Issue 67, April 2015
Welcome to the April 2015 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
The dawn chorus is one of the highlights of the natural calendar. In May each year, BirdWatch Ireland branches the length and breadth of Ireland run a series of free public guided early morning birdsong walks, and everyone is invited. If you're not an early riser, don't worry: there are plenty of dusk chorus events and indoor birdsong workshops in the pipeline too. For more details of upcoming birdsong events near you, please keep and eye on the events section of the BirdWatch Ireland website: new events are being added all the time, so do check back often.

Of course, it wouldn't be dawn chorus season without our annual tie-in with Mooney Goes Wild on RTÉ Radio One. Derek Mooney and his team will be broadcasting the dawn chorus live across Ireland and the world in a special six-hour programme. It will all be happening in the early hours of Sunday 3rd May, starting at midnight and continuing until 6:00am, and as usual BirdWatch Ireland experts will be on hand to fill you in on what the birds are doing, why they are doing it and how you can take part yourself. For the first time ever, the programme will also be carried live on BBC Radio Ulster, and we have a few new surprise locations for you this year too.
To view the articles and news in full simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each article summary.
Save Ireland's Seabirds - we need your help
We have a very special favour to ask you. Ireland is home to some of the most important seabird colonies in the world, but these are coming under increasing pressure. We urgently need your help to secure a future for Ireland's seabirds. We need more wardens to protect their nesting areas, we need to tackle the non-native predators that threaten their chicks and we need to get a much better idea of how they live.

Please, watch our special Seabird Appeal video, share it with your friends and donate what you can to help us to carry out this vital work. Many thanks for your support.
Learn more about the threats to Irish seabirds, watch our video and make a donation
EU Birds and Habitats Directives under threat
The protection of birds and their habitats in Ireland is driven by EU law. The Birds Directive forms the cornerstone our national bird protection legislation, but the current EU President, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, has begun a process to review this, along with the Habitats Directive. There is grave concern amongst conservationists that the important legal protections enshrined in these pieces of legislation will be watered down.

As the BirdLife International Partner in Ireland, BirdWatch Ireland will be working closely with our fellow BirdLife Partners across the EU to defend the Birds and Habitats Directives and protect Europe's wildlife. (Photo: Corncrake by Colum Clarke: concerted conservation measures have brought this EU-wide priority species back from the edge of extinction.)
BirdLife's Ariel Brunner explains why we must fight to save these European nature laws
Insect Tower: a great addition to any wildlife-friendly garden
Insects are integral to achieving a balanced ecosystem in your garden. Species such as ladybirds and lacewings will help to control aphids, and bees deliver an essential pollination service. A purpose-made insect tower can encourage a wide range of beneficial insects into your garden by providing nesting sites and refuges. The different floors offer shelter for a variety of insect species, and the tubes at the top are designed for solitary bees, such as Red Mason Bees, to lay their eggs. There is also a floor with vertical slots to encourage butterflies, a section that has openings for ladybirds and lacewings, and other insects will happily take refuge within the pine cones.
Buy your insect tower from the BirdWatch Ireland online shop for €28.99, plus P&P
Join us at the Cliffs of Moher Seabirds Festival
BirdWatch Ireland is proud to support the inaugural Cliffs of Moher Seabirds Festival, which will be taking place at the legendary Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare from 9th to 14th May 2015. BirdWatch Ireland experts will be there to lead seabird viewing excursions (places are strictly limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment) and to answer your questions, and there will also be a whole host of other fun, family-friendly seabird activities. Best of all, if you go along you will almost certainly see some Puffins!
Read all about the Cliffs of Moher Seabirds Festival 2015 - hope to see you there
Have you seen a Hoopoe?
The past few weeks have seen an unexpectedly large influx of Hoopoes into Ireland. These flamboyant migrant birds do occasionally overshoot their continental breeding grounds and reach Irish shores, but this influx has been exceptional, with several dozen different birds reported. Most have been in southern counties, though there has even been a record very close to BirdWatch Ireland's head office in north Co. Wicklow.

