As part of this research 10 hen harrier chicks were tagged from ten different nests within the Slieve Blooms, Ballyhouras, Knockmealdown and Mullaghareirks mountains. Recent analysis of the incoming tracking data shows that that at least five of these birds are alive and well. Unfortunately, some of the tags are recording little to no activity (movement) indicating that these birds may have died. To date we have recovered one of the tagged chicks (a female from the Ballyhouras) but the precise cause of death was not conclusive.
Studying Irish hen harriers can be challenging. Many of us have taken part in the most recent national survey (2015) and enjoyed some great days out, perhaps the first sky-dancing male of the season or finding a pair at a new site or the first food-pass and female returning to a nest site. All this helps to give us a more or less complete picture of the status of Irish hen harriers and population trends over time (see Here). What has been shown to date is that nationally the species is declining while one or two subpopulations (eg. Slieve Blooms) appear to be relatively stable over time.
RaptorLIFE have been busy this summer monitoring hen harrier – a big thank you to all the volunteers who gave up many hours of their time to help out! The season culminated with a total of ten chicks satellite tagged, with four of those from the Duhallow region. This is a joint project between RaptorLIFE, the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Irish Raptor Study Group.
Short-eared owls nesting next door to Kerry?
SIR, I would like to let readers of The Kerryman know more about a very rare bird – the short-eared owl – whose last confirmed breeding location within the Republic of Ireland was in Kerry in 1985. Short-eared owls have been seen on a number of occasions in East Kerry this summer by the RaptorLIFE project at IRD Duhallow (based in Newmarket). The RaptorLIFE project covers the Duahllow baronry which includes parts of North Cork, East Kerry and South Limerick.
FIGHTING THE INVADERS
The Himalayan balsam, which was originally introduced as an ornamental plant has left its presence known as it is now classified as an invasive alien species of EU concern.
However as part of IRD Duhallow’s conservation work, the RaptorLIFE project is fast tackling the invasive species along the 126 kilometres of river, with the ultimate long term aim of eradicating it from the Upper Blackwater Catchment.
Computer games are often blamed for children spending less time outside. However, the new app Pokémon Go, is taking the world by storm and may in fact be good for promoting nature. It has already contributed in a small way to public engagement with nature. While searching outside for computer generated Pokémon, many gamers have also encountered real-life animals along the way. The hashtag #pokeblitz recently emerged on Twitter as a way for biologists to connect with Pokémon Go players who wanted help in identifying the animals they came in contact with.
FREE EVENT - Led by Freshwater Ecologist Dr. David McCormick
When: Saturday 13th August 2016 - 11am to 4pm
Where: IRD Duhallow, James O'Keeffe Institute, Newmarket, Co.Cork
- 11am Presentation on Freshwater Ecology
- 12pm lunch provided
- 12:30 Interactive fieldtrip to investigate native fish and freshwater insects
REGISTRATION REQUIRED: If interested please contact the IRD Duhallow RaptorLIFE team on; Phone: 029 60633; Email: email@example.com
According to the World Conservation Union, invasive alien species are the second most significant threat to biodiversity, after habitat loss. Most introduced species do not become permanently established in their new environment, and of those that do, most never become a problem. However, the odd introduction thrives and flourishes in their new location, and out-competes native plants and animals for food, water and space. The impact of these invasives on native ecosystems, is severe and often irreversible, and can cost billions of euro each year.
The Duhallow Birdwatching group and IRD Duhallow RaptorLIFE are hosting an information Seminar on Thursday 23rd June entitled “The Amazing Swift” with guest Speaker Lynda Huxley.
Like the canary in the coalmine, Freshwater Pearl Mussels are an indicator of the health of Ireland’s rivers. With a lifespan of up to 120 years, the mussels were once widespread, but are now found in very few catchments. Ireland is estimated to hold around 46% of Europe’s Freshwater Pearl Mussel population, with the Munster Blackwater catchment said to have a large part of the national population.