Friday, 28 October 2011

Make Ireland an Ocean Champion! TODAY!!!

Within 24 hours, the Irish government could join a growing European call to strengthen fishing limits, but only if they hear from concerned citizens from across Ireland first!

The EU is currently reforming its “Common Fisheries Policy”, but the proposals don’t go far enough towards saving our seas through science-based catch limits. Ireland is one of the first countries to review the new plans and our government is hosting a public consultation for the next 24 hours.

Call for tighter catch limits and make Ireland an ocean champion by adding your voice here:

Friday, 21 October 2011

Appeal to EU policy makers to stop needless seabird bycatch

Original article taken from the BirdLife International Community blog
BirdLife Europe launched exhibition at the European Parliament with stunning albatross images
On Tuesday 18 October, BirdLife Europe and LPO/BirdLife in France opened its remarkable photo exhibition “Albatrosses, legendary birds”, showing sixteen giant photos demonstrating the spectacular beauty and the unique adaptation of these birds to life in the harsh environment of the southern oceans, with a focus on the problem of their needless deaths through bycatch in the course of longline fishing operations. The exhibition also stresses the dire consequences of this impact on albatross populations. Indeed, 17 out of 22 species are already in danger of extinction. It is now urgent to take action to save them.
Jacques Perrin, French actor, filmmaker and the producer of beautiful wildlife documentaries, including the famous  “Microcosmos”, “Winged Migration” and “Ocean”s, opened the speeches and illustrated the extent of the problem “ Just one longline fishing boat can use a line of 130 km long, attached to which are 10-20 000 hooks. […] Each year, 100 000 albatross die this way.” Mr Perrin continued “Albatrosses are an ideal indicator of the health of our oceans, and we know they are being destroyed by short term fishing policies and exploitation practices by our nations”
(Photo Credit: Alison Duncan)
“Not only albatrosses are suffering from seabird bycatch, but also hundreds of thousands of birds in the EU seas” stressed Angelo Caserta, Regional Director of BirdLife Europe. On a positive note he added: “We have solutions for this problem. It’s not difficult and it’s not costly. We can create win-win situations for fishermen.”
For Estelle Grelier, the French socialist MEP who hosted the event, a data collection related to bycatch is a precondition to finding effective solutions, “Just as for the Common Fisheries Policy reform, fishermen will need to be associated to this process”
Lowri Evans, Director General of DG Mare confirmed that the Commission is planning to adopt the EU Seabird Action Plan by the end of the year, containing monitoring and mitigation measures that will reduce seabird bycatch in both European and international waters. She stressed, as advocated in the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, the need to move to a wider approach to fisheries management encompassing all elements of the ecosystem including seabirds. She called upon Members of the European Parliament, Member States, NGOs, the fishing industry and civil society to help bring about this change.
BirdLife Europe is encouraged by the positive news about the upcoming publication of the EU Seabird Action Plan, but at the same time highlights that this is just a first step in our efforts to save the birds. To be effective, the Action plan will need to be translated into the ongoing CFP reform and be accompanied by research, development of technical mitigation solutions, and awareness rising within the fisheries sector.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Mid October Seatrack Update

The last Seatrack Target Weekend (1st/2nd Oct) was fairly quiet to say the least with light winds or heavy sea mist hampering seawatch efforts at most sites. The fact that quite a few scarce passerines were picked up at the seawatch sites says it all! 

Last weekend saw some good strong W-NW winds however, resulting in some very nice tallies along the West coast highlighted by plenty of auks, Bonxies, Pomarine Skuas & a smattering of Long-tailed Skuas. Numbers of shearwaters overall dropped off as expected, yet tallies of Manxies & Sooties made it into triple figures at some sites. The first wave of divers, mergansers, diving duck & Barnacle Geese was also picked up on, particularly in the North & North West.

The next Seatrack survey takes places this weekend 15th/16th Oct starting at 08:50. Again the forecast looks settled but the West may get some ok winds on the Sunday. This will be the penultimate survey of the 2011 season. Saying that, quite a few Balearic Shearwaters can often be recorded during this time, especially along the south coast, so do keep an eye out. 

If you're interested in taking part in a Seatrack survey then e-mail Niall Keogh at

Barnacle Goose (Dick Coombes)
Location: Fanad Head, Co. Donegal
Date: 09/10/2011
Time: 12:10-14:40
Weather: F3 W-NW, good visibility with no precipitation
Observer(s): Chris Ingram

Great Skua (Bonxie): 3 W
Pomarine Skua: 8 W
Arctic Skua: 1 W
Arctic Tern: 2 W
Common Scoter: 4 W
Red-throated Diver: 3 W
Great Northern Diver: 1 W
Diver sp: 2 E
Red-breasted Merganser: 2 W
Gannet: 80 milling offshore
Kittiwake: 33 W
Guillemot: 33 W
Razorbill: 52 W
Auk sp: 87 W
Merlin: 1 
Snow Bunting: 10

