Thursday, 20th September 2018
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Urgent Appeal

The good folks at Birdwatch Ireland (our largest conservation NGO) have issued an urgent appeal stressing the importance of Keeping Dogs on Leads when visiting beaches this summer especially near colonies of nesting shorebirds particularly after an incident this week

The Little Tern chicks down at the Kilcoole have been developing very nicely during this glorious patch of weather we've been having. Some of these have reached fledging age and have taken to wandering around the beach. The wanderings of these larger chicks have taken them outside of the protection of the fenced-off area of the beach and into areas where they are vulnerable to attack by predators and dogs and being trampled by humans.

Despite the best efforts of the brilliant wardens (part of the annual protection scheme at Kilcoole) to shepherd these youngsters with a wanderlust back into the compound one unfortunate large chick (just days away from fledging) was picked up and killed by a dog off-lead and not under adequate control.

This was a real shame as the bird in question had survived when a large number of nests were washed away by Storm Hector early in June. So all that time, energy and resources by not just its parents, but by the wardens was wasted needlessly in this case. It is one thing a natural predator taking a chick as they have young families to feed as well....that is part of the natural order. But it is a completely different scenario when a domesticated dog which fulfils no ecological niche takes a chick as in this instance.

Ringed Plovers and Oystercatchers also nest on our beaches in the summer so it is not just terns that are vulnerable. Everybody visiting a beach (not just Kilcoole beach) in the coming weeks can do their bit to make sure the birds remain safe and have a successful breeding season by keeping dogs on lead, staying on safe paths and if there is a wardening scheme following on-site instructions.

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