As the 2017 Dawn Chorus fast approaches, we find out how to create an oasis of biodiversity in your own back garden with renowned bird expert, Jim Wilson, whose classic guide to garden birds has just been republished in a new, revised edition. We journey to Canada to hear Rhonda O'Keeffe Arsenault give us an ode to the bergs of Iceberg Alley, one of Newfoundland’s best tourist attractions. And calling all volunteers! How would you fancy spending two weeks on Rathlin Island as a bird guide? Alison McFaul explains more....
Our Dawn Chorus looms large on the horizon, so what better time to try and find out more about our feathered friends? There is perhaps no better pocket-sized companion book than Ireland's Garden Birds: A Guide To Attracting And Identifying Garden Birds by Oran O'Sullivan & Jim Wilson; a revised edition has just been published and Jim Wilson joins us now from our Cork studios to tell us more about it!
Ireland's Garden Birds: A Guide To Attracting And Identifying Garden Birds by Oran O'Sullivan & Jim Wilson is published by The Collins Press; the ISBN is 9781848893030 and the RRP is €14.99. For further information about the book, click here. You might also enjoy reading Oran O'Sullivan's blog and visiting Jim Wilson's website for more bird news!
With thanks to The Collins Press, we have FOUR copies of Ireland's Garden Birds: A Guide To Attracting And Identifying Garden Birds to give away! To be in with a chance of winning this fab book, all you have to do is answer the following question:
Which type of garden bird shares its name with an 80s pop band? Is it:
a) Pied Wagtail
b) House Martin or
c) Feral Pigeon
Please e-mail your name, answer and address to email@example.com. Closing date for entries is 09:00 on Friday, April 28th 2017. Good luck everyone!
With Easter behind us, you could say the tourist season is about to begin and we can look forward to warmer months ahead. That got us thinking: if there was one place in the world you could go to, where would it be? Would you like to be whisked away on a romantic getaway to the Taj Mahal? Or take on the challenge of climbing all 1,710 steps to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower? And if you’re someone coming to Ireland, what would you chose? Would it be kissing the Blarney Stone in return for the gift of the gab? Or travelling to County Clare to take in the extraordinary beauty of the Cliffs of Moher?
Of course the real attraction for many tourists who come to Ireland is because it’s the first port of call for anyone tracing their Irish roots. Then there are the thousands of Irish immigrants, many who journeyed to Canada - which is where we travel to next, to talk to Rhonda O’Keefe Arsenault in Ferryland, Newfoundland. Rhonda’s great-grandfather came from Carrick-on-Suir in Tipperary, and she runs a couple of guesthouses on the Irish Loop, an area for the massive icebergs that go floating by. One in particular attracted global attention last week, when a photo of a helicopter on the iceberg went viral. The person who captured that image was Rhonda, and she joins us this evening from Ferryland Cottage to describe living in the company of these icy floating giants...
Have you ever dreamt of leaving the rat race behind, of flying the coop and fleeing to a place where you have mostly nature and wildlife for company? Do you dream of escaping to a beautiful island of spectacular seabirds? If so, Alison McFaul, Visitor Experience Manager at Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre, may have just the answer for you! She joins us this evening from the island of Rathlin, off the coast of County Antrim, and the northernmost point of Northern Ireland, to tell us more about this exciting opportunity!
Puffin with sandeels; puffins are one of the favourite visitors to Rathlin Island!. Credit Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
PRESS RELEASE FROM RSPB NI:
Fancy a taste of island life?
Do you dream of escaping the rat race? Fancy living and working on Rathlin Island - Northern Ireland’s only inhabited offshore island?
If so, RSPB NI would love to hear from you! The nature conservation charity is on the lookout for 100 enthusiastic volunteers to help excite, inform and inspire visitors to the unique Rathlin West Light Seabird Centre
Rathlin Island is home to around 125 residents but in spring and summer the island’s ‘population’ explodes, as tens of thousands of seabirds come ashore and nest on the craggy cliff stacks. Kittiwakes, razorbills, guillemots and, everyone’s favourite, the puffin jostle for space to breed and raise their young – the sight, sound (and smell!) is like nothing else.
