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  14.04.06, 3.37pmhrs  |  reported by admin1
  Tree Week 2006

Buncrana, April ~ Pupils from Scoil Iosagain National School celebrated National Tree Week in Buncrana Community Library with Nature.ie's Outreach Environmental Educator Pauline Bryce. Children from third and fourth classes joined in the celebrations by finding out what they can discover in the Wild Woodlands of Inishowen, whilst meeting some of the inhabitants up close.

The indoor classroom was filled with Nature.ie's own curriculum based education activities. The children were encouraged to explore and discover why the woodlands are such important habitats for wildlife. The "Forest Foragers" revealed that even the forest floor was full of life. They discovered that the soil itself supports many woodland plants and animals. By closing their eyes the children used their sense of touch to feel their way around the contents of the woodland floor as though they were badgers hunting in the night.

The "Tree Detectives" learnt how to tell the age of a tree.

They also found out that trees are grown for timber in plantation woodlands and are used to build houses, make furniture and paper. The "Woodland explorers" discovered that hedgerows are important wildlife corridors connecting pieces of woodland together.

Whilst the third and fourth classes were enjoying the education resources indoors, fifth and sixth classes took part in the "Wild woodlands Nature Hunt". The teams of enthusiastic nature hunters used their map reading skills to find the clues hidden within Swan Park, Buncrana. Extra points were collected if the teams could identify trees, plants and wildlife. These extra points were crucial if they wanted to win a place on the victory scoreboard. The fastest team to complete the nature hunt and answer the most questions correctly will be awarded the nature hunt first prize medal at the end of the school year. Watch this space!

National Tree week is organised by The Tree Council of Ireland. Once a year events are carried out nationwide to raise awareness of the importance of trees in our everyday life and engage local communities to participate. Tree week 2006 ran from the 5th - 11th of March.

Nature offers an active and comprehensive Outreach Service and Field Trip programme to complement environmental education strands within the school curriculum. With links to the national curriculum in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland all national and primary schools can use this valuable resource within North West of Ireland. For more information visit our Education section of the website.

Nature would like to thank all the pupils and teachers of Scoil Iosagain National School who took part in the National Tree Week celebrations and many thanks to the librarians at Buncrana Community Library for hosting the events.
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  14.04.06, 3.19pmhrs  |  reported by admin1
  Inch Wetland Development

Inch, April ~ A new 3km walkway has recently been completed at Inch Wetland site. The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) recently acquired a lease of Inch Lough and are in the process of developing visitor services. The next development will be the completion of two new bird hides by the end of May. This should coincide with the summer peak of breeding bird activity at Inch wetland.

Inch supports Internationally important numbers of breeding Sandwich and Common Terns during the summer months. Some other nationally important species include a breeding colony of Mute swans, one of the largest colonies of black headed gulls in the country, large amounts of breeding duck, Lapwing and unusually Whooper Swan.

NPWS are also conducting extensive conservation management works at the site. Recently 10 tons of stone was taken by helicopter out to, what is locally known as the Tern Island. The stone was used to raise the level of the Island, which should prevent nests and chicks loss in the late spring floods. New grazing regimes and fencing will also improve the site for breeding birds and for its winter visitors. During the winter Inch forms an integral part the Swilly wetland system which is one of Irelands top sites for migratory Geese, Whooper Swan, Duck and Waders.

NPWS are working closely with resident farmers and co-ops in the area on habitat management and grazing regimes. This approach is invaluable to the ongoing development and success of the greater Swilly wetland system.

To find out more see our Links page.
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  14.04.06, 12.49pmhrs  |  reported by admin1
  Risso's dolphin stranded

Ballyliffen, March ~ A Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus) was stranded on Pollan Bay, Ballyliffen, Co. Donegal on the 10th March 2006.

The Dolphin, in quite an advanced state of decomposition was still easily recognisable by its head shape, back markings and its teeth (see our photos below). This is only the second ever-official recording of a Risso's Dolphin stranding on Inishowen. It makes an unusual site on the beautiful 3-mile Pollan beach, which is normally associated with surfing and walkers.

Little is known about this species which is more readily associated with warmer waters. The Rissos are social animals and are normally found in schools of 5 - 25 but their schools can sometimes contain up to 300 individuals! They make a striking sight in the wild because of the criss-cross of scars all over their skin. On older animals scarred tissue can cover most of the body and are believed to be aquired through internal disputes and squid suckers. Risso's normally feed on squid and cuttlefish, which are regularly found in Irish waters.

This particular dolphin is likely to have died at sea and was probably floating around for a short time before being washed ashore by the Atlantic currents at Pollan Bay. Other interesting species have been washed up on Inishowen and Pollan Bay in recent times, see our article on %u2018 Recent Cetacean Stranding%u2019s on Inishowen%u2019 for more details.

For information on Risso%u2019s Dolphin and cetaceans see our links page.
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  14.04.06, 11.14amhrs  |  reported by admin1
  Injured Buzzard Recovers

Buncrana, March ~ The Injured buzzard featured in one of our earlier articles has made a full recovery and has now been returned to the wild thanks to Martin Maloney, Raptor Rescue Expert.

The buzzard was found with severe injuries, including a broken right wing in an area called Tullydish near Buncrana, Co. Donegal. It is a testament to Martin's skill that the bird with such severe injuries could be nursed back to full health and be returned to the wild close to where it was found.

