Issue 56, May 2014
Welcome to the May 2014 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
Many thanks to everyone who participated in our National Dawn Chorus Day last Sunday. Whether you came along to one of our local branch dawn chorus walks in person or joined in by listening to the live six-hour broadcast on the Mooney show on RTÉ Radio One, we hope you enjoyed this thrilling natural concert. Many thanks to our BirdWatch Ireland branch volunteers all over the country for making it possible: it takes a lot of effort to coordinate so many simultaneous events and a national radio programme. Well done to all involved.

The dawn chorus rightly gets a lot of attention each May, but don't forget that our branches run a whole host of other events (usually at more sociable hours!) right throughout the year, from indoor talks and slideshows to outdoor walks and coach trips. Please do come along to some of them: you can find full details of upcoming BirdWatch Ireland Branch Events on our website; please bookmark the page and check back often for updates.
To view the articles and news in full simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each article summary.
Bermuda Petrel, one of the world's rarest birds, seen in Irish waters
The Bermuda Petrel, also known as the Cahow, is one of the world's rarest bird species. Considered extinct for over 300 years until its dramatic rediscovery in 1951, it nests only on tiny islets off Bermuda, 1,000km off the Atlantic coast of North Carolina. Little is known about their movements, but remarkably an individual was seen off the west coast of Ireland from the Marine Institute's R.V. Celtic Voyager on Monday 19th May 2014. It was spotted over the Porcupine Bank, approximately 170 nautical miles west-northwest of Slea Head, Co. Kerry, by Niall T. Keogh (BirdWatch Ireland), Ryan Wilson-Parr (Ecologists Ireland), Dr. Simon Berrow (Irish Whale & Dolphin Group) and Rossa Meade (Irish Whale & Dolphin Group). This is the first ever sighting of this species in Irish waters, and indeed in the North-East Atlantic as a whole. (Photo: Cahow by Ryan Wilson-Parr - Ecologists Ireland)
Learn more about this amazing sighting and the conservation efforts to save the Cahow
Oileáin competition: we have a winner!
Well done to eWings reader Paul Martin, of Duncormick, Co. Wexford who was the lucky winner of last month's competition to win a signed copy of the superb book Oileáin by David Walsh, a comprehensive and wonderfully-written guide to Ireland's islands. Paul's entry was chosen at random from all of the correct entries received. We asked how many Irish islands are covered in the book, the correct answer being 574 (though we also accepted "over 570"). This book is a must-read for anyone with an interest in our islands; if you didn't win, don't worry, you can still get a copy from the BirdWatch Ireland shop.
Oileáin, 292 pages, is available from the BirdWatch Ireland shop for €30.00 plus p&p
Your help needed to find Long-eared Owl nesting sites
BirdWatch Ireland has been monitoring Ireland's Long-eared Owl population in recent years to gain an insight into the ecology of this species, about which very little is currently known. Although elusive, Long-eared Owls are Ireland's most common owl and are widespread throughout the country, nesting in woodlands, small copses, shelter belts, hedgerow trees and even in gardens. They often go undetected but are most obvious after the young have hatched, when their high pitched "squeaky gate" calls can be heard at night during May to August. If you know of a Long-eared Owl nesting pair or nest site, we would be very grateful if you could report this information to John Lusby, BirdWatch Ireland's Raptor Conservation Officer, at (Photo: John Clarke)
Learn more about Long-eared Owls in Ireland and hear the distinctive calls of their young
Ireland's Swifts need your help
The incredible sound of a party of screaming Swifts speeding overhead is one of the most iconic sounds of an Irish summer. However, the future of the Swift is under threat and, as reported in the Spring issue of Wings (PDF: 606KB), there is growing concern for their populations both here in Ireland and across Europe.

