Issue 106, July 2018
Welcome to the July 2018 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
The past few months have been extremely challenging ones for the wildlife conservation sector. Unusually hot and dry weather conditions have led to outbreaks of fire in several key protected areas, most notably the Slieve Bloom mountains, and this will have impacted birds and other wildlife quite badly. This year's extreme weather, with a very hot summer coming on the heels of a very cold winter and spring, has also caused problems for a wide range of wildlife: not just birds, but also mammals, amphibians and particularly butterflies and other insects. Nature is having a tough time.

It has been particularly disappointing, therefore, to witness the recent passage of the Heritage Bill into law. On 11th July the bill was finally passed by the Oireachtas - now that it has been signed into law, it becomes the Heritage Act 2018. BirdWatch Ireland and a strong coalition of our fellow environmental NGOs stood in strong opposition to the new laws which, when finally commenced by Minister Josepha Madigan, T.D., will put yet further pressure on vulnerable and threatened bird species such as Curlew and Yellowhammer. Please see below for further information.
To view the articles and news below in full, simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each summary.
Passing of Heritage Act signals weakening of laws protecting wildlife
BirdWatch Ireland is extremely disappointed that the Heritage Bill finally became the Heritage Act on 18th July, when it was signed by law. It could have serious consequences for a range of different birds, including the threatened Yellowhammer (left, photo by David Dillon).

However, until regulations are introduced by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the provisions of the act will not actually come into force, and so Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976, which prohibits hedge-cutting until 31st August, with exemptions for reasons of road safety, still stands for the time being.
Click for more information about the Heritage Act and BirdWatch Ireland's concerns over it
Empowering teachers: training course held in Maynooth
From 2nd to 7th July this year BirdWatch Ireland hosted 60 preschool and primary school teachers at Maynooth University for an environmental education training course as part of the Empowering Teachers and Pupils for a Better Life through Nature project, which is funded by the European Commission's Erasmus+ programme. The week-long series of practical and theoretical sessions was run in conjunction with our fellow BirdLife International partners in Poland, Spain, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Macedonia, along with educational experts from the University of Gdańsk.

In what was one of the most complex and challenging events that BirdWatch Ireland and its partners have ever undertaken, 60 teachers (10 from each of the 6 participating countries) attended the educational workshops and lectures. Resource materials for pre- and primary school teachers were also produced, and are now available for download free of charge.
Learn more about our course in Maynooth and download our teachers' resource materials
New: Opticron Oregon 4 PC 8x42 binoculars - superb value at just €160
The binoculars in Opticron's Oregon range have been firm favourites with BirdWatch Ireland customers for years. Superbly bright, clear and lightweight, they represent fantastic value for money, especially for birdwatching beginners. We are excited, therefore, to bring you the latest offering in the Oregon range, the 4 PC 8x42.

Offering 8 times magnification, the most popular choice amongst birders, this update of the best-selling Oregon 4 model also boasts new phase-corrected prisms (hence "PC"), ensuring high-quality resolution and colour contrast. Fully waterproof and nitrogen-filled, meaning they will not fog up internally regardless of the weather and temperature, they come with a comfortable neck-strap and a carrying case. Highly recommended.
Buy Oregon 4 PC 8x42 binoculars from BirdWatch Ireland's shop for just €160, plus P&P
Wings magazine: Autumn 2018 issue on its way . . . but only for members
The latest issue of Wings, BirdWatch Ireland's quarterly 36-page magazine, will shortly be posted out to all of our members. It features articles on topics from the secret lives of Ireland's Puffins to choosing the right camera for wildlife photography, and from birdwatching in Cahore, Co. Wexford to Saltee Island seabirds, plus letters from our members, recent rare bird news, updates on the fortunes of our nesting terns, our Cape Clear Bird Observatory and our work to save Curlews in Co. Leitrim, plus 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.
Learn more about Puffins in an exclusive extract from the Autumn 2018 issue of Wings
Post-breeding Tern Survey
The I-WeBS team is eagerly seeking records of tern flocks this August and September. Flocks of tens, hundreds and even thousands of terns roost around the Irish coast in the late summer and early autumn before undertaking an epic migration to the west coast of Africa. We need your records to help us know what sites are important to them here during this crucial 'fueling' period. If you spot any tern flocks, big or small, please record them via the link below, or get in touch with Brian at
(Photo: Sandwich Terns by Brian Burke)
Record your tern sightings and help us to learn more about these remarkable birds
Rare Breeding Birds in Ireland 2018
With a spring dominated by cold temperatures and significant snowfall, followed almost immediately by a summer of high temperatures and minimal rainfall, 2018 was certainly not typical for breeding birds across Ireland. Evidence to date is showing that these challenging conditions have altered patterns of breeding in many of our birds.

Reporting rates to BirdTrack during the breeding season across Britain and Ireland have been lower than usual for many species that are rare in Ireland, including almost all of our rare breeding passerines, including Twite, Wood Warbler and Redstart. Perhaps surprisingly, breeding ducks do not seem to have been affected by the drought, with reporting rates of Shoveler, Pochard and Garganey and others appearing to be normal. However, their breeding success this year may well have been hampered.

As the season draws to a close, we rely on your feedback to help us assess the status of rare breeding birds in Ireland during 2018. The Irish Rare Breeding Birds Panel is now seeking your records. A list of the species that we are interested in are can be found here. Please get in touch if you spotted any of these species during the breeding season, or even if you went searching but did not come across them.
Visit the Irish Rare Breeding Birds Panel website to submit your records and to learn about our rare breeding birds
BirdWatch Ireland is asking the public please to submit sightings of nesting songbird species during the months of August and September. Although the nesting season has already finished for many birds, a few species, such as the Red-listed Yellowhammer, are known to nest right into the autumn.

With funding from the Heritage Council and the support of the National Biodiversity Data Centre, BirdWatch Ireland is building on the Late Nester Survey of 2017 where members of the public submitted 442 records of birds breeding right into September. Most records were of Yellowhammer, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Blackbird, but other species included Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler and Stonechat, which were surprises.

These data are helping to fill a gap in knowledge on when birds finish breeding and will help to protect species, especially in light of the passage of the Heritage Bill which will change the laws that govern hedge-cutting in future years.

We are asking people to look out for bird behaviour that indicates breeding, such as singing male birds and birds carrying food. We do not want people to interfere with or seek out nest locations, which can only be done with a license from the National Parks and Wildlife Service: it is otherwise illegal to disturb a bird on eggs or with chicks.

Please visit the Late Nesting Bird Survey section of our website for more information and for instructions on how to submit your sightings.

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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