Wildlife Content

Ireland has a rich natural heritage – from the sandbanks of the Shannon Estuary to the fens of Monaghan… from the natterjack toad to the Atlantic salmon… from the Killarney fern to the freshwater pearl mussel.

Rare Irish Breeding Birds: Monitoring Project

The habitats of rare Irish breeding birds have been seriously threatened through a number of environmental changes such as drainage of wetlands, agricultural changes and attacks from the non-native American Mink. Part of an ongoing process, this project aimed to monitor the breeding population and breeding performance of rare and declining Irish bird species in order to assess their conservation needs.

The project involved collating reports from over forty voluntary observers around the country. The fieldwork took place between May and July 2012 and was concentrated mainly in wetlands, as this is the habitat richest in rare breeding birds. Observations were taken in counties Antrim, Armagh, Donegal, Fermanagh, Galway, Kerry, Longford, Mayo, Roscommon, Tyrone and Wexford.

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Project Findings

Proved Breeding: Gadwall, Shoveler, Pochard.
Probable breeding:
Common Scoter, Black-necked Grebe, Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew, Bearded Reedling.
Present in breeding habitat: Whooper Swan, Black tailed Godwit.

Findings of note included the observation of the Black-Necked Grebe, which has only been observed breeding in Ireland three times in the last forty years; and the observation of the Bearded Reedling which is only known to have bred in Ireland once before, in the late-1970s. On the down side, no breeding by the Nightjar was observed, although it can be a difficult species to detect, due to the short duration of its nocturnal singing period.

This project received €1,500 under the Heritage Research Grant Scheme in 2012.