Rare sighting of belted kingfisher in west


A LITTLE bird not seen in Ireland in almost three decades has caused a flutter of activity among birdwatchers in Connemara.

Several dozen birdwatchers travelled to the Kylemore Abbey estate in Co Galway to try see the belted kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon), last spotted in Ireland in 1985.

The belted kingfisher is native to North America and usually does not find its way to our shores. It is believed to have got caught in a jet stream across the Atlantic on its annual migration south.

A possible sighting was made at Kylemore, but the first confirmed sighting was at Lough Fee. The bird was spotted again flying high towards Kylemore Head – it relocated later at Lough Maladrolaun.

Joe Doolan of irishbirding.comsaid the best thing for people to do if they spot the bird is take a photograph. “A photo eliminates any possible arguments about the identity of the bird,” said Mr Doolan.

“The first sighting of the belted kingfisher was in 1979 but it is a rare and unusual sighting.

“Birds like that can come across the jet stream in 24 or 48 hours, but can migrate in flocks of 100,000.

“It is lucky for us that the weather systems help us out.”