Issue 73, October 2015
Welcome to the October 2015 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
This is the time of year when BirdWatch Ireland is inundated with phone calls and emails from people all asking us the same question: where can I see a Starling murmuration? We completely understand: the autumn and winter spectacle of thousands upon thousands of these small birds whirling in the evening sky like wisps of smoke is one of the most breathtaking sights in nature.

Once a common sight across Ireland, in recent decades these amazing mass gatherings have become much scarcer, often switching locations from year to year. So, in order to keep track of them and to help spread the word, we're asking you to let us know if you see a Starling murmuration anywhere in the country.

The best way to do this, and also to share your photos and videos of the phenomenon, is via the BirdWatch Ireland Facebook page, where we will also keep you informed about where in the country these remarkable little birds are performing best. If you prefer, you can email your sightings to us at or give us a call on 01-2819878.

By the way, in case you're wondering what all the fuss is about, check out this wonderful video of a Starling murmuration on the BirdWatch Ireland YouTube channel. You'll be glad you did!
To view the articles and news in full simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each article summary.
Major EU countries block Juncker's attempt to change nature laws
The EU Birds and Habitats Directives, also known as the Nature Directives, are currently being reviewed within the worrying context of President Juncker's desire to "merge and overhaul" the Directives to make them more "business friendly".

But now 9 EU governments (unfortunately not including Ireland), together representing 63% of the EU's total population, have called for these important nature laws to be left in place. MEPs from 7 of the 8 political groupings in the European Parliament have also now called for the laws to be protected.

Though the battle is far from over, this represents a massive boost for our Save Our Nature campaign and the protection of European wildlife.
Read more about this encouraging development in our campaign to save EU nature laws
Wings - Winter 2015: coming very soon . . . if you're a member
The Winter 2015 issue of Wings, BirdWatch Ireland's quarterly 36-page print magazine, is being posted to all of our members this week. This issue is packed with conservation news, information on our Small Wood Nature Reserve in Co. Galway and the low-down on Limerick's best birdwatching sites. We also have a ground-breaking feature on the origins of Ireland's wintering Purple Sandpipers, our regular wildlife gardening feature, a round-up of your Garden Bird Survey results, readers' letters and lots more besides.

Remember, the only way to get your own copy is to become a BirdWatch Ireland member!
In a sample extract from Wings, Dick Coombes tells us what to watch out for this season
Put an end to the illegal massacre of songbirds in France
LPO, our BirdLife Partner organisation in France, needs your help. Every year, 400,000 migrant songbirds are illegally killed, using very cruel methods, while passing through France. This is against both French and EU law, but the authorities there turn a blind eye. The LPO has prepared a petition which will be presented to President François Hollande, and they hope to exceed 75,000 signatures. Please, add your name to their demand that this barbaric and unacceptable slaughter be stopped.
Please click here to learn more about this massacre and to sign the LPO petition
Superb new range of Hawke binoculars now in stock
Are you looking for an excellent new pair of binoculars? The BirdWatch Ireland now stocks a wider range than ever before, thanks to the addition of an impressive new selection of binoculars from Hawke, including their popular Nature-trek 8x42 model (left), which is outstanding value at just €190, plus P&P. With Christmas fast approaching, they would make an ideal gift for the nature-lover in your life.
Check out the full range of Hawke binoculars available now from BirdWatch Ireland
Africa's vultures are sliding towards extinction, warns BirdLife
Six of Africa's 11 vulture species - the continent's largest and most recognisable birds of prey - are now at a higher risk of extinction, according to the latest assessment of birds carried out by BirdLife International for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.

The main causes of the drop in African vulture populations are thought to be indiscriminate poisonings, where the birds are drawn to poisoned baits, use of vulture body parts in traditional medicine, and deliberate targeting by poachers, as the presence of vultures can alert authorities to illegally killed big game carcasses.

(Photo: Rüppell's Vulture, one of the African vulture species that has now been designated as Critically Endangered. © Andy and Gill Swash -
Read more about African vulture declines and fears of environmental catastrophe
Save Our Nature Campaign: Act Now! Write to Ministers & MEPs
As reported above, our Save Our Nature Campaign has received a major boost, with 9 key EU governments and MEPs from 7 of the 8 political groupings in the European Parliament calling for the protection of EU nature laws. The battle is far from over yet, however, and the campaign to defend against any weakening of the Birds and Habitats Directives has entered a new phase.

After the phenomenal response to our online campaign where 520,325 people in Europe sent their message of support, including 7,694 people in Ireland, we are now focusing our attentions on upcoming meetings in Brussels when our MEPs and Ministers will decide the future of the Directives. The Directives are beginning to work for nature and for sustainable development, and we need to ensure that they remain in place.

Please write to your local MEPs and to our Ministers and ask them to support the Directives as they stand and to call for better implementation. We need you to tell our Ministers and MEPs that the Birds and Habitats Directives help us:

- to protect Ireland's internationally important birds, animals, insects, plants and habitats
- to protect and manage essential natural resources (e.g., fish stocks)
- to ensure that development and planning decisions take impacts on nature into account
Please click here for a full list of the contact details for Ireland's MEPs and the relevant Irish Ministers
It's late October, so I suppose it's not too early to ask - have you bought your Christmas cards yet? BirdWatch Ireland's "Robin in Snow" card might be just what you're looking for: a pack of 10 costs €5.00. Or, you might prefer some of our smaller-sized "Frost and Snow" cards: a mixed pack of 20 cards is exceptional value at just €6.00. Best of all, by buying your cards from BirdWatch Ireland you'll be helping both to support our vital conservation work and to spread the word to your friends and family.

Also, don't forget our new 2016 BirdWatch Ireland Calendar. Featuring superb images from some of Ireland's finest wildlife photographers, it makes the perfect Christmas gift.

Yours sincerely,
Niall Hatch, Development Officer
  BirdWatch Ireland
Unit 20, Block D
Bullford Business Campus
Co. Wicklow
A63 RW83
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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