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ISSN - 1649 - 5705 • SUMMER ‘15


WILD INISHOWEN The amazing wildlife of Ireland’s northernmost peninsula





•Green Hairstreak •Sparrowhawk •Mandarin Duck






Our Ocean - A Shared Resource à r n-AigÊan - Acmhainn Comhroinnte Ireland’s National Agency for Marine Research and Innovation An Ghníomhaireacht Nåisiúnta um Thaighde Mara agus Nuålaíochta


Sustainability by Coillte

We are delighted to announce that we are expanding our range of Leaving Certificate Ecology Studies from the Seashore to incorporate Grassland and Woodland Habitats from the 1st of March 2015 at Terryland Forest Park. STUDENTS WILL BE AIDED BY OUR TRAINED GUIDES THROUGH A RANGE OF ACTIVITIES INCLUDING: • Selecting, mapping and describing their study area. • Using grassland and woodland keys to identify 5 examples of flora. • Carrying out a quantitative study of the flora present. • Carrying out a quantitative worm study within the habitat • Using a range of apparatus such as moisture and ph meters, pooters, and baited traps to measure abiotic factors and identify the range of fauna living in the habitat.


Coillte’s stewardship of Irish landscapes and ancient treasures is invaluable. We preserve and promote our shared natural heritage such as the newly opened Cavan Burren Park. Nature, Biodiversity and Cultural Heritage, delivered by Coillte have a combined Public Goods value of over ₏500 million. Coillte. Trees are just the start of it.

Cherishing the invaluable. Protecting the irreplaceable.

Delivering for everyone.

The Calf House The Cavan Burren – A Prehistoric Park Blacklion, Country Cavan.


Chairperson’s Comment -IZTa[]UUMZQ[QVN]TT[_QVOI[1_ZQ\M\PM[M_WZL[*MM[IZMNZIV\QKITTaJ]bbQVOÆW_MZ[IZM blooming and the fresh, lush green of new vegetation envelops our woodlands and hedgerows. *]\[ILTaITTQ[VW\_MTT)[\PM[UWSMKTMIZ[NZWU\PMÅZM[WN [XZQVOXW[[QJTa\PM_WZ[\QV years, I think we really are at a crossroads in terms of land management for nature in Ireland. I _QTTVW\LQ[K][[\PMÅZM[QVLM\IQTPMZMI[Q\Q[KWUXM\MV\TaKW^MZMLQV\PQ[Q[[]MWN Irish Wildlife, but I would like to ask the question: what is sustainable agriculture in Ireland?

Cover credit: ‘Pink Grasshopper’ by Chris Connelly. (Image awarded first place; Ireland National Award, 2015 Sony World Photography Awards.)

Pass it on. If you’re finished with your Irish Wildlife don’t throw it in the bin. Pass it on to someone who you think may enjoy it – or ask your local library or doctor’s office to leave it in the reception. You’ll help the environment and the IWT while you’re at it. Editor: Pádraic Fogarty, IWT Published by Ashville Media Group

Printed on

All articles © 2015. No part of this publication including the images used may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher. Opinions and comments expressed herein are not necessarily those of the publisher. While every effort has been made to ensure that all information contained in this publication is factual and correct at time of going to press, Ashville Media Group and the Irish Wildlife Trust cannot be held responsible for any inadvertent errors or omissions contained herein.

Please recycle this copy of Irish Wildlife

I guess it depends on who you ask. “Working in harmony with nature,” an organic farmer or an ecologist might say. “Balancing economic needs of the food industry with the protection of the environment,” the agri-food industry might say. In the spring issue, Elaine Dromey criticised the policy of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) in relation to climate change. The IFA have consistently sought to have agriculture exempted from measures to reduce CO emissions. Well, we have given them the opportunity to respond to the criticisms of the previous article (a gesture I would question that they would ever return) and their National Environment and Rural Affairs Chairman, Harold Kingston, has written an article for this edition of the magazine. In it he talks about ‘smart farming’ and how it can reduce emissions yet increase production. I wonder, though, PW_[UIZ\Q[Q\\WJMJI[QVOIVQVL][\ZaWV\PMNW]VLI\QWV[WN WQTIÅVQ\MZM[W]ZKM'<PQ[Q[_PI\ most of our commercial fertilisers are made of. The products that Irish agriculture produces, namely meat and dairy products, require a lot of land and a lot of fertiliser. “But isn’t it better that we do it here than in the rainforest?” I hear you say. Well it is a hard one to argue, but do we really want to turn Ireland into a giant ranch at the cost of losing our own ‘rainforests’ – meadows, bogs and wetlands – to feed the world? We hear VW\PQVOWN XZWL]K\LQ^MZ[QÅKI\QWV*MKI][MVWUI\\MZPW_MNÅKQMV\_MIZM_Q\PK]ZZMV\NIZUQVO XZIK\QKM[QN _MIZM\WZMIKP[WUMWN \PM\IZOM\[]VLMZ.WWL0IZ^M[\UWZMTIVLU][\JM converted into farmland. I have already seen this myself as I drive around the country. I have [MMVPMLOMZW_[OZ]JJMLW]\\WUISMTIZOMÅMTL[TIZOMIZMI[WN _M\TIVLIVL[KZ]JJ]TTLWbMLIVL drained into oblivion. But possibly the worst thing I have witnessed is a farmer ripping up the top of a mountain with a rock breaker to try and turn it into productive farmland. This is absolutely bonkers and an environmental travesty. The annual torching of our uplands is also due to productivity-driven subsidies. Farmers don’t get XIQLNWZPI^QVOIVWIS_WWLWZINMVIVL[W\PMa[M\Q\WVÅZMWZLZIQVQ\\WUISM\PMTIVLMTQOQJTM for the taxpayer subsidy, upon which they depend for a living. Is this ‘smart farming’? Is it ‘smart farming’ to be pushing our climate to a point where farming as we currently practice it may no longer be feasible? Would it not be ‘smarter farming’ to look at products that require less land, less nutrient input and produce less CO emissions? Should we not be showing the world that it is possible to produce food, make a decent living, and protect biodiversity?

Dr Daniel Buckley Chairperson, Irish Wildlife Trust

contriiButors MARTIN GIANNI is Co-founder, Political and Policy Advisor of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC). The DSCC is a coalition of more than 70 non-governmental organisations from across Europe and around the world made up of environmental organisations, fishers’ organisations, and law and policy institutes that are committed to protecting the deep sea. See

HEIDI ACAMPORA is a PhD researcher at GMIT Marine and Freshwater Research Centre. Her research focuses on policy compliant monitoring for marine litter. She has been involved in marine litter research and its impacts on biota in countries such as Australia and Brazil, where she co-founded the Brazilian Marine Litter Association. In Ireland, she is responsible for the Republic of Ireland Beached Bird Survey.

Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15



Contents 4.

ABOUT US Discover more about the work of the IWT and how to get involved.


CONSERVATION NEWS All the latest Irish and international conservation news.


IWT NEWS What we’ve been doing over spring.


EDUCATION Katy Egan examines the explorers of natural navigation.


BRANCH FOCUS The IWT Laois/Offaly Branch Conservation Work Group shares some recent successes.


WILD IDEAS The IFA’s Harold Kingston responds to Elaine Dromey’s criticisms of that organisation in our last issue.


COMPETITION Get your boots on this summer with a chance to win one of a new range of Collins walking guides.


FEATURE – WILD INISHOWEN Lindsay Hodges and Christine Cassidy on the diverse wildlife of our northernmost peninsula.


EXPLORING WILDLIFE Gordon D’Arcy ponders the cruelty in nature.


SUMMER FOCUS Billy Flynn looks at the latest agri-environmental scheme, GLAS, and what it means for our wildlife.


FIELD REPORT Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, on the need to protect the Earth’s deep-water habitats.


OVER TO YOU A selection of letters and photos sent in by Irish Wildlife Trust members.


IWT EVENTS Dates for your diary.


ON LOCATION Heidi Acampora discusses her research into the impact of littering on our oceans.

Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15



About Us The Irish Wildlife Trust was founded in 1979 and aims to conserve wildlife and the habitats it depends on throughout Ireland, while encouraging a greater understanding and appreciation of the natural world.

IMAGES THIS PAGE: ABOVE TOP: Black guillemot (See Feature - Wild Inishowen on pages 18-21); ABOVE: Crab (Eumunida Picta) in thickets of the deep-sea coral species, Lophelia Pertusa. ©Brooke et. al., NOAA OE 2005/Marine Photobank (see Field Report on pages 26-27).

Have comments? Magazine queries, general wildlife questions or observations email: All other queries email: Phone: (01) 860 2839 Snail mail: The Irish Wildlife Trust, Sigmund Business Centre, 93A Lagan Road, Glasnevin, Dublin 11 Web: Social media:

The IWT is dedicated to creating a better future for Ireland’s wildlife through: Motivating and supporting people to take action for wildlife. Education and raising awareness of all aspects of Irish wildlife and conservation issues. Research of the natural environment. Acquiring and managing nature reserves to safeguard species and habitats. Lobbying decision-makers at all levels to promote policy in Ireland that provides a sustainable future for wildlife and people. Working in partnership with other organisations to achieve results that matter for conservation.

Irish Wildlife is published quarterly by the IWT.

