Cookstown Wildlife Trust
founded February 1950
Talks 2018-2019
A Natural Copeland-Shane Wolsey 14th February 2019 Shane Wolsey is the BTO representative in Northern Ireland. BTO was established in 1933 as an independent scientific research unit. The group organises and advises on wild bird surveys on birds and their breeding habits. There are about 30,000 volunteers and bird counts are held regularly. Breeding birds, wetland birds, heronries, seabirds and garden birds are all surveyed with counts once a month. ‘Sea-bird report’ is produced annually and there is a BTO training programme. The Copelands consist of three islands, Big Copeland and two smaller islands. The islands are an ASSI and tea and a wide range of species including seals and a wide range of seabirds including the only Northern Ireland colony of Manx Shearwaters-nearly 5000 strong. The colony of arctic terns is the biggest in Ireland, and oystercatchers, lapwings, ringed plovers, herring gulls, and great black-backed gulls also occur. Great black-backs can be a nuisance, they eat baby eider ducks! Common Gulls feed their chicks on worms, there are around 750 pairs. Mediterranean gulls also appear but rarey breed, and around 12 pairs of fulmars. Eider ducks, Mallards, Stock doves, Sedge Warblers, and Wheatears are among the other species found. Mew Island has a lighthouse at its eastern end and three jetties. The island is very tidal so few leisure boats appear-important for wellbeing of the birds. Grey seals and common seals are found on the rocks and eider ducks also breed (there are few predators here). Old lighthouse island has two jetties and strong tides. Birds are caught for ringing, by hand or in nets (extracting birds from nets is highly skilled). As well as ringing birds they are fitted with Geo locators and/or Data loggers. Conservation on the Copelands is divided into two parts. Conservation 1 includes monitoring predators on the island, managing vegetation issues and ignoring dangers from gulls and crows. Conservation 2 provides breeding locations for a number of species. Aims are largely to protect birds so there is a lot of monitoring. Colonies are visited to understand use of the island, colonies are marked to keep people away, chick hideaways provided (even beside the nests). Terns have been moved to another island using decoys and a sound system. Otters have been an increasing problem as they are fond of terns eggs. A system of electric fencing has proved successful in deterring them. Determined attempts were made to introduce puffins to the Copelands. Decoys were placed and puffin sounds were introduced. It was four years before they came and they are now breeding. The Copeland Islands still have great potential and now the focus is on environmental considerations. The club had an excellent turnout of 36 for Shane’s talk. The slides and presentation were excellent and our speaker could no doubt have gone on even longer, such was his enthusiasm for the subject. Amphibian and Natterjack Toad conservation in Ireland. 14th February 2019