Stephen Heery published a bird report titled ‘Birds in Central Ireland – Fifth Mid-Shannon Bird Report’. In the ‘First Mid-Shannon Bird Report’ (1992-1995), Brendan Kavanagh encouraged bird-watchers in the Shannon area to visit Bord na Móna’s cutaway boglands. In this, the updated ‘Fifth Mid-Shannon Report’, Stephen Heery outlines the results of long-term bird surveys since the Kavanagh first published his findings.
This report has been cataloguing bird usage in the midlands of Ireland since 1995. Some trends are apparent such as the drastic decline of Corncrake in the Shannon Callows since the first report, and the increase in distribution of Buzzard. Stephen also comments on the development of the Lough Boora Parklands and Bord na Móna cutaways in general.
Extract from the Report
Lough Boora Parklands has featured in the Irish Bird Report on the Irish Birding website – with the highest number of 43 recorded in 2011. Birds of prey often visit the Parklands – the Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Peregrine and Merlin frequently make an appearance in the landscape. Breeding birds can also be spotted in the Parklands, even though they are rarely encountered in the wider countryside for reasons of cryptic habitat (Woodcock), rarity (Grey Partridge) or fragility of population (Lapwing).
On May 18 2012 a remarkable 90 species of birds was recorded in one day in the breeding season on cutaways in the greater Boora area during the BioBlitz (an annual bringing together of biodiversity specialists at different sites in Ireland, organised by the Heritage Council). Kavanagh (1995) listed 75 species at Turraun, the earliest cutaway to develop; the product of a few years recording in all seasons. Bird species populations have expanded, contracted, moved around and consolidated as the habitats in the Parklands have evolved over the years.
With young birch, wet scrub and rushes being widespread habitats, the commonest breeding birds at present are the Reed Bunting, Blackbird, Willow Warbler and Sedge Warbler, while Whinchat, Grasshopper Warbler and Whitethroat all visit the Parklands.
Partridge conservation measures, which include predator control, have significantly increased the breeding success of Lapwings at Boora, accompanied by fine views of their characteristic aerobatic communal displays.
New breeding species such as Quail, come more slowly but as more areas emerge from peat production over the next 10 years, it is certain that these expanding cutaways with stretch from the Lough Boora Parklands to the Shannon and beyond. This will facilitate further expansion of bird species and populations in the wider area. The progress is being monitored by the Bord na Móna ecology team in partnership with Birdwatch Ireland and others.
Learn more about Bord na Móna’s Biodiversity Action Plan 2010-2015.