MIGRANTS, RARITIES & GENERAL BIRDING
Increase the county list to 300 (then 350!)
The first bit is just about achieved, but getting to
350 species is likely to take at least several decades. The current provisional list is 305 species (updated 24/1/2013
- details), subject to acceptance or in some cases formal submission of records of 8 species.
Likely contenders for addition to the county list, based on their status elsewhere
in Ireland, include: American Wigeon, Wilson's Phalarope, Laughing Gull, Short-toed
Lark, Red-throated Pipit, Ortolan Bunting and Little Bunting. Red-legged Partridge is also a likely addition, if
it can be shown that escaped or released birds have formed a self-sustaining population.
Less likely in terms of numerical frequency elsewhere, but taking into
account habitat availability and patterns of birding activity in Waterford, "expected" future additions might also include
such species as American Black Duck, Pacific Golden Plover, Franklin's Gull, Arctic
Warbler, Dusky Warbler, Grey-cheeked Thrush, Marsh Warbler, Hume's Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warbler. As for the unexpected,
who knows? Updated 23/11/2011
Achieve a county life-list of 300 in Waterford
A tall order, but several birders have now achieved a Waterford life-list of 250+
species - so 300 may not be totally out of the question over the coming decades? Updated 27/10/2010
Achieve a county year list of 200 - overall county
In a good year 200 should be possible (done in 2011 with Crane on 20/11), across
all observers, and a determined individual might even achieve it.
Update: Total of 202 species confirmed in Co Waterford in 2011, and 188
species achieved by one Co Waterford birder in 2011, 186 in 2012.
Beat the Co Waterford day-list record
This was achieved by a team of four birders in January 1993 (details), and other attempts have yielded up to 99 species in a day.
Add a few more Irish "firsts" to the Waterford
Waterford falls well behind counties such as Wexford, Cork and Kerry
in terms of species added to the Irish list - a possibly incomplete list for Waterford includes Wryneck (1877), Yellow Warbler
(1995) and Iberian Chiffchaff (2010), and the only documented live sighting of Great Auk (1834). Passerine vagrants seem
the most likely bet for the next addition here - Blackburnian Warbler or Eastern Bonelli's Warbler perhaps?
Achieve observatory-type coverage at selected Waterford
At the main migration sites, it would be worthwhile attempting
daily coverage during at least one spring or autumn month annually - in particular Helvick Head (combined with Dungarvan Bay
and Clonea Strand) and Brownstown Head (combined with Tramore Backstrand and perhaps Ballymacaw/Rathmoylan). Obviously
this would be difficult to achieve given the small numbers of observers currently active in Waterford. But
similar coverage has been achieved or attempted elsewhere in Ireland, and in some autumns the Waterford sites have probably
come close to this level of coverage.
Confirm a regular pattern of spring rarities
Spring in Co Waterford can be quiet compared with Cork and Wexford -
but look at what was found in 2008 (Alpine Swift, Little Bittern, Bluethroat, Subalpine Warbler, Tawny Pipit &
Glossy Ibis among others) or 1994 (Whiskered Tern, 2 Squacco Herons & Red-footed Falcon, with a supporting cast of Hobby,
Marsh Harrier, Quail & several Golden Orioles). More frequent coverage at Brownstown Head, Helvick Head or almost anywhere
along the Waterford coast could pay off. Update 26/7/2011: April to early June 2011 produced a Bee-eater, Night
Heron, 2 Woodchat Shrike, as well as Quail, Garganey & a handful of Marsh Harrier records, probably the 3rd best
spring yet in the county.
Extend the late-autumn season
With the exception of Pallas's Warbler in 2003 and Chimney Swift in 2005,
and a late Yellow-browed Warbler in 1995, November has been a quite month for landbirds in Waterford. Improved
coverage could turn up something like Dusky Warbler, Hume's Warbler or Desert Wheatear. Update 26/7/2011:
A new (second of the year) Buff-bellied Pipit was found at Clonea Strand on 12 November 2011. Update 03/02/2012:
Pallas's Warbler 16/11, Crane & Bluethroat 20/11, Desert Wheatear & Buff-bellied Pipit 22/11.
Increase the Waterford list of North American landbirds
We haven't done too badly so far, with Northern Parula in 2003, Ireland's
first Yellow Warbler in 1995, Blackpoll Warbler in 1993, Yellow-billed Cuckoo in 1989 and three Red-eyed Vireos 1985-1996.
But we're due another one soon - Yellow-rumped Warbler or Grey-cheeked Thrush are almost expected, but Tennessee or Blackburnian
Warbler would really do the trick! Update: Buff-bellied Pipit added 17/10/2010.
Confirm a regular spring passage of Black-throated
Several May records of 1-2 birds from west Waterford in recent decades
suggest a spring passage, but the pattern of occurrences off the nearby south Wexford coast suggest the potential for larger
numbers to occur. Update 26/7/2011: 3 records of single birds in April-May 2011, from Clonea Strand (1) and passing
Brownstown Head (2).
Confirm more frequent occurrence of Fea's Petrel
Only one record so far (Helvick Head in September 1998) - but with the
right weather, or just lots of patience, more will surely be found. Helvick may be the best bet for more, but one flying
west of Hook Head (Co Wexford) a few autumns back just missed being seen from Brownstown Head.
Find Wilson's Petrel on a pelagic or a seawatch
Helvick Head might well be the spot, as Storm Petrels regularly feed
close inshore here.
Establish the occurrence of Aquatic
Warbler as a rare but regular autumn migrant
Despite its regular occurrence as a rare migrant at reedbeds in southwest
Britain, believed to be part of a regular migration southwest from breeding grounds in NE Europe, Aquatic Warbler is
currently considered an extreme rarity in Ireland, especially so in recent decades. (Only 13 Irish records, the last
in 1989.) More targeted ringing efforts or observations at reedbeds and coastal marshes might help, although regular
ringing at Belle Lake (east Waterford) and at Ballyvergan marsh in nearby east Cork has so far failed to turn up the species.
Click here for an IRBC website article on finding Aquatic Warblers.
Get those unsubmitted rarities submitted
Still not officially "on the the books" for Waterford are records (sometimes first
county records*) of a range of species. These include, from the mid-1980s onwards, records of Ring-necked Duck,
Black-necked Grebe, Red Kite, Hobby, *Goshawk, Avocet, *Black-winged Stilt, *Little Ringed Plover, *American Golden Plover,
*dowitcher species, Long-tailed Skua, *Bonaparte's Gull, White-winged Black Tern, Water Pipit, Melodious Warbler, Barred Warbler,
Red-breasted Flycatcher, Golden Oriole and Red-backed Shrike. Not to mention lesser rarities such as the hordes of
Cory's Shearwaters seen in 1999 plus various other species no longer treated as rarities by the Irish Rare Birds
Committee. Some older records/reports are less likely to see the "official" light of day, but most are
probably just buried in notebooks that could be dusted off on a rainy day...