Issue 89, February 2017
Welcome to the February 2017 issue of eWings, BirdWatch Ireland's email newsletter.
This, the last day in February is the also the last day for legal hedgecutting (unless for road safety concerns) and burning activities until 1st September, as specified under Section 40 of the Wildlife Act.

We have reported here in the past about the Heritage Bill, which was introduced last year by Minister Heather Humphreys of the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. This bill is going to be debated again this Thursday, 2nd March in the Seanad. Please help us stop this proposed legislation which, if passed, will allow burning during March and the "cutting, grubbing and otherwise destroying" of hedgerows during August. The Federation of Irish Beekeepers' Associations has joined the campaign to stop this bill due to the impact on bees. Please visit our webpage to find how you can help and to stand up for biodiversity in Ireland.
To view the articles and news below in full, simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each summary.
Curlew Task Force established by the Irish Government
It cannot have escaped the attention of regular eWings readers that the Curlew, one of Ireland's most iconic wild birds, is in serious trouble here. Survey work has shown that the Irish breeding population has declined by a staggering 97% over the past 40 years. BirdWatch Ireland warmly welcomes, therefore, the recent announcement by Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, that she is establishing a task force to try to bring this remarkable bird back from the brink of extinction in Ireland. (Photo: Curlew by Richard T. Mills)
Read about the new Curlew Task Force and the next steps needed to save this species
Yellowhammer: bird of the year for our Meath Branch
The Meath Branch of BirdWatch Ireland has designated 2017 as its "Year of the Yellowhammer". Co. Meath is one of our most important remaining strongholds for this declining farmland species, so it is a very appropriate choice. The branch has also started a new blog, and for their first post Paul Gallagher has written a lovely piece about why the Yellowhammer is so special to him. The branch is also planning a series of Yellowhammer-themed events in the county during the year.
(Photo: Yellowhammer by John Fox)
Read Paul's post about Yellowhammers on the BirdWatch Ireland Meath Branch blog
Learning about our environment through eagle eyes!
As top predators, birds of prey, or raptors, are important biological indicators for the health of our environment. Their position at the top of the food chain means that they can be affected by a diverse range of environmental issues. This coupled with the fact that raptors command a special interest, particularly with younger audiences, means that they are a perfect conduit to learn about biodiversity and your local environment in a fun and informative way.

BirdWatch Ireland has teamed up with Galway, Clare and Tipperary County Councils, with support from the Heritage Council and LA21 (Galway), to develop a range of education initiatives, including special workbooks (left), for primary schools, aimed at increasing awareness and connection with the local environment through learning about local raptor populations.

Raptor-focused visits to selected schools have also been carried out in Galway and the aim is to develop more practical conservation projects through primary schools which also link with local community groups.
Learn more about our bird of prey work in schools and download our raptor workbooks
Camera nestbox system: available now from BirdWatch Ireland
This is the ideal time of year to put up a nestbox for your garden birds. If you are looking to buy one, we have a great suggestion for you: the GardeNature nestbox camera system. Available now from the BirdWatch Ireland shop, it includes everything you need to observe birds nesting in your garden without causing them any disturbance. The high quality video camera provides clear colour images during the day and black & white images at night. There is also a built-in microphone so you can hear as well as see what is happening inside the box. This system will be delivered fully assembled and tested so all you have to do is position the box, plug it in to your television and start watching!
Buy your camera nestbox system now from BirdWatch Ireland for €129.00, plus P&P
Learn all about Mute Swans in an exclusive extract from Wings
The Mute Swan is one of Ireland's best-loved birds, and features on the cover of the current Spring 2017 issue of Wings (left), BirdWatch Ireland's quarterly 36 page membership magazine. They are familiar to almost everyone in the country, yet how much do we really know about them? Click the link below to find out.

Remember, if you would like to read more features like this, you should get yourself a copy of Wings. The only way to do that is to become a member of BirdWatch Ireland: by joining us, of course, you will also be supporting our vital work to conserve Ireland's birds.
In an exclusive extract from Wings, Brian Burke tells us all about Ireland's Mute Swans
Spring Alive: keep and eye out for migrant birds returning
The weather may still feel rather wintry, but it will not be long before our first spring migrant birds return to Ireland to nest. We need all of you to keep an eye out for your first Swallows, Swifts and Cuckoos of the year, and then 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!
Learn lots more about Spring Alive and migrant birds (and don't forget to add your own observations)
Have you ever wanted to learn how to do a bird survey? If so, you might be interested to know that we will be running a workshop in Ballina, Co. Mayo to train volunteers who wish to participate in one of our long-term bird surveys: the Countryside Bird Survey (CBS) and the Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS).

The main purpose of this session will be to recruit new survey participants, so a certain level of identification skill is required. For CBS you would need to be pretty familiar with songs and calls of a good range of our common and widespread species. Have a look at these two lists below:

- CBS list: (by sight & sound) Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Redpoll, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting, Dunnock, Treecreeper; and by sight only: Merlin and Whinchat.
- I-WeBS list: Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Pochard, Knot, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenland White-fronted Goose.

If you feel confident that you could readily identify the majority of these CBS species or I-WeBS species in the field, then we are sure that you would find the workshop worthwhile.

The workshop will be taking place on Saturday 1st April in Ballina Manor Hotel, Ballina, Co Mayo, running from 10.00 to 15.30. We will explain all you need to know about how to carry out the surveys and give you some practical experience of recording birds and form-filling during a short field trip. Lunch will be provided.

If you would like to attend, please register your interest as soon as possible via this link (please note that our Limerick training day is now full).

We will confirm your place on the session and supply you with directions for the venue and details of what to bring, etc. when you sign up. The training day will be run by Dick Coombes (CBS) and Brian Burke (I-WeBS).

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