Studying birds by the bookBirdwatching has become a popular hobby for more and more people in Ireland, partly due to the increase in regional events organized by Birdwatch Ireland. Now, two new bird books hit the shelves in time for the Christmas market. Ireland's Garden Birds - how to identify, attract and design your garden for birds by Oran O'Sullivan and Jim Wilson (Collins Press, £13.99) is a practical illustrated guide to identifying 56 common birds with month-by-month tips for your garden.

O'Sullivan is editor of Wings, the Birdwatch Ireland magazine and Wilson is a wildlife writer, filmmaker and tour leader. The second book, Birds of Ireland - facts, folklore and history by Glynn Anderson (Collins Press, £19.99) offers a more in-depth look at human interaction with wild, domesticated and extinct birds. An amateur naturalist who now works as a guide at the National Botanic Gardens, Anderson writes about proverbs, curses and health cures associated with birds, as well as examining the idea of birds as predictors of the future.

Meanwhile, the 5th Ornithological Research Conference goes ahead on November 15th at the Department of Zoology, University College Cork.

For more details telephone 01-2819878.

Recalculating your carbon

Carbon auditing of food is a more accurate measure of carbon dioxide emission than food miles, according to Jenny Hall in a recent article in Organic Farming magazine. "While the food miles concept has been effective in raising public awareness about the environmental impact of food production, it doesn't go far enough," she writes. She asks is it still right to sell your produce as being local if the inputs you have used to grow or rear the produce have travelled thousands of miles or if the inputs used are highly energy intensive in their manufacture, such as artificial fertilizers?

Hall comments on how the UK's Carbon Trust calculates emissions through carbon dioxide equivalence of say methane and nitrous oxide. She also questions the practice of arable crops grown to feed livestock, refutes the value of biofuels from food crops and praises the development of wood-fuel renewable energy tractors powered by steam, and solar electric tractors for lighter work.

According to Hall, carbon auditing may become as important as the organic standards and it's essential that the organic movement achieves consensus on how farmers calculate their carbon footprint. See also www.carbontrust.co.uk.

First World War anniversary

The National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks is holding a day of talks and activities to mark the 90th anniversary of the end of the first World War on Saturday next. Events will include talks on the experiences of Irish soldiers, sessions with a first World War British army recruitment re-enactor and the screening of a British war office propaganda film from 1917.

"Around 200,000 Irish men served in the British services in the first World War. The day will explore the histories of the Irish soldiers who were caught up in the 'Great War'," says Siobhán Pierce, assistant education and outreach officer at the National Museum.

See www.museum.ie for more details



The second year of fieldwork for noting the distribution of birds wintering and breeding in Ireland starts today. Birdwatch Ireland are keen for new and regular birdwatchers to record species seen in their locality.

Keep a keen eye out for birds such as kingfishers, barn owls, kestrels and goldfinches, whose numbers are being closely monitored this year.