Issue 83, August 2016
Welcome to the August 2016 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
BirdWatch Ireland would be nothing without the support of its members. As Ireland's largest conservation charity, we have a special responsibility to ensure that the protection of Ireland's flora and fauna is kept on the agenda, and to work as hard as possible to safeguard the future of Irish biodiversity.

If you are already one of those members, thank you: your support means a great deal to us. Please encourage your friends and family to join as members too.

If you are not yet a BirdWatch Ireland member, we need to persuade you to join us. You get a great deal out of it, including Wings, our membership magazine, in the post each quarter, a great welcome pack and free gift, and the opportunity to attend over 450 free local BirdWatch Ireland Branch events each year, to list but a few.

The real beneficiaries, however, are the birds themselves, as well as other Irish wildlife. We use the money you entrust us with to conserve and protect them, to monitor and safeguard them, and to fight for and defend them. Please, become a BirdWatch Ireland member today and lend them your support.
To view the articles and news in full simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each article summary.
New technology reveals Barn Owl secrets
This summer, BirdWatch Ireland used new light-weight GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) data loggers to track Barn Owls in Ireland for the first time. These have revealed amazing details about their foraging behaviour and insights into previously unknown aspects of their lives, such as precisely which habitats they use or avoid, how they respond to poor weather, how much time they spend in farmyards, and their flight height and speed.

Until now, our knowledge of an individual's movements had been largely confined to the nest site. Nest cameras, nest visits and observations at the nest provide useful information, but once the owls headed off to hunt we were, quite literally, in the dark.
(Photo: Barn Owl by Alex Copland)
Learn more about our findings and see a fascinating video of one Barn Owl's movements
Curlew near extinction in Ireland: Threat Response Plan needed now!
The Curlew is the cover star of the current Autumn 2016 edition of Wings, our quarterly membership magazine, and for very good reason. In this issue, we highlight in no uncertain terms the imminent peril in which this bird finds itself: if action isn't urgently taken by the Irish State to halt the decline of our nesting population, this species will be lost as an Irish breeding bird within 10 years. We are calling on the Irish Government to prepare a Threat Response Plan for this iconic species, and to do it NOW.
Read more, including what YOU can do, in an exclusive extract from Wings (PDF: 859KB)
Hawke Endurance 12-36x50: a fantastic new compact spotting scope
The exceptional new Endurance 50mm spotting scope from Hawke is ultra-compact and lightweight, and with a 50mm objective lens and zoom magnification ranging from 12x-36x is ideal for wildlife-watching in any environment. It is fully waterproof and comes with a stay-on soft cover for maximum protection, a twist-up eyecup and pull-out sunshade.

This past summer, we put this new model through its paces at the tern colony on remote Rockabill Island, with its astonishingly close focusing range, down to just 2.5 metres, proving invaluable for reading Roseate Tern leg rings.

As Brian Burke, one of our Rockabill tern wardens, put it: "The Hawke Endurance 50mm scope is amazingly clear and portable, and has unparalleled close-focus abilities which came in very useful in the often cramped environment of the island. The fact that we were able to use it to read more than 1,000 tern ring numbers with ease really speaks for itself."
Buy the Endurance 12-36x50 spotting scope from BirdWatch Ireland for €450, plus P&P
How colour-rings tell us more about terns' lives away from Ireland
Each summer, BirdWatch Ireland wardens several colonies of terns around the country. Although they breed here, these small seabirds are long-distance migrants which travel the globe, and until now we have had little way to track their fortunes during the 9 months or so each year when they are away from their nesting colonies. An exciting new colour-ringing initiative promises to change all that, however, and, best of all, you can help while you are out birdwatching, both at home and abroad.

(Photo: Little Tern by John Fox)
Dr. Stephen Newton explains more about colour-ringing and what we have learned so far
I-WeBS News: our annual waterbird survey newsletter is out now
The Irish Wetland Bird Survey (or I-WeBS, for short) is the main way by which we monitor the populations of non-breeding waders, waterfowl and other waterbirds across Ireland, as well as the health of the wetland habitats upon which they depend. Managed by BirdWatch Ireland and funded and supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the survey counts are carried out by teams of dedicated counters each month from September to April. The latest issue of our annual I-WeBS News newsletter has just been published and is being posted to our counters this week, but you can download it for free.
Download the latest issue of I-WeBS News and read about this vital survey (PDF: 2MB)
31 days in August: 31 reasons to say "No!" to more slash and burn
As you know from previous editions of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland has been strongly advocating against the changes being proposed by Minister Heather Humphreys to Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976, which would see an extension of the period allowed for hedgecutting and upland burning at times when birds are breeding.

To increase awareness of this threat to our natural heritage, we joined up with the Irish Wildlife Trust, An Taisce and the Hedgelaying Association of Ireland to campaign through the 31 days of August, giving a reason per day as to why these proposed changes would be bad for birds, bad for hedgerows and bad for the environment in general. The goal of the campaign was to raise awareness of the proposed changes, which will be coming before the Seanad again this autumn in advance of another vote, and also to ask people to please sign our petition.

Although this campaign was focused on the cutting, grubbing and removal of hedgerows, that does not mean we have forgotten about upland burning, which is another devastating threat to our upland birds and which we will continue to fight against.

Please visit the BirdWatch Ireland website to see our full list of 31 reasons why our hedgerows deserve much more respect.
Read more about our overall campaign against these proposed changes to the Wildlife Act here
This is your last chance! There are a couple of places remaining on our upcoming From Seabirds to Songbirds birdwatching course at BirdWatch Ireland's Bird Observatory on Cape Clear Island, Co. Cork.

Led by Dick Coombes, this year's course will run from 12th to 16th September and will cost €195 per person. It will offer a fascinating insight into the world of migration, bird identification and the joys of watching seabirds, all delivered with Dick's famous enthusiasm and humour.

For more information and booking details, please visit the Cape Clear Courses section of our website or give us a call on 01-2819878 . . . but hurry!

Just one final thing: some time ago we ran a feature in Wings magazine about The Stranger, a documentary that was being produced about the mysterious life of reclusive wildlife artist Neal MacGregor. For the 8 years preceding his death, Neal lived in isolation in a small stone cottage on Inishbofin island, Co. Donegal. He had little contact with the outside world and the extent of his talent as a wildlife artist only really began to be appreciated after his passing.The Stranger has now been completed and will be broadcast on RTÉ One at 22:15 on 15th September. A slowly unraveling dark tale that reveals a unique and fascinating character, and featuring some superb wildlife art to boot, it is well worth a look.

See you again next month,

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.
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