Birdwatch Ireland Wicklow Branch Newsletter

Pic.Chris Bolton)

On behalf of the Wicklow Branch Committee can I hope all of our members and your families had a Very Happy Christmas and wish you all a Very Happy New Year for 2020.

The Garden Bird Survey is in full swing by now all over Ireland. I hope you are getting plenty of visitors to your garden bird tables and feeders. Please do make sure to put out fresh water for the birds particularly on days that are below freezing. Remember even if you are away from home for some time and miss a week, your records from as many weeks as possible are essential for a full picture of the birds visiting your garden year after year. 

Our monthly talk in the Glenview Hotel on December 10th by Coilin Mac Lochlainn entitled  ” The Avonmore River valley; a Black Forest for Ireland” was very well attended and warmly welcomed and opened a lot of debate.  On Sunday 15th December we had a good attendance for our Festive Wildlife Walk and Wreath Making Workshop at East Coast Nature Reserve, despite the morning turning wet we got a very positive response from attendees.

In January we welcome Conor W. O’Brien from Wicklow Town, who will give a presentation based on his book “Ireland Through Birds”, which depicts the journeys he undertook in search of 12 of Ireland’s most elusive birds – Hen Harrier, Jay, Corncrake, Jacksnipe, Ring Ouzel, Red Grouse, Goosander, Grey Partridge, Cuckoo, Great Skua, Barn Owl and Merlin. In particular, what Conor describes so well is the behaviour that is unique to each bird that he was searching for. There will be copies of his book for sale and signing on the night. 

Preview of 2020 Birdwatch Wicklow Branch Events


Tuesday 14th. ”Ireland Through Birds” by Conor W. O’Brien. A passionate birdwatcher, photographer and now author, Conor takes us around Ireland seeking twelve of our most elusive birds. Signed copies of his book will be on sale on the night. 

Saturday 25th.  Outing to Wexford Wildfowl Reserve. Meet at Wexford Wildfowl Reserve at 10.30am.  Car-pool from Greystones Park and Ride at 8.30am. (contact  birdwatchwicklow@gmail.com  if you need a lift)


Tuesday 11th. ” Dippers, fishers, goosers and wags” – Birds of the Avonmore River Catchment.  A presentation by Oran O’Sullivan,  Glenview Hotel at 20:00.

Saturday 15th.  Wicklow  County  Bird  Race

Date: Saturday 15th February 2020
Meet: car park at the southern end of Bray seafront promenade (by the amusements)
Time: 07:00 (for team registration) 
Race Start: 07:15 (sharp) 
Race Finish: 18:45 at The Beehive Inn, off the N11 south of Rathnew

Teams of 3-4 people per car at €5 per person (fees cover organisational costs of the event with proceeds going to the BirdWatch Ireland Wicklow Branch)

Objective: To record as many species of bird as possible in one day within the Wicklow County boundaries. 

In order to encourage participants of all levels of skill and ability to take part, teams will be allocated at their request into one of two groups:
Category A (i.e. experienced teams) 
Category B (i.e. beginners/improvers teams)

There are prizes to be won for the teams in each category with the highest number of species recorded. Bird racing is great craic and a good way to start off the new birding year. Furthermore, records from the day will be compiled and entered into the BirdTrack database.

1. Birds recorded in Co. Wicklow only.
2. Each species seen scores one point.
3. Each species heard only scores half a point (mark with ‘H’ on the score sheet).
4. A species must be seen by at least 3 team members to count as one point.
5. A species must be heard by at least 3 team members to count as half a point.
6. Feral Pigeon and the re-introduced population of Red Kite count but not escapes (Black Swan, Bar-headed Goose etc.) or feral/introduced species whose populations are not yet self-sustaining (Mandarin Duck etc.). 
7. Teams finishing late will be docked points as appropriate!
8. Record birds on the score sheet & check-list provided.
9. The race is just a bit of fun and anyone taking it seriously will be eliminated!

Notes for new participants:
For anyone interested in taking part but not signed up to a team, we would generally have our teams organised in advance of the race and we can’t guarantee that there will be teams with space for others on the day.

However, if people are looking to take part but are currently without a team then they should register their interest here on the BirdWatch Ireland 2020 Wicklow Bird Race Facebook event page and we can see if we can form a team by putting a few folks together?

A few general bird race tips:
(1) It’s a good idea to plan a route with an idea of arrival times and how long you’re going to spend at each site.
(2) Make a list of the target species to get at each site. 
(3) Stick to your timings. If a bird just isn’t showing up and you feel you’re spending too long somewhere then often it is best to cut your losses and leave. There are other species to get at other sites.
(4) Try get most of your songbirds (at parks, gardens and farmland) early in the day as they can be hard to rely on in the afternoon.
(5) A couple of locations for looking offshore for seabirds is advised.
(6) Tide times (Wicklow Harbour) on the day will be approximately 09:20 for high tide and 16:03 for low tide.
(7) Sunset is at 17:34 so try find somewhere good to spend the last hour or so of bird racing to look for roosting birds, raptors, owls, woodcock etc.  

Saturday 22nd. Joint outing to Altamount Gardens, The Pottle, Co. Carlow with the Carlow Branch BWI. Meeting at Altamount Gardens at 10.30am. Car-pool from Greystones Park and Ride at 8.30am. (contact birdwatchwicklow@gmail.com if you need a lift). Please note there is a €3 entrance fee per person to the gardens.

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