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Northern Ireland

Whitethroat Sylvia communis ©Ian Dickey

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).

For a small area it has diverse habitat. The coastline encompasses four major estuaries (Lough Foyle, Belfast Lough, Strangford Lough and Carlingford Lough). 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…


County Recorder

George Gordon

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

028 9145 5763


Number of Species

Number of bird species: 348


iGoTerra Checklist

iGoTerra Checklist

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

Useful Reading

Bird Guide

By Killian Mullarney, Lars Svensson, Dan Zetterstrom & Peter Grant Collins (1999)

ISBN: 0002197286

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds in Ireland

Clive D Hutchinson (1989) T & A D Poyser

ISBN: 0856610526

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of the Grey Wind

Edward Allworthy Armstrong (1940) Oxford University Press

Checklist of Birds of Britain and Ireland

by A G Knox (Editor); Dave Showler (Illustrator) Paperback 6th revised edition (19 March, 1992) Brit. Ornithologists' Union

ISBN: 0907446159

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Collins Top Birding Spots in Britain and Ireland

by David Tipling Paperback - 320 pages (9 May, 1996) Collins

ISBN: 000220035X

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Complete Guide to Ireland's Birds

Eric Dempsey, Michael Cleary (1993) Gill & Macmillan

The Crossley ID Guide: Britain & Ireland

Series: Crossley ID Guide 3 | Richard Crossley and Dominic Couzens | 304 Pages | 310 Plates with Colour Photos | 250 Colour Distribution Maps | Princeton University Press | Paperback | Oct 2013
See Fatbirder Review

ISBN: 9780691151946

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Watching Birds in Ireland

Clive D Hutchinson (1986) Country House

Where to Watch Birds in Ireland

by Paul Milne & Clive Hutchinson - Paperback - 336 pages (2nd Edition 2010) Christopher Helm £18.99

ISBN: 9781408105214

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

Irish Tourist Board

53 Castle Walk Street, Belfast - Phone (028)9032 7888

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

Guides & Tour Operators

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

Birding Pal


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

Cambrian Bird Holidays

Tour Operator

Our holidays are designed for all age groups. As such, the routes are we walk are short and taken at a slow and comfortable pace. Our emphasis is on visiting sites where a high concentration of birds, including some rare and unusual species may be seen in breathtaking and beautiful scenery. It doesn't matter what your level of interest in birds and wildlife is. Whether you are a beginner or an expert a Cambrian Bird Holiday is for you. Single people are most welcome, and remember we don't charge a single supplement. Even if you do not drive, it's no problem as we are easy to reach by public transport.

Trip Reports

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


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


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…

Places to Stay

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

Travel Net - Northern Ireland


By type and location


Northern Ireland Birdwatchers Association


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


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


Northern Ireland Headquarters - Belvoir Park Forest, Belfast BT8 4QT - Phone (028) 9049 1547 Fax (028) 9049 1669

Wildfowl and Wetland Trust


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


Birding For Pleasure


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…

N I Birding


Welcome to nibirding (pronounced nib-er-ding, if you want) - a bunch of eejits who don't like rules and all that nonsense and used to run one of the most successful (and similarly sounding) birdwatching blogs in Northern Ireland ever. By popular demand Fatbirder Top 1000 Favourites Jimmy Bird and Arnold Boring have decided to be more stupid and lazy than ever before. Same blog as usual with all the usual rubbish done by the usual criminals……… zzzzzzzzzzzzz



This is the blog of the NIBA (Northern Ireland Birdwatchers' Association). The site includes: Daily update of bird sightings in Northern Ireland, Rare birds gallery (Northern Ireland), Features (Winter Gulls, American Eider), Photos archives, Birding sites in Northern Ireland, Common birds gallery, Trip reports and photos (Hungary, Poland, Spain, Canary Islands, Morocco, Israel)…

Other Links

Birdwatching in Northern Ireland


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…

Birdwatching in Northern Ireland


Ornithologists from Britain and Western Europe come to study the birds of Northern Ireland every year, and with good reason. The province's position on the western fringes of Europe, and the sheer size of many of the flocks that breed or visit, have made it of particular interest both to the experts and the increasing number of birdwatching visitors who are able to combine their special interest with a relaxing holiday in beautiful surroundings. Huge flocks of ducks, waders and geese come south from Arctic Canada and Greenland and other northern vastnesses to pass mild winters on the Ulster wetlands. In spring and summer large numbers of breeding seabirds feed on the fish-rich waters off the north-west coast. Chough and corncrake have some of their last strongholds in Ireland, but are rare in Northern Ireland…