Extensive bird survey gets underway


A four-year study gets underway this week with the aim of surveying 250 species of Ireland's birds. 

The results will set the agenda for bird conservation over the next two decades. The aim is to understand how changes to climate and habitats affect Ireland's birds. Brian Caffrey, BirdWatch Ireland's atlas co-ordinator, urged people to contact them with sightings of birds no matter how common. "A project like this relies heavily on records submitted by the general public, and I would urge anyone with even a passing interest in birds and the natural world to send us reports of the birds they see, be they common or rare," he said. "There is a real sense of concern about how birds are coping with changes to our climate and their habitats." Bird Atlas 2007-11 will cover the whole of Britain and Ireland during the winter and breeding season. The comprehensive survey will record familiar garden birds like Robins and Blue Tits while giving an idea of how well conservation efforts are doing for the Corncrake as well as assessing breeding successes for Buzzards, Skylarks, Yellowhammers and Lapwings. The survey is a joint project of BirdWatch Ireland , the British Trust for Ornithology and the Scottish Ornithologists' Club. BirdWatch Ireland chief executive Oran O'Sullivan said it is the biggest project Irish bird-watchers have ever taken on. "BirdWatch Ireland staff have been making preparations for this survey for three years and finally we are now able to fire the starting gun," Mr O'Sullivan. "It's going to be like the start of a marathon, but with binoculars and notebooks instead of trainers and tracksuits - and everyone will be starting off in different places, of course." BirdWatch Ireland is the country's largest independent conservation organisation dedicated to protecting wild birds and their natural habitats.