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  16.05.11, 9.14pmhrs  |  reported by admin1
  Hill Fire Fallout
 

May 2011

There have been a number of unforeseen consequences to the recent hill fires, which burnt over 5 square km of Hill and mountain habitat on the Inishowen peninsula. The Illies and Urris hills were the worst effected areas, with some 3 square km of the North Inishowen Coast Special Area of Conservation burnt. As landowners struggle to find alternative grazing for their newly lambed or dry ewes the Departments of Agriculture and Environment are threatening to penalise landowners through the Single Farm Payment system.

Landowners who are claiming payment for grazing lands, which have been brunt, will loose the payment for a number of years. They will also be referred for a cross compliance check to ensure their holdings and farm practices are in accordance with all the European directives. This includes the habitats and birds directives, which will prove difficult for landowners to comply with if they have destroyed vegetation and habitats on their lands.

Conservation interest groups in the area have stated that a number of high profile bird species were negatively effected by the fires. One fire was courageously stopped by volunteers within 20 metres of the nest of a bird for which there is less than a handful in the country. They have called for partnership groups to be formed for the practice of strip burning on hills sides during winter months. " Burning is a good land management tool if undertaken at the right time and under controlled conditions ", stated the local National Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger for Inishowen. He is seeking to form a Special interest group for the Urris hills to showcase controlled winter burning. " We need the landowners, IFA, Gun clubs, Fire brigade and local conservation community to come on board in order to address the management of these hills and stop the indiscriminate destruction of huge swaths of mountain habitat".

If you want to get involved contact Ranger Johnston on 087 2867055
 
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  16.05.11, 9.13pmhrs  |  reported by admin1
  Malin Tope Recaught in Denmark
 

A Tope (13kg shark) which was tagged off Malin Head by local shark fishing enthusiast Paul Bryson has been recaptured in the Denmark Straits. The Tope was caught and tagged on the 14 May 2010 and re- caught on the 4th Jan 2011 giving an incredible 2500km in 235 days.

Little is known about our seasonal and resident populations of sharks and eelasmobranch species. Interestingly Lough Swilly has been the recorded location for the capture of specimen skate on numerous occasions through out the past 200 years. Recent fishing and survey records show that Inishowen's coast can certainly be classified as shark infested waters. With two shark fishing festivals and a major basking shark research programme being undertaken off Malin Head, maybe now is the time for the tourism industry to investigate the potential of sharks as a totem for the Peninsula. Sharks are now the number one conservation species in the world with finning being the most controversial issue. They are sexy, marketable creatures which draw peoples interest no matter what their background. Most of us remember back in the 80's when posters of whale tail flukes adorned teenagers walls, well now its sharks of all kind and the bigger the better according to many of the new 00's generation. Sharks can be a sustainable resource for the marketing and activity tourism sector, which Inishowen tourism operators are aiming for.

The Marine Sportfish Tagging Programme

Inland Fisheries Ireland's Marine Sportfish Tagging Programme was initiated in 1970 by the Inland Fisheries Trust, who had responsibility for developing and promoting recreational sea angling. By the late 1960s, results from sea angling competitions were showing a decline in the capture of some of the most important species such as Blue Shark, Tope, Monkfish, Skates and Rays. At that time, virtually all fish caught by anglers were killed and taken ashore for weighing and photographic opportunities.

As little was known at the time about the biology and migration patterns of these species, the Inland Fisheries Trust decided to introduce a tagging programme with the explicit purpose of introducing conservation measures and to learn more about the migratory patterns of sea angling species. All tags used to date in the Marine Sport Fish Tagging Programme can be idetified by their label - "Fisheries Board Ireland Reward". Though the tags appear in a variety of colours and shapes this the text "Fisheries Board Ireland Reward" and a unique id number are present on each tag.

To encourage charter boat skippers to participate in tagging fish the Marine Sportfish Tagging Programme Conservation Award was created. This is award is presented each year to the skipper who tags the most fish.

For more information Log onto

http://www.fisheriesireland.ie/Tagging/marine-sport-fish-tagging-programme.html
 
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  13.04.11, 10.54pmhrs  |  reported by admin1
  Spring Migrations in Full Flow
 

April 2011:

In recent weeks our resident winter bird species have flocked together and are now leaving in perfect V formation to make the return migration to Iceland and further North to Greenland. Malin Head is one of the key orientation migration points for all bird species heading north out or Ireland and it could see over 100,000 birds pass its shores over the coming weeks. In perfect symmetry with this northern movement our summer residents have started to trickle up from Africa and Inishowen coastal waters in particular have witnessed an noticeable influx of coast nesting seabirds.

The waters of Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle are teeming with Razorbills, Gulliemots, Fulmar and Sandwitch Terns to mention a few. Building on the incremental rise in Razorbill and Guillemot numbers present on Lough Swilly during the 2010-breeding season, the numbers estimated to have returned after a long and turbulent winter offshore are extremely high. Thousands of birds swarm fed on shoals of sprat below Fort Dunree during three days of calm waters. A pair of puffins (see picture) was spotted near Malin Head giving credence to the unconfirmed local belief that one or two pairs are breeding on the Inishowen Coastline.
 