Hoopoes are utterly unmistakable, with pink bodies, zebra-patterened black-and-white wings, a long down-curved bill and a large crest on the head that can be raised or lowered at will. If you have seen any, please email us at or give us a call on 01-2819878 to let us know. (Photo: Hoopoe by Jimmy Murphy)
Read more about this amazing Hoopoe influx on the BirdWatch Ireland Facebook page
Urban/suburban roof-nesting gulls: are there any near you?
Over the past 30 years, Herring Gulls have fared poorly in Ireland. Populations nesting on cliffs and coastal islands declined by 90% between 1970 and 2000. The reasons behind this are not fully understood, but include a mix of factors such as direct control at the largest Irish colony on Lambay, given its proximity to Dublin Airport and the consequent perceived threat to aviation, mortality due to 'botulism' that is possibly contracted at rubbish dumps and perhaps reduced availability of fish, shellfish and marine invertebrates, i.e., natural food. Since around 1990, small numbers began nesting on roofs in Dublin City and at some eastern and southeastern fishing ports (Howth and Dunmore East) but numbers involved were still relatively low (fewer than 200 pairs) during a census conduced around the year 2000. Since then, numbers appear to have increased dramatically, particularly in the Greater Dublin area, and some have been seen on roofs as far inland as Navan, Co. Meath.

Last summer, a well known senator raised the issue of food-snatching urban gulls, voicing concerns of residents and visitors to Dublin and elsewhere that had lost their ice creams, burgers or sandwiches to "pirate" gulls ("flying rats"). The timing of this incident coincided with an appeal that BirdWatch Ireland had recently launched seeking records of urban-nesting gulls from members of the public.

We had a good response and many new locations were reported, including the roof of the RTÉ television studios in Donnybrook. We are continuing with our survey of urban gulls this year. The birds will be nesting again in the next few weeks, please send us your observations. We would like the following information:

Species: Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull
Number of birds: pairs with nests if possible, but a total number of individuals is also helpful
Location: street and town/city
Type of premises: house, apartments, office, school, hospital, industrial, 'other' (specify if you can)
Location of nests: e.g., between chimneys, on flat roof etc.

Please provide your name, e-mail and phone number if you would like help to identify your gulls. Please send all details to Dr. Stephen Newton, BirdWatch Ireland's Senior Seabird Conservation Officer at
Click here to download our simple roof-nesting gull identification guide (PDF: 262KB)
BirdWatch Ireland, in partnership with the Office of Public Works, has launched a fantastic programme of events at the Phoenix Park in Dublin for 2015. Next up, during the June bank holiday weekend, we will be in attendance at Ireland's premier garden and food festival, Bloom: make sure to drop by our stand in the Grand Pavilion and our outdoor family fun marquee to say hello. Bloom will run this year from Thursday 28th May to Monday 1st June, and all eWings readers can avail of a special €2 discount on tickets when you book online and quote the promotional code BRD15.

On Saturday 6th June we will be hosting a celebration of bird song with a dawn chorus walk in the Park, meeting at the Visitor Centre at 4:00am. On Wednesday 15th July at 1:00pm we will have a Gardening for Birds and Wildlife event in the Park, which will provide great practical tips and advice on how to make your garden more wildlife-friendly. On the evening of Wednesday 26th August (at 6:30pm, to be precise) we will run a special Bird and Butterfly Walk to search for the rare Purple Hairstreak butterfly, which is on the wing at that time of year. For full details of these and other events, please visit the Phoenix Park website or call the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre on 01-6770095.

Have you seen your first Swallow, Swift or Cuckoo of the year yet? Don't forget that we need you to log them via our Spring Alive website. There, you can also learn more about these remarkable global travellers and track their arrival. The project is ideal for children and teachers, and right now people all over Europe and Africa are taking part, so please spread the word far and wide: we need as many records as possible . . . including yours!

One very last thing: with support from Wicklow County Council, BirdWatch Ireland will be holding a Wicklow Uplands Information Day on Friday 24th April at Kippure Estate, Manor Kilbride, Co. Wicklow. Please click here for full details and to find out how you can book your free place.

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.
Please note that BirdWatch Ireland will never pass your personal details on to anyone else.
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