Summer is a wonderful time for getting outdoors and experiencing wildlife and nature first-hand and there is no better place to do so than county Wicklow.
This is the message from the Heritage Office of Wicklow County Council as it announced a programme of free activities – “Connecting People + Nature in Wicklow 2019” – which provides opportunities for everyone to learn more about the county’s biodiversity and to get involved in hands-on conservation.
Among the initiatives being spearheaded by the Council this summer in partnership with Birdwatch Ireland, is a county survey of swifts. This iconic summer visitor to our towns and villages has experienced dramatic worldwide population decline in recent years and there is a drive to establish baseline numbers for county Wicklow and to increase awareness of what we can all do to help protect this bird.
Heritage Officer Deirdre Burns explained: “‘Last year we identified swift nesting sites in the towns of Wicklow, Arklow, Bray, Rathdrum, Rathnew, Greystones and Aughrim, and this year we are hoping, with the help of the public, to extend sightings to every town and village in Wicklow.Once we have population figures for Wicklow, we have a baseline for monitoring change.”
Sightings from the public can be reported by email or telephone to Ricky Whelan (Birdwatch Ireland Project Officer) at [email protected] or on 085 7832545.
Also, a new publication “Saving Swifts” is now available online, providing a wealth of information about this fascinating bird and practical advice for protecting it, particularly when renovating old buildings or developing new ones. For your free copy contact [email protected].
Among the highlights of the upcoming programme include a talk in the Brockagh Resource Centre, Laragh, on Wednesday, . 22nd May @ 7pm titled “Dippers, Fishers and Wags” by Oran O Sullivan on wildlife to be found along the Avonmore River catchment; “Forest Schools” for children at Hollywood village and in Deputy’s Pass Nature Reserve for Crinniu na nÓg on Saturday, June 15th.
There will also be a series of monthly themed family friendly events at Birdwatch Ireland’s East Coast Nature Reserve in Newcastle exploring different aspects of nature through the seasons at this jewel- in-the-crown of Wicklow wetlands.
Starting on June15th with the special children’s event Sounds , Sights & Sunprints of the Woodland, and continuing each month with the following themes and dates: Sunday 14th July – Nocturnal Visitors – Bats & Moths; Sunday 11th August – Discover the Reserve – Butterfly Walk & Seed Bomb Workshop; Sunday 8th September – Spectacle of Migration – Swifts, Swallows and Martins; Sunday 13th October – Birds on Feeders – Garden Bird Workshop; Sunday 17th November – Winter Migrants – Waterfowl; Sunday 15th December – Festive Wildlife Walk & Wreath Making Workshop.
The full “Connecting People and Nature in Wicklow 2019” programme is available online at www.wicklow.ie/heritage or on Wicklow’ online community heritage archive www.countywicklowheritage.org where your stories, accounts and photos of Wicklow’s wildlife heritage are always welcome.