Location: Bloody Foreland, Co. Donegal
Date: 07/10/2011
Time: 08:15-13:50
Weather: F6 NW, good visibility with no precipitation
Observer(s): Ralph Sheppard, Chris Ingram & Gareth Doherty

Sooty Shearwater: 7 W
Manx Shearwater: 57 W
Leach's Petrel: 7 W
Grey Phalarope: 4 W
Great Skua (Bonxie): 156 W
Pomarine Skua: 77 W
Arctic Skua: 46 W
Skua sp: 17 W
Long-tailed Skua: 7 W
Sabine's Gull: 21 W
Common Tern: 4 W
Arctic Tern: 76 W
Eider: 10 W
Red-throated Diver: 7 W & 2 E
Great Northern Diver: 31 W & 4 E
Diver sp: 1 W & 5 E
Fulmar: 1 W
Gannet: 383 W & 48 E
Kittiwake: 646 W
Guillemot: 6 W
Razorbill: 18 W
Auk sp: 675 W
Barnacle Goose: 216 W
Brent Goose: 15 E
Teal: 4 W
Tufted Duck: 1 W
Red-breasted Merganser: 6 W
Snow Bunting: 3 W

Nice variety with good numbers of auks & skuas. Plenty of wildfowl & divers which is typical for this site at this time of year. 

Location: Bloody Foreland, Co. Donegal
Date: 06/10/2011
Time: 18:00-19:00
Weather: F8/9 W-NW
Observer(s): Gareth Doherty

Sooty Shearwater: 8
Great Skua (Bonxie): 45
Pomarine Skua: 8
Arctic Skua: 38
Plus "countless" Manx Shearwaters & Gannets

Location: Bloody Foreland, Co. Donegal
Date: 01/10/2011
Time: 08:05-11:15
Weather: F1-2 NE-N, excellent visibility with no precipitation.
Observer(s): Ralph Sheppard & Chris Ingram

Sooty Shearwater: 2 W
Manx Shearwater: 4 W
Great Skua (Bonxie): 4 W
Pomarine Skua: 1 W
Arctic Skua: 3 W
Sandwich Tern: 4 W
Arctic Tern: 1 E & 1 M
Common Scoter: 1 E
Red-throated Diver: 4 W & 2 E
Great Northern Diver: 6 W & 5 E
Diver sp: 3 W
Gannet: 366 W & 419 E
Kittiwake: 11 W & 3 E
Guillemot: 10 W
Razorbill: 78 W & 3 E
Auk sp: 254 W & 10 E
Black Guillemot: 2 W & 2 E

Bottlenose Dolphin: 10 W (incl. 2 large calves)

"Given the very settled weather, it could have been worse. The dolphins were amazing. Moving at speed just along the edge of the rocky shore, and surfing the only wave available, which even in these calm conditions is quite a substantial one running diagonally out from the shore at SW-NW, so we got a side view of the surfers in the green water."

Location: Carnsore Point, Co. Wexford
Date: 02/10/2011
Time: 08:30-10:00
Weather: F2-3 S, extremely poor visibility (<200m at times) due to heavy sea mist & drizzle.
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh

Balearic Shearwater: 1 M
Manx Shearwater: 2 M
Great Skua (Bonxie): 3 M
Sandwich Tern: 2 W
Black Tern: 6 M (1 adult & 5 juveniles)
'Commic' Tern: c.120 M (approx. 90% Common & 10% Roseates)
Gannet: c.40 M
Kittiwake: 6 E & 4 M
Guillemot: 4 E & 2 M
Razorbill: 28 E & 28 M
Auk sp: 13 E
Yellow Wagtail: A juv/1st-winter flew west under the seawatch site
Lapland Bunting: 1 seen in flight & heard calling overhead

"All the action happened within the first 30 minutes with the majority of the birds listed above present in a single milling feeding flock just 300m offshore which dissipated rather quickly. The heavy mist enclosed soon after & hardly a bird could be seen for the next hour, but terns could still be recorded by ear!!!"

Location: Dursey Island, Co. Cork
Date: 01/10/2011
Time: 08:00-11:00
Weather: F3 NE decreasing to F1 NE, good visibility with no precipitation.
Observer(s): Derek A. Scott

Sooty Shearwater: 1 S
Manx Shearwater: 3 S
Great Skua (Bonxie): 2 S & 1 N
Pomarine Skua: 2 S
Common Scoter: 4 N
Great Northern Diver: 2 N
Fulmar: 2 S & 1 N
Kittiwake: 13 S & 6 N
Auk sp: 233 S, 287 N & 30 M 

Minke Whale: 1 N
Common Dolphin: 40 N
Harbour Porpoise: 12 M

"Herewith the sea-watch from the north-west tip of Dursey Island (from ‘Tea Bag Ledge’) on 1 October 2011. A fine dry morning with a light north-easterly breeze - not ideal for sea-watching. The Fulmars have suddenly all gone (and are now worth counting again!), and most of the Manx Shearwaters are long gone."