The IWT encourages action at a local level and has a number of branches around the country: Cork: Facebook: search for ‘Irish Wildlife Trust – Cork Branch’ Dublin: Rachel, Trust, Waterford: Ray, Cavan: Barry, branch Kerry: Pat, Sign up to their monthly newsletter! Galway: Lenny, Longford/Westmeath: Noreen, Facebook: search for ‘Longford/ Westmeath Irish Wildlife Trust Branch’ 4IWQ[7‫ٺ‬ITa"Ricky,

How can you help? You, our members, make the IWT what it is. Through your subscriptions and support we can undertake the projects that are JMVMÅ\QVO1ZMTIVL¼[_QTLTQNM1NaW]_W]TL like to help more, here’s what you can do: • Make a one-off donation to the IWT. • Give IWT membership as a gift. • Volunteer – we are always looking for people to help out in different ways. There are lots of ways to get involved, from work experience in specialist areas to getting your hands dirty at our sites or helping us increase membership at events. See our website for details or KWV\IK\\PMWNÅKMLQZMK\Ta • Do you have land that you would like

used for conservation? We are always on the lookout to establish new sites to enhance wildlife or provide education opportunities. • Remember us in your will. Why not leave a lasting legacy towards conserving Ireland’s natural heritage? The IWT uses all funds towards our campaigns, managing reserves and our education programmes. Please visit • Set up a branch. Are you passionate about wildlife and are in a county that does not have an IWT branch? Contact \PMWNÅKMIVL_MKIVOQ^MaW]\PM[]XXWZ\ you need to get up and running.

Keep up-to-date on all the latest news from the Irish Wildlife Trust on 4

Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15





Dr Debbi Pedreschi keeps us up-to-date on conservation news from Ireland and around the world. IRISH NEWS

Asian hornet. Photo: Didier Descouens.



POISONED A six-year-old female white-tailed sea eagle was discovered dead at her nesting site in Connemara on April 1st last. The carcass was recovered by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) for post-mortem, which revealed the bird had been poisoned. The eagle had been released in the Killarney National Park in 2009 as part of the Golden Eagle Trust reintroduction programme with NPWS. White-tailed eagle. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan. The female had successfully paired with a male, and was on the verge of laying eggs, which would have been a major boon to conservation efforts. White-tailed sea eagles only reach maturity at around five years of age. Seven pairs laid eggs last year, but only the Mountshannon (Co Clare) pair have successfully fledged chicks to date. Unbelievably, this is the 13th confirmed poisoning of white-tailed sea eagles in Ireland since the project began in 2007. Despite a ban on laying out poison for foxes and crows since 2010, it continues to be a major threat to efforts. To-date, there have been no prosecutions. Meanwhile, the Golden Eagle Trust has put together guidelines for the general public to avoid disturbing nesting sites. The nesting season runs from February to August during which time disturbance can result in nest abandonment. Kayakers, canoeists and other waterway users are urged to maintain a distance of 200m from nest sites and perched eagles, and not to attempt to photograph nests as a license is required for this. Finally, if you do happen upon a nest, please keep the site confidential to help protect these majestic birds.

Hot on the heels of the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s most recent bee identification workshop come reports of an influx of ‘huge killer hornets’ towards Britain due to recent warm weather. These Asian hornets, native to China, are nearly 8cm long, carry a powerful sting, and have caused anaphylactic shock leading to the death of six people in France since their arrival in 2004. Furthermore, these hornets also present a major threat to already vulnerable honey bees upon which they predate. There have not yet been any confirmed sightings within the UK, but a fast response eradication plan has been put in place by the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs in response to fears of an introduction through the movement of caravans and campers during the summer. The Irish Beekeepers’ Association are in talks with the Department of Agriculture about Irish options. Invasive Species Ireland also has an alert out for this species in Ireland as a potential high threat invader. As media coverage increases with scary headlines, wildlife experts are poised for an influx of panicked phone calls relating to mistaken identity, such as the harmless native giant wood wasp.

IRISH RESEARCH PROTECTING INTERNATIONAL WHALES The International Whaling Commission Expert Panel recently reviewed an application by Japan to continue conducting lethal research on whale populations. One element of their so-called ‘research’ involved carrying out a feasibility study ‘to determine whether stable isotope ratios (δ13C and δ15N) may provide information...’ on ‘...populations’ migratory, feeding and reproduction habits with a view to a return to commercial whaling’. Employing stable isotopes as a technique for cetaceans has however already been successfully carried out by Dr. Conor Ryan of IWDG and GMIT and was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Marine Ecology Progress Series back in 2013. Dr. Ryan and his colleagues successfully employed this technique using baleen from stranded and archived fin, humpback and minke whales, without killing any whales, to investigate diet, migratory patterns and ecological niches.

Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15




BADGER-BAITING BARBARIANS Scientists tracking badgers using GPS as part of ongoing TB vaccination trials and investigations have inadvertently highlighted the numbers of badgers being kidnapped for badger baiting. This is a cruel bloodsport in which badgers are first trapped and terrorised in their setts by dogs before being dug out. They are then placed in a ring to be pitted against dogs as people watch for gory ‘entertainment’. These sessions typically result in the death of the badger and, frequently, in injuries to the dogs. Badger baiting is illegal and badgers are a protected species. Baiters often restrain or injure the badger (removing teeth and/or claws, cutting hindleg tendons) to minimise the injury to the dogs and so avoid veterinary visits that may in turn identify the activity through the dogs’ injuries. The badgers being monitored were transferred rapidly over large distances indicating motorised transport before turning up dead.

BASKING IN THE SUNSHINE As the weather has finally taken a turn for the better, our favourite lumbering elasmobranch and the world’s second largest fish, the basking shark, has returned to our waters. The Irish Basking Shark Project is reporting sightings from all along the west coast including Inis Oírr off Galway, Dingle and Rath point in Kerry, and Achill Island off Mayo to name but a few. Remote monitoring of basking sharks through the use of monitoring visual and satellite tags has been carried out in Irish waters by the Irish Basking Shark Project since 2012. One such tag deployed in August 2014 washed up in the

January storms of this year in a remote area of the west of Scotland. A recent midnight adventure by a Justin Grant from the Inverness Kayak Club managed to retrieve this satellite tag against the odds. Cornwall in the UK is the latest area to announce its basking shark tagging efforts, joining the ranks of Scotland, the Isle of Man and, of course, Ireland. To maximise your chances of seeing one of these 5-7 tonne megabeasts from a headland, aim for a calm day after a period of sun that will have allowed a bloom of tasty phytoplankton (tiny microalgae floating in the water column).

Don’t forget to report any sightings to

IMPACTS OF PLASTIC BAG WASTE New research from Dr. Dannielle Senga Green of Trinity College Dublin has highlighted issues associated with plastic bag pollution. Plastic bags have repeatedly been shown to be harmful to birds, reptiles and marine mammals as entanglement and choking hazards, however few have studied the effects on entire communities. Plastic bags can effectively smother the ground, and any organisms living on it, depriving them of sunlight, oxygen and vital nutrients. Of particular interest is that the study tested both standard polyethylene bags and biodegradable bags and found that both bag types reduced the number of organisms present, reduced organic matter, reduced primary production, depleted sediments of oxygen and increased levels of ammonia. Effects were noticed within just nine weeks of the study, indicating that ecosystems and species assemblages are being affected much more rapidly than any meaningful degradation of the plastic itself; the biodegradable bags were rated as completely breaking down within 12 weeks, however this was not seen to occur under intertidal conditions.


Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15



RABBIT REFUGEES? New research has suggested that the lagomorphs (rabbits, hares and pikas) will be particularly hard hit as climatic changes alter their habitat over the coming decades, with species extinctions likely. Currently there are 87 species worldwide, which are of particular interest to humans as major global human food resources, agricultural pests, model lab animals and key elements in food webs. Lagomorphs are found on all continents except Antarctica, in a wide range of conditions. However, 25 per cent are already listed as threatened, with 13 species being endangered or critically endangered. In the study carried out by Queen’s University Belfast, all known records of lagomorph species’ distribution were collated with environmental conditions such as temperature or rainfall to predict suitable habitats within which each can persist. Climate models of projected future conditions were then used to extrapolate how suitable habitats would change. The results, published in the journal PLOS ONE, indicate that two-thirds of all lagomorph species will be affected, with many shifting range, but with others losing suitable habitat and becoming isolated. However, many mountain dwelling pikas will likely have nowhere to run and face extinction. There are alternatives says Katie Leach, lead investigator of the study. Assisted migration is where humans deliberately move species to areas of more suitable conditions; pre-empting future changes is one possible but highly controversial option. However, in order to validate models and build better predictions, Leach highlights that more species records, particularly for rare species and data-deficient geographic regions (such as Russia) are essential to inform future conservation management.

 Lar gibbon, Miami Zoo. Photo:

GIBBON LANGUAGE A recent study in BMC Evolutionary Biology reveals the basics of gibbon language. Dr. Esther Clarke of Durham University decoded the lar gibbon by spending almost four months recording hundreds of what are known as “hoo” calls from gibbons in Thai forests. It was first suspected in the 1940s that these “hoo” calls, which sound like whispers to the human ear, could in fact refer to different things. However, these quieter sounds have received almost no empirical attention. The gibbon sounds were recorded and subjected to computer analysis to find patterns. These were then compared with records of events before the calls to infer associations. The team deciphered calls relating to foraging, predators, meeting the neighbouring gibbons and even romantic duets. An unexpected complexity in the patterns was found, such as using short sounds at frequencies different to predator hearing to avoid detection, such as when a raptor was spotted. Such context-specific communication is thought to have been a major prelude to the development of human speech.

INVASIVE PAPER PROJECT An entrepreneurial artist, Megan Heeres in Detroit, has come up with an idea for transforming invasive species into useful products. The Invasive Paper Project is creating awareness about invasive plant species and their effect on our ecosystem within city confines by harvesting invasives such as common reed, honeysuckle, and garlic mustard and transforming them into paper. However, Heeres places more value on planting the seed of thinking about invasive plant life differently. Whilst acknowledging the need for eradication, she maintains that there is an opportunity to develop new uses and products from these weeds. With no end in sight to invasive introductions, nor the climate-mediated movement of other species, Heeres challenges us to come up with a new perspective to solving the problem, by developing products and uses that can add value, and hence encourage their harvest and/or removal.

