Issue 65, February 2015
Welcome to the February 2015 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
In last month's edition of eWings we talked at length about the problems facing birds of prey in Ireland. We were dismayed this week to learn of the death of yet another Irish White-tailed Eagle. Several of these magnificent birds, which were re-introduced to Ireland from Norway, have suffered at the hands of illegal persecution in recent years; however, the cause of death for this particular bird, which was discovered by a local landowner near Lisnaskea in Co. Fermanagh, is not yet known.

This particular eagle, known as 'Ignar', was brought from Norway to its release site in Killarney in 2011 as part of the re-introduction project lead by the Golden Eagle Trust. Since being released in Killarney, Ignar has travelled extensively throughout the country, before settling for most of last year on Upper and Lower Lough Erne, and it was hoped that it would nest on one of the many islands in this area which provide perfect habitat for White-tailed Eagles.

The PSNI have collected the remains and are currently investigating the incident and appealing for any information to establish the circumstances of death. If you have any information, please call the PSNI, quoting reference 6467215. Alternatively, information can be passed via the independent Crimestoppers number on 0800 555 111. As the bird had been dead for some time before the carcass was recovered, it may not be possible to determine the cause of death or if illegal activities were responsible. We will keep you posted with any progress on this investigation.
To view the articles and news in full simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each article summary.
GLAS - a step in the right direction for biodiversity?
The opening this week of Ireland's new agri-environment scheme has the potential for Irish farmers to deliver more for biodiversity than any previous scheme. The detailed specification for the Green Low-carbon Agri-environment Scheme (GLAS) was published on Monday. Prepared by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), in consultation with BirdWatch Ireland and other stakeholders, it contains measures for many of our most threatened farmland birds, including Corncrake, Grey Partridge, Hen Harrier, Chough, Twite and breeding waders such as Curlew, Lapwing and Redshank. Within geographically targeted areas, these are given priority status in GLAS, meaning that farmers that undertake actions for these species will be given preference for entry to the scheme. (Photo: Twite by Mike Brown)
Learn more about GLAS and how we hope it will benefit Ireland's farmland birds
Turning words into action for our seas and marine wildlife
In the past year, the Irish Government committed itself to rebuilding fish stocks and to ending the wasteful practice of discarding fish at sea through European policy review. It agreed to legislation that will end EU overfishing by 2015 where possible, and by 2020 at the latest. BirdWatch Ireland believes that this is a crucial step towards ensuring healthy oceans with abundant fish and wildlife, contributing to human well-being.

Decision-makers have shown that they have the courage to put the legislation in place to make that happen; now they need to turn words into reality in north-western European waters. This new legislation came into force on 1st January 2014, but it still has to be implemented effectively to make a difference for our marine environment. Sign up here to keeping the pressure on decision-makers to bring a rapid end to overfishing by 2018 at the latest in the north-western waters of Europe.
Click for details of this campaign to end overfishing in north-western European waters
Spring is here: now is the time to put up your nestboxes
This is the time of year when birds are hunting for suitable nesting sites: you may notice visitors, such as this Blue Tit on the left (Photo: Dick Coombes), popping in and out of your garden, studying tree trunks and gaps in walls for likely entry points. Natural nest sites can be hard to find, but luckily there is something we can all do to help.

