Gorse fires devastating for local birds says Birdwatch Ireland

Gorse fires decimating bird populations in Ireland -- Image by Pat-Flynn via IrishWeatherOnline.comMany nesting birds in areas affected by gorse fires in the north and west of the country have had their breeding efforts for this season scuppered by the flames Birdwatch Ireland warned yesterday.

Talking to reporters Niall Hatch, Development Officer with the Irish NGO, warned that the impact of the fires would compound the negative effects of two successively bad winters on bird populations.

“We have only got over two hard winters which have left the numbers of birds well down,” said Mr Hatch. “These fires have now decimated many species. We are in the middle of the nesting season and tens of thousands of chicks and eggs have been destroyed.

“Birds like the stonechat and the whitethroat, as well as more common birds like linnets and blackbirds, have been decimated because of the fires,” said Mr Hatch.

Cuckoos, which have population strongholds in Donegal and Mayo, are also likely to suffer as they habitually lay eggs in the nests of other bird species using the habitat affected by the fires.

Even adult birds that escaped death in the flames aren’t free from the detrimental effects of the fires. Many will find food and suitable breeding sites difficult to find with millions of insects, seeds, buds and other food sources and thousands of square kilometres of prime habitat completely destroyed by the fires.

“These fires are going to have a huge knock-on effect for many years to come. Thankfully no human life has been lost but the impact on wildlife has been enormous and that is often overlooked,” said Mr Hatch.

About Calvin Jones

Calvin Jones is a freelance writer, author, birder and lifelong wildlife enthusiast. He is founder and managing editor of IrelandsWildlife.com. He is also the tour leader and wildlife guide on our West Cork based Discover Wildlife tours.
Calvin is also co-author of bestselling digital marketing titles and offers digital business consulting services and training through Digital Marketing Success

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