Keep up-to-date on all the latest news from the Irish Wildlife Trust on Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15




IRISH WILDLIFE TRUST MAKES SUBMISSION TO THE NATIONAL POLLINATOR PLAN epresentatives of IWT attended the National Pollinator Conference organised by the National Biodiversity Data Centre on February 17th. The conference was an opportunity for relevant stakeholders to comment on the proposed


Irish Wildlife Summer â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;15

National Pollinator Plan, spearheaded by the Data Centre and the Trinity Centre for Biodiversity Research. Interesting lectures were delivered by researchers, beekeepers and farmers. The National Pollinator Plan was launched at the conference and submissions were invited on its content. The IWT is very supportive of the plan and made a submission which included a call for statutory protection

of rare and threatened bee species. The plan is seeking support from all sectors of society, including agriculture, forestry, local authorities and State bodies. There are many practical and cost saving management techniques that landowners can implement that can make a real difference to pollinating insects. The IWT hopes to be a key partner in the implementation of a number of the actions in the plan.



Small tortoiseshell butterfly.


The IWT office has received numerous notices regarding illegal hedgerow cutting. If you spot any illegal cutting please do get in touch with us, as well as your local Garda station and council. To help improve people’s awareness of the importance of hedgerows and roadside verges to Irish wildlife, the IWT has been conducting talks around the country on their value. This summer we will also be piloting a project in South County Dublin, which aims to engage with local authority staff and nominated community groups to assess the biodiversity value of roadside habitats in the area. We hope that the project can be rolled out nationally to positively engage with other local authorities and community groups, to expand the message of the importance of these refuges for wildlife.

EARTH DAY AT APPLE We marked Earth Day this year with a talk and information stand at the Apple Distribution Centre in Cork. Apple invited the IWT as part of their matching gift programme, where charities receive donations for employees engaging in their programmes. This summer we will be running surveys and conservation work parties for Apple and hope that this can be expanded upon in the future.


Wildflowers, such as primroses and cowslips, have become increasingly rare in some areas. As wildflower meadows are being built on, ploughed, and sprayed to encourage more grass to grow, non-native forestry plantations are increasing, land is being zoned for additional housing and new roads, our native plants, animals and habitats have been put under increasing pressure. As these meadows disappear, so too do the many species of butterflies, moths, bees and birds that live there. Pollinators and bees in particular are in serious decline, with 30 per cent of Irish bees threatened with extinction. However, by making a few simple changes in gardens around the country, we can make an important contribution to Ireland’s biodiversity. This summer why not join in with the IWT and create your own ‘mini meadow’ at home to improve your garden for pollinators. All you need to do is leave a patch of unmown lawn and allow grasses, dandelions, daisies and buttercups to grow. These native flora will help attract pollinators and you might be surprised at the range of plants that grow. Once you have a meadow, record the number of plant and insect species it attracts and let us know. We’ll publish the results of the best gardens as part of an IWT certified garden awards scheme. So let’s get growing instead of mowing! For more information on the scheme, including the most common species you might observe, and tips on wildlife gardening, check out our Mini Meadows page on our website: or email:

Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15



GENERAL UPDATE The IWT was also very busy with running events this spring. In addition to our branch events, we started our first set of wildlife talks at St. Enda’s Park in Rathfarnham and held an Easter Nature Trail, which was a great family day out. In May we also took part in National Biodiversity Week, hosting a range of events around the country, including wildflower identification, woodland, lichen and shore walks, bat walks, Natterjack toad searching and finding wildlife in an urban setting.

IWT AND TEAM BROC BADGER UPDATE By Pádraic Fogarty, IWT Campaigns Officer.

Team Broc was established in 2014 as a coalition of environmental groups and concerned individuals united in opposition to the badger cull. Late in that year we had meetings with Department of Agriculture officials and, separately, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). We were given an update of the vaccination programme that is currently underway in counties Monaghan, Longford, Galway, Waterford and Louth. We were told that preliminary results from the longer-running Kilkenny vaccination trials are positive although we will have to wait until later this year before seeing any concrete data. Team Broc members believe that vaccination of badgers is the only long-term solution to the issue but we expressed our concern at the length of time it is taking to see any meaningful transition. Our fears are that culling will continue so that some areas of Ireland will effectively become permanently badger-free, and that there will never be an end to the cull. We heard nothing at this meeting to assuage these concerns. Our subsequent meeting with NPWS was more focused on badger conservation. We were disappointed to hear that although there is an official admission that the Irish badger population is shrinking, the body charged Badger. Photo: M. Brown. with conservation of our wildlife believes the 26-year-old culling programme is ‘sustainable’. This is indeed an odd definition of that word. There was little concern for the fact that badgers are culled throughout the year, including the breeding season, something that, as well as being inhumane, would be a strategy designed to wipe an animal out. We were told that the NPWS is not an animal welfare organisation. This is all very unsatisfactory. The population of badgers in Ireland is believed to be somewhere in the region of 80,000 however we have never had a full survey of badgers in this country. A conservation assessment by the NPWS as being of ‘least concern’ was based on no supporting data whatsoever. Neither have we ever had an independent assessment of the impact that the badger cull is having on the population of this so-called ‘protected’ animal. The IWT and Team Broc are very concerned that the cull has now become uncritically entrenched in official thinking and that this unquestioning atmosphere is doing long-term damage to badger populations. With this in mind we have written to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to remind her of her duties to protect the badger population under the Wildlife Act and to urgently undertake an independent assessment of the impact of the cull. Data released by the Department of Agriculture earlier this year showed that the national incidence of TB in cattle herds stood at 3.64% in 2014, down from 3.88% in 2013 – far from the eradication of the disease that was envisaged when the policy was launched in 1989. Why, it has to be asked, is the disease still so prevalent if the badger cull is as effective as Minister Simon Coveney and his officials continue to claim?

WILD WATCH WEEK - JULY 13th - 19th This year the IWT will also host its ‘Wild Watch Week’ from July 13th – 19th. Check out our website for more information on events.


Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15


WHERE TO NOW AFTER WILDFIRE WIPE OUT? By Pádraic Fogarty, IWT Campaigns Officer.


he issue of wildfires was raised on these pages in our spring issue. Then we called on Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney to deny single farm payments to those found responsible for breaching the Wildlife Act by burning land during the bird nesting season. Our campaign failed to get a reaction from Minister Coveney and April saw some of the worst fires in many years. Mount Leinster, the Galtee Mountains, bogs in Galway and Roscommon all went up in flames. Wicklow Mountains National Park saw a number of fires while over 4,000 acres of Killarney National Park were also destroyed. Ireland has a major problem with annual, uncontrolled burning of open ground that is leading to the massive degradation of habitats and loss of species. What can be done? The IWT believes that denying single farm payments to perpetrators is a necessary penalty for those breaking the law but it will not resolve the long-term issue of habitat degradation in the uplands. So is there a longer-term solution? At the heart of this problem is how our uplands are valued. To-date agricultural policy has been based on only one thing: food production. Land that is not producing food is seen as worthless and farmers are only eligible for direct payments under the Common Agricultural Policy where land is ‘grazable’ and so producing food. This creates an incentive for farmers to destroy scrub or heather habitats in order to qualify for these payments, without which it would not be economic to farm and the land would be abandoned. There must therefore be a recognition that land has values beyond producing food, including for tourism and recreation, water protection, carbon storage and, of course, protecting our wildlife. Strict adherence to market demand has seen unforeseen changes in upland agriculture. Cattle were removed to comply with EU rules while the traditional black-faced sheep

Wildfire damage. Photos: Vivian Philips.

is being replaced by larger, heavier breeds that do greater damage to soft peat soils. In April the IWT attended the meeting of the Uplands Forum which heard of traditional Dexter cattle being used to graze an upland nature reserve on the Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry. These cattle are smaller than their lowland cousins and are hardy enough to put up with the weather. The use of radio tracking devices found that the animals avoided areas of bog, sticking instead to the drier heathland areas. Bogs in particular are not suitable for grazing and have suffered from sheep, which go anywhere and eat anything. The use of cattle, therefore, is very promising from a conservation point of view. The IWT believes that public money needs to be directed towards public goods. Under the current system Irish taxpayers are inadvertently financing habitat destruction and biodiversity loss. Restoring our

uplands needs a range of remedies that recognises the range of uses and demands on these lands. There needs to be a recognition that not everywhere is suitable for farming; in many areas restoring native upland woodlands would enhance the landscape for amenity use, protect water catchments and store carbon. Agricultural subsidies, upon which upland farmers depend for their living, should be linked to what’s best for the environment and allow the use of traditional breeds of livestock at densities that don’t degrade soils. Upland farmers themselves complain that their way of life is being eroded through depopulation and low income. Imagine a system that gets behind farmers to create new income streams and restores their role as stewards of the land. I believe that in this scenario we would not be facing the devastation that we saw this spring.

Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15




Katy Egan introduces us to natural navigation: nature’s hidden signposts.


fundamental skill for survival has been resurrected from the brink of extinction and enlivened by UK explorer Tristan Gooley. Today we have many tools that pretty much do our navigating for us such as sat navs, GPS, Google Maps and even the trusty old paper map and compass, to name but a few. However, it was not always so. The KWUXI[[_I[ÅZ[\QV^MV\MLQV*+QV +PQVIJ]\_I[VW\][MLNWZVI^QOI\QWV until the 11th century. Prior to that, to travel anywhere new, people had to be highly skilled in reading the landscape, understanding its rhythms and processes to ÅVL\PMQZ_Ia)T\PW]OPQ\Q[[INM\W[Ia\PI\ we will probably never have to do without a compass again, the ability to navigate without it brings you a very different experience of a landscape. All of a sudden trees can offer us information relevant to our journey, the wind blowing in our face is not just cold but letting us know we are on the right track and the unobtrusive lichens and mosses are gently reminding us of where we are headed. As a highly experienced expedition leader throughout the world, Gooley is the WVTaTQ^QVOXMZ[WV\WPI^MJW\PÆW_VIVL sailed solo across the Atlantic. Despite these impressive achievements, Gooley feels that through the art of ‘natural navigation’ he


Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15

PI[ÅVITTaNW]VL\PMM[[MVKMWN_PI\LZQ^M[ his passion for exploration. Gooley set up PQ[[KPWWTNWZVI\]ZITVI^QOI\QWVQV  after ten years developing the skill. He has navigated his way across continents without the use of a map, compass, sat nav or any other tools, to within one degree of his goal destination. He describes natural navigation as “the IZ\WNÅVLQVOaW]Z_Ia][QVOVI\]ZM1\ consists mainly of the rare skill of being able to determine direction without the aid of tools or instruments and only by reference to natural clues including the sun, the moon, the stars, the land, the sea, the weather, the XTIV\[IVL\PMIVQUIT[1\Q[IJW]\WJ[MZ^I\QWV IVLLML]K\QWVº1\Q[NIZNZWUXW[[QJTM\W[]U up the depth of knowledge that is needed for natural navigation within a short article; however here are a couple of tips that may help you rethink your next walk. On cut tree trunks where you can observe the rings, you will see that the trunk is not an even circle; in fact it is a highly irregular shape. The rings of the tree will, depending on the tree’s location, generally have grown more outwards in one direction than another. The heart of the tree is often found closer to the southern side of the trunk in cross-section. Another good tip is the moss myth. Everyone has potentially heard the old saying that moss

always grows on the northern side of a tree. Although moss can be found on the northern side of a tree, it can also be found on the southern, eastern and western sides; in fact moss will grow anywhere with conditions that are suitable to its growth. Moss likes a damp, moist environment that will not dry out; this is more often found on northern fronts as light exposure can dry out the southern side more. However, this is highly unreliable, especially QV1ZMTIVL_PMZMQ\Q[LIUXXZM\\aU]KPITTWN the time, giving moss plenty of places to grow. Natural navigation is all about observing patterns of environmental growth and behaviour resulting from various conditions that are associated with direction. Finally, as the summer months are ahead of us, on a clear day when you can see the sun, if you know the time, you can determine direction I[\PM[]VZQ[M[QV\PMVWZ\PMI[\IVLI\XU it is in the north and sets in the north west. Natural navigation is a great topic through which you can engage students in the natural world and help them develop important skills. 1\[PW]TLJMVW\ML\PI\IT\PW]OP/WWTMaLWM[ not use tools to guide his navigation, this does not mean he travels without them. You should always be prepared for the worst for any trip, from a short hike in the Dublin 5W]V\IQV[\WaW]ZÅZ[\[WTW\ZMSITWVO6M_ Zealand’s wild mountain ranges!


Tackling the Big Issues

 Family Tree Planting - David and Rory Morris Keane.

The IWT Laois/Offaly Branch Conservation Work Group shares some recent successes.


he Laois/Offaly Branch has been working hard throughout the autumn and winter months. Last September, branch secretary Brian Gaynor TML\PMĂ&#x2026;Z[\WN\PMUWV\PTaKWV[MZ^I\QWV work groups to Abbeyleix Bog. During the VM`\NM_UWV\P[OZW]X[WN^WT]V\MMZ[NZWU 4IWQ[7NNITaIVLN]Z\PMZIĂ&#x2026;MTL^Q[Q\ML[Q\M[ in an effort to help make some habitat and _QTLTQNMQUXZW^MUMV\[4W\[WNUWLMZV KWV[MZ^I\QWVQ[[]M[_MZM\IKSTMLNZWU QV^I[Q^M[XMKQM[KTMIZIVKM\WVI\Q^M_WWLTIVL XTIV\QVOIVLVI\]ZMZM[MZ^MKZMI\QWV)TT ^WT]V\MMZ[IZM\PMZM\WPMTXUISMIXW[Q\Q^M KPIVOMNWZW]ZVI\Q^MĂ&#x2020;WZIIVLNI]VIUMM\ TQSMUQVLMLXMWXTMIVLWNKW]Z[MPI^MI cup of tea (and biscuits if theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re lucky). The branch is delighted with the success \WLI\MIVLPWXM[\WOIQVM^MVUWZM momentum next year. The key to success IVLIKPQM^QVO\IZOM\[PI[JMMV\W\MIU]X and coordinate our efforts with other groups. 7^MZ\PM_QV\MZXMZQWL\PMJZIVKP_WZSML _Q\P^WT]V\MMZ[NZWU/ZW]VL_WZS*I\ +WV[MZ^I\QWV1ZMTIVL)JJMaTMQ`*WO8ZWRMK\

5MVÂź[;PML*QZL_I\KP1ZMTIVL+WV[MZ^I\QWV >WT]V\MMZ[1ZMTIVL<QLa<W_V[<PM:WKS /))5W]V\UMTTQKS-V^QZWVUMV\/ZW]X and local gun clubs and angling associations. 7VMWNW]ZNI^W]ZQ\MXZWRMK\[\PQ[aMIZ _I[IVI\Q^M_WWLTIVLKZMI\QWVXZWRMK\QV XIZ\VMZ[PQX_Q\P<PM:WKS/))+T]J<PM KT]JOZW]VL[_PQKPIZMTWKI\MLR][\W]\[QLM the town of Mountmellick and bordered Ja\PMZQ^MZ<ZQWO]MIZM^MZaM`XW[ML\W the incoming winds being surrounded by NIZUTIVLIVL[Q\\QVOWV\PMZQ^MZÂź[Ă&#x2020;WWLXTIQV <PM:WKS/))+T]J_I[SMMVWV\PMXZWRMK\ NZWU\PMOM\OW_Q\P\PMVM_\ZMM[XZW^QLQVO shelter belts for the playing pitches and making good use of the unused parts of the club grounds. This, combined with new bird JW`M[X]\]XI[XIZ\WN\PMXZWRMK\PI[PMTXML KZMI\M^IT]IJTMVM__QTLTQNMPIJQ\I\[.WZ][ it was a great opportunity to work with an established sports club, demonstrating what KIVJMLWVM\WQUXZW^M[XWZ\[OZW]VL[NWZ wildlife without affecting their primary use. The club prepared the site beforehand and we were then able to plant nearly 1,000

VI\Q^M\ZMM[IZW]VL\PMOZW]VL[W^MZWVM weekend. Because of the siteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tendency to Ă&#x2020;WWL\WTMZIV\[XMKQM[[]KPI[ITLMZ_QTTW_ IVLJQZKP_MZM[MTMK\ML1\\WWS\PM_WZS group two days to get the trees planted with great help coming from the clubâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s older UMUJMZ[WV\PMĂ&#x2026;Z[\LIa7V\PM[MKWVLLIa Q\_I[\PM\]ZVWN\PMaW]VOMZ^WT]V\MMZ[[]KP as the clubâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s under-age teams and their parents, local schools and our own branch *ILOMZ+T]JSQL[KT]J?MQV^Q\ML\PMTWKIT school, distributed posters in the town and KZMI\MLI.IKMJWWSM^MV\\WIL^MZ\Q[M\PM Âť.IUQTa<ZMM8TIV\QVO,IaÂź1\_I[IOTWZQW][ []VVaLIaIVL_MPILW^MZNIUQTQM[ \W\ITTQVO_MTTW^MZNWZ\PMM^MV\<PMSQL[ got an introduction to woodland animals and the importance of trees as well as the opportunity to plant as many trees as they _IV\ML<PMXZWRMK\IVL\ZMMXTIV\QVOM^MV\ _I[^MZa_MTTZMKMQ^MLIVL_MPI^M[QVKMPIL a big uptake on our Badger Club and branch M^MV\[.QVITTa_M_W]TLTQSM\W\PIVS+WQTT\M NWZITT\PMQZPMTXQVUISQVO\PQ[XZWRMK\I success.

The conservation work group is active between September and April. For more information or to join the activities, please email:

Irish Wildlife Summer â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;15



THE GLOBAL CLIMATE CHALLENGE Harold Kingston, Irish Farmers’ Association National Environment & Rural Affairs Chairman, on how addressing the global climate challenge is not just about cutting emissions.


Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15



laine Dromey’s anger in the most recent edition of Irish Wildlife appears to blind her to some very important elements in the debate around climate change. What has annoyed her most is my attendance at an Oireachtas debate that discussed climate change. As a representative WNNIZUMZ[1ÅVLQ\I[\WVQ[PQVO\PI\UaXZM[MVKM would be objected to in this manner. It is precisely because we have a concern about future food security that the IFA engages in this debate. It is unfortunate that she has taken up a position that ignores our sustainable model of food production. It is equally regrettable that she refuses to acknowledge the efforts our organisation has made through our Smart Farming initiative to mitigate the impact of farming on the environment.

AGRICULTURE WILL PLAY ITS PART IN CONTRIBUTING TO FURTHER REDUCTIONS IN GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS. Sustainability Ireland is a world leader in sustainable production, measuring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions throughout the supply chain, whether inside the farm gate or at processor level. No other country can look at its agri-food sector and refer to initiatives such as Origin Green, the quality beef assurance scheme, Smart Farming or the sustainable dairy assurance scheme and say ‘We are environmentally sustainable at what we XZWL]KMIVLQ\Q[QVLMXMVLMV\Ta^MZQÅML¼<PM[M initiatives are valuable for maintaining existing markets and securing new ones. However, sustainability must also deliver an increased economic return to the farmer. Agriculture will play its part in contributing to further reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. <PMKIZJWV[MY]M[\ZI\QWVXW\MV\QITWNIOZQK]T\]ZIT soils, forestry and bioenergy needs to be Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15



Agricultural land in Co. Wexford

THE WORLD’S POPULATION IS EXPECTED TO EXCEED NINE BILLION BY 2050. AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION MUST THEREFORE INCREASE BY AN ESTIMATED 70 PER CENT, ACCORDING TO THE UN FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANISATION. recognised when looking at greenhouse gas emissions from the sector. Internationally, the mitigation potential of agricultural soils is between one and four billion tonnes of CO2/year. =VIKPQM^IJTMJQVLQVO[MK\WZ[XMKQÅK\IZOM\[IZM]V_WZSIJTMI\IV international or national level. This is a point well recognised by the Irish Government in the draft climate legislation being debated in Dáil Éireann. It was also successfully advocated at EU level by Ireland last October, when the heads of government agreed a climate text, concluding that agriculture has many roles including food, energy and fuel production, as well as environmental protection.