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  10.04.11, 10.04pmhrs  |  reported by admin1
  Marine Feast off Malin
 

April 2011

The Inishowen Basking Shark research team hit the jackpot on Sunday with perfect calm waters and clear blue sky's off Malin head. The shark team were out undertaking some preliminary field trials of their Inishowen Development Partnership funded depth tags when they encountered large aggregations of Basking sharks and a number of Minke whales. The team quickly switched to tagging mode and managed to deploy 18 individual visual tags before the wind picked up and the Sea State effected the shark's activity on the surface. Lead researcher with the team Emmett Johnston said "This really gets the 2011 season off with a bang and the changeable winds provided the team with excellent opportunities for recording how the shark's behaviour changed with the weather patterns through out the day". They estimated that there were approximately 30 basking sharks and two Minke whales within 500m of Malin head for about 4 hours on Sunday.

The team has secured funding from the Inishowen development Partnership and support from local councillor Micky Grant and TD Charle McConalogue to investigate the sharks surfacing patterns and assist commercial eco/marine tourism operators to develop the area. They are working in conjunction with Queens Unviversity Belfast and intend to deploy a number of different radio-wave and satellite tags on the sharks throughout the summer and are asking everyone who is on or near the coastline to keep their eyes peeled for the specially made tags. The tags are yellow and about two-foot in length, they are designed to pop off the sharks at a pre-determined time and can often wash up on the shore. If you find a tag or are interested in the project, more information can be found at www.baskingshark.ie
 
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  14.02.11, 4.11pmhrs  |  reported by admin1
  Hedgerow Deadline 1st March
 

February 2011

The National Parks and Wildlife Service has released a reminder notice to all landowners informing them that the deadline for the cutting, scrubbing and burning of vegetation on uncultivated land is the first of March. All works must be completed by the start of the official Birds and Wildlife Nesting and Breeding Season on the 1st of March. The Restrictions on the destruction of hedgerows and the destruction of vegetation on uncultivated land will continue to 31st August 2011. Many of Irelands best known spcies nest in hedgerows and scrub, Pictured above is a long eared owl who commonly nest in old fir trees and scrub patches on marginal land. These uncultivated areas have been targeted by landowners during 2010 for clearing and grubbing. This is a direct result of restrictions imposed by the dept. of Agriculture in relation to Single Farm Payments.

Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976, as amended by Section 46 of the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, restricts the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction by other means of vegetation growing on uncultivated land or in hedges or ditches during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife, from 1 March to 31 August.

In Ireland hedges are of exceptional importance as habitats, particularly for birds but also for wild flowers, shrubs and trees and provide food and shelter for birds and other wildlife and enhance the diversity of nature in our countryside.

These restrictions apply not only to private land-users but also to local authorities, public bodies and to contractors. Although there are some exemptions to the above restrictions, for works carried out during the normal course of agriculture and forestry or where they are executed for public health and safety reasons by a statutory body, it is nevertheless this Department’s policy to prosecute where there appears to have been a breach of the law.

The assistance of the public is sought in bringing to attention any alleged unlawful cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction, by reporting details to the Gardaí or to the local Conservation Rangers of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Reported instances will, as far as practicable, be investigated.

The provisions of the Wildlife Acts in relation to Section 40 including the relevant exemptions may be accessed through the NPWS website at http://www.npws.ie/en/WildlifePlanningtheLaw/Legislation/ .
 
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  14.02.11, 4.06pmhrs  |  reported by admin1
  Golden Eagle Influx
 

February 2011:

Inishowen naturalists have reported an influx of transient Golden eagles throughout the peninsula during the early spring month of February. Anecdotal reports of eagles have been a regular feature during the past three years but the recent spate of sightings are different in that they are logged definite records of tagged individuals. Records of note are the continued presence of Spéir in the north-east, a single male bird with blue and yellow wing tags in the Central Mountain zone and a untagged Female bird on the west coast of the peninsula.

It is believed that the tagged male bird has been attempting to hold territory for the last year but there is at this point no substantial evidence to support this. Local ornithologists are concentrating their weekly watch efforts on establishing if the birds are only short seasonal visitors or if they might establish a territory covering one of the remoter parts of the peninsula.

Golden eagle project manager Lorcan O'Toole believes that Inishowen could in the future provide enough habitat and food sources for a single pair. However as the lambing season begins this month the fear of unintentional poisoning has increased and locally based NPWS staff are consulting with farming organisations and individual landowners to ensure they are fully aware of the new poisoning regulations.

If you see a golden eagle please log your sighting on the golden eagle trust website www.goldeneagle.ie. Logged sightings help establish a picture of movement over time by individual birds and can assist the eagle project staff in focusing their time and resources to specific ta
 
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