Southern Scientific Services’ ecologist Fiona Mc Auliffe attended an informative workshop run by BirdWatch Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Services in Mallow recently. The workshop focused on the annual Countryside Bird Survey (CBS) and The Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS).
What is the Countryside Bird Survey?
The Countryside Bird Survey was initiated in 1998 and monitors the widespread breeding of bird populations throughout Ireland. It helps to identify conservation priorities and addresses part of Ireland’s obligations under the EU Birds Directive. The CBS relies on the efforts of more than 200 voluntary observers each year, and Fiona will be undertaking surveys close to Castleisland. Bird species, such as Wren, Great Tits, Wood Pigeons and Buzzards, are identified by sight or sound and recorded. The habitats present within a study area are also classified and recorded. These long-term studies help monitor what is happening in our countryside and identify areas of concern where conservation efforts need to be focused.
What is The Irish Wetland Bird Survey?
I-WeBS is a scheme which monitors wintering waterbirds, such as Whooper Swans, Brent Geese, Lapwings and Tufted Duck in Ireland. These surveys focus on estuaries, coastlines, flooded fields, bays, rivers and lakes. Between September and March each year, 250 wetland sites are visited once a month during coordinated national surveys. These counts help to determine the sizes of waterbird populations, identify important wintering sites and inform decision-making.
What did we discover?
A recent BirdWatch Ireland study has shown that the number of waterbirds wintering in Ireland had declined 15 per cent over the past five years and by 40 per cent since the mid-1990s. There were more than 1.2 million waterbirds wintering at wetland sites in 1994. However, this has dropped to 760,000 in recent years. Several factors may have caused these declines, including climate change, increased disturbance from recreational users and unleashed dogs, habitat loss and pollution.
Our ecologists at Southern Scientific are deeply committed to protecting and preserving the natural world. Fiona is always seeking new opportunities to learn and participate in conservation efforts. Attending this workshop was a valuable experience for her, as it allowed her to gain insight into the vital work being done to monitor and protect bird populations in Ireland. She is excited to use this knowledge to contribute to the conservation efforts in her local area and to impact the environment positively.
Fiona hopes to participate in these essential monitoring surveys and thanks Dick Coombes and Niamh Fitzgerald for the exciting workshop.
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