The Challenges Ahead The next round of climate talks in advance of the international summit in Paris at the end of the year will take place in Bonn in June. A different approach for agriculture that recognises food security, sustainable development of the sector and carbon sinks will have to be developed if there is to be a successful outcome to the Paris summit. The IFA recently participated in an international climate conference in France and called for a new approach to address the climate challenge, which puts food security and sustainable QV\MV[QÅKI\QWVI\\PMKMV\ZMWNN]\]ZMKTQUI\MXWTQKa The world’s population is expected to exceed nine billion by 2050. Agricultural production must therefore increase by an estimated 70 per cent, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. This fact cannot be ignored at a time when the international community is also seeking to halve global emissions over the same period. A demand for the agriculture sector to achieve such emission reductions at the same time as growing output is not feasible. France will host the UN international climate talks in Paris this December, which will seek to identify a global plan to address 16

Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15

this challenge over the next decade. Based on comments made by the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, at the conference, agriculture seems to be starting in a good place. While acknowledging the intimate link between agriculture and climate, he said that agriculture’s response must evolve towards sustainable production and better management of resources. A number of recommendations were put forward at the conference to build on this and lead to a more sustainable future for farmers, foresters and the world’s population. Most importantly, there is a need to differentiate agriculture from other sectors when it comes to greenhouse gas emission reductions. This is a point that was broadly ignored in previous international talks and past mistakes must not be repeated. The majority of emissions from agriculture differ from other sectors such as industry and transport; the gases are naturally occurring and result from the primary aim of addressing the global food security challenge. Agriculture, climate change and food security are all interlinked. The overall approach to the agriculture sector must recognise these multiple challenges. IFA is lobbying in Europe and internationally to ensure that the international talks in Paris build on recent EU heads of government agreements and deliver a fair and balanced agreement for agriculture in December.

The IWT invited Harold to respond to Elaine Dromey’s article that appeared in the last Wild Ideas column. While we don’t necessarily agree with the contents of this piece, we are anxious to improve communication with farmers’ organisations and hear their side of the story.

n o i t i t e p Com


The IWT and Collins Press want you to get your walking boots on this summer! To celebrate the slew of new walking guides we have one each to give away to our lucky competition winners. So, whether you live in one of these beautiful areas or are planning on taking an energetic weekend break, now you have no excuse not to enjoy the best of the Irish outdoors. There are five new guides in total:

1 Killarney to Valentia Island – The Iveragh Peninsula by Adrian Hendroff 2 East of Ireland Walks – On River and Canal by Lenny Antonelli 3 The Dingle Peninsula by Adrian Hendroff 4 The Beara & Sheep’s Head Peninsulas by Adrian Hendroff 5 The Kerry Way by Donal Nolan These walking guides are part of the growing range published by The Collins Press, which includes Connemara & Mayo by Paul Phelan, Dublin & Wicklow by Helen Fairbairn and Pilgrim Paths in Ireland by John G. O’Dwyer. Each guide in the series has full colour photos and maps. Routes are graded from 1 (easy) to 5 (difficult), meaning there’s a route for walkers of every ability. Each route is prefaced with a reference summary and descriptions include GPS coordinates, navigation guidance, access notes and short variations. There is also material on the fauna, flora, folklore, history, geology and placenames of each area. To win one of these items please answer the following question:

Which northern peninsula is celebrated for its rich diversity of wildlife in the current issue of Irish Wildlife? Send your answer, name and address, along with the preferred title to by August 1st.

Spring ’15 Winners: In our spring issue we gave our readers a chance to win an item from our range of IWT branded clothing, available from our online shop ( The question we asked was: What group of animal is currently being mapped for an atlas which will be published in 2016? The answer was ‘mammals’. The winners are: Damian McCarthy from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath (fleece); Stephen McArdle from Greystones in Co. Wicklow (not-guilty tee-shirt); and Mary O’Brien Gargan from Buttevant in Co. Cork (total boar tee-shirt). Congratulations to you all and thanks to all who entered!

Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15




Wildlife and People By Lindsay Hodges and Christine Cassidy.


Irish Wildlife Summer â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;15


Sea pink growing at Moville, looking across Lough Foyle. Photo: Christine Cassidy.


he majestic peninsula of Inishowen, Co. Donegal is a wonderland for wildlife and one of the most special landscapes in Ireland. It is a place of colour and contrasts, rugged scenery and rolling mountains, crashing waves and sea-crafted QVTM\[WNJQZL[IVLWNJ]\\MZÆQM[IVL_Q\P _QTLÆW_MZ[OZIKQVOM^MZa[\MXWN\PM_Ia Inishowen includes the most northerly point in Ireland, at Malin Head, and is quite unique in its variety of landscapes. From the wildlife-rich waters of Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly, to the wetland areas at Inch Levels and Blanket Nook, to the beautiful beaches that include Culdaff, Five Finger Strand, Kinnego Bay, the striking wild landscapes around the Isle of Doagh, the breathtaking scenery around Banba’s Crown, IVL\PMUIOVQÅKMV\L]VM[a[\MU[I\4IOO Inishowen offers something for everyone. It is a place to discover and rediscover with joy and delight every single time. It is a landscape where clifftops bloom with _QTLÆW_MZ[[]KPI[[MIKIUXQWVIVL[MI XQVSÅMTL[WNOWTLZQKPQVÆIOQZQ[_PMZM \PM[QUXTM[\JWOKW\\WVÆW]ZQ[PM[ITWVO[QLM

myriad orchids, with banksides and dunes full of sheep’s-bit scabious, devil’s-bit scabious, birds-foot trefoil, clover, Lady’s bedstraw and kidney vetch, to name but a few naturally growing species.

WILDLIFE HAVEN Inishowen is legendary as a haven for migrant birds. In winter, this sees the amazing spectacle of thousands of barnacle geese gracing the shores and ÅMTL[IZW]VL5ITQV0MIL)VL1VKP Levels is world famous for whooper swans returning year after year to winter \PMZM\WOM\PMZ_Q\P[QOVQÅKIV\V]UJMZ[ of greylag geese. Other special visitors include the snow bunting and cuckoo. In spring, we welcome the wheatears and [_ITTW_[_QVOQVOQVNZWU)NZQKI)VLI\ any time of year, Inishowen is a treasure trove of birdlife, with choughs and birds of prey in abundance, and songbirds singing in every hedgerow. Inishowen truly comes into its own _PMVQ\KWUM[\WJ]\\MZÆQM[<PML]VM[ and meadowlands make perfect habitats NWZIP]OM^IZQM\aWNJ]\\MZÆQM[QVKT]LQVO common blues, dark green fritillaries,

ringlets, meadow browns, silver-washed fritillaries, green hairstreaks and marsh NZQ\QTTIZQM[6W\\WUMV\QWVLZIOWVÆQM[ LIU[MTÆQM[IVLQV[MK\[WNUIVa[XMKQM[

PRESERVATION <WKMTMJZI\MKWV[MZ^M[PW_KI[MIVLXZW\MK\ this extraordinary wildlife haven, the Wild 1VQ[PW_MVOZW]X_I[[M\]X<PMOZW]XPI[ wide experience accumulated over many years involving all aspects of wildlife. It’s a major contributor to wildlife surveys, bird of prey projects, winter bird counts, and cross-border wildlife collaborations. Giving educational talks and presentations and providing practical measures to preserve habitats are just some examples of the work the group has carried out. )VM_.IKMJWWS[Q\MNWZ\PM?QTL Inishowen group was launched in June 2014 to showcase the wildlife of Inishowen and it is dedicated to the protection of this amazing and diverse landscape, which the group holds in trust for future generations. Wild Inishowen records the wildlife that lives or passes through the area and shares the information with national data centre ZMKWZLQVOOZW]X[)TTUMUJMZ[WN\PMOZW]X Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15



play an important part in Wild Inishowen’s aims of education, preservation and protection of the wildlife, landscape and history of Inishowen.

