Issue 113, February 2019
Welcome to the February 2019 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
BirdWatch Ireland wishes to remind the public that hedge-cutting is not permitted from tomorrow, 1st March, except in the case of any of the derogations permitted under the Wildlife Act 1976, as amended. Under the current law, cutting will be allowed to resume on 1st September.

The Heritage Act 2018 gives the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the power to make certain changes to these dates, but it is important to note that, as yet, the Minister has not done so. As a result, the dates when hedge-cutting is prohibited each year currently remain unchanged.

Ireland's hedgerows deserve attention and protection, especially given that they are so important for nesting birds, other wildlife and people. Hedgerow trees, shrubs and plants provide an important food source for many animal species. Birds depend on the haws, hips and other berries. Bees and butterflies source nectar from flowering shrubs and plants. Many mammals forage on blackberries during the autumn.

In addition, hedgerows sequester and store carbon and can help with mitigating climate change, and they also act as safe travel corridors for a wide range of different animals. They are a truly vital part of our countryside, and they must be properly valued and protected.
To view the articles and news below in full, simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each summary.
The 2018/19 Irish Garden Bird Survey is nearly over!
Believe it or not, we're now in the final week of this winter's Irish Garden Bird Survey. The survey officially ends this Sunday, 3rd of March. The mornings are a bit brighter, and the evenings a bit longer, so make sure to keep an eye out this week to see if you can add a few more species to your garden total this year.

It is, of course, vitally important, having put the effort into recording your garden birds this winter, that you actually send the data in to us! Click here to see how.

We would also like to take this opportunity to give a big thanks to The Ballymaloe Group, who have sponsored the survey this year: their support really makes a huge difference. To celebrate, Ballymaloe House is offering a very special 'Bird Lovers' mid-week break from 11th to 13th March. This will include walks and talks on the grounds of Ballymaloe House and at the nearby bird sanctuary at Ballycotton, led by BirdWatch Ireland experts, as well as superb food and accommodation: it's bound to be a fantastic experience.
Click for full details of the Ballymaloe House mid-week birding break and to book your place
Spring 2019 issue of Wings out now - for members only
Spring is in the air, and the Spring 2019 issue of Wings magazine was sent out to all BirdWatch Ireland members earlier this month. We thought we would share an exclusive extract with you: Dick Coombes' hugely popular Spring Diary, in which he tells us more about some of the bird species we should keep an eye out for during the season.

Remember, if you would like to read more features like this, you should get yourself a copy of Wings. The only way to do that is to become a member of BirdWatch Ireland: by joining us, of course, you will also be supporting our vital work to conserve Ireland's birds.
Read Dick Coombes' Spring Diary, an exclusive extract from the current issue of Wings
Camera nestbox system: available now from BirdWatch Ireland
This is the ideal time of year to put up a nestbox for your garden birds. If you are looking to buy one, we have a great suggestion for you: the GardeNature nestbox camera system. Available now from the BirdWatch Ireland shop, it includes everything you need to observe birds nesting in your garden without causing them any disturbance. The high quality video camera provides clear colour images during the day and black & white images at night. There is also a built-in microphone so you can hear as well as see what is happening inside the box. This system will be delivered fully assembled and tested so all you have to do is position the box, plug it in to your television and start watching!
Buy your camera nestbox system now from BirdWatch Ireland for €135.00, plus P&P
All your gulls coming home to roost
In recent years there has been a lot of negativity around gulls, or "seagulls", if you prefer (which, by the way, we don't!) The debates about public health and safety have often lacked nuance and a proper understanding of just what these birds are, how many different species Ireland holds, the reasons for their behaviour and the roles that they play in our ecosystem.

All of BirdWatch Ireland's work is underpinned by rigorous scientic data and research, and our work in relation to gulls is no exception. They are a much more varied and complex family of birds than you might have realised, and some species are not doing as well as one might at first think, as Tara Adcock of our Dublin Bay Birds team explains.
(Photo: Great Black-backed Gull, our largest species of gull, by Brian Burke)
Learn more about the facinating lives and fortunes of Irish gulls at our Dublin Bay Birds blog
BirdWatch Ireland's 50th Anniversary Appeal: help our vital work
BirdWatch Ireland is currently celebrating 50 years of protecting birds and other wildlife in Ireland. We can't do this crucial work without your help. To mark our 50th anniversary we have launched a special fundraising appeal so that we can continue to build on our hard work on your behalf, hopefully over the next five decades!

Your donation will help us to carry on our vital efforts to protect birds and biodiversity in Ireland, to be a voice for conservation in the corridors of power, to monitor and maintain healthy bird populations and to deliver comprehensive environmental education to the next generation.

Please, give as genorously as you can: your support will make a real difference. Thank you.
Learn more about our 50th Anniversary Appeal and donate to support our vital work
Ireland's awful overfishing record continues
According to research by the New Economics Foundation, Ireland remains one of the worst nations in the EU when it comes to overfishing. Minister Michael Creed's decision to fight once again for fishing rights which ignore scientific advice on sustainable catch limits leaves Ireland and the EU with an uphill battle to end overfishing by 2020 under the Common Fisheries Policy.

Ireland has negotiated a fishing quota for 2019 that is 34,052 tonnes above scientific advice. This now means that Ireland has set a cumulative fishing quota total of 737,179 tonnes above scientific advice since 2001. Every year that Minister Creed postpones the recovery of our blue economy means potential profits lost. What is more, the Minister's short-sighted behavior has left Ireland and the EU with a mountain to climb to end overfishing by 2020.

The Irish Government has again chosen to allow industrial scale fisheries organisations preferential access to key negotiations, while excluding environmental groups like BirdWatch Ireland. This bias towards the fishing industry and a lack of transparency within EU negotiations are clearly creating a situation where one of our most important common resources continues to be abused for the benefit of a small few. This has to stop.
Read more about our views on the problem of overfishing and the threats posed to our marine environment
The Environment Committee of the European Parliament has voted to ring-fence a significant €15 billion of the next Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) to support farmers in restoring nature on farmland. This represents a significant vote of confidence to reverse the declines in wildlife and habitats on farmland. The next step is for the Agriculture Committee of the Parliament to do the same, and then the whole Parliament must endorse this approach.

BirdWatch Ireland is calling on Irish Members of the European Parliament, and the political parties with whom some are affiliated, to ensure that €15 billion is ring-fenced in the next CAP to support farmers to produce food that also supports the birds and the bees. Please click here for more information.
See you again next month!

Niall Hatch
Public Relations, Branches & Development Officer
  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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