New EU LIFE Freshwater Fish Report
The Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus is a bird species of high conservation concern. It is listed on Annex I of the EU Birds Directive. The Hen Harrier population has decreased alarmingly due to habitat loss and persecution. The male Hen Harrier has silver-blue upperparts and is white underneath with broad black tips to the wings. The wingspan of adult males can vary between 97 and 109cm. The female is larger than the male and has a soft brown plumage with contrasting patterns under the wings with a white rump just above the tail.
The Merlin Falco columbarius is another of Ireland’s endangered raptors. It is Ireland’s smallest raptor, which flies low at high speeds with great agility. Its high speed attacks allow it to sometimes catch prey larger than itself. The female is larger than the male and has brownish plumage. The male starts off brown and then his upper body plumage turns grey-blue. They breed in the upland bogs and move down to the lowlands in winter, even along the coast.
Brook Lamprey Lampetra planeri are the smallest of the Lamprey species, measuring only 10 – 15cm. They are an eel shaped fish, with sucker-like mouth instead of jaws. Whilst they are an EU protected annexed species, they are widespread in Duhallow’s rivers and streams. They have a short life cycle of 3 – 5 years, starting with their juvenile phase (ammocoetes) when they eat detritus and other organic matter on the riverbed.