Issue 77, February 2016
Welcome to the February 2016 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
This issue of eWings comes to you just in advance of the election of a new government. It's a big opportunity to be a voice for nature and ask candidates on your doorstep what they will do to protect Ireland's vulnerable wildlife. Our suggested #DoorstepForNature questions to ask candidates are provided below, and more information behind these questions is provided on this dedicated page on the BirdWatch Ireland website.


Will you work in government to:

- make sure that only truly sustainable farming and fisheries policies are progressed?
- champion the message that a healthy natural environment is good for Ireland?
- ensure adequate is funding provided to protect the natural environment?
- safeguard and implement the laws that protect wildlife?

This issue of eWings has an update on our knowledge of the Merlin, surely one of Ireland's least understood birds of prey. We also have news of a new Greylag Goose ringing scheme in Co. Wicklow, a fantastic example of wildlife-friendly farming in Co. Roscommon and lots more besides.
To view the articles and news in full simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each article summary.
Merlins in Ireland: getting to know our most elusive falcon better
The outlook for birds of prey in Ireland has improved dramatically over the past twenty years. However, one aspect that has changed little is our knowledge of Merlins. The combination of widespread distribution, low population densities in remote areas and secretive breeding behaviour makes them difficult birds to monitor. This has been an obstacle to our understanding of the species, as well as to its effective conservation. Recent research has, however, given us a new understanding of Irish Merlin populations, and this will hopefully help to bring some long-deserved attention to this enigmatic falcon.
(Photo: Merlin by Neil O'Reilly)
John Lusby, our Raptor Conservation Officer tells us more about our smallest falcon
On your marks, get set, goose!
Efforts to discover more about the origins, movements, migration and survival of the flocks of Greylag Geese scattered around Ireland have received a boost, with 14 Greylags in Wicklow the latest to be fitted with individually-coded collars, thanks to the efforts of a team from NPWS, Wicklow Ringing Group, Blessington Gun Club and BirdWatch Ireland. The specially-designed neck collars, made of lightweight plastic, are a safe and effective method of marking geese, with the benefit that the unique codes can be read at long range through a telescope.

We are again appealing for sightings of collared Greylags from all flocks in the country. Please send a note of the colour and code on the collar (usually 3 characters with or without a dividing bar), date seen, location (ideally with a grid reference, if possible) and any other details you have, such as flock size and field type, to (Photo: Greylag B|PC with its new collar, ready for release, courtesy of @goose_guy)
Please click here for more information on our Greylag Goose tracking work
Enrolled in GLAS? Get your bird and bat boxes from BirdWatch Ireland
Calling all farmers and landowners who are involved in GLAS (the national Green, Low-Carbon, Agri-Environment Scheme): if you need to purchase a quantity of approved nesting boxes for birds and roosting boxes for bats, we can help you. BirdWatch Ireland's staff are able to give specialised, tailored advice to help you choose the best boxes for your landholding. We also offer generous discounts for bulk orders and can deliver to anywhere in the country. For more information, please email us or give us a call on 01-2819878
See the full range of bird- and bat-boxes available from the BirdWatch Ireland shop
The life of a BirdWatch Ireland intern
Have you ever wondered what it's like to help BirdWatch Ireland with one of its key conservation projects? Jen Lynch recently finished a six-month stint as an intern working on our Dublin Bay Birds Project, and she recently shared her reflections on what it's like to work at the coalface of conservation on our Dublin Bay Birds blog. If you might be interested in volunteering to help BirdWatch Ireland with its work, you can register here.
(Photo: Jen ringing Arctic Tern chicks in Dublin Port, by Ricky Whelan)
Read about Jen's experience of working as part of our Dublin Bay Birds Project team
View from the Farm Gate: where wildlife and farming go hand-in-hand
Those of you who are BirdWatch Ireland members and therefore receive Wings, our membership magazine, by post will hopefully be familiar with our regular View from the Farm Gate feature. Written by BirdWatch Ireland Senior Conservation Officer Alex Copland, it has quickly become one of the most popular and talked-about sections of the magazine.

Alex's aim is to show that there are many opportunities for wildlife and farming to complement each other, and in each issue he highlights the amazing conservation work carried out by dedicated farmers across the country. In our current Spring 2016 issue, Alex visits Tommy Early (left) on his organic Mountallen Farm in Co. Roscommon.
Read about Tommy's passion for wildlife in this exclusive extract from Wings (PDF: 1.1MB)
Bird Survey Training Days Confirmed (CBS & I-WeBS)
Have you ever thought about taking part in a bird survey? Or do you already participate in one and want to meet others who are involved? BirdWatch Ireland runs two major bird surveys (funded by NPWS) and we are looking for volunteers to help with them.

As mentioned in last month's edition of eWings,there are three free training days being organised around the country:

- 28th February (Sunday) in Radisson Blu Hotel, Ditchley House, Little Island, Cork
- 5th March (Saturday) in Westport Coast Hotel, The Quay, Westport, Co Mayo
- 20th March (Sunday) in Sonairte Eco Centre, The Ninch, Laytown, Co Meath.

Each day will include an indoor session, lunch and a short outdoor field trip to put the theory into practice. Book now to secure your place!
Book your free place on one of BirdWatch Ireland's upcoming survey workshops via this link
Early in 2009, BirdWatch Ireland erected a predator-proof fence around one of our key breeding wader sites in the Shannon Callows, close to our regional office in Banagher, Co. Offaly: Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew and Snipe all breed on site. Over 3.5km long and both fox- and mink-proof, the fence has proved a huge success, with many breeding pairs successfully fledging young.

We are now looking for volunteers to help carry out maintenance work on the fence during March and April, prior to the 2016 breeding season. This is an opportunity to directly help in the conservation of breeding waders in the Shannon Callows, while at the same time meeting like-minded people and obtaining experience in conservation management.

This post will involve manual work outdoors, which will at times be repetitive. Attention to detail is crucial. A good level of fitness is required and candidates must be comfortable working close to water. Boat skills are desirable. Previous experience is not essential, as full training will be given.

For more information, please contact Seán Kelly, our Breeding Wader Management Officer, by calling 057-9151676 or by emailing

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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