Issue 29, February 2012
Welcome to the February 2012 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
Here at BirdWatch Ireland, preparations are well underway for our All Ireland Conference on Bird Conservation, run joinly with RSPB Northern Ireland and now in its 45th year. It will be taking place from Friday 9th to Sunday 11th March at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Little Island, Cork.

The conference theme is Birds for Life: Recreation, Education, Conservation and the programme includes plenty for everyone, not least the fantastic field trips we have planned for you around one of the best birdwatching areas in the whole country. You can download full details and a printable booking form here or, if you prefer, you can book on-line here. We do hope you will be able to join us for what promises to be a fantastic weekend.
To view the articles and news in full simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each article summary.
The consequences of a small mammal "invasional meltdown"
With the spread of two non-native small mammals, namely the Bank Vole and the Greater White-toothed Shrew, a fascinating situation is unfolding which could have wide-ranging impacts within ecosystems throughout our countryside, not least on vulnerable birds of prey such as the Barn Owl (left, by Mike Brown). Research through BirdWatch Ireland, University College Cork and Queen's University Belfast is currently assessing the impacts of these mammals, which were accidentally introduced to Ireland, on native small mammal communities and their predators, with intriguing results.
Learn more about the effects that these introduced mammals are having in Ireland
Giggles for Geese - are you having a laugh?
Here's a novel way to raise money for a good cause and to have lots of fun while doing so. How do you fancy a top night of comedy at Ireland's premier stand-up venue, the Laughter Lounge on Eden Quay in Dublin? Treat yourself to a heap of laughs and help raise money for the Greenland White-fronted Goose - not only our beloved logo but also one of Ireland's most vulnerable birds.

Tickets cost €25, with €20 of the ticket price going directly to BirdWatch Ireland: tickets are strictly limited and are already selling out fast, so please book a.s.a.p. to avoid disappointment! Our "goose gaggle giggle gig" (ok, that's terrible, we know - we'll stop) will take place on Thursday 23rd February: doors open at 7:00pm (with a free cocktail if you arrive before 7.30pm) and the show starts at 8.30pm. Over 18s only.
Don't miss out - book your Giggles for Geese tickets online now!
Species Focus: the Common Eider
One of our most beautiful yet most unfamiliar ducks, ironically the Eider is known to almost everyone in Ireland by name if not appearance: eiderdown has to come from somewhere, after all! We all really should get to know it better: gorgeous to look at and with a fascinating lifestyle, the species also seems to be on the increase here, breeding around much of our northerly coastline and also venturing south in growing numbers during the winter. High time, then, for Helen Boland to tell us all about this amazing sea duck.
Get the lowdown on Ireland's Eiders in an extract from our Spring 2012 Wings magazine
South American grebe in critical danger
In news that will certainly strike a chord with Irish conservationists, a South American grebe species is under severe threat due to the impact of introduced American Mink. The stunning Hooded Grebe (left, by Pablo Hernández), a species confined entirely to a small area of Patagonia and only discovered as recently as 1974, is at grave risk from this non-native predator, and to make matters worse the introduction of trout, another exotic, into some of its key breeding areas has attracted Kelp Gulls, which also prey on grebe eggs and chicks. Aves Argentinas, our BirdLife International partner in Argentina, has launched an urgent campaign to prevent this remarkable bird from slipping into extinction.
Learn about the efforts to save the Hooded Grebe and see what you can do to help
Four Peaks Challenge for Raptor Appeal and Down Syndrome Ireland
The response to our On a Wing and a Prayer Raptor Appeal to date has been phenomenal. One final push is now required to close in on our fundraising target, so John Lusby, our Raptor Conservation Officer, has organised a "Four peaks bike" along with three of his friends. This will not only benefit the Raptor Appeal, as we are teaming up with Down Syndrome Ireland, a very worthy charity which is almost fully reliant on donations and fundraising to support its vital work and to provide essential services. All the money raised for the challenge will be divided evenly between the two charities and you can be sure your support will be massively appreciated and efficiently utilised by both.
Read all about the challenge John and his friends are planning and how you can donate
National Nestbox Day - 14th February 2012
14th February, 14th February . . . there's something important about that date, isn't there? That's right! It's BirdWatch Ireland's annual National Nestbox Day. Just think how upset someone special in your life would be if you forgot.

Each year, we like to remind the public that birds around our homes, gardens and parks need our help coming into the nesting season. Natural nest sites can be hard to come by, especially for cavity-nesting birds, so putting up a nestbox or two is a great way to help them out. Mid February is the very best time of year to do this, as this is when many garden birds, such as Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins and House Sparrows, are looking out for suitable nest sites in advance of the breeding season.

To help you decide which boxes are most suitable for you, how and where to position them and how to keep them in tip-top condition, we've prepared a special nestbox factsheet for you to download. It also contains full details of how you can build nestboxes yourself, or, if you prefer, you can also choose from the wide nestbox selection, including our best-selling camera nestbox system, available for sale from the BirdWatch Ireland online shop by clicking the link below. They make a great 14th February gift for loved-ones, by the way, and you can even fill them with chocolates or diamonds or whatever . . . just remember to take them out before you put the box in the tree.
See the full range of nestboxes at the BirdWatch Ireland online shop and get ready for the nesting season
Intern needed to assist with case work. BirdWatch Ireland carries out a range of research, policy, advocacy and case work focused on birds, their habitats and wider biodiversity. We respond to various case work queries and projects, including scoping queries, development applications, and assessments of EIAs and Appropriate Assessments that are relevant to or may impact upon conservation interests. However, as an NGO there is a very limited capacity to address case work and in particular to collate background research to inform case work. BirdWatch Ireland is therefore seeking a suitably qualified person to join its Conservation Team as an Intern in the area of case work research for a 6 month period. Please click here for more information.

Garden birds: I think it would be fair to say that they must be the most popular avian group of all in Ireland. Certainly, our own survey results would strongly suggest this, along with massive volume of phone calls and emails we receive each day: the number of people feeding birds in their gardens all over the country is simply incredible.

At BirdWatch Ireland, we love garden birds just as much as you do, so it give us great pleasure to announce our brand new garden bird blog, called Garden Bird Year. We will keep it regularly updated with information about Ireland's garden birds, our Garden Bird Survey, feeding tips, photographs, wildlife-gardening advice and lots more, so please bookmark it and check back often.

There are other great ways to stay in touch with us and our work. In the online sphere, don't forget to become a fan of the BirdWatch Ireland Facebook page, and please also follow us on Twitter: we've just passed the 1,000 Twitter follower mark, by the way, which is brilliant - many thanks.

The very best way of all to follow and support BirdWatch Ireland, however, is to join us as a member. You get a great membership pack and gift, the opportunity to take part in hundreds of local events and access to our nature reserves, and it is also the only way to receive our quarterly membership magazine, called Wings: the Eider article above is taken from the brand new Spring 2011 issue, if you'd like to get a taste of what it's like. We really would appreciate your support.

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.
Please note that BirdWatch Ireland will never pass your personal details on to anyone else.
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