Birds on Copeland

Our most important bird is the Manx Shearwater. Ringing Manx Shearwaters began back in the 1950s when the colony probably contained only a few hundred birds. Over the years, and especially the last twenty, the colony has grown at a remarkable rate until there are now well over two thousand pairs present.

Visiting the colony at night when the adult birds come in to feed their young is a very exciting experience. Their weird ‘cackling’ calls fill the air as they fly low over the surface of the island sometimes visible in the beam from the lighthouse on nearby Mew Island.

For more pages on Manx Shearwaters, click HERE.

Seabirds and migrants

The other bird we often trap at night (during July and August) is the Storm Petrel. These delightful little birds are attracted to tape-recordings of their calls. There are many sites around Britain and Ireland where Stormies are ringed and we have caught birds which have previously been trapped at locations around most of the British and Irish coastline.

Lighthouse Island and nearby Mew Island were, at one time, very important for breeding terns. For some historical details click HERE. For details of our work to encourage terns to breed again on Mew click HERE.

Athough Copeland is not on a major migration route we are one of the more important Northern Irish sites for recording the movements of migrating passerines. Because we have been keeping systematic records over more than forty years we have a very valuable database, especially for the less common species like Redstart, Whitethroat and Garden Warbler, but also for commoner migrants and visitors like Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Robin, wagtails, pipits, finches, crows and birds of prey.

Breeding birds

Other breeding species include the four large gulls, Fulmar, Black Guillemot, Mallard, Eider, Shelduck and Red-breasted Merganser, Moorhen and Water Rail, Stock Dove, Meadow and Rock Pipit, Swallow, Sedge Warbler, Magpie, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Starling, Wren, Linnet and Reed Bunting.

Yearly Bird Lists

Select a year

Rarities and Scarcities

If you would like to get in contact please email the Records Secretary

Richard Donaghey –

Each year Copeland Bird Observatory, like many other Observatories create a list of all birds seen throughout the year. Find out what are species we’ve seen by checking out our yearly bird lists below