Issue 39, December 2012
Welcome to the December 2012 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
There's less than a week to go until Christmas: are you still stuck for gift ideas? The BirdWatch Ireland Shop has a wide range of gifts that are perfect for those last-minute purchases and presents for "hard to buy for" friends and family.

From butterfly houses and Swallow nestboxes to binoculars, books and kitchenware, we have something for everyone - and what's more, we'll even deliver them to your door. Simply order online or by telephone (01-2819878) before 12.00 noon on Thursday 20th December and your order will be dispatched by courier that afternoon, ensuring delivery before Christmas. You can also collect your purchases directly from our shop in Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow (click here for details of how to find us) on Friday 21st, Saturday 22nd and up until 1:00pm on Christmas Eve.

If you're still stuck for ideas then why not buy a BirdWatch Ireland Gift Voucher and let the recipient choose for themselves? Or, for a gift that will keep on giving, what about a year's membership of BirdWatch Ireland or our special Beginning Birdwatching Kit? And remember, by buying from BirdWatch Ireland you are helping to protect Ireland's birds and their habitats: all the proceeds go to fund our vital conservation work. As a charity, we really appreciate your support.
To view the articles and news in full simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each article summary.
Waxwing influx makes for a very berry Christmas!
The stunning Waxwing is a bird that pretty much everyone wants to see. Without doubt one of our most striking and flamboyant birds, they are strictly winter visitors to Ireland. In some years we get very few of them, while in others we can get large "irruptions" from northern Scandinavia and Russia, driven here by food shortages. Over the past few weeks BirdWatch Ireland has been receiving numerous reports of these gorgeous garden visitors. They seem to be popping up around the country in much higher numbers than usual in search of their favourite food, sugar-laden berries, so if you've never seen one before, keep your eyes peeled: this could be your year. (Photo: Waxwing, by John Fox)
Learn more about the Waxwing "irruption" that is underway across Ireland at the moment
Animal Magic: rescue and rehabilitation of raptors
Birds of prey (or "raptors"), like this Kestrel on the left, are one of the more common bird groups to be reported sick or injured to BirdWatch Ireland. When such incidents require expert care we have regularly relied on the experience and dedication of Animal Magic, a rescue and rehabilitation centre in Kilmallock, Co. Limerick run by Rosie Campbell and Dennis McCarthy. They have over 30 years experience of caring for all kinds of wildlife, and their phenomenal efforts over the years has seen the rescue and subsequent release of countless raptors, as well as a very impressive list of other wild birds and animals, which is testament to their passion for this demanding and sometimes distressing job.
Read more about Animal Magic's work and the conservation benefits that it brings
Opticron Explorer 8x42 Binoculars: €295.00
BirdWatching with poor quality binoculars can be a disappointing experience. This Christmas, why not treat yourself, or someone you know, to a quality pair of binoculars at an exceptional price? These Explorer 8x42 binoculars offer exceptional value for money, providing a crisp, bright image with exceptional depth of field, making your birdwatching a real pleasure. Well balanced in the hand, fully waterproof and featuring close focusing to less than 2 metres, these binoculars come with a 10 year guarantee and will open a whole new window on the world of birds and other wildlife.
Buy Explorer 8x42 binoculars from BirdWatch Ireland's fully secure online shop
Panama Bay: threat to one of the world's most important wader sites
One of the most important coastal wetlands in the Americas is under threat. The Upper Bay of Panama is a vital stopover site for migrating shorebirds. Up to two million individuals of 30 species use it on their way south after breeding. However, in May this year, legal protected status was withdrawn because of pressure for urban and resort development, including hotels and golf courses, and regulations on mangrove cutting were relaxed. Developers are reported to be at work within the Ramsar site boundary.
Support our partner, the Panama Audubon Society, in its calls to restore legal protection
CAP reform: demanding public benefits for public money
This week, BirdWatch Ireland is presenting to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture seeking that public money paid out under the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should be given for delivering 'public goods' - including a healthy natural environment - not merely given as 'blank cheques'. We want to ensure that CAP payments deliver more for small farm holdings and marginal farming communities which are most in need of support and where farming is particularly important for maintaining biodiversity; at present, much of Ireland's negotiations on CAP instead favour the most intensive farm producers. Without proper CAP reform we will see continuing declines in farmland bird populations and in a range of valuable wildlife and habitats in Ireland and across the EU.
See why we believe a fairer distribution of CAP funding is so vital for our farmland birds
Crucial fisheries votes this week could end overfishing: please lend your support
Important votes in the upcoming Fisheries Council regarding the European Commission's proposal for fixing for 2013 the fishing opportunities in EU waters could see the tide turn against decades of overfishing by EU fishing fleets and, in particular, super trawlers. EU subsidies, part of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), have helped modernise these fishing vessels. Fisheries Ministers from across Europe will be meeting this week to agree on fishing quotas for 2013. Despite concerns by fisheries scientists and environmental groups in the past, ministers have consistently set quotas above scientific advice, i.e., they have allowed overfishing to continue.

The current overfishing problem is having devastating impacts on fish stocks in the Northeast Atlantic where 47% of stocks are currently overfished (European Commission 2012). So why are ministers continuing to ignore scientific advice? Economically, the fisheries sector is in decline due to the overfishing problem which could see a further 30% drop in catches in the next 10 years and knock-on effects in terms of employment. EU taxpayers' money is subsidising the modernisation of fleets that are part of the overfishing problem.

What changes are needed to end overfishing? First and foremost, those politicians involved in crucial voting decisions on fishing quotas and amendments to the CFP this week need to put regional politics behind them and support reforms that will in the long-term deliver healthy marine ecosystems and support jobs in the fishing industry.

As Ireland's largest independent conservation organisation, BirdWatch Ireland is calling on MEPs who will be voting in Council this week to support binding rules to force fisheries ministers to follow scientific advice when setting quotas. Please help to make our voice louder by signing our petition.
Please follow this link to view and sign the petition which calls on our MEPs to put an end to overfishing
If you happen to be in the Cork area, we have a great opportunity for you. A three-part bird watching course for beginners will take place at BirdWatch Ireland Cuskinny Marsh Nature Reserve, Cobh, Co. Cork. The course is free of charge and is open to people over 16 years of age. The sessions will be held on Sundays 27th January, 24th February and 24th March, meeting at 2:30pm in the car park at Cuskinny. To ensure that all participants get the maximum benefit, the course will strictly be limited to 15 participants, so it is essential that book your place in advance: to do so, simply call Jim Wilson of our Cork Branch on 021-4812716.

One final quick reminder: don't forget the birds in your garden will want Christmas dinner too! With the Garden Bird Survey in full swing you don't want to run out of birdfood during the Christmas period. Order your birdfood now and have it delivered to your door.

For tips and up-to-the-minute advice on caring for your garden birds over the festive season, please keep an eye on our Garden Bird Year blog and the BirdWatch Ireland Twitter feed. You can also share your own tips with other garden bird enthusiasts via the BirdWatch Ireland Facebook page.

Wishing you a very happy Christmas and a bird-filled New Year,
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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