ABLE BODIES The Wild Inishowen group is led and chaired by Dermot McLaughlin. Dermot has a long and distinguished involvement with nature conservation. He has much experience working with conservation and public organisations. Strongly involved with the community sector, he is currently a member of County Community Forum, a director of Donegal Citizens Information Service, and the Board of Dunree Military Museum. He provides the Wild Inishowen group with focus and direction, looking always at the beauty of the landscape and its wildlife and how this can best be promoted to residents and tourists alike. He is a strong advocate of conservation and no one knows the history of Inishowen more than him. He contributes regularly to Inishowen newspapers on all wildlife matters and recently gave a presentation on the history and development of Inch Levels, which received a standing ovation from a packed audience. He is regarded by his colleagues, peers and the wildlife community as the leading expert on the wildlife of Inishowen, ably supported and assisted by other key members of the group, with their wide range of expertise and experience. Terry Tedstone is a key member of Wild Inishowen and works as a guide at Fort Dunree. Terry’s expert knowledge of the Inishowen area and his passion for wildlife combine to make him a fantastic guide, doing what he loves best, and he shares his knowledge with everyone from far and wide. He is able to outline the tremendous opportunities in Inishowen for wildlife watching, from dolphins, otters and seals in Lough Swilly, to fulmars, gulls, chough and ravens nesting along the cliffs. Other bird species, including guillemots and oystercatchers are also to be found along the coast and simply add to the stunning variety of birdlife that have made this glorious landscape their home. Terry has participated in many wildlife surveys, reports and updates WVJ]\\MZÆa[XMKQM[IVLKWV\ZQJ]\M[\W ,ZIOWVÆa1ZMTIVL[]Z^Ma[ /MWZOM5K,MZUW\\Q[IJ]\\MZÆaIVLUW\P enthusiast and a very active member of the group. George is an extremely popular and PQOPTaZM[XMK\MLÅO]ZMQV*]VKZIVIIVL beyond, and his expert knowledge always makes him highly sought after for help and information. George acts as coordinator for 20

Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15

ZMKWZLQVOITTJ]\\MZÆaIVLUW\P[QOP\QVO[ for the Wild Inishowen group, also passing on records to national organisations, thus building up an excellent database at local and national level. His work is absolutely essential in monitoring populations of both species of Lepidoptera. George has a background in horticulture and specialises in the landscaping of public spaces. With a very keen interest in wildlife gardening, George is a strong advocate of planting native trees and plants that provide a rich resource for birds and insects. Colm Grant is the group’s gardening expert. He is a key member of Wild

Red squirrel. Photo: Christine Cassidy.

Inishowen and his expertise on gardens – both as an active gardener and through his M`\MV[Q^MSVW_TMLOMWNÆWZIIVLNI]VI·Q[ second to none. From his lifetime of living and working in Inishowen, he has always seen the variety and the potential of the land he loves so much. He knows that the whole Inishowen area contains amazing beaches, woodlands, bogs and hills, all waiting to be enjoyed and explored. Yet there is always [WUM\PQVOMT[M\WÅVLI[VM__ITS[IZM being opened up all the time. Colm believes everyone should explore and walk in Inishowen’s wild spaces and discover nature for themselves, where the environment is


 Green hairstreak. Common seal.

Photos by: Christine Cassidy.

accessible, safe, fascinating, free and simply teeming with life. Christine Cassidy is a very wellknown and highly regarded wildlife photographer from Derry and is club secretary of Wild Inishowen. Christine is highly sought after as a photographer and many of her wildlife images have been published in the top birdwatching and wildlife magazines of Ireland and the UK. She has also featured in many articles and news stories for her exceptional sightings and photographs. Christine is one of the driving forces behind Wild Inishowen and wholly instrumental in setting up and administering its new Facebook page, in addition to helping organise the group’s involvement in many wildlife

IT IS A LANDSCAPE WHERE CLIFFTOPS BLOOM WITH WILDFLOWERS SUCH AS SEA CAMPION AND SEA PINK, FIELDS OF GOLD RICH IN FLAG IRIS, WHERE THE SIMPLEST BOG-COTTON FLOURISHES ALONGSIDE MYRIAD ORCHIDS. and nature events. Not only does Christine excel in her wildlife photography and her passion for nature, but her commitment to Wild Inishowen is second to none. Without her ideas, imagination and ability, the Wild Inishowen Facebook page would not have achieved its amazing success to date. Wild Inishowen was inspired by the late Danny McLaughlin, known to everyone from near and far as ‘Mr Inishowen’, for his outstanding knowledge of his environment and his passion for the special wildlife of this UIOQKITTIVL[KIXM)ÅZUJMTQM^MZQVIT_Ia[ doing something positive, he advocated setting up a local group to work and conserve wildlife and habitats, and as a result he was the founding member of Wild Inishowen. Over the years he was involved in all the group’s activities, from surveys to bird counts IVLÅMTL\ZQX[IVL_I[P]OMTaQVÆ]MV\QITQV guiding Wild Inishowen forward in the most progressive fashion, with care for wildlife and integrity his watchwords. His recent passing

was a source of tremendous sadness, but he left us with a wonderful legacy of knowledge and inspiration and his presence will always be felt by everyone in the group in all we see IVLLWIVLM[XMKQITTaQVM^MZa_QTLÆW_MZ along the length and breadth of the peninsula he loved so much. Inishowen is a diverse and ecologically special place, with something for everyone to discover time and again. To come to Inishowen is to start a journey that will last the whole of your life, for you will want to keep returning to see all the rich diversity of wildlife, scenery and history that the peninsula has to offer. The Wild Inishowen group are there to provide information, education and all the expertise and help you could possibly need on how to make the most of your time in this wonderful and unforgettable place. For more information, visit Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15



CRUEL NATURE? Gordon D’Arcy ponders the subject of cruelty in nature.

ennyson’s unsentimental comment about nature – ‘red in tooth in claw’ – is MVLWZ[ML[KQMV\QÅKITTaQV\PM functioning of the food chain. It is explained in the context of survival and in the general understanding that predators only kill to eat. Humanity (as distinct from nature) is often (rightly) KZQ\QKQ[MLNWZJMQVOXZWÆQOI\MIVLKZ]MT· killing whether for eating or not. I was, however, recently reminded of the unreliability of such a distinction and PW_QTTLMÅVMLVI\]ZM¼[TI_[IK\]ITTaIZM For about ten minutes I watched a merlin harassing a skylark, apparently for fun. The raptor repeatedly swooped on the smaller bird without actually making contact or attempting to kill it. The lark, though clearly intent on escaping the predator’s attention, chirped intermittently as though, bizarrely, engaging in the exercise. I have seen peregrines behaving like the merlin. On one occasion I watched as a falcon repeatedly stooped at great speed on a golden plover [MXIZI\MLNZWU\PMÆWKS)OIQV\PMZM_I[VW attempt to kill the plover despite the falcon’s capability to do so. It seemed to be simply engaged in a game. Eventually, apparently losing interest, it allowed the plover to return \W\PM[INM\aWN\PMÆWKS



Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15

Cats are notorious for their propensity to taunt and kill for fun. They will play, catching and releasing a mouse or a shrew until, bored with the game, administering the ‘coup de grace’ or slink away to other entertainments. <PMJQOKI\[WN)NZQKI_QTTZW]\QVMTaKIX\]ZM a baby springbok or gazelle, having killed their mother. The hapless fawn will be used as a living lure for training their young in the subtleties of catch and kill. This may have an important function in honing predatory skills J]\Q\Q[LQNÅK]T\\W_I\KPM^MVWV<>?M see similar behaviour in the water polo games played by orcas with a young seal as the ball.

HUMANITY AND VIOLENCE The concept of cruelty to animals occupies a recent chapter in the story of human ethics. Books such as Homo Tyrannicus>MZVMa8 1979) are replete with examples of, by present day standards, gross cruelty against animals. ?MVMMLVW\OWJIKSI[NIZI[\PM:WUIV[ who were notorious for displays of gratuitous violence against both humans and animals. King James I and his henchmen entertained themselves by pitting predators – bears, big cats, wolves, dogs etc. – against one another in the Tower of London as recently as the early 17th century. Such ‘recreation’ was in fact commonplace among European nobles in the early modern period. Commoners

were meanwhile entertained by cock ÅOP\QVOIVLJILOMZJIQ\QVO )XMZKMX\QJTMKPIVOMQVI\\Q\]LMMUMZOML during the Enlightenment. Though cruelty continued (as indeed it does today), the indiscriminate slaughter of wildlife was, with the perceptible diminishment and extermination of species, now being KPITTMVOML)OZMI\MZIXXZMKQI\QWVWN songbirds and benign wildlife was being indirectly promoted by the romantic poets and proto-conservationists. The voices of opposition were not loud enough, however, to suppress the onslaught against the whale


Magpies by Mike Brown.

and the wolf. It was an Irish member of parliament, Richard Martin, who despite ridicule from his peers in the House of Commons, introduced an Act for the humane treatment of cattle in 1822 and along with a small group of supporters established the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in 1824. So involved with the cause of animal protection did he become that he was known in his lifetime as ‘Humanity Dick’. His pioneering legislation has subsequently been replicated throughout the world. Continuing agitation by anti-cruelty groups has seen

[QOVQÅKIV\[\MX[NWZ_IZLQVZMKMV\\QUM[ with the push to outlaw whale hunting for »[KQMV\QÅK¼X]ZXW[M[VM_Z]TM[OW^MZVQVONW` hunting and hare coursing, and the phasing W]\WNJ]TTÅOP\QVOQV+I\ITWVQIIUWVO \PMUW[\X]JTQKQ[MLM`IUXTM[WN\PMVM_ awareness. Vivisection of captive animals to determine the viability or otherwise of drugs and treatments for human ailments remains contentious and continues to be vociferously opposed. While humanity has undoubtedly JMVMÅ\MLNZWU\PMXW[Q\Q^MW]\KWUM[IV\Q ^Q^Q[MK\QWVQ[\[IZO]M\PI\\PMJMVMÅ\[PI^M been achieved by unethical and inhumane

means and are intrinsically cruel. The recently devised Earth Charter, an ethical code for the modern world, though silent on the issue of vivisection, promotes a more compassionate relationship with the natural world and its citizens. One of its early endeavours – to equip young people in Syria to become ecocitizens, in 16 schools in Aleppo – has, however, come to naught in \PMUIaPMUWN\PMKWVÆQK\\PI\PI[ZML]KML that city to rubble; a sad irony indeed. Here, man’s inhumanity to man has thwarted the potential of environmental education to act as a catalyst for peace. How cruel is that? Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15



NEXT IN LINE Billy Flynn looks at the latest incarnation of agri-environmental schemes, GLAS.

