Issue 50, November 2013
Welcome to the November 2013 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
It is with great delight that I can finally say that the Bird Atlas 2007-11 has landed! The landmark publication arrived in Ireland in recent days are we are now busy packing and posting the hundreds of pre-publication orders to eagerly waiting birdwatchers all across Ireland.

What an incredible, albeit at times challenging, journey this Bird Atlas has been. The book, and the fascinating maps and species' accounts it contains, are testament to the awesome efforts of Irish Atlas volunteers and many others that contributed along the way.

Some of the 'big stories' emerging for the Atlas are already making headlines on social media and in newspapers across Britain and Ireland. Worrying trends for farmland birds, particularly in Ireland, are one of the main findings. Declines in breeding waders and upland birds are also very apparent, while striking abundance change patterns are evident for a number of species, particularly sub-Saharan migrants such as Cuckoos, Willow Warblers and House Martins. The recovery of the Buzzard, the arrival of the Great Spotted Woodpecker and the reintroduction of the Red Kite all provide yet more fascinating insights into the changing fortunes of our bird populations.

You can learn more about some of these changes and revelations below; we plan also to update you with more stories from the Bird Atlas in forthcoming editions of eWings, so please watch this space.
To view the articles and news in full simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each article summary.
Bird Atlas 2007-11 is finally here: order your copy today
You've heard a lot about it over the past few years, and now the landmark, groundbreaking Bird Atlas 2007-11 is finally here. One of the most important bird books of recent decades, it provides a complete and comprehensive overview of bird populations both in Ireland and in Britain, with over 1,300 maps describing patterns of distribution, abundance and change for nearly 300 species. Discover the latest scientific findings about our bird populations and how they have altered over time, and see the results of five years of painstaking fieldwork and volunteer effort. A must-have for anyone who is interested in the distribution and fortunes of Irish and British birds, and an ideal gift for the bird-lover in your life.
Order your copy of Bird Atlas 2007-11 today from BirdWatch Ireland for €94 (incl. postage)
Bird Atlas reveals a startling trend amongst sub-Saharan migrant birds
While analysing the millions of records submitted for Bird Atlas 2007-11, we noticed a striking and recurring pattern that has given us serious cause for concern. It seems that many of those birds which migrate from Ireland and Britain to sub-Saharan Africa, such as this Sedge Warbler (photo: Clive Timmons), have undergone a major shift in abundance, becoming scarcer in the southeast yet more numerous in the north and northwest.

Indeed, for those species affected, a diagonal line can be drawn right across the map of Britain and Ireland showing a clear divide between these gains and losses. The reasons for these dramatic changes will no doubt form the basis of much study and research in the coming years, with climate change firmly in the mix as one of the possible drivers.
Read more about this startling change, one of our key Bird Atlas findings (PDF: 936KB)
Win a birding trip to Portugal for two: our best competition ever!
BirdWatch Ireland has teamed up with Visit Portugal Birdwatching and Birds & Nature Tours to offer you the chance to win a five-day birding trip for two to Southern Portugal. It's a fantastic prize, worth over €2,500, and the lucky winners are going to receive a typically warm and friendly Portuguese welcome, appreciate fantastic food and wines and enjoy beautiful natural and historic scenery . . . as well, of course, as see some of Europe's most special birds, such as the gorgeous Greater Flamingos (photo: Faísca) on the left.

To see just how special the birds are, see the article Portugal: a birdwatcher's paradise (PDF: 2.92MB), originally published in the Summer 2013 issue of our Wings magazine.

It's our best competition ever, and it's only open to BirdWatch Ireland members. If you're not yet a member, that's no problem - simply join BirdWatch Ireland today!
Click for full details about this fantastic competition and how you can enter (PDF: 357KB)
Garden Bird Survey begins on 2nd December: we need your help
Surveys are a vital tool for a conservation organisation such as BirdWatch Ireland. They help us to work out how our birds and other wildlife are faring, what problems they face and how we can help them. As you have already seen, the Bird Atlas is a great example of this. We run plenty of other surveys, however, and everyone reading this can play a role.

The perfect place to start is with our Garden Bird Survey, which runs for 13 weeks each winter and allows us to build up a picture of the health and distribution of our garden birds, such as the Blue Tit on the left (photo: Andrew Kelly). Taking part is easy and fun, and anyone, regardless of their level of expertise, can do it. It's a great way to learn more about your garden birds while also helping our scientific and conservation work. This year's survey begins on Monday 2nd December: go on, why not give it a go?
Learn all about BirdWatch Ireland's Garden Bird Survey and how you can play your part
Species focus: the Goosander, one of Ireland's rarest ducks
The Goosander is one of Ireland's most enigmatic birds. First recorded breeding here in 1969, in Co. Donegal, this handsome duck disappeared again until breeding resumed in a new area, in Co. Wicklow, in the mid 1990s. The new Bird Atlas 2007-11 has been helping to shed new light on this bird's population trends both in Ireland and in Britain: while now a widespread breeder and winter visitor on the latter island, it remains very restricted and localised here. Why should this be, and what might the future hold for this rare duck in Ireland? (Photo: two male Goosanders, by Graham Catley)
Learn more about Goosanders in an exclusive extract from Wings magazine (PDF: 957KB)
Winter weather is on the way: time to stock up on food for your garden birds
As noted above, it's almost time to start the Garden Bird Survey. Are you prepared? Do you have enough bird food and feeders? Peanuts make an ideal food for lots of different garden birds, but we also recommend using the specially-formulated High Energy No Mess Mix or the Scrummy Sunflower Hearts alongside them to maximise the variety of species coming to your garden. Nyger Seed is almost guaranteed to attract Goldfinches, Siskins and possibly even Redpolls; it needs to be fed from a special Nyger Seed Feeder.

We have a large range of both high-quality birdfood and specially designed bird feeders in stock which can be collected from our shop in Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow or delivered to your door anywhere in the country.

Don't forget, when you buy your garden bird supplies from BirdWatch Ireland, you're not only helping the birds in your garden: you're helping to fund our work to conserve birds and other wildlife all over Ireland. You can also help us by choosing to send BirdWatch Ireland Christmas cards this year, and our gorgeous 2014 BirdWatch Ireland Calendar is also well worth a look. Indeed, you can buy a wide range of Christmas gifts for your friends and family from BirdWatch Ireland and help Ireland's birds at the same time.
Don't leave it until the last minute - order your birdfood and other supplies from BirdWatch Ireland today!
The road that has led to the publication of Bird Atlas 2007-11 has been a long and challenging one, but in many ways the journey is only just beginning. It is now apparent that, since our last Atlas 20 years ago, many of our bird species have continued to decline or, as in the case of the Corn Bunting, are now sadly extinct in Ireland. It is also apparent that significant shifts in bird populations are taking place, and in many cases we as yet have little understanding of the drivers behind these changes.

The Bird Atlas provides an exciting opportunity to direct bird conservation priorities and pioneering research for the coming decades. We hope that we can count on your support as we undertake the mammoth conservation tasks that lie in front of us, we hope that you will help to spread the word about the work that we do on your behalf, and, of course, we hope that you enjoy the book.

Best wishes,
Brian Caffrey, Irish Bird Atlas Coordinator
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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