Small Blue

Wildlife Photographic Competition; Moths in decline; Amazing Fact - 23rd May 2012

23 May 12
Dawn Chorus at the Irish Heritage Park
Dawn Chorus at the Irish Heritage Park

A great morning was had by all at the recent Dawn Chorus event at The Irish National Heritage Park, Ferrycarrig. Mind you, that early morning traffic along the main road was, at times, a bit of a pain – but then there was breakfast – excellent!! Many thanks to the Irish National Heritage Park team for looking after us so well – another celebratory spring dawn chorus day has passed – roll on the summer… Last week was the taster, and in a couple of days we will officially be into June and ‘The Summer’! That glimmer of hope – is summer really on way? In just over three weeks we will reach the summer solstice – please, please, let there be sun…

Ants protecting grubs
Ants protecting grubs

And as we come to the end of another month, it is time to collect up those County wildlife records. Do please provide by email to records AT wexfordnaturalists.com or info AT wildside.ie. or 'On Line' at www.wexfordnaturalists.com. They can also be posted to Harm at ‘Records Officer’, Wexford Naturalists’ Field Club, c/o Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, North Slob, Wexford. Thank you.

Primrose
Primrose

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION: Take note, all wildlife photographers out there! – The Annual Wildlife Photographic Competition has just been announced by the Environment Section of Wexford County Council.  The Theme: ‘The Wildlife of Hedgerows’. There are two categories; Adult, which is for 18+ and Junior which is under 18.  All photographs must be original work, and submitted as a 25cm x 20cm photograph hard copy that is unframed, and also on disc.  Each competitor is limited to two entries. Essential elements of your work must be originality and creativity; picture quality; content and composition; and the appropriateness of caption. For more details and exactly what is required on each entry, please contact Cliona Connolly, Environment Section, Wexford County Council, County Hall, Carricklawn, Wexford or on email at Cliona.connolly AT wexfordcoco.ie. The closing date is Friday 22nd June. We wish you all well.

Bugle
Bugle

AMAZING ESTIMATE: A recent calculation by researchers in the UK estimate that the number of caterpillars eaten by Blue Tit chicks in the UK each year is 35 billion. That figure is further extrapolated to a figure of 50 billion caterpillars when including Ireland – That means that we are losing 15 billion caterpillars to Blue Tit chicks here in Ireland, every year! So what about all the other bird species feeding caterpillars to their chicks? And what about all the other caterpillars that die because of the huge amounts of insecticides that are spread by gardeners and farmers every year! You can guess how that incredible 15 billion figure was reached – basically someone was counting the number of caterpillars being fed to a hungry ‘average’ brood of Blue Tit chicks – and that average brood is around eight - then multiplying that figure up by the estimated number of Blue Tit pairs breeding in UK and Ireland. That figure is available from all the Breeding Bird Survey work over the past number years – still it really is a staggering amount of caterpillars isn’t it. And yet somehow our butterfly, moth and insect populations survive – yes I know, many are actually declining (and seriously in places – see below) – but as a basic requirement of survival our insects have to try and allow for loss (in the greater scheme of things) and be able to produce enough eggs, then caterpillars and adults to replace themselves…. It really does make one wonder just how many caterpillars are being produced each year though, doesn’t it! Thank you Blue Tits and all the other species that feed on caterpillars and keep those numbers down to manageable (rather than plague) proportions… and don’t go too mad in the feeding bonanza as we need enough caterpillars to replace those species, as man’s continued selfish interference is making a mess of our planet!

MOTH SPECIES DECLINING IN UK: A recent study in the UK has found that the overall number of moths have decreased by 33% since 1968. In the southern part of Britain the situation is even more serious with a decline of almost half the population with over 60 species now extinct. So what is happening in Ireland? Work here is ongoing with Moths Ireland (www.mothsireland.com), though their database will be nothing like the UK database, but one has to start somewhere. Our National Biodiversity Data Centre (www.biodiversityireland.ie) in Waterford is constantly calling for more work on so many of our wildlife populations. Monitoring of all wildlife populations is essential, as how otherwise can one make any informed decisions relating to almost everything that we do, if we do not know what is going on in our environment. Sadly, we as humans, seem to forget that we ‘are part’ of the biodiversity of our planet, not something separate that can continue to use up resources and constantly and continuously push out other members of our natural history community – you would have thought we would have learnt by now – but sadly we have not! http://www.mothscount.org/text/19/moths_in_decline.html