Issue 23, August 2011
Welcome to the August 2011 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
This is the time of year when an especially hardy and dedicated bunch of birdwatchers begin to get very excited: seawatching season is upon us. Ireland's headlands offer some of the best seabird viewing opportunities in the world, and our coastal waters are of vital importance for a variety of wintering and migratory seabirds, not least the critically endangered Balearic Shearwater. It is important that we gather as much information as possible about these hard-to-monitor species, and over the coming months teams of BirdWatch Ireland volunteers will be enduring the elements to do just that as part of our Seatrack project. You can keep up-to-date with their progress, while keeping warm and dry, thanks to our new seabird blog, A View from the Headland.

There are plenty of other ways for you to stay informed about our conservation work and to learn more about Ireland's birds. One of these is to become a fan of our Facebook page, where you can post your photos, ask us questions, take part in our daily quiz, or simply read all about what other fans are seeing all over the country.

An even better way is to become a member of BirdWatch Ireland: as a charity, the money we receive from membership subscriptions is vital if we are to carry out our conservation work, and there are lots of great benefits for our members too, including some excellent magazines, local Branch events, access to our nature reserves and lots more. Your support would mean a lot to us.
To view the articles and news in full simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each article summary.
Buzzard chicks found poisoned near Roscrea
BirdWatch Ireland volunteers were horrified to discover last month that a pair of Buzzard chicks had been poisoned at a nest site close to the Offaly-Tipperary border. The illegal poisoning of birds of prey has become an all-too-frequent feature of the Irish countryside, and this was a particularly abhorrent incident, as live pigeons were tethered to the ground as bait, their bodies coated with poison and their wings clipped to prevent any chance of escape. This crime was also especially irresponsible, as had a local child discovered the stricken pigeons and tried to help them, he or she too could very easily have been killed.
Read more about this disgusting criminal act (Note: contains some unpleasant images)
Dippers in the driving seat!
Dr. Alex Copland, a Senior Conservation Officer based in BirdWatch Ireland's Midlands office in Banagher, has for the past 10 years been leading a study on the success of the Dipper, one of Ireland's most special birds, in the Slieve Blooms. This year, with the generous support of Offaly County Council, he tested a very novel way to help them out, with great success: nestboxes made from recycled car seats!

Photo: Dipper by Michael Finn
Read all about how old car seats made ideal homes for these lovely aquatic songbirds
American Mink pose a new threat on Irish seabird islands
Ireland's offshore islands are home to some of Europe's most important seabird colonies. Long safe havens for nesting seabirds, recently a serious threat has become apparent: non-native American Mink, voracious predators of nesting birds, eggs and chicks, have begun to colonise, requiring urgent action. Dr. Stephen Newton, our Senior Seabird Conservation Officer, discusses our Heritage Council-funded efforts to solve this problem.

Photo: American Mink by Peter Trimming
Read more about our urgent work to safeguard the future of our island seabird colonies
The Barn Owl and the Kingfisher: a two-volume set
The Barn Owl and the Kingfisher are amongst the most beautiful and elusive of Ireland's native birds. Although both have been extensively surveyed by BirdWatch Ireland, many aspects of their lives remain little-known to most people. In this beautiful set of matching monographs, readers are introduced to their remarkable lifestyles, including hunting, courtship and survival. The insightful text is coupled with rarely seen images of their lives and behaviour. Normally retailing at €16.00 each, plus postage, this month we are offering these 2 outstanding books together as a set for just €30.00, including postage.
Buy this outstanding two-book set from BirdWatch Ireland for just €30, including P&P
Ireland's Rare Breeding Birds: a unique part of our natural heritage
Have you ever heard of the Irish Rare Breeding Birds Panel? The IRBBP tracks the fortunes of Ireland's rarest breeding bird species, recording new arrivals and, sadly, documenting the loss of nesting species too. These rare breeding birds form a unique and fascinating part of Ireland's natural heritage, so it seems particularly appropriate to celebrate them now, during National Heritage Week, which this year runs from 21st to 28th August. Dr. Paul Hillis, Hon. Secretary of the IRBBP, updates us on the progress of our rarest nesting birds.
Learn more about Ireland's recent breeding losses and gains in Dr. Paul Hillis' exclusive article for eWings
The Irish Wetland Bird Survey (or IWeBS, if you prefer) has been the mechanism for monitoring wintering waterbirds in Ireland for the last 17 years. The results have proven to be a vital tool for site protection, designation, informing local plans and assessing development proposals. The new survey season will shortly be getting underway, and new participants are always very welcome. If you are able to identify and count wintering waders and other waterbirds, or would be willing to learn how to do so from someone who already participates in the survey, please email Helen Boland, BirdWatch Ireland's IWeBS Coordinator, at

Talking of surveys, if you have yet to take part in BirdWatch Ireland's online survey about our print magazine Wings and other aspects of our work, your time is running out: the closing date is Wednesday 31st August. We've already received hundreds of responses, but we need all the feedback we can get so that we can ensure that our publications are as relevant as possible to you and the things that you care about. Best of all, everone who takes part is entered into a draw to win a fantastic pair of Opticron Oregon 8x42 binoculars worth €100. Taking part is easy: simply follow this link to our online survey and share your views with us.

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Good Bird Watching,
Oran O'Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer, BirdWatch Ireland
BirdWatch Ireland
Unit 20, Block D
Bullford Business Campus
Co. Wicklow
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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