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BirdWatch Ireland Wicklow


With a talk on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at the Glenview Hotel, the Wicklow branch of BirdWatch Ireland are always keen to ruffle some feathers.

Just not, you know, if the bird is rare, resting or vicious.

We should say that the montly meetings are free, but donations are very much appreciated, to help towards the costs.

Here’s the June 2019 newsletter from honorary branch secretary, Clodagh Duffy…

Like the weather, the fortunes of some of our migrant birds have been mixed so far this Spring. There is concern about the majority of our Swallows arriving around two weeks later than usual and in what appear to be lower numbers compared to their historical average. However, their cousins the Sand Martins, along with Whitethroats, seem to have made it back from their winter grounds in the Sahel, just south of the Sahara, on time and in the usual numbers, according to the BTO’s reporting records for Ireland and Britain on BirdTrack. More analysis will be needed as the summer progresses but in the meantime keep posting your records of Swallows, Sand Martins, Swifts and Cuckoos on SpringAlive.net.

Don’t forget that we also need your Swift records for the Wicklow County Swift Survey that got underway last month and runs through to mid-August. To submit sightings of Swifts, especially if you’ve seen them enter a possible nest site, just go to the Biodiversity Ireland website here – a page where you will find all of the projects they are currently gathering data on including Swifts and, of course, the BirdWatch Ireland breeding Lapwing Project also. You can also submit those sightings using the links on the new BirdWatch Ireland website at birdwatchireland.ie – just click on the Volunteer Surveys button and follow the links. And you can download a PDF copy of the booklet that Ricky and BirdWatch have put together entitled Saving Swifts from that page also. Or you can request a copy of the booklet by contacting Deirdre Burns, Heritage Officer on 040420100 or email dburns@wicklowcoco.ie. If you have any queries just email rwhelan@birdwatchireland.ie.

As I mentioned earlier, BirdWatch Ireland’s new website is up and running at birdwatchireland.ie. One of the features of the new website is the Publications section, where you can view and download current and back issues of the quarterly membership magazine Wings, the junior magazine Bird Detectives and other past publications . . . provided that you are a BirdWatch Ireland member! And speaking of membership, if (like our Chairperson) your membership precedes email, then just call Valerie in BirdWatch HQ on 01 2819878 and give her your email address and she will input it so that you can then get a password and log in as a member. You will then be able to control your own membership account online, keep track of your subscription payments, shop purchases and donations, set up direct debit payments or recurring card payments and even download your own electronic membership card.

We would also like to congratulate the 4 candidates who responded positively to our list of ten actions that Birdwatch Ireland want addressed at local level to tackle the biodiversity and climate change crises. All four got elected to Wicklow Co Council:

Jennifer Whitmore Social Democrat, Greystones
Peir Leonard Independent, Arklow
Lourda Scott Green Party, Greystones
Anne Ferris Labour, Bray East

The County Wicklow Public Participation Network is organising an event entitled Let’s Talk About Climate Change to provide an opportunity for people to find out about the Draft Wicklow County Council Climate Adaptation Strategy and to develop a community submission. The event will be held on Monday 24th June at 7pm in Kilcoole Community Centre. All are welcome. The Draft Strategy is now open for consultation for four weeks. Submissions can made to TOBrien@wicklowcoco.ie until July 7. Hard copies will be available to view at all council offices and in libraries, but to view the Draft Climate Adaptation Strategy online, click on the link below.

Wicklow Climate Adaptation Strategy
Deirdre Burns in the Wicklow Co Co Heritage Office has also published a Programme of Wildlife Events entitled ‘Connecting People + Nature in Wicklow 2019’ that includes a series of monthly events to be held from now until the end of the year at the East Coast Nature Reserve. See the list below or online.

Weekends @ East Coast Nature Reserve
We have teamed up with Birdwatch Ireland’s East Coast Reserve to bring you a monthly programme of weekend events. Immerse yourself in the changing seasons at this important wetland complex. All events are aimed at families and the general public and are free to attend with no need to book. Please bring clothing suitable for the conditions as well as footwear suitable for uneven paths and gentle inclines.