This is the first bird that Martin has released which suffered such severe injuries. He believes the fact the buzzard was a juvenile helped greatly in it's recovery, as its bones were able to heal faster and were more pliable. Martin used a falconers technique known as "Imping". Imping involves delicately fitting new feathers into damaged feathers, thus giving the bird balanced flight until the necessary primaries (main feathers) regrow.

The bird was ringed by local ornithologist Boyd Bryce. It is hoped to keep track of the bird in future years through the annual Buzzard Monitoring Programme, which the Inishowen Raptor Study Group carries out. The information gathered helps with the conservation management of the buzzard species and other Raptors on Inishowen.

Inishowen has one of the densest populations of buzzards in Ireland and is regarded as the first area buzzards recolonised in the Republic in recent years. The important work by Raptor study groups around Ireland help increase knowledge, understanding and appreciation of these magnificent birds.

Many thanks are owed to all involved in the rescue and recovery. Special acknowledgement must go to Martin for his dedicated work and to Boyd for help with the ID ring and release.

To find out more on these issues and species see our links page.
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  03.02.06, 7.19amhrs  |  reported by admin1
  Dolphin strandings on Inishowen

Inishowen, February ~ Over the last month, two dolphins have been washed up on Inishowen?s shores. Cetacean (marine mammal) strandings normally peak during the December to March period.

A stranding means that the mammal has been stranded or washed up on the shore. There are live stranding?s and also dead ones. There have been several live strandings on the peninsula in recent years. Some people might remember the well publicised stranding near the big Isle of two bottlenose dolphins in July 2002.

The dolphin stranded on Lagg beach was a common dolphin and showed no obvious signs or reason?s for its death. Dolphins can contract disease and infections naturally and also die of old age just like you or me.

The second dolphin was reportedly stranded around Christmas time on Pollon bay near Ballyliffen. Unfortunately I was not informed and due to the carcasses bad state of decomposition I am unable to positively ID the species type. The head is missing! If I was able to take a photo or see the head briefly I would be able to make a positive I.D.

This information about cetaceans is very important, as we know very little about their life cycle and habits. Most of the information we gain is stranding records and samples taken out of dead strandings. The Irish Whale and dolphin Group co-ordinate this gathering of information and they also play an important educational and awareness role in Ireland and Internationally. Thanks to their work Irish waters were recently made a sanctuary for whales and dolphins, the first in the world.

Ireland has some of the best waters in Europe for whale and dolphin watching. Inishowen surrounded by sea Loughs and the Atlantic is of course one of the best spots in the country. For the last few summers we had some interesting visitors like killer whales and blue fin tuna. Minke whales and basking sharks are a common sight around Inishowen as well as the usual sightings of dolphins and porpoise.

Here on Inishowen were lucky because you don?t need a boat to go whale watching. Fort Dunree, Malin head and Inishowen Head are three great spots to watch.

The Irish whale and dolphin group hold whale watching workshops around Ireland. This summer for the first time I will be co-ordinating an open day for National Whale Watching Day at Fort Dunree.

Remember when approaching a stranded cetacean be very careful to wear gloves or clean any part of your body that comes in contact with them.

Please report any information you have to myself
Emmett Johnston ? Wildlife Conservation Ranger-Inishowen
PH: 074 9 322628 email: emmett.johnston@environ.ie or at www.iwdg.ie
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  03.02.06, 7.17amhrs  |  reported by admin1
  Shooting of buzzard condemned

Buncrana, November ~ This year?s shooting season opening day has been stained by a regrettable event. On Tuesday the first of November at approx.12 o?clock, two young members of Buncrana gun club saw a buzzard in Tullydish town-land in a state of distress. Thanks to their quick action local falconer Martin Maloney was informed and was able to rescue the bird. The bird was X-rayed by local vet Susan Roulston to establish the cause of the wounds. A shotgun pellet had broken its right wing. As a precaution all recovered wild birds are normally x-rayed by the wildlife service be they dead or alive.

It was also revealed from the X-ray that the bird was hit by at least three pellets from a shotgun. Unfortunately due to their position in the bird none of the pellets could be examined for pellet size.
The local wildlife Ranger in conjunction with the Buncrana Gardai are following a number of positive leads.

Buncrana Gun Club Condemn shooting of Buzzard
The chairman of the Buncrana gun club Brian Doherty condemned the shooting and the club is assisting with the on going investigation.

Penalties for a first offence are as high as 3 months in prison and a 700 Euro fine as well as the loss of the offenders gun licence/s and the forfeiture of their gun. For a third conviction the penalties rise to 12 months in prison and 2000 Euro fine with loss of licence and gun forfeiture. A successful conviction would also have serious repercussions for the defendants gun club if they are a registered member.

Historically gamekeepers saw the buzzard as vermin. Nowadays the opposite holds true. In places like Scotland where large hunting estates still exist it is now widely accepted that the buzzard in fact helps the game shooter by keeping hooded crows, rooks, magpies, rats, mice and gulls under control. Something ideally suited to the Inishowen peninsula where vermin control is dependent on local farmers and volunteers from local gun clubs.

The local Wildlife Service Ranger and Martin Maloney will be holding a seminar on the wildlife act and shooting. This will be followed by a short session on
Identification skills and finishing with a questions and answers session. All gun club members and independent shooters who operate in the greater Inishowen area are invited.
The injured bird appears to be recovering well and hopefully in the near future will be released back into the wild.

If you have any information that could help with the investigation or any other wildlife queries contact
Emmett Johnston
Inishowen Conservation Ranger
ph: 074 9322628
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