Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Numbers are up!

Who would have predicted in summer 2012 that we would be experiencing the kind of temperatures we are all enjoying at the moment. In June of last year juvenile Redshank were swimming in floodwaters and the Shannon was at winter flood levels; threatening the productivity of breeding waders. This year the water levels are low, the birds are dry and thankfully have had a successful breeding season. On Inishee we are keeping the chick feeding areas wet during this hot spell, by pumping water from the river onto the island to ensure that chicks can feed easily and safely within the boundaries of the predator proof fence.

Ray tends to the water pump on Inishee. 
© Colin Gallagher

Over the past couple of months our volunteers were also very busy keeping the tall vegetation down and preventing it from touching the electric wires on the fence, ensuring the maximum current was delivered. A big thank you once again to Ray and Ciaran who gave up their time to help with these important tasks.

Pumping water on Inishee.
© Colin Gallagher

Things have quietened down considerably in the past couple of weeks as Lapwing and Redshank chicks have fledged and they start to leave the area again. The Snipe continue to Chip and Drum as their breeding season continues and a single Curlew remains on Inishee, their chicks not having fledged yet. This is fantastic considering Curlew were absent from the island last year.

On sites under the management of the Breeding Wader Project, funded by National Parks & Wildlife Service, and operated by BirdWatch Ireland, the total numbers of Redshank and Lapwing have increased on last year. Although still at critically low numbers, Lapwing populations have doubled from 8 pairs in 2012 to 16 in 2013 while the numbers of Redshank have increased from 79 pairs to 104. Outside of Inishee, the greatest increase was recorded on Bunthulla, up near Clonmacnoise; 31 pairs of Redshank compared to last years 11. As Snipe haven’t finished breeding yet, we will have a better idea of overall figures when their breeding season comes to a close in late July.

Tall vegetation is kept clear of the electric wires.
© Colin Gallagher

Kathryn is now off on maternity leave and I (Colin Gallagher) will be covering for her in her absence.  I look forward to continuing to keep you updated with the sounds and sights of the Shannon Callows over the coming months.

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