The fourth review of the status of birds of conservation concern on the island of Ireland was published in April 2021 covering the period 2020-2026 (Gilbert et al., 2021). Two hundred and eleven species were assessed and assigned to Red, Amber or Green lists following standard assessment criteria. Of the 37 species that are qualifying interests of designated Special Protection Areas (SPAs) on the South Wexford Coast, six increased their status since the preceding assessment (BoCCI3) published in 2013 (Little Grebe: Amber to Green; the remaining five from Red to Amber: Wigeon, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Black-headed Gull, and Herring Gull), nine decreased (Fulmar: Green to Amber; the remaining eight from Amber to Red: Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Knot, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Kittiwake, Razorbill, and Puffin) and 22 stayed the same (15 staying at Amber and 7 staying at Red). For further details see ‘Qualifying interests’ under the ‘Site details’ tab.
On 17 April 2021, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage announced a national Chough survey. From April to July 2021 KRC Ecological and ALC Nature will be conducting the survey of these scarce birds on behalf of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Observations of Choughs, especially inland nest sites, can be emailed to email@example.com or ‘phoned to 089 278 5603 (Source: https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/dc635-national-chough-survey-to-help-with-conservation-of-rare-bird/).
The consultation period regarding the proposed extension of Ireland’s Marine Protected Area (MPA) network is now open. The consultation period closes on 30 July 2021. For further information see https://www.gov.ie/en/consultation/45271-public-consultation-on-expert-advisory-group-report-entitled-expanding-irelands-marine-protected-area-network/.
On 9 October 2020, a report was published regarding the effectiveness of regulatory signs in controlling human behaviour and Northern Gannet disturbance during the 2017 breeding season on Saltee Island Great (Allbrook and Quinn, 2020). News items regarding the paper appeared in the Irish Examiner, online issue dated 22 October 2020, and in Afloat magazine, online issue dated 23 October 2020.
Allbrook, D. L. and Quinn, J. 2020. The effectiveness of regulatory signs in controlling human behaviour and Northern gannet (Morus bassanus) disturbance during breeding: an experimental test. Journal for Nature Conservation, Volume 58. Available online at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1617138120301618?via%3Dihub.
On 28 September 2020, Wexford County Council published its Draft Wexford County Development Plan 2021-2027 and commenced a public consultation process via its online consultation portal. The Draft Plan is available online together with an invitation to make submissions. Details at https://consult.wexfordcoco.ie/en/consultation/wexford-draft-county-development-plan. The consultation period closes at 4pm on Wednesday 9 December 2020.
NPWS reveals record number of Roseate Tern pairs in Wexford island colony
- Minister of State Malcolm Noonan praises biodiversity commitment of wildlife staff and local community
- Lady’s Island Lake is the second-largest colony in Europe for rare seabird
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is pleased to announce record numbers of pairs of Roseate Terns at the tern colony on islands in Lady’s Island Lake, County Wexford, in the 2020 breeding season.
Lady’s Island Lake is designated as a Special Protection Area for four species of Terns — Sandwich, Arctic, Common & Roseate Terns. These ground-nesting seabirds are also known as sea-swallows, due to their appearance. They migrate each spring, to nest on islands close to productive fishing areas.
All four species are listed by the European Union as “Annex I” species in need of special protection. The Roseate Tern is one of the rarest breeding European seabirds, with Lady’s Island Lake the second-largest colony in Europe (outside of the Azores Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean).
The islands in Lady’s Island Lake are wardened from April to August, by contractors working on behalf of, and with, NPWS staff. Nest boxes are provided for the terns on the ground, which help them to shelter from harsh weather and hide from aerial predators. Two wardens boat out to the islands almost every day throughout the breeding season, monitoring the terns and their nests, disturbance and predation incidents. The wardens also read rings put on chicks in previous years, to improve information on the ecology of the birds.
Conservation Ranger Tony Murray said: ‘’This year we had 273 pairs of Roseate Tern, up from 195 last year, and our highest number ever.”
The project is funded by the NPWS and has been running annually for over 30 years. “This project is heavily reliant on the goodwill, support and assistance from the local community. Without the assistance of landowners who facilitate the project, access and storage of equipment, we would never have reached the success this project has. The local community are an active support to our wardening, contacting NPWS with any useful information,” Mr Murray said.
The Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD, said the record numbers of pairs recorded was another biodiversity success story. “As with the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s initiatives to boost Curlew and Partridge numbers and restore White-Tailed Eagles to our skies, this is a story of partnership between wildlife staff and the wider community,” Minister Noonan said.
“I would like to commend the NPWS staff for their incredible efforts to support the tern population and applaud the people of Wexford for their help in supporting their vital work.”
Warden Dave Daly said that, ”while we hope each pair raises at least one chick, it can be trying for the terns to find enough fish if weather conditions are harsh. This year the weather was kind at the right time and prey obviously relatively abundant, and productivity at 1.5, surpassing the previous best of 1.38, that equates at a chick-and-a-half per pair fledged.”
