Issue 109, October 2018
Welcome to the October 2018 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
This is a special month for us. BirdWatch Ireland, or the Irish Wildbird Conservancy as it was known at the time, was founded in late 1968, which means that our organisation is now 50 years old!

In that time, thanks to the support of our members, BirdWatch Ireland has grown to become Ireland's largest and most active conservation charity, respected both nationally and internationally for its expertise, its professionalism and its commitment to safeguarding Ireland's wild birds and their habitats.

To mark our 50th anniversary we are planning a whole series of celebrations over the course of the next 12 months, including a host of special features in both our Wings membership magazine and in eWings. We hope that you will join us in celebrating this milestone . . . and one of the best ways to do this and to help us to look forward to our next 50 years is to become a member of BirdWatch Ireland, if you have not already done so.

And if you are already a member, well, let me cheekily suggest that BirdWatch Ireland membership would make the perfect Christmas gift for any nature-lover in your life.
To view the articles and news below in full, simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each summary.
50 years of BirdWatch Ireland - how it all began
To kick off BirdWatch Ireland's 50th anniversary celebrations, we thought it would be nice to tell you more about the very beginnings of our organisation, when three different groups involved in birdwatching, research and conservation decided to join forces to create the Irish Wildbird Conservancy (IWC). Former IWC director Richard Nairn has written a fascinating account of those early years for the upcoming Winter 2018 issue of Wings magazine, which we would also like to share with you here.
Read about the origins of BirdWatch Ireland in an exclusive extract from Wings (PDF: 1.22MB)
BirdWatch Ireland's Irish Birds Calendar 2019
Fans of bird photography will be pleased to learn that BirdWatch Ireland's new 2019 calendar is now available. Featuring stunning shots of some of Ireland's most charismatic birds, taken by some of our finest wildlife photographers, this is a calendar you will be proud to display on your wall. It would also make a perfect present for any nature-lovers you happen to know. Best of all, all proceeds support our work to conserve Irish birds.

(Photo: Blue Tit, our featured bird for December 2019, by Colin Rigney)
Buy the BirdWatch Ireland Irish Birds Calendar 2019 for just €8.00, plus P&P
Ambitious plan to remove "mega-mice" to save millions of seabirds
Gough Island, a UK territory in the South Atlantic, is home to one of the largest and most important seabird nesting colonies in the world, including 99% of the 2,000 remaining pairs of the Critically Endangered Tristan Albatross (left: photo by J. Cleeland).

It is also home to hordes of giant non-native mice, with no natural predators, which have evolved to grow fifty percent larger than normal. At night they gather and descend upon seabird chicks in their nests, including the Tristan Albatross chicks, eating them alive.

Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of one of the most ambitious mouse eradication projects ever attempted. Our BirdLife Partner the RSPB and the Tristan da Cunha government have developed The Gough Island Restoration Programme, which will benefit six Globally Threatened species at once. If successful, it will save two million seabird eggs and chicks a year from being eaten in the nest, finally allowing populations to recover.
Learn more about this crucial initiative to eradicate non-native rodents from Gough Island
This year, please buy your Christmas cards from BirdWatch Ireland
A wonderful way to support the work of BirdWatch Ireland is to buy your Christmas cards from us and send them to your friends and family. Money raised this way helps to fund our vital conservation efforts, and by sending the cards you are also helping to spread the word about the work we do.

This year's cards come in mixed packs of 4 completely new designs and are available from our BirdWatch Ireland Shop: a pack of 12 cards costs just €6, plus P&P.

(Photo: A seasonal Robin, one of this year's Christmas card images, by Fintan McTiernan)
Buy your Christmas cards from the BirdWatch Ireland shop today and support our vital work
Dr Hibernica Finch's Compelling Compendium of Irish Animals
Dr Hibernica Finch's Compelling Compendium of Irish Animals celebrates the diversity and wonder of Ireland's fauna - from the tiny Pygmy Shrew to the enormous Killer Whale - with exquisite zoologically correct illustrations and light-hearted prose that children with an interest in Irish wildlife will adore. Giving loving and detailed information about the Robins, Puffins and owls of the air, the toads, seals and Basking Sharks of Ireland's waters, and the hedgehogs, otters and deer with whom we share the land, this is a treasure of a book with details of twenty-eight of Ireland's most compelling and iconic animals.
Buy this superb new Irish children's book from BirdWatch Ireland for just €19.95, plus P&P
Irish Wetland Birds Survey celebrates its 25th year . . . by going on tour
This is quite the time for anniversary celebrations: not alone is BirdWatch Ireland turning 50, but this winter one of our most important bird surveys, the Irish Wetland Birds Survey (or I-WeBS, for short) is entering its 25th season.

In the winter of 1994/95 I-WeBS, commissioned and funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), began the task of monitoring Ireland's wintering waterbirds on an annual basis for the first time. The survey would not have been possible were it not for the dedication, over the last 25 years, of almost a thousand volunteers and NPWS rangers nationwide, who ensured that their local wetlands were surveyed and their importance for waterbirds was recognised.

To celebrate 25 years of the survey and to help spread the word about why it is so important, this winter our I-WeBS team will be running a series of special workshops for BirdWatch Ireland branches across the country. The events confirmed so far are as follows:
  • 13th December - Kildare Branch (Naas)
  • 7th January - Louth Branch (Dundalk)
  • 10th January - Westmeath Branch (Mullingar)
  • 22nd January - Meath Branch (Navan)
  • 31st January - Roscommon Branch (Roscommon Town)
  • 7th February - Dublin Fingal Branch (Skerries)
  • 12th February - Wicklow Branch (Delgany)
  • 27th February - Limerick Branch (Moylish)
Click here for full details of these and other upcoming local BirdWatch Ireland branch events taking place this winter
This is the time of year when BirdWatch Ireland is inundated with phone calls and emails from people all asking us the same question: where can I see a Starling murmuration? We completely understand: the autumn and winter spectacle of thousands upon thousands of these small birds whirling in the evening sky like wisps of smoke is one of the most breathtaking sights in nature.

Once a common sight across Ireland, in recent decades these amazing mass gatherings have become much scarcer, often switching locations from year to year. So, in order to keep track of them and to help spread the word, we are asking you to let us know if you see a Starling murmuration anywhere in the country.

The best way to do this, and also to share your photos and videos of the phenomenon, is via the BirdWatch Ireland Facebook page, where we will also keep you informed about where in the country these remarkable little birds are performing best. If you prefer, you can email your sightings to us at or give us a call on 01-2819878.

By the way, in case you are wondering what all the fuss is about, check out this wonderful video of a Starling murmuration on the BirdWatch Ireland YouTube channel. You will be glad you did!

See you again next month!

Niall Hatch
Public Relations, Branches & Development Officer

P.S. Would you like to 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.
Please note that BirdWatch Ireland will never pass your personal details on to anyone else.
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