This summer, thanks to funding from The Heritage Council and Dublin City Council, BirdWatch Ireland is undertaking a number of Swift surveys, and we need your help! To take part, simply let us know where you see Swifts and where their nest sites are. (Photo: Swift by Dick Coombes)
Click to enter your Swift sightings or to get information about our upcoming Swift events
The Rockablog - showcasing Rockabill's terns to the world
Recent weeks have seen an unprecedented level of media interest in BirdWatch Ireland's tern conservation work on Rockabill Island, even culminating in our two new Rockabill castaways wardens, Donnacha Woods and Brian Burke, being introduced to each other for the first time on The Late Late Show by Ryan Tubridy himself (watch online here - the Rockabill segment starts at the 54:13 mark).

The key aim of the project, which is funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, is the conservation of the beautiful Roseate Tern, one of Europe's rarest breeding seabirds, but thousands of other seabirds, including Common and Arctic Terns, Kittiwakes and Black Guillemots are monitored too. The island, which is owned by the Commissioners of Irish Lights, lies well off the coast of Skerries in north Co. Dublin, and access is highly restricted, so to keep the wider world up to date with the goings-on in Europe's most important Roseate Tern colony, our wardens have started their Rockablog. It will allow you to get up close and personal with the terns like never before, so please check back often for updates from "The Rock". (Photo: Rockabill Lighthouse by Lars Soerink)
Follow the progress of the seabirds (and wardens) on Rockabill Island on our Rockablog
Join us at the Sheridans Irish Food Festival in Co. Meath on Sunday 25th May
Sheridans Cheesemongers will host its fifth Irish food festival on Sunday 25th May at its Virginia Road Station headquarters in Co Meath. A huge array of Ireland's top food producers will be here to sell, sample and talk about their wonderful foods, and BirdWatch Ireland will also be on hand to highlight the importance of sustainable agriculture and food production for Ireland's biodiversity, as well as answer questions about Ireland's birds.

"The idea of the event is to bring together the people who make the food and the customers who love it in a fun and relaxed festival atmosphere," notes Kevin Sheridan of Sheridans Cheesemongers. "We want this to be a celebration of everything that is great about Irish food, especially the people who create it. The criteria for the stalls are that the food is made in Ireland, is of great quality and that the people behind the stalls are the people who made the food. Our aim is to atract people from all walks of life, not just the foodies, and so we have tried to create a fun and affordable day for all the family."

"I had a wonderful day out at Sheridans Irish Food Festival when I visited," recalls Darina Allen of Ballymaloe. "What struck me most was the relaxed family atmosphere which was encouraged by the Sheridan brothers and all their staff, and it was really fantastic to see so many of Ireland's top food producers there and to see how celebrated they were by all who attended, young and old. Many travelled from all corners of Ireland but there was a lovely sense of the local community coming together to celebrate food."

In addition to the food producers, the festival will also feature a wide range of workshops, activities and family entertainment, and it promises to be a great day out. We hope that as many eWings readers as possible will come along; if you do, please be sure to stop by the BirdWatch Ireland stand to say hello and pick up a free garden bird poster.
Read more about this year's Sheridans Irish Food Festival and what you can expect on this unique, fun day out
BirdWatch Ireland is inviting applications for the six-month contract position of Sensitivity Mapping Project Officer. Climate change is an enormous threat to wildlife, and developing renewable energy technologies such as wind power is an important part of the response required to mitigate against climate change. Sensitivity Mapping is a tool used to foresee and address potential conflicts between ecological needs of birds and wind energy development. It is also a useful tool for county-based, regional or national renewable energy strategies, by identifing areas in which there are particular bird sensitivities to development related to wind energy and associated infrastructure. The deadline for applications is noon on Monday 26th May: for full details and to download an application form, please visit the jobs section of our website.

Don't forget that BirdWatch Ireland will be out in full force at Bloom, Ireland's largest garden festival. It's taking place in the Phoenix Park in Dublin from Thursday 29th May to Bank Holiday Monday 2nd June, and BirdWatch Ireland will be running an indoor garden bird information and membership recruitment stand, as well as an outdoor family education and games marquee. It's a huge event for us, and it is only possible thanks to the efforts of many dedicated volunteers. If you're going, please do stop by to say hello, and if you would like to volunteer your time to help us at Bloom, especially on the Saturday, Sunday or Monday, please email me at it would be much appreciated.

Yours sincerely,
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.
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