The NPWS extends its thanks and appreciation to landowners for facilitating access and to the local community for their involvement, interest and support over the years.
The terns are now migrating south to their wintering grounds from West Africa to Southern Africa, and we are already looking forward to their return next spring.
National Parks and Wildlife Service: https://www.npws.ie/
Lady’s Island Lake Special Protection Area: https://www.npws.ie/protected-sites/spa/004009
NPWS involvement in European LIFE project for Roseate Terns: http://roseatetern.org/ladys-island-lake.html
(Source: Government press release on 18 September 2020 at https://www.chg.gov.ie/npws-reveals-record-number-of-roseate-tern-pairs-in-wexford-island-colony/)
On Friday 3 July 2020, Wexford County Council issued a Public Notice advising that it proposed to make bye-laws known as the ‘Wexford County Council Harbours & Piers Bye-Laws 2020’ to regulate the use of piers, harbours and car parking areas under its custody and control at 14 locations in the county, four of them on the South Wexford Coast (https://www.wexfordcoco.ie/news/2020/07/03/wexford-county-council-public-notice-draft-wexford-county-council-harbours-and-piers). A 52-page Draft of the bye-laws was published, and submissions or observations are invited before 5.00pm on Monday 24 August 2020. The four bye-law areas on the South Wexford Coast were Slade Harbour, Fethard Harbour, Barrystown Slipway and Kilmore Quay Harbour. It is anticipated that the bye-laws will come into force on 1 November 2020.
Launched on 28 November 2019, the Celtic Routes Project is a €M1.9 co-funded European Territorial Co-Operation (ETC) Ireland-Wales project aiming to encourage visitors to explore new areas of Ireland and Wales. Wexford County Council is the lead Irish partner with a budget of €286,476. The funding application for the project was based on six themes one of which was ‘Wildlife, Flora, Fauna and specialities’. The project highlights coastal trails and destinations in West Wales and south-east Ireland. On the South Wexford Coast, three ‘Celtic Routes’ are featured: the Ring of Hook Coastal Drive, the Tintern Trails, and Fethard Dock. Hook Head lighthouse is flagged as a ‘Celtic Beacon’ and ‘Whales breaching at Hook Head’ in November are signalled as a seasonal ‘Celtic Moment’ (https://celticroutes.info/ and https://www.wexfordcoco.ie/community/celtic-routes-project).
On 11 May 2020, Wexford County Council Notice to Mariners No. 14 of 2020 Kilmore Quay, Chart No. 5621.16 & 2740, gave public notice that, in conjunction with the proposed dredging programme for Kilmore Quay harbour, data sampling buoys of type IDS DB180 would be deployed in Ballyteige Bay from 15 May 2020 to mid-July 2020 approximately (https://kilmorequaymarina.com/navigational-chart/).
On 15 May 2020, two buoys were deployed from Fethard Dock: one at Monitoring Point 52° 11.467’ N, 6° 47.983’ W off Ingard Point and near the mouth of Bannow Bay, the other at Control Point 52° 08.772’ N, 6° 44.313’ W due south of the Keeragh Islands. The buoys were deployed to monitor turbidity and suspended solids to comply with licence conditions (personal communication, George Colfer, Coastal Engineer and Captain Phil Murphy, Senior Marine Officer, Wexford County Council).
On 13 May 2020, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DCHG) invited tenders to manage a project to eradicate Brown Rats from Saltee Island Great. Titled ‘the Great Saltee Rat Eradication Project’, tenders were invited to undertake the required preparatory phases up to and including (subject to client approval) the operational planning and to carry out the implementation phases of the project.
Rats are known to have very detrimental effects on seabird populations through predation and competition for food and habitat, causing local and global extinction of birds on islands throughout the world. Recent work on seabird islands in the UK where rats have been eradicated show pronounced increases in breeding Puffin and Manx Shearwater numbers e.g. Lundy (https://www.conservationevidence.com/individual-study/2241).
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, together with input from University College Cork (UCC) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Britain, and with the support of the island’s owner, has undertaken preliminary steps through the collection of evidence (e.g. surveys of Puffin, Manx Shearwater and Brown Rat by UCC), the trailing of vegetation clearance and other logistics including the drafting of a bait station grid. NPWS is now in a position to progress the plan to eradicate Saltee Island Great of its rat population.
The response deadline for tendering is 12 noon on 15 June 2020 (Ref: SPU CO22-2020 – Great Saltee Rat Eradication Project). The DCHG contact person is Orla Kelly, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, ‘phone 01 631 3898, and the NPWS contact person is Paul Laycock (Source: https://irl.eu-supply.com/ctm/Supplier/PublicPurchase/166934/0/0?returnUrl=ctm/Supplier/publictenders&b=ETENDERS_SIMPLE).