Issue 30, March 2012
Welcome to the March 2012 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
It was a great pleasure to meet so many eWings readers at our All Ireland Conference on Bird Conservation at Little Island, Cork, earlier this month. Run jointly by BirdWatch Ireland and RSPB Northern Ireland, this was our 45th annual conference, and I think it's fair to say that the talks and field trips were amongst the best ever. A special word of thanks must go to the members of our Cork Branch who were on hand to help with the planning and running of the event, as well as to all of the speakers and volunteers who helped to make it such a memorable weekend.
To view the articles and news in full simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each article summary.
Spring Alive: tell us when you see a Swallow, Swift or Cuckoo
Spring is here, which means that our returning migrant birds are well on their way. We need all of you to keep an eye out for your first Swallows, Swifts and Cuckoos of the year, and then log them via our Spring Alive website. There, you can also learn more about these remarkable global travellers and track their arrival. The project is ideal for children and teachers, and right now people all over Europe and Africa are taking part, so please spread the word far and wide: we need as many records as possible . . . including yours!
Learn lots more about Spring Alive (and don't forget to add your own observations)
Detailed raptor survey gets underway in Duhallow
Until recently, our knowledge of Ireland's Barn Owls and the problems they face was relatively limited. Thankfully this situation has dramatically changed over the past five years, largely due to the efforts of volunteers who have facilitated comprehensive monitoring of their elusive populations throughout the country. Last year, conservation and monitoring efforts in the southwest received an additional boost, with IRD Duhallow coming on board and providing funding through the LEADER 2007-2013 programme.
John Lusby fills us in on Barn Owl work in Duhallow and other local bird of prey initiatives
Bird Habitats in Ireland: a new book and one-day symposium
What do we know about our bird habitats? Are they in good condition? What are the key habitat factors that make Ireland's wetlands and coasts so important for migrant wildfowl, waders and seabirds? All of these questions and many more are explored in a new book, Bird Habitats in Ireland, edited by Richard Nairn and John O'Halloran.

The results of the research will be presented at a unique one-day symposium hosted by the RDS, Dublin, on Friday 18th May. Supported by BirdWatch Ireland, BTO, RSPB and University College Cork, the symposium will be of interest to all birdwatchers, ecologists and conservationists.
Click for more details on the symposium, including a full programme and booking details
Superb new binoculars from Opticron: only €390.00
The new ED-X binoculars are the latest model from Opticron, fitting nicely into the medium-range sub-€400 price bracket. They have a number of exciting features that will appeal to birdwatchers who are looking for a high quality product but want to keep to a budget.

Thanks to the novel design of their optical system, they are extremely compact for an 8x42 model: they measure only 136mm in length and weigh just 650g. Their light and compact design, combined with a wide wheel focusing system, makes them very easy to handle and even allows for single handed usage, a feature that very few 8x42 models can offer.

However the real surprise comes when you look through them, as they offer an incredibly bright and sharp image with a wide 7.5° field of view, which is considerably better than most 8x42 bincoluars currently on the market. They are supplied complete with a soft neoprene case, rainguard and padded lanyard and come with a 10 year guarantee.
Buy these outstanding binoculars from BirdWatch Ireland's online shop for €390, plus P&P
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
Spring Migration - Keeping (Bird)Track of our New Arrivals
We've already discussed our three special Spring Alive species (see above), but what about the rest of our migrants? Although migration might seem to be a little slow getting started this year, the reporting rates for Chiffchaff, Sand Martin and Wheatear are just beginning to pick up, right on cue. Some Chiffchaffs winter in Britain and Ireland, so the first songsters may be our wintering birds making the most of the recent warm spell this spring. Over the next couple of weeks, however, the expected rise in reporting rate will surely be down to returning migrants. Exciting times to be BirdTracking! Log on and give it a go.
Check out BirdTrack and help us keep track of Ireland's birds: think of it as your online notebook
If you are a fan of garden birds (and studies show that most eWings readers are!),don't forget to check out our dedicated garden bird blog, called Garden Bird Year. It is regularly updated with information about Ireland's garden birds, feeding tips, photographs, wildlife-gardening advice and lots more, so please bookmark it and check back often.

If you're looking for other ways to keep in touch both with our work and the fortunes of Ireland's birds, you should definitely become a fan of the BirdWatch Ireland Facebook page, and you should certainly follow us on Twitter too.

The most important way, however, is to join BirdWatch Ireland 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: family members also receive our special kids' magazine, Bird Detectives. By joining, you will be helping to fund our vital conservation work: as a charity, we simply can't do it without you.

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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