Last year more than 17,000 people flocked to see this amazing spectacle, with almost half coming from outside the UK.
As well as the breathtaking colony, visitors were delighted to be able to explore the unique ‘upside-down’ West lighthouse for the first time. With its lamp glowing red at the foot (to allow for the dense, low fog that sometimes shrouds the island), the lighthouse has been restored to give visitors an idea of what island life was like in years gone by.
However it just wouldn’t have been possible to give guests such a great experience without the help of many dedicated volunteers.
The 2016 team ranged enormously in age, hailed from all parts of the UK, Ireland and further afield and had various levels of knowledge about birds and nature. Their reasons for volunteering were just as varied. Some wanted to gain experience in their chosen career path, while others wanted an active working holiday - 164 steps from the visitor centre to the bottom of the lighthouse is a fast-pass to fitness!
Others had a passion for photography and loved exploring the island’s nooks and crannies on their days off. Stunning scenery as far as the eye can see, including views of Fair Head and the Mull of Kintyre, made for many a postcard-perfect shot. For many of the volunteers though, just getting a taste of island life, meeting new people and experiencing the wonderful sense of community made their stay truly unforgettable.
Volunteers are needed from mid-March to mid-September 2017. Accommodation is provided and a minimum commitment of two weeks (Monday to Monday) is preferable. Interested? Find out more by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling RSPB NI on 048 9049 1547.
Hedgerows: It is an offence to 'cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy hedgerows on uncultivated land during the nesting season from 1 March to 31 August, subject to certain exceptions'. For more information, click here.
UPDATE: February 29th 2016 - Press Release From BirdWatch Ireland:
Putting the record straight: Dates for burning and hedge-cutting have NOT changed
BirdWatch Ireland, Ireland’s largest conservation charity, is very concerned about misinformation that is currently circulating regarding the dates within which the burning of vegetation and cutting of hedges is permitted. It would like to remind landowners that all burning and cutting must cease on 29th February this year and that burning and cutting remains prohibited from 1st March to 31st August.
Despite attempts by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D., to change the laws regulating these dates by introducing the Heritage Bill 2016 earlier this year, it is important to note that the proposed date changes were ultimately NOT made. This is because the bill failed to pass through both houses of the Oireachtas before the recent dissolution of the Dáil in advance of the general election.
The laws in place governing the dates for hedge-cutting and upland burning therefore remain unchanged. The period within which cutting and burning is prohibited are set down in Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 (as amended in 2000), which states that:
(a) It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy, during the period beginning on the 1st day of March and ending on the 31st day of August in any year, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated.
(b) It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing in any hedge or ditch during the period mentioned in paragraph (a) of this subsection (above).
The existing law provides exemptions for road safety and other circumstances and should be read carefully to ensure compliance.
Section 40 of the Wildlife Act exists to protect nesting birds. Many of our upland bird species are in decline and are in danger of extinction in Ireland; amongst them is the Curlew, which has declined by 80%. Many birds which nest in hedgerows into August are also in serious decline, including the endangered Yellowhammer. The changes to the cutting and burning dates which had been proposed in the now-defunct Heritage Bill 2016 would have caused serious impacts to these birds. A petition launched by BirdWatch Ireland in conjunction with several other national conservation organisations to stop these changes attracted more than 16,200 signatures and rising.
BirdWatch Ireland would also like to advise members of the public that if they see hedges being cut or fires in the uplands on or after 1st March, such activity could be illegal. In such cases, we would encourage people to contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service (www.npws.ie) to report such activity.
BirdWatch Ireland warmly welcomes the demise of the Heritage Bill 2016 and sincerely hopes that any future administration will consider the importance of Ireland’s natural heritage and will not attempt to reintroduce such a flawed and damaging piece of legislation.
To contact your local wildlife ranger, click here for contact details. To read the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, click here.
Please DO NOT send any live, dead or skeletal remains of any creature whatsoever to Mooney Goes Wild.
If you find an injured animal or bird, please contact the National Parks & Wildlife Service on 1890 20 20 21, or BirdWatch Ireland, on 01 281-9878, or visit www.irishwildlifematters.ie