Issue 97, October 2017
Welcome to the October 2017 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 are 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 below in full, simply click on the link displayed at the bottom of each summary.
Illegal killing of birds remains a major threat in Europe - new report
Earlier this month the BirdLife Partnership released The Killing 2.0 - A View to a Kill. Led by BirdLife International with input from experts from the region, including BirdWatch Ireland, this report exposes the scale and scope of the illegal killing of birds across critical regions. It is estimated that 0.4 - 2.1 million individual birds per year may be killed illegally in Northern and Central Europe and the Caucasus region - mainly for sport or "pest" control. The report highlights that a more robust system of monitoring is required in Ireland to accurately tackle illegal killing of birds here.
Learn more about the serious problem of illegal bird-killing and download the BirdLife report
BirdWatch Ireland's Irish Birds Calendar 2018
Fans of bird photography will be pleased to learn that BirdWatch Ireland's new 2018 calendar is now available. Featuring stunning shots of some of Ireland's most charismatic birds, taken by some of our finest wildlife photographers, this is a calendar you will be proud to display on your wall. It would also make a perfect present for any nature-lovers in your life. Best of all, all proceeds support our work to conserve Irish birds.
Buy the BirdWatch Ireland Irish Birds Calendar 2018 for just €6.00, plus P&P
Ready or Knot!
The Knot (or Red Knot, as it is also known) is a wading bird that breeds in the far north and migrates south for the winter, with many thousands reaching Ireland. An exciting new study to learn more about the movements of this species is currently underway. This began at sites in north Norway and Iceland, and has recently expanded to include flocks in the Irish Sea. Several thousand birds have been fitted with coloured leg rings and 'flags' (like a ring, but with a piece of plastic sticking out to make it easier to read at a distance), and resightings are already providing vital information on this species. One bird from Liverpool that had moved over to Dublin Bay has already been spotted, and there will undoubtedly be plenty more over the winter. Please do keep an eye out for them at a mudflat or estuary near you.
(Photo: Knot with leg flag by J. van de Kam)
Read more about this study and how to report your sightings on our Dublin Bay Birds blog
This year, get your Christmas cards from BirdWatch Ireland
A wonderful way to support the work of BirdWatch Ireland is to buy your Christmas cards from us and send them to your friends and family. Money raised this way helps to fund our vital conservation efforts, and by sending the cards you are also helping to spread the word about the work we do.

This year's cards come in mixed packs of 4 completely new designs and are available from our BirdWatch Ireland Shop: a pack of 20 cards costs just €6, plus P&P.

(Photo: A diving Kingfisher, one of this year's Christmas card images, by Ita Martin)
Buy your Christmas cards from the BirdWatch Ireland shop today and support our vital work
Is the Yellow-breasted Bunting doomed to be the next Passenger Pigeon?
The Passenger Pigeon was once the most abundant bird in North America, and possibly the entire world. It seemed unthinkable that such a numerous bird could go extinct . . . yet it did. Unchecked hunting and the wanton destruction of its woodland habitats brought it to the brink. The last individual, a female called Martha, died in Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.

BirdLife International is very concerned that another formerly super-abundant species might now be heading down the same path, and for very similar reasons. The Yellow-breasted Bunting was once one of Eurasia's most numerous birds, with a range stretching from Finland right across to China, Japan and the Russian Far East. Like the ill-fated Passenger Pigeon, it migrates in massive flocks, so is trapped in huge numbers for food: it has suffered a shocking decline of 95% over the last two decades. (Photo: male Yellow-breasted Bunting by Sergey Yeliseev)
Learn more about the plight of the Yellow-breasted Bunting and international efforts to save it
International research team confirms sharp decline in insects
Insect numbers are falling rapidly, new research from northwestern Germany has proven, and an urgent shift in European agricultural policy is now needed in order to avert disaster. An international team of researchers from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany confirmed the dramatic findings on insect population decline in northwestern Germany in a study published in online specialist journal PLOS ONE. A clear negative trend can be observed: flying insect biomass has declined by 76 to 81 per cent since the 1990s. This problem not just confined to Germany; it affects much of Europe, with severe consequences for insect-eating birds.

According to the assessment of NABU, BirdWatch Ireland's BirdLife International partner organisation in Germany, a fundamental reform of the EU Common Agriculture Policy is required, as well as much greater focus on research and protection of biodiversity, if "ecological armageddon" is to be avoided.
Learn more about these alarming findings of massive and rapid declines in European insect populations
Eilbhe Donovan is a talented wildlife artist who works from her garden studio in West Cork, overlooking a salt-water marsh which is renowned for waders and seabirds. Much of Eilbhe's work is inspired by birds and is focused on using media traditionally associated with illustration, such as etching, chine collé and ink painting. She will be exhibiting a selection of her nature work at ArtSource 2017, Ireland's premier art fair, at the RDS, Dublin from 10th to 12th November, on Stand A105.

Eilbhe has kindly made 30 entry passes to ArtSource 2017 available for BirdWatch Ireland members, to be given out on a first come, first served basis. If you are interested in obtaining one, please email Eilbhe directly at

See you again next month!

Niall Hatch
Public Relations, Branches & Development Officer

P.S. Would you like to join as a member today and/or make a donation to support our vital conservation work?
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