Issue 58, July 2014
Welcome to the July 2014 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
Do you fancy a relaxing break on a West Cork island and a chance to learn about bird migration, seabirds and lots more? The beautiful island of Cape Clear lies 8 miles off Baltimore and has long been recognised as a key site for observing bird migration and the passage of thousands of seabirds each autumn. BirdWatch Ireland's Cape Clear Bird Observatory was founded in 1959 and has been in operation ever since. For the last fifteen years, Dick Coombes has been running birdwatching courses on Cape, centred around the observatory. These courses always prove popular and our next one, entitled "Songbirds to Seabirds" will be held from Monday 8th to Friday 12th September.

The course is designed to have something for everyone, catering for all levels of experience. Each day will feature indoor lectures and walks around the island in a relaxed but informative atmosphere. The main topics covered will be bird identification, seawatching, breeding seabirds, methods of tracking bird movements, migration and weather. This year, as the Bird Observatory is temporarily closed due to construction work at the harbour, the course will instead be held in the Youth Hostel on the shore of the scenic South Harbour. For more information or to make a booking, simply click here, or call us on 01-2819878.
To view the articles and news in full simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each article summary.
What are these odd orange-headed birds we've been seeing lately?
Over the past few weeks we've been receiving lots of phone calls and emails here at BirdWatch Ireland about strange birds with bright orange heads that have been visiting gardens. They tend to flock with Starlings and House Sparrows and can be quite numerous in some areas, though they can't be found in any field guides. This is something that we at BirdWatch Ireland have become used to at this time of year, but this summer the number of reports we've had has been absolutely unprecedented. So, what's going on? (Photo: unusual orange-headed bird by Brendan Fitzpatrick)
Read more about these unusual-looking birds and discover their true identity!
Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition
Thanks to everyone who entered June's eWings competition. The answer to the question we posed was that 100 photos are on display at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition currently running in The chq Building in Dublin. The winner of a family ticket to the exhibition is Áine O'Leary from Bray, Co. Wicklow. Organised by the Natural History Museum in London and BBC Worldwide, and running until 31st August, this is the first time the world's most prestigeous wildlife photography contest has visited Ireland. BirdWatch Ireland will be there on Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd August, so do stop by our stand.
(Photo: "Curiosity and the cat" by Hannes Lochner, South Africa)
Learn more and book your Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition tickets here
New Rural Development Plan offers a lifeline for farmland birds
BirdWatch Ireland warmly welcomes the recent announcement by Minister Simon Coveney that farmers undertaking actions to conserve critically-threatened farmland birds will get priority access to substantial funding within Ireland's new Rural Development Programme. If properly implemented, this offers hope of halting declines and restoring bird populations in parts of their range.

Many farmland bird species that are threatened in Ireland, including Corncrake, Grey Partridge (left: photo by Shay Connolly), Hen Harrier, Chough, Twite and breeding waders such as Curlew, Lapwing and Redshank, are given priority status within the draft plan.
Read about these Rural Development Plan proposals and potential benefits for birds
Ireland's Pygmy Shrew under threat from white-toothed invader
A recent study has highlighted that the Greater White-toothed Shrew, an invasive, non-native species, appears to be displacing the Pygmy Shrew, one of the world's smallest mammals and the only shrew species to have been present in Ireland for thousands of years. In 2008, the presence of the Greater White-toothed Shrew was discovered by BirdWatch Ireland, UCC and QUB, following the discovery of its bones in Barn Owl pellets. The new study has now shown that this invader is spreading across the Irish landscape at a rate of more than five km a year and is capable of colonizing the entire island by 2050, something which may have serious consequences for the Pygmy Shrew population. (Photo: Greater White-toothed Shrew by John Murphy)
See why BirdWatch Ireland is concerned about the future of Ireland's Pygmy Shrews
Neonicotinoids - Are our bird populations facing another threat?
There has been a lot of discussion recently about the links between a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids and declines in farmland birds and other wildlife. You may feel concerned about this, but perhaps don't know how worried you should be or indeed what actually is happening. We think you should be concerned, so our Policy Officer Caoimhe Muldoon has prepared an article that we hope will go some of the way towards explaining the facts as currently known. (Photo: Stonechat by Dick Coombes)
Learn more about the threats posed by neonicotinoids to birds, bees and other wildlife
Calls to end overfishing: fish stocks must be allowed to recover
Recently the European Commission published its annual communication on the setting of fish stocks for next year. This gives an indication of the Commission's commitment to swiftly implementing the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which requires an end to EU overfishing by 2015 where possible, and by 2020 at the latest.

According to the communication there is an increase in overfished stocks from 39 to 41 percent in the North-East Atlantic and adjacent waters. In 2013, 16 of 41 assessed stocks were overfished, increasing to 19 of 46 in 2014. The communication also indicates that in addition to the increase in the number of stocks being overfished, the rate of overfishing rose as well. In 2012, fisheries ministers set fishing limits an average of 11 percent above the scientific advice; in 2014 the average limits were significantly higher, at 35 percent above scientific recommendations.
Read more about why overfishing must end and why scientific evidence about fish stocks must been heeded
If you haven't already done so, please do join BirdWatch Ireland today - as a charity, we really need your support. Members receive a welcome pack, 4 issues of our print magazine Wings each year (plus our Bird Detectives kids' magazine for family and junior members) and a special free gift, as well access to hundreds of free events all over Ireland. You can join online via our secure web shop, or if you prefer you can always give us a call on 01-2819878 instead. If you are already a member, don't forget that membership also makes a great gift for friends and family.

The best way of all to join, however, is by direct debit: it gives you an extra 3 months' membership free and saves us money which then goes to fund our conservation work. We would also like to encourage existing members to switch over to direct debit payment: simply email to request a direct debit payment form from us. It genuinely makes a big difference for us.

One final request: we are actively seeking a candidate with accounting experience to come on the BirdWatch Ireland Board. If interested, or to pass on a recommendation or to learn more, please contact the Management Team.

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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