Wildlife Report 2013-2014
This period has been good for bird species in particular, with 4 new recordings without losing any, although the Barn Owl must be seen this year. First up was the visit of Little Egrets to the canal during some major works, and these were photographed. The second sighting by two “spotters” was of a Dipper near the fast flowing mill race beside the canal lock. The third new sighting was made by a new resident, who has wildlife expertise, of a female Merlin at close range. The fourth new species was seen by the author in a stream at the back of his house, on two consecutive days, of a Water Rail which we suspected we had, but couldn’t make a positive ID.
As the rabbit population remained high so has its predator’s, with several sightings of stoats and continued abundance of Buzzards. However in the past few weeks an outbreak of myxomatosis has occurred and will affect the population for some time. Introduced mid last century this disease remains a crude and cruel way of controlling Rabbit populations. It had been feared that the recent canal works would affect the resident otters. However, just a week after full flow was again restored a daytime sighting occurred of an otter catching a fish and then moving to the opposite bank where he could be seen and heard happily crunching on his meal.
The author had two meetings with Kildare Birdwatch in Ardclough this year. One of these meetings was to give info on all bird sightings spanning several decades in this grid area. We are now set up on the Birdwatch mailing list so that info can be shared in future.
Whilst this report, as stated, is primarily concerned with our local wildlife right here in Ardclough, that doesn’t mean we don’t keep informed about what transpires elsewhere. For example, our migrant birds are right here for some of the year, but are elsewhere for the rest of the year. To this day we know of trapping and killing of many species of birds including migrants, that is happening in some Mediterranean and Saharan regions. We know the methods used and some of the worst offenders. It is hoped that next year we can explore, perhaps through the EU, any means of putting pressure on the relevant countries to outlaw this barbaric practice.
Finally, one such migrant under threat, the Swift, still remains quite common here. People are amazed when we tell them some of the facts about this bird, such as their ability to “sleep on the wing”. Late last summer the author caught one such example on camera and the photo is included here. Amazing isn’t it.!
The annual wildlife report takes into account all matters pertaining to the wildlife in this area. As mentioned earlier weather conditions were generally favourable throughout the year. Feeding stations however, were as busy as ever but for the second year in a row the numbers of Tree Sparrows was in decline, despite being common in previous years. This has been a common trend nationally for some time