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Southern Scientific Ecologist attends Ornithology Survey Workshop

Ornithology Survey Workshop

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). The CBS was initiated in 1998 and monitors widespread breeding bird populations throughout Ireland. The CBS 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 to monitor what is going on in our countryside, and identify areas of concern where conservation efforts need to be focused.

I-WeBS is a scheme which monitors wintering waterbirds, such as Whooper Swans, Brent Geese, Lapwings and Tufted Duck in Ireland. These surveys are focused 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 sizes of waterbird populations, identify important wintering sites and inform decision making. 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. A number of factors may have caused these declines, including climate change, increased disturbance from recreational users and unleashed dogs, habitat loss and pollution.

Fiona is hoping to take part in each of these important monitoring surveys and would like to thank Dick Coombes and Niamh Fitzgerald for the interesting workshop. More information can be found online at: