Issue 101, February 2018
Welcome to the February 2018 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
Please spare a thought for our garden birds at the moment: the current spell of cold, harsh weather gripping the country is making life extremely difficult for them. As temperatures drop, so the birds need to eat as much high energy food as possible to try to keep warm. They also need access to unfrozen water to allow them to drink and bathe. With this in mind, we have put together some advice on how you can help your garden birds to survive during cold weather. Please do what you can, and please also pass the advice on to your friends, neighbours and family.

BirdWatch Ireland would like to remind eWings readers that today, the last day of February, is the also the last day for legal hedge-cutting and scrub-burning until 1st September, as specified under Section 40 of the Wildlife Act. The act allows exceptions for reasons of road safety.

The Heritage Bill, which is currently before the Oireachtas, contains provisions that, if passed, would change these dates, but it is important to note that these proposed changes have not become law: the cutting and burning dates remain unchanged. BirdWatch Ireland strongly opposes the proposed changes and is working hard to persuade the Government to drop them from the bill.
To view the articles and news below in full, simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each summary.
Corncrakes continue to decline
BirdWatch Ireland is concerned about recent figures issued by the National Parks and Wildlife Service which reveal that there was a further decline in Corncrake numbers recorded during the 2017 breeding season. The population of these highly threatened birds has declined for the third year in a row, both nationally and in Co. Donegal, which is one of the key Irish strongholds for the species, and is now down to just 140 pairs.

These figures clearly show that the Irish Government needs to maintain and increase its efforts to save this, one of Ireland's most loved yet most endangered farmland birds.

(Photo: singing male Corncrake by Colum Clarke)
Read more about Corncrake declines and why more action is urgently needed to save them
BirdWatch Ireland's garden bird of the week: the Collared Dove
Have you been keeping on eye on our Garden Bird Blog? We keep it updated with information on all your favorite garden birds and how you can help them. Check out our latest species profile, which is on the classy Collared Dove. A natural colonist from Asia, this familiar garden bird has only been a resident of Ireland since 1959, strange as that may seem. Since then, it has really made itself at home, ranking 17th in last winter's Garden Bird Survey.

(Photo: Collared Dove by Brian Burke)
Find out more about the Collared Dove in the latest instalment of our Garden Bird Blog
Spring is here: now is the time to put up your nestboxes
This is the time of year when birds are hunting for suitable nesting sites: you may notice visitors, such as this Blue Tit on the left (photo: Dick Coombes), popping in and out of your garden, studying tree trunks and gaps in walls for likely entry points. Natural nest sites can be hard to find, but luckily there is something we can all do to help.

The BirdWatch Ireland shop stocks a wide range of nestboxes, including our best-selling flatpack Build your own Nestbox Kit, a bargain at just €10. Whatever models you choose, the sooner you get them up, the more likely it is that they will be used. Remember, by purchasing your nestboxes from BirdWatch Ireland you are automatically doing even more to help Ireland's birds, as all the proceeds go to support our conservation work.
Browse BirdWatch Ireland's full range of nestboxes and place your order online now
Smooth Newt surveying at our East Coast Nature Reserve: can you help?
BirdWatch Ireland will be carrying out a week of licensed amphibian surveys at its East Coast Nature Reserve in Newcastle Co. Wicklow, from 26th to 31st March. It is hoped the surveys will provide an indication of the presence of Ireland's only newt species, the Smooth Newt. Although the main aim of the survey is to determine the presence of these newts, records of Ireland's other two native amphibian species, namely the Common Frog and the Natterjack Toad, will also be sought. People with an interest in the amazing world of amphibians are welcome to volunteer to help and to experience these amazing creatures in their natural habitats. (Photo: Smooth Newt by Andrea Massawe)
Learn more about these fascinating creatures and how you can participate in our survey
BirdWatch Ireland's Nature Reserve Appeal - still time to donate
Ireland's wildlife is under immense pressure, right across the country, with ever fewer places to call home. But hope is not lost. BirdWatch Ireland looks after nineteen precious nature reserves, spread throughout the country. These reserves contain a diverse array of habitats, from lakes, saltmarshes and grasslands to woods and rocky islands. They host some astonishing wildlife, including many seriously threatened breeding and wintering birds.

As pressure on natural habitats increases, our reserve network ensures that some land in Ireland is managed in the interests of threatened birds, habitats and wider wildlife. As well as providing safe havens for nature, our reserves offer the perfect environment for visitors to escape the pressures of modern life and enjoy the physical and psychological benefits of these inspiring landscapes. With your support, we can secure their future.
Your nature reserves need your help - please donate to our Nature Reserves Appeal today
Launching Seabirds Count - the 4th national survey of Irish seabirds
Following the ground-breaking Seabird 2000 Census (1998-2002), BirdWatch Ireland is looking for volunteer fieldworkers to help count Irish seabirds around our coasts, islands and lakes during 2018 and 2019.

Initial surveys starting in April of this year will focus on the Black Guillemot, a charismatic species that is widely distributed along our coasts. It is counted in the early morning, between dawn and 09:00, which is when the birds gather on the sea, at the foot of cliffs and along rocky shores to 'socialise'/pair up/display. They congregate in this way until roughly 10th May, when they commence egg-laying and incubation in concealed crevices.

Further surveys during May, June and early July will focus on birds nesting on cliffs and islands: Fulmars, Common Guillemots, Razorbills and Kittiwakes, together with Cormorants, Shags, Herring Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls. Surveys of lake islands and other inland wetlands will also be required in order to monitor smaller gull species, such as Black-headed Gull, Common Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull, again together with Cormorants, which usually nest colonially in trees.

If you are interested in volunteering to assist with this very important national survey, please let us know by registering your details and answering a few questions using the link below. We will follow up with volunteers in the coming weeks. We also intend to organise a series of workshops in April to introduce seabird survey methods to newcomers; volunteers will receive information about these workshops following registration.
Please click here to register your interest in volunteering for our Seabirds Count survey
You may have heard mention in the media recently of outbreaks of avian 'flu amongst some wild birds in Ireland. The Dept. of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has asked us to inform BirdWatch Ireland members and supporters that information about the disease is available on its website. The public is advised not to handle sick or dead birds, but to notify the nearest Department Veterinary Office or ring the Avian Influenza Hotline: 076 106 4403 (Outside of Office hours: 1850 200 456).

See you again next month!

Niall Hatch
Public Relations, Branches & Development Officer

P.S. Would you like to join as a member today and/or make a donation to support our vital conservation work?
BirdWatch Ireland
Unit 20, Block D
Bullford Business Campus
Co. Wicklow
A63 RW83
Tel: (+353)-(0)1-2819878

BirdWatch Ireland is the trading name of the Irish Wildbird Conservancy, a company limited by guarantee and registered in Ireland, no. 116468. Registered Charity no. 5703.
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