 Barn owl.


et ready to hear the word â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;GLASâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; a lot in the near future. Last April the EU Commission sent a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;letter of comfortâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that will Ã&#x2026;VITTaITTW_\PMU\WIK\Q^I\M\PMWVTQVM[a[\MU and submit the many thousands of applications NWZQVKT][QWVQV\PMVM_IOZQMV^QZWVUMV\[KPMUM<PMVIUM/4); ·\PM1ZQ[PNWZOZMMVWNKW]Z[M·LMZQ^M[NZWU\PMQ\[N]TT\Q\TM"/ZMMV 4W_+IZJWV)OZQ-V^QZWVUMV\;KPMUM1)UWZMKTM^MZVIUM\PIV Q\[XZMLMKM[[WZ[:-8;IVL)-7;J]\_QTTQ\JMI[MNNMK\Q^M')TZMILa Gerry Gunning of the Irish Farmersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Association has described it as a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;poor relationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; of these now defunct schemes2. Nonetheless, up to NIZUMZ[IZMM`XMK\ML\W[QOV]XW^MZ\PMVM`\aMIZWZ[W_Q\P 30,000 expected to join by last Mayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s deadline. <PMMV\QZMTaWVTQVMIXXTQKI\QWV[a[\MUPI[JMMV[\aUQMLJaXWWZ broadband penetration in some rural areas which will probably come I[VW[]ZXZQ[M\WUIVaWNW]ZZMILMZ[)XW[[QJTM[XQVWNNJMVMÃ&#x2026;\ might be that the huge numbers requiring better broadband might encourage the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to up its game in this regard. Online farming newspaper AgrilandPI[ZMXWZ\ML\PMWVTQVM[a[\MUI[JMQVO»]VÃ&#x2026;\NWZX]ZXW[M3 but around 10,000 farmers had reportedly signed up at time of writing.

OPERATION GLAS will be operated on a three-tiered system that sets out priorities QV\MZU[WNQ\[[\I\MLOWIT[<QMZJMQVO\PMUW[\QUXWZ\IV\NWTTW_ML Ja<QMZM\K1\Q[LM[QOVML»\WMV[]ZM\PM\IZOM\MLIVLXZQWZQ\Q[ML LMTQ^MZaWNMV^QZWVUMV\ITJMVMÃ&#x2026;\[LZI_QVONZWU\PMM`\MV[Q^M preparatory analysis underlying the RDPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;4. 24

Irish Wildlife Summer â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;15

<QMZKWUXZQ[M[ITT\PM8ZQWZQ\a-V^QZWVUMV\IT)[[M\[QLMV\QÃ&#x2026;ML NWZ[]XXWZ\\PZW]OP\PM[KPMUMIVL\IZOM\QVO^]TVMZIJTMTIVL[KIXM[ â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;importantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; bird-species and protection of high-status watercourses. <QMZIT[WQLMV\QÃ&#x2026;M[I[MZQM[WN8ZQWZQ\a-V^QZWVUMV\IT)K\QWV[NWZ [XMKQÃ&#x2026;KKWPWZ\[WNNIZUMZ[\IZOM\QVOKTQUI\MKPIVOMUQ\QOI\QWVIVL farmland birds. <QMZNWK][M[WV_I\MZY]ITQ\a\PZW]OPXZW\MK\QWVWN XZMLM\MZUQVML^]TVMZIJTM_I\MZKW]Z[M[J]\IT[WKWV[QLMZ[XZWXW[IT[ from other farmers who are prepared to take on predetermined actions that also target climate change mitigation and support farmland birds. <QMZQ[IUMV]WNKWUXTMUMV\IZaMV^QZWVUMV\ITIK\QWV[NWZ IXXTQKIV\[IXXZW^MLQV\W<QMZ[IVLI[_MTTI[IKPIVVMTNWZJI[QK entry to the scheme in its own right. It includes actions such as the protection of traditional hay meadows, low input permanent pastures, important landscape features like archaeological monuments, PMLOMZW_[IVL[\WVM_ITT[I[_MTTI[XZW^Q[QWVWNJQZLJI\IVLJMM VM[\QVONIKQTQ\QM[IVL\PMXTIV\QVOWN[UITTOZW^M[WNVI\Q^M\ZMM[ <PM8ZQWZQ\a-V^QZWVUMV\IT)[[M\[ITTW_QVOMV\Za\W<QMZQVKT]LM 6I\]ZI;Q\M[XZW\MK\MLIZMI[NWZJQWLQ^MZ[Q\a]VLMZ-=TI__Q\PQV \PMNIZUPWTLQVOJZMMLQVO_ILMZ[IVL[M^MZITW\PMZ[XMKQM[QVKT]LQVO choughs and hen harriers. Farms without such assets but whose lands ILRWQV^]TVMZIJTM_I\MZKW]Z[M[IZMMTQOQJTMNWZ<QMZ)TTW\PMZNIZU[ UIa]VLMZ\ISMI^IZQM\aWNIXXZW^ML»MV^QZWVUMV\ITIK\QWV[¼\PI\IZM IQUMLI\QVKWZXWZI\QVOJQWLQ^MZ[Q\aQV\WNIZU[IVL\PMQZIK\Q^Q\QM[ <PM[KPMUM_QTTJM_WZ\P]X\WIUI`QU]UWNÃ&#x201A;\W\PM XIZ\QKQXI\QVONIZUMZ»-`KMX\QWVIT¼MV^QZWVUMV\ITKWUUQ\UMV\ on the part of the farmer will allow for further payment under the »/TI[8T][¼/TI[[KPMUM<PQ[UQOP\QVKT]LMPIJQ\I\KZMI\QWVIVL UIQV\MVIVKMUMI[]ZM[/TI[_QTTJMOWWLVM_[NWZWZOIVQKNIZUMZ[





REFERENCES 1. GLAS will be the implementation of Council Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013 and Commission Regulations (EU) 807/2014, 808/2014 and 640/2014. It will be will be co-funded by the National Exchequer and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) of the European Union under Ireland’s Rural Development Plan 2014-2020. 2. Irish Farmers Journal 24 April 2015. Weekly podcast by Thomas Hubert. 3. Agriland (Farming News Portal) 14 April 2015. ‘GLAS online system still not fit for purpose’. 4. Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine 27 February 2015. Terms and Conditions of the GLAS Scheme.

Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15




more than skin deep By Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition.


he deep sea in the Atlantic to the west of Ireland, though cold, dark and remote from land, is teeming with unique life โ€“ cold-water corals, [XWVOMร…MTL[IVLITIZOM^IZQM\aWN]VQY]M underwater habitats and species hundreds of UM\ZM[JMTW_\PM[]ZNIKM6M_[XMKQM[PI^M JMMVLQ[KW^MZMLWVTaZMKMV\TaIVLQ\Q[TQSMTa \PI\UIVaUWZMIZMaM\\WJMNW]VL

DEVASTATION We would not tolerate bulldozing forests in pursuit of deer to put on the dinner table โ€“ M^MVTM[[[WQN\PMNWZM[\[\WWS\PW][IVL[WN aMIZ[\WOZW_IVLPIZJW]ZMLJQWLQ^MZ[Q\a found nowhere else on earth. Yet something ^MZa[QUQTIZQ[PIXXMVQVOQV\PMLMMX[MIWVM WN\PMTIZOM[\IVLUW[\JQWTWOQKITTaLQ^MZ[M MKW[a[\MU[WV\PMXTIVM\*WI\[][QVOJW\\WU \ZI_TOMIZIZMZI^IOQVOIVMV^QZWVUMV\\PI\ UIaVM^MZZMKW^MZNZWU\PMI[[I]T\IVLIZM LWQVO[WQVX]Z[]Q\WN[KIV\NM_ร…[P[XMKQM[ ,MMX[MIJW\\WU\ZI_TMZ[LZIOUI[[Q^M PMI^aVM\[INร…`ML\W[\MMTXTI\M[IVLKIJTM[ IKZW[[\PMLMMX[MIJML_QXQVOW]\M^MZa\PQVO in their paths including corals and sponges \PI\PI^Mร†W]ZQ[PMLNWZ\PW][IVL[WNaMIZ[ 8QK\]ZM[WN\ZI_TMLIZMI[ZM^MITJIZZMV wastelands, specked with broken corals. Contrast these with images of the un-trawled 26

Irish Wildlife Summer โ€˜15


Crab in thickets of the deep-sea coral

species, Lophelia Pertusa. ยฉ Brooke et. al., NOAA OE 2005/Marine Photobank.




international waters of the northeast Atlantic. The current regime, adopted in 2002, has failed to maintain most deep-sea stocks inside safe biological limits and failed to restore [WUMWN\PMUW[\LMXTM\MLÅ[PXWX]TI\QWV[QV the region. It also failed to protect vulnerable deep-sea marine ecosystems from highly LM[\Z]K\Q^MJW\\WUÅ[PQVO The European Parliament voted on the proposal in December 2013 and strengthened it in many areas, but narrowly rejected proposals to phase out deep-sea bottom trawling and bottom gillnetting. The -=+W]VKQTWN\PM Å[PMZQM[UQVQ[\MZ[ who must also agree on the provisions of the new regulation, have only recently reopened discussions on the new regulation having dragged their feet for several years under pressure from France to delay the negotiations. It is coming up on three years since the initial proposal from the Commission. Latvia, which currently holds the Presidency of the EU, has signalled that it is keen on making progress in developing the new regulation and Ireland with other European member states should seek to agree a Council position without further delay. Protecting this environment is about more \PIV[I^QVO_QTLTQNM,MMX_I\MZÅ[PWV\PM continental slope off Ireland and the UK capture around one to two million tonnes of CO2 per year that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere, and scientists tell us that deep-sea ecosystems are potentially invaluable reservoirs of genetic material and organic compounds for human health breakthroughs, including new medicines that could treat diabetes, arthritis and even cancer. A new EU regulation should seek to JW\PUIVIOMÅ[PQVONWZLMMX[MI[XMKQM[ for sustainability, and protect the deep-sea ecosystems associated with the seabed. It must ensure that the use of low impact, MV^QZWVUMV\ITTa[][\IQVIJTMÅ[PQVOOMIZQ[ prioritised, and that catch and by-catch of deep-sea species are better managed. Ireland can make a real difference by promoting requirements for environmental impact I[[M[[UMV\[NWZITTLMMX[MIÅ[PMZQM[IVL provisions to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems in deep waters, closing areas where they are known or likely to occur in the new regulation. Phasing out bottomtrawling below 600m would dramatically increase such protection while being straightforward to enforce and monitor. Establishing much more sustainable Å[PMZQM[_W]TLJMVMÅ\Å[PMZ[KWV[]UMZ[ and future generations. And protecting the

A bottom trawler hauls up one of its many

catches. © Greenpeace International.

