So, we won't know the final figures until the end of next week, but we have some exciting news - We've already broken the record for the number of breeding Roseate Terns on Rockabill!!! Last year's record total was 1250 pairs, but we already have over 1300 nesting here at the moment!
This is fantastic news as Rockabill is the biggest colony of Roseate Terns in Europe. We have around 80% of the north-west European population of the species, so their success at Rockabill will help safeguard their future in this part of the world. As usual, nestbox uptake is very high, with many others nesting in the shelter behind, beside or between boxes.
This fantastic news is down to the hard work put in by a long list of people over the years, but we also have to mention another very important contributor - the EU Birds Directive. Rockabill is a 'Special Protection Area (SPA)' for Roseate Terns amongst other species, since such important numbers breed here. This designation essentially means no damage can be done to the site that might negatively impact their numbers. The Birds Directive also ensures successive governments make the conservation of our wild birds a priority, for example by providing funding for the Rockabill project through the NPWS. Unfortunately, the Birds Directive is under threat, despite doing so much through the years..........
BirdWatch Ireland has launched a campaign to defend the Birds and Habitats Directives - probably the most important campaign we have ever done. You can help by signing the petition at this link. It takes 20 seconds to fill in first name, last name, email and hit submit:
If the Birds and Habitats directives are weakened, it will mean that our Irish Nature laws will be weakened, and our wildlife and habitats will suffer. Rockabill is a great example of the effectiveness of the Directives, but they protect a number of other Irish seabird sites, as well as many of the rivers and lakes used by birds and wildlife in the summer and winter.
Another example is the Corncrake, which has been saved from extinction because of these laws. Small populations of this once wide-spread bird are beginning to come back in the west and north-west of the country.
And there are many more benefits.
The European Commission has been tasked by its President Jean-Claude Juncker to undertake a review of the Directives with the possibility of merging them. We believe, (as does BirdLife International, World Wildlife Fund for Nature, and the European Environment Bureau along with eNGOs all over Europe) that this is in fact an attempt to weaken the Directives as the push is for economic growth at all costs. As part of the Review, the Commission must undertake public consultation and in this case it is in a form of a questionnaire. Along with BirdLife International etc we are asking people to sign the petition/questionnaire that we have developed which has all the answers filled in already that are most supportive of the Directives.
It takes 20 seconds to fill in first name, last name, email and hit submit.