Saturday 15th June: Sounds , Sights & Sunprints of the Woodland – 11am-2pm.
Especially for Crinniu na nÓg, explore the raised boardwalks and woodland rides of the Reserve to find out more about our native tree species and woodland wildlife. Gather natural materials and make Sunprints; by laying natural objects on top of special photographic paper we can capture the moment to make ‘cameraless’ photographs. Wet woodlands such as this were once common along the Murrough Wetlands complex but are now a rarity. Hiking boots or wellies advised, no booking required, suitable for families.

Sunday 14th July: Nocturnal Visitors – Bats & Moths – 9.00-11.00pm 
Join a guided walk of the Reserve to discover bats and moths. Using bat detectors, our site warden and volunteers will reveal a hidden, nocturnal world. We will have a moth sheet set up to exhibit some of the many beautiful species which can be found on the reserve.

Sunday 11th August: Discover the Reserve – Butterfly Walk & Seed Bomb Workshop. 11am-2 pm.
We will head into Blackditch Wood armed with identification guides and recording sheets in search of the butterflies and other wildlife that call the reserve home. After the walk you will have the chance to make your own Seed Bomb filled with Irish wildflowers, brilliant for bees, butterflies, birds, moths and other precious pollinators.

Sunday 8th September Spectacle of Migration – Swifts, Swallows & Martins. 11.00am -1.00pm.
As our summer visitors prepare for the long journey south we will explore the spectacle of migration. After a safari around the reserve looking for summer migrants you will have a chance to make your own paper bird kite.

Sunday 13th October Birds on Feeders – Garden Bird Workshop. 11.00am – 1.00pm.
Learn how to attract birds into your garden this winter ahead of BirdWatch Ireland’s annual Garden Bird Survey. We will be giving bird tips, exploring the reserve and you will have the chance to make your own Apple Feeder and Fruit Hoop Feeder!

Sunday 17th November Winter Migrants – Waterfowl. 11.00am – 1.00pm.
Guided walk in search of winter migrants. The reserve is an important site for wildfowl such as Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, and Black-tailed Godwit.

Sunday 15th December: Festive Wildlife Walk & Wreath Making Workshop. 11.00am – 1.00pm.
Join a festive walk around the reserve, and celebrate the return of the winter migrants. After a short jaunt you will have the chance to make a winter wreath. All materials are sustainably sourced from the site and the wreaths will be ready for the compost heap in the New Year.

The next Branch outing is Saturday June 22nd
Our annual trip to Kilcoole to see how our colony of breeding Little Terns are doing. Meet at railway car park, Kilcoole, at 10am. Darren Ellis from the Branch Committee is a warden with the colony and has sent us this update:

The first nest was discovered on 17th May after which the total quickly grew to 124 nests.

The first Little Tern nest discovered, notice the adornment of grasses and twigs, most likely decorated by the female bird to add a degree of individuality to her nest thereby making it more recognisable to her and the mate. Since then, there have been many ups and downs, with predation weighing heavily on the numbers. We have encountered problems with Rooks infrequently but consistently stealing eggs and very tame foxes visiting the colony in broad daylight.

Vulpes vulpes paying a visit during the morning of the 28th,displaying little or no fear of human presence. An American Mink is in the vicinity which is causing greatest concern especially as we approach hatching dates and to date, hedgehogs are deemed to have caused the greatest losses, with one spotted in the colony last Saturday night after a spate of egg losses on the preceding nights. We also trapped a hedgehog in one of the mink traps and safely escorted the placid beast to a safe distance from the colony. The nest count was down to 57 but is rising once more as birds lay eggs again to compensate for the many losses. There will be further updates on here.

Tuesday 9th July 2019 Ternwatch
With BirdWatch Ireland guides from the viewing area at Coliemore Harbour, Dalkey, Co Dublin, at 6.30pm in conjunction with South Dublin Branch and Tara Adcock, who is the BirdWatch Ireland Tern Warden for Dalkey Island and who you will probably meet at the July Ternwatch event, writes a blog update on the terns that you can read here.

And finally, we resume our talks programme in October with our very own Dr Stephen Newton on the birds of Australia. In the meantime, the birds are at their most active now so it’s a good time to get out and see them before they become ultra-cautious with their chicks in tow and hide in the lush undergrowth that the Summer heat (we hope) inevitably will bring.

You can find out more about BirdWatch Ireland Wicklow right here, or you can email them on info@birdwatchireland.ie. And if you’re interested in taking up birdwatching, here’s a handy to-do list.

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