Deep-sea bottom trawling fishing gear comprising heavy

nets affixed to steel plates and cables. © Les Watling.

vulnerable deep-sea biodiversity in Irish waters and elsewhere within EU waters from the depredations of deep-sea trawlers would be a win for the Irish public and for Europe as a whole. The Irish Wildlife Trust is working with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition which is inviting Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to meet with scientists studying the deep sea to discuss

their work and to ask him to support the essential measures that could make the EU a worldwide leader in innovative stewardship of one of the largest and most diverse ecosystems in the world – the deep sea. Find out more about the wonders of Europe’s deep sea and the work underway to protect it: Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15



OVER TO YOU As the days grow longer and warmer, the opportunity to get out and about in nature also begins to increase. We always love to get your photos, questions and stories – here are just a few of the many that came into us over the past few months.


Spidey Sense

lkin Co. Dublin, Ruth McKenna, from Clonda pictures of a spider tweeted @Irishwildlife these her garden. We sent she found on a flower pot in les Nolan from the them to our spider expert, My nd, and he confirmed National Museum @NMIrela e false widow, for us that they are of the larg n all over Dublin. Steatoda nobilis, now commo ty bite! Thanks a lot They are known to give a nas to Ruth and Myles!

Trust on Twitter Why not follow Irish Wildlife st news about how @Irishwildlife and get the late dlife for all! we’re protecting Ireland’s wil


Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15


I thought y ou might lik e to see thes pictures. I sa e w this lizard last weeken at Muirioch d beach, abou t five miles from Dingle . I have seen them before on Kerry bea ches but I n ever had a camera with me until this time! Regards, Brendan Bu ckley, Kerry

Thanks Bren dan, the stre tch of warm sun shine in Apri l brought a slew of lizard sightings from across the country. Her e’s another fr om Susan O’Gra dy taken on C la re Island, Co. M ayo.


SPARROWHAWK SPOTTING Hi IWT, Here’s a shot of a sparrowhaw k in my garden that killed all last year’s redpol ls. Maybe they are slower than the others. I have 14 goldfinches, loads of tits, a dun nock, a wren and a resident rat coming to the bird feeders. A few redpolls appeared again this yea r. Saw a couple of greenfinches again after a lon g absence. Was very happy to see a tree sparrow with the usual house sparrows. I am also very fortunate to have two buzzards in the locality. The y raised at least one chick last year. Until his unt imely death, I had a heron practically living in the back garden. He used to ignore me as I went about the garden. The best though are the long-eared owls that breed in a neighbour’s land. They must have been successful last year because the hooting of the young went on for weeks. A great sound to hear! Fionnuala Parnell, North Count y Dublin.

MANDARIN GLAMOUR Hi IWT, I’ve attached a couple of photos of a male mandarin duck that I saw in Farmleigh, in Dublin’s Phoenix Park last weekend. I’ve never seen one of these before. Do they often arrive in Ireland? Thanks, Barbara Cottier Hi Barbara, many thanks for your great pictures. We’ve noticed more and more of these mandarin ducks and they’re certainly on the Royal Canal and the Tolka river, Castleknock. They are resident and are originally from China. There is a large, established and growing population in England so perhaps we are seeing a spillover into Ireland. The IWT encourages people to record their sightings with the National Biodiversity Data Centre through

If you have a story, question, or an image you’d like to share with us, or, God forbid, even a complaint, send it to

Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15



From watching for wildlife in Galway to relaxing woodlands strolls in Co. Waterford, get out and about in nature this summer!

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN GALWAY The Galway Branch is planning to run a number of wildlife walks this summer. These will include a guided trip to Omey Island in Connemara, where a small number of corncrakes breed each summer, and a ‘beach safari’ in Salthill in conjunction with the Galway Atlantaquaria, which will explore marine life on the shore. The group is also planning to run an otter survey of Galway city, and is looking for volunteers to help out (no experience necessary). The branch is also seeking otter experts who might be willing to lend their time to help lead a survey.


Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15


WILD WATCH WEEK DATE/TIME: Sat July 18th to Sun July 26th VENUE: Listed on

Due to the success of our autumn Wild Watch Week last year, we’ll be hosting a Wild Watch Week in the summer, from Saturday July 18th to Sunday 26th. This week-long series of events looks to celebrate all forms of Irish wildlife and encourage people to get out and view wildlife. Check out the list of events near you at:



WHAT’S HAPPENING IN WATERFORD The Waterford Branch will have a summer programme of two hour evening walks in the Waterford city area.




DATE/TIME: Tues July 7th, 7.30pm VENUE: Newtown Woods and Cove, Tramore

DATE/TIME: Tues August 11th, 7.30pm VENUE: Woodstown Strand

The start point for this evening walk is the car park at Newtown Cove. The walk will begin at 7.30pm. Newtown Cove is about 2km south of the town of Tramore.

DATE/TIME: Tues June 9th, 7.30pm VENUE: Dunmore East woods



The first walk on June 9th will take place in Dunmore East woods, starting from the Park entrance on Dock Road at 7.30 pm. The woods have been in a Trust since 1924, when John Charles de La Power, the 7th Marquis of Waterford, granted the land to the local inhabitants for recreational use. Visitors can stroll through three woods on the land, which is also home to the Dunmore East Wood Walk covering 3km through the woods and the nearby picturesque village of Dunmore East.

The programme of summer evening walks will end on August 11th with a walk from Woodstown Strand to Fornought Beach. Woodstown Strand is a lovely long sandy beach that is surrounded by woodlands. At low tide the beach extends out by around 1km, and is quite large and also flat. The walk will get underway at 7.30pm, from the start point in the main car park at Woodstown, about 12km from Waterford city. All are welcome. The walk leader will be Denis Cullen, our resident field ecologist, assisted by local enthusiasts. Please see the Waterford site, for other events and news.






DATE/TIME: Sat June 6th, 4pm – late VENUE: Abbeyleix Heritage House

DATE/TIME: Sat July 11th, 10am-4pm VENUE: Abbeyleix Heritage House.

This is a beginners’ course consisting of lectures/field-based training. The course host will be Tina Aughney from Bat Conservation Ireland.

A lecture/field-based training course for beginners, hosted by mammal ecologist Denise O’Meara.

AUGUST HERITAGE WEEK* DATE/TIME: Sat August 22nd – Sun August 23rd, overnight VENUE: Srahan Scout Camp, Camross, Co. Laois Enjoy the Big Wild Campout family event taking place at Srahan Scout Camp in Camross.



DATE/TIME: Sun June 21st, 3-5pm VENUE: Abbeyleix Bog

DATE/TIME: Sat August 29th, TBC VENUE: TBC

Go wild with the kids for father’s day and build your own den in the woods surrounding Abbeyleix Bog.

* Denotes events that must be pre-booked by getting in touch by text/call to: 085 783 2545 (Ricky) Please note that dates and times may change, so check out our website or Facebook page to keep up-to-date.

Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15




Fulmar. Photo by A Kelly.

Ocean littering can prove fatal to oceanic wildlife species. By Heidi Acampora.


itter has become ubiquitous in all of the world’s oceans. It is either carelessly disposed at sea from boats and platforms, or on land, making its way to sea through wind, rain and river discharges. Marine litter is primarily composed of plastics and because plastics are resistant they don’t decompose rapidly, but in an order of centuries. However, they do break down into smaller pieces and marine species mistake those bits for food. Over 600 species have been reported to ingest marine litter. Northern fulmar, a species of seabird, has been reported to have the highest rate of plastic ingestion. The ingestion of large amounts of indigestible matter means seabirds have no space for real food and this could lead to death from starvation. Sharp pieces of plastic could also perforate the digestive tract and cause ulcers.


Irish Wildlife Summer ‘15

Chemicals added to plastics are prone to leaching and can cause hormone disruption, INNMK\QVOIVQUITÅ\VM[[IVLZMXZWL]K\QWV Fulmars are an oceanic species, feeding exclusively at sea and only coming ashore to breed. Their lifestyle, combined with their biology, provides an opportunity to use this [XMKQM[I[IVMNÅKQMV\UWVQ\WZQVO\WWTNWZ UIZQVMTQ\\MZ.]TUIZ[PI^MJMKWUMWNÅKQIT descriptors for international agreements such as the Oslo-Paris Convention (OSPAR) and European Union Directives such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The Republic of Ireland Beached Bird Survey (RIBBS) is a research project that is attempting to assess the potential of beached seabirds as a marine litter monitoring tool in Ireland. Beached seabirds are collected by researchers and volunteers and we use the

litter content in the stomachs of the birds as a measure of marine litter. Beached seabirds could provide Ireland with important data, comparable to other European countries, that will help meet our marine litter monitoring obligations and inform national policy in this area. The RIBBS is an initiative coordinated by Heidi Acampora at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) and supported by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG). If you would like more information or to volunteer for a beach survey, collect/ report a dead seabird, please visit: beached-seabirds-for-heidi or email: heidi.

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Irish Wildlife Trust  

Summer 2015

Irish Wildlife Trust  

Summer 2015