Issue 51, December 2013
Welcome to the December 2013 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
Despite my best intentions, I always seem to leave my Christmas shopping until the last minute every year. If you find yourself in the same boat as me, perhaps BirdWatch Ireland can help.

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. To facilitate Christmas shoppers, we will be open this coming Saturday, 21st December between 10:00am and 5:00pm, as well as on Monday, 23rd December between 9:00am and 5:00pm and Christmas Eve between 9:00am and 1:00pm.

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 1:00pm today, Friday 20th December and your order will be dispatched straight away to ensure delivery before Christmas. You can also collect your purchases directly or browse for that perfect gift in person at our shop in Bullford Business Campus, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow (click here for details of how to find us) 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.
Garden Bird Survey 2013/14 has begun . . . but it's not too late to start
Did you know that Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chaffinch have remained amongst our most common winter garden birds since our winter Garden Bird Survey began in its current format almost 20 years ago? The 2013/14 survey kicked off earlier this month, but you can start at any time: we hope that you can give it a go this season and help us to gather information on how our winter birds are faring.

Taking part is really easy (and good fun too): simply keep a notepad to hand and record the numbers of each species you see in your garden. You could even do the survey while having your breakfast each morning! Then you just enter the highest count of each species in a given week (not the total) on the form or online. (Photo: Blue Tit by John Fox)
Click here to register online or to download your Garden Bird Survey recording form
The Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use in Ireland
There has been much concern recently about the risks posed to Irish wildlife by accidental exposure to rodenticides (i.e., rat poisons), with those predators and scavengers which feed on rodents, such as Barn Owls (left: photo by Mike Brown) and other birds of prey, being particularly vulnerable. The problem occurs when they feed on rats which have previously eaten poison bait, as the toxins then build up within their systems too. To address this, the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) has been established, both to increase awareness of the threats posed to wildlife by poor rodenticide use and to promote best practice rodent control in order to reduce these risks.
Learn more about the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use and about rodenticides
Win a fantastic birding trip for two to Portugal
As mentioned in last month's eWings, BirdWatch Ireland has teamed up with Visit Portugal Birdwatching and Birds & Nature Tours for our best competition ever! A lucky BirdWatch Ireland member will win a five-day birding trip for two to Southern Portugal.

It's a fantastic prize, worth over €2,500, and the lucky winners will receive a typically warm and friendly Portuguese welcome, appreciate fantastic food and wines and enjoy beautiful natural and historic scenery . . . and see some of Europe's most special birds, such as the gorgeous Greater Flamingos (photo: Faísca) on the left.

The closing date for entries is 20th January 2014, and the competition is 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)
DuhallowLIFE experiment to determine Dipper nestbox preferences
Last year we reported on work carried out by the IRD DuhallowLIFE project aimed at providing nest sites for Kingfishers and Dippers along the upper reaches of the River Blackwater, which is designated as a Special Area of Conservation. As part of this project, several different Dipper nextbox designs have been trialled, with some very interesting results. (Photo: Dipper by Colum Clarke)
Read more about the IRD DuhallowLIFE Dipper nextbox project
Irish Little Egret turns up Iceland!
The recently-published Bird Atlas 2007-11 has highlighted some very significant patterns and shifting trends in our bird populations over the past 20 years. For all too many species these findings reveal declines and range contractions; however there are some positive stories too. One of the most remarkable of these has been the colonisation and subsequent spread of the Little Egret (left: photo by Colm Fitzpatrick). This remarkable range expansion appears to be continuing: a nestling which was fitted with a colour ring in its nest in Galway has been observed in Iceland, a journey of approx. 1,200km!
Read more about our Little Egret ringing scheme and its remarkable findings so far
Garden Bird Year: BirdWatch Ireland's dedicated garden bird blog
More and more people in Ireland are becoming interested in the birds in and around their gardens, and it's worth keeping an eye out over the festive season to see how your own garden visitors are fairing. At this time of year, temperatures can drop suddenly, and we can all play a role in helping our local birds to survive.

A great way to keep up-to-date with garden bird happenings, get advice about how to identify and care for your garden birds and to find inspiration for your own wildlife gardening projects is to bookmark BirdWatch Ireland's dedicated garden bird blog, entitled Garden Bird Year. Written by BirdWatch Ireland's own resident garden bird expert, Oran O'Sullivan, it is based on his own experiences in his Co. Wicklow garden and is well worth a look.
Have a look at Oran's Garden Bird Year blog, and be sure to check back regularly for new updates
The Irish Rare Breeding Birds Panel was formed in 2002 with a remit of collating information on rare and scarce breeding birds across the island of Ireland and publishing an annual report in the journal Irish Birds. The initial definition of 'rare' was less than 100 pairs and many of our ducks, Mallard and Tufted Duck aside, fall into this category, along with new colonists such as Little Egret and Great Skua, and long-standing 'rarities' such as Red-throated Divers whose population comprises about 8 pairs restricted to the uplands of County Donegal.

The committee recently gathered on 6th December at Northern Ireland's Environment Agency Office in Belfast. The purpose of the meeting was to welcome the newly appointed Panel Secretary, Dr. Ken Perry and acknowledge the long service of the retiring Secretary, Dr. Paul Hillis who commenced duties back in 2002. Paul now joins the other ordinary members on the panel. Two further changes see the appointment of Dr. Kendrew Colhoun as the RSPB representative, replacing Dr. James Robinson (outgoing Chairman), and the election of BirdWatch Ireland's Dr. Steve Newton as his replacement.

The Panel's New Year resolution is to find the means of allowing observers to submit records on-line quickly and efficiently and establish a website. Watch this space for updates. In the meantine, you can contact the Honorary Secretary at:

Finally, all of us at BirdWatch Ireland would like to thank you most sincerely for your support during 2013: it is very much appreciated.

Wishing you a very happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year,
Niall Hatch, Development Officer
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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