Issue 104, May 2018
Welcome to the May 2018 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
On April 25th 2018 members and supporters of a coalition of environmental organisations gathered outside Leinster House to protest for the second time against the Government's continuing efforts to roll back the laws protecting breeding birds and other wildlife. The Heritage Bill was back before the Oireachtas Committee of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, where Minister Josepha Madigan defended Sections 7 and 8 which will allow burning in Ireland's mountains and hills in March and will loosen the regulatory oversight on roadside hedgecutting, paticularly during August.

BirdWatch Ireland, the Federation of Irish Beekeepers' Associations, the Irish Wildlife Trust, An Taisce and the Hedgelaying Association of Ireland were out in force to show our opposition to these retrograde steps which will imperil the breeding birds, bees and other wild creatures which depend on our upland and hedgerow habitats. Section 7.1 of the Bill would allow burning in March. Sections 7.2 and 8 would remove the current regulatory oversight for the protection of breeding birds in relation to road side hedge-cutting.

The coalition of NGOs called on Minister Madigan to enter into dialogue on this issue. Instead of rolling back the laws that protect nature, NGOs are calling on her to set out an ambitious vision for imperilled nature in Ireland, starting with conservation of our hedgerows and uplands and the wildlife they hold.

The Heritage Bill has drawn the ire of thousands or Irish people who want to see habitats and wildlife protected in Ireland. Over 31,000 people signed a petition saying 'No' to the bill. The public consultation responses to the Minister's 2015 review of Section 40 of the Wildlife Act showed that most people were against any change to the dates set out in Section 40 for burning and cutting and many called for greater protection for wildlife but these concerns have been ignored.
To view the articles and news below in full, simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each summary.
Wings magazine: Spring 2018 issue is out now . . . but only for members
The latest issue of Wings, BirdWatch Ireland's quarterly 32-page magazine, was posted out to all of our members earlier this month. It is a great read, featuring articles on topics from making a wildlife-friendly garden pond to tracking down breeding Merlins, and from the secret life of the Greenfinch to photographing White-tailed Eagles on Lough Derg, plus letters from our members, updates on our forestry campaign work, our Cape Clear Bird Observatory and the Garden Bird Survey, the recent influx of Bramblings to Co. Waterford, news from around the BirdLife International partnership, and plenty more.

The only way to receive Wings is to become a member of BirdWatch Ireland, which thankfully is easy to do: simply sign up here today
Take a sneak peek at our Summer Diary, an exclusive sample from our Summer 2018 issue
Have you seen any riverbirds nesting in man-made structures?
Following the success of our Nesting River Birds in Built Structures Survey last summer, BirdWatch Ireland is asking for your help during the 2018 nesting season. If you use our national waterways this summer, you can help us by recording any riverbird nest sites you encounter.

We are specifically looking for sightings of birds nesting in or on man-made structures: for example, Dippers nesting under bridges; Sand Martins nesting in quay walls; Grey Wagtails nesting in holes in old mill walls; or Kingfishers nesting in artificial banks. If you spot a nest site, please record it on our easy-to-use online platform.

(Photo: Sand Martin parent and chicks at a nest in a concrete structure, by Mark Carmody)
Learn more about our riverbirds survey and how you can submit reports of nests to us
The Little Book of the Dawn Chorus - bring the early morning to life!
May is dawn chorus month in Ireland, the time of year when early morning birdsong is at its very best. The Little Book of the Dawn Chorus is the ideal way to introduce children to this amazing natural phenomenon.

This durable 26-page board book contains stunning photos and information about some of our best-loved songbirds, but also features an innovative battery-powered sound module: simply push the appropriate button to hear any of 12 of our finest singers in action.
Buy The Little Book of the Dawn Chorus from our online shop for just €15.50, plus P&P
Seabird Monitoring Programme 2018 - get involved!
A big thank you to all who took part in last month's Black Guillemot survey. We now have almost complete coverage of sites along the Irish coast and the results are flooding in!

However the Black Guillemot survey was only one component of the greater National Seabird Census which is now underway! BirdWatch Ireland is looking for volunteers to count the other Irish seabirds around our coasts, islands and lakes during 2018 and 2019.

If you are interested in volunteering, please register your details and answer a few questions using the link below. We will get back to you in the coming weeks with survey methodologies and site maps. (Photo: Black-headed Gull by Michael Finn)
Click here for more information on the National Seabird Census and to register your interest
A Blooming good time in the Phoenix Park
Bloom, Ireland's premier garden and food festival, will be taking place in Dublin's Phoenix Park from 31st May to 4th June. If you are going along, make sure to stop by one of our BirdWatch Ireland stands to say hi, ask our experts some questions, pick up some posters and pin badges and renew your membership: we will be hosting both a garden bird information stand in the Grand Pavilion and our outdoor family fun marquee in the Conservation Zone. Don't forget that all eWings readers can avail of a special €2 discount when booking Bloom tickets online by quoting the promotional code BIRD18.
Learn more about what is planned for Bloom 2018, and save by booking your tickets now
Have your local Swifts returned yet? Please remember to log them with Spring Alive
The enigmatic Swift is one of our very last summer migrants to return, with the bulk of them returning here to breed during the month of May. Their characteristic screaming calls and high, circling flights are key features of summer for many urban birdwatchers.

As in previous years, we are asking as many of you as possible to please let us know the date on which you saw or heard your first Swifts of the year (and your first Swallows and Cuckoos too) via our special Spring Alive migration project, which now, thanks to the BirdLife International partnership, operates right across Europe, Africa and Central Asia. Every record counts, so please do log your sightings for us today, and please also spread the word to your friends and family..
Visit the Spring Alive website to log your own Swift, Swallow and Cuckoo sightings, as well as learn about migration
BirdWatch Ireland's AGM will be held at 14:00 sharp on Saturday 16th June 2018 at the Midlands Park Hotel (formerly called the Heritage Hotel) in Portlaoise, Co. Laois. All fully-paid-up members of BirdWatch Ireland are entitled to attend and to vote at the meeting. We look forward to seeing many of you there.

BirdWatch Ireland is one of the key partners in the EU LIFE project to improve the conservation status of the Roseate Tern, one of Europe's most vulnerable seabird species, in the UK and Ireland. Thanks to continued funding from this project, BirdWatch Ireland has been able to expand its conservation efforts for this beautiful seabird at its two Co. Dublin breeding sites: Rockabill Island and Dalkey Island.

To celebrate this and to continue to spread the word about these gorgeous birds, we will again be running a series of Dalkey Tern Watch events at Coliemore Harbour, Co. Dublin each Tuesday evening this summer, between 5:00pm and 8:00pm. These events are being led by our new tern warden, Tara Adcock, with assistance from the South Dublin Branch of BirdWatch Ireland. The first of these tern-viewing sessions (which are completely free of charge and open to all) will take place on 22nd of May. We hope to see you there!

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?
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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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