The BirdWatch Ireland shop stocks a wide range of nestboxes (including our brand new flatpack Build your own Nestbox Kit for just €10). The sooner you get them up, the more likely it is that they will be used. Remember, by purchasing your nestboxes from BirdWatch Ireland you are automatically doing even more to help Ireland's birds, as all the proceeds go to support our conservation work.
Browse BirdWatch Ireland's full range of nestboxes and place your order online now
HELP project delivers significant benefits for breeding waders
The Halting Environmental Loss Project (HELP) was completed at the end of 2014. This four-year project, funded by INTERREG IVA under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), was led by RSPB Northern Ireland, with BirdWatch Ireland and RSPB Scotland as junior partners. The project has been a huge success, delivering many benefits for breeding waders, including the raising of awareness of the serious plight of the Curlew in Ireland and subsequently the proposal by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Marine (DAFM) to include a breeding wader measure in GLAS. The significant capital investment, including the predator fences, has greatly improved conditions at breeding sites. (Photo: Curlew by John Fox)
Learn more about HELP and what has been achieved during the life of the project
Roll-out of Wind Energy Sensitivity Mapping Tool Now Complete
Climate change as a result of carbon emissions is one of the most pressing challenges facing human society today. Wind energy, as part of an appropriate energy mix in Ireland, can help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions which cause this, but unregulated expansion of Ireland's wind energy industry could directly impact upon bird populations. Now, BirdWatch Ireland's recently-launched Bird Sensitivity Mapping tool for Wind Energy aims to advise better planning of wind energy development, using an interactive mapping tool and associated guiding information.
(Photo: Black-tailed Godwits flying near a wind turbine by Oran O'Sullivan)
Learn more about BirdWatch Ireland's new Bird Sensitivity Mapping tool and its uses
How to do a bird survey: free training days with BirdWatch Ireland
Have you ever thought about taking part in a bird survey? Perhaps you already participate in the Garden Bird Survey. Well there are two other major surveys being run by BirdWatch Ireland and we are looking for volunteers to help with them.

The Countryside Bird Survey (CBS) is carried out in April, May and June. Its aim is to keep track of our breeding bird populations. It's easy to do - all you need is a reasonable skill level at identifying our common and widespread birds and plenty of enthusiasm! It involves two early morning walks along designated 1km routes in the countryside. You note down all the birds you see and hear along the way. And it's all over by 9:00am!

The Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS) is carried out from September to March. A whole network of estuaries, lakes, marshes and other wetlands across the country are counted once a month during the autumn, winter and early spring. Most sites are counted in teams, so there is always a chance to learn as you go along. Both these surveys are long-term projects and very important tools for monitoring how our breeding birds and wetland sites are faring.

Now, you might think "Oh I'll never be able to do a bird survey", but really there is nothing to it. If you know your birds fairly well and enjoy getting out and about, these surveys are an ideal way to put your birdwatching to good use. And we don't throw you in the deep end: we are running a series of training days to get you started. Each will start at 10:00am with an entertaining slide show explaining how and why we do these surveys, with lots of tips on identification. After lunch (provided), we will have a short outdoor field trip to give you a chance to put theory into practice, and we plan to finish by around 3:30pm. The sessions will be very relaxed and easy-going, but also, we hope, informative. All instruction, tea, coffee, biscuits and lunch are free of charge. The upcoming sessions are as follows:

- Sunday 22nd March in Menlo Park Hotel, Galway, Co. Galway.
- Sunday 8th March in Abbeyleix Heritage House, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois.
- Saturday 28th March in the National Parks & Wildlife Centre, Muckross, Killarney, Co. Kerry.
If you would like to take part in one of our free survey training days, please click here to register your interest
If you are a wildlife photographer, you might like to take part in BirdWatch Ireland's Wildlife in Ireland 2015 photography competition. First prize is one night B&B plus dinner for two in The Lake Hotel, Killarney (in a lake-view room with a complimentary bottle of wine), valued at €250. Second prize is a set of wildlife books from The Collins Press, Cork, valued at €200.

Photographs entered into the competition must have been taken on the island of Ireland or in its territorial waters between 14th February and 30th June 2015. Photographs must be submitted via email to, and the closing date for entries is 1st July 2015. A selection of the photographs submitted to the competition will be used in the 2016 BirdWatch Ireland calendar. For a full set of rules and guidelines, please contact Oran O'Sullivan.

By the way, don't forget to check out the BirdWatch Ireland Facebook page and to follow us on Twitter. Both are a great way to stay informed about our work, to learn more Ireland's birds and to ask us questions about anything you wish. Also, if you haven't already, please join BirdWatch Ireland as a member and support our conservation work. We can't do it without you.

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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