was recorded.
Most of the regularly occurring American waders were recorded in moderately good numbers during 2007, while the totals of American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica, Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes and Spotted Sandpipers Actitis macularius were above average. In addition to the Buff-bellied Pipits and the Mourning Dove previously mentioned, only two other Nearctic landbirds were discovered during the autumn, a Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus and an indeterminate Swainson's or Grey-cheeked Thrush Catharus ustulatus/minimus.
Autumn seawatching yielded no less than eleven Fea's/Zino's Petrels Pterodroma feae/madeira between July and October, making it the best year on record.
Three further Red-rumped Swallows in October brought the total for the year to a record six. A record five Greenish Warblers Phylloscopus trochiloides were found in Cork in October, in addition to a Radde's Phylloscopus schwarzi, two Dusky Phylloscopus fuscatus and three Pallas's Warblers Phylloscopus proregulus on the south coast. Barred Warblers Sylvia nisoria and Red-breasted Flycatchers Ficedula parva appeared in good numbers, but other regularly occurring autumn rarities such as Wryneck Jynx torquilla, Icterine Warbler Hippolais icterina and Red-backed Shrikes Lanius collurio were scarcer than usual. Two Citrine Wagtails in September and two Snowy Owls Bubo scandiacus in Mayo (August) and Galway (October) extended the recent runs of these species.
One of the most remarkable ornithological events of the year was the unprecedented influx of Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis in the late autumn and winter, mainly along the south coast. Other notable records during the winter months included the return of a Barrow's Goldeneye Bucephala islandica to Down for its third successive winter, a long-staying Buff-bellied Pipit, three American Black Ducks Anas rubripes, a good spread of Surf Scoters Melanitta perspicillata and, once again, large numbers of Ring-necked Ducks Aythya collaris. Wintering Water Pipits Anthus spinoletta continue to be discovered with increasing regularity, with no less than 23 birds found in seven counties by late December.
Since January 2005, the backbone of the IRBC's system for the recording of rare birds in the Republic of Ireland has been the Provisional List, published online at http://www.irbc.ie/provisional/provisional.php and updated on a monthly basis. Most of the data pertaining to this region published in the following pages were drawn directly from the 2007 Provisional List. The IRBC expresses its sincere gratitude to all those who provided information during 2007, either directly or indirectly. Our thanks also go to Derek Charles of the Northern Ireland Birdwatchers' Association for supplying all the Northern Ireland records contained within this Report.
P.Milne and D.G.McAdams (on behalf of the Irish Rare Birds Committee)
BirdWatch Ireland, Unit 20, Block D, Bullford Business Campus, Kilcoole, Wicklow.