Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Tuesday 7th Feb Green Drinks

Green Drinks 7th February - Badgers and TB

The Green Drinks talk this month was given by Conn Flynn, Conservation Officer with the IWT, who set out the situation regarding badgers and TB in Ireland and explained the IWT's campaign against badger culling. Conn informed the thirty or so people present why the IWT is so opposed to the government's policy of culling and why vaccination is a better, more effective and humane alternative. There are about 70,000 badgers in Ireland - an average of about one badger per km2 and about 30,000 setts. The government has culled a massive 90,000 badgers since 1984, so much so that the badger's existence in Ireland may be threatened, and yet despite this the numbers of cattle infected with TB have barely fallen.

A £50 million scientific study in England carried out over 10 years found that badger culling made no difference to TB infection rates, and can even make things worse by causing infected badgers to flee to new uninfected areas. Furthermore Scotland has managed to stay free of bovine TB without having to carry out culls at all. The real key to reduction is controlling cattle movements, and in particular, to test animals before they are moved to another location - something which is not done in Ireland at the moment.

Alongside this there should be vaccination of badgers to remove them as a source of infection, as a humane alternative to the unnecessary and cruel killing of badgers by catching them in snares and then shooting them, as is done at present. Although the Department of Agriculture has begun a small trial programme of vaccination in Monaghan, the large scale culling of badgers is continuing despite the evidence and the IWT has begun a campaign to petition the government to stop culling for good. You can sign the petition by logging on to the IWt's website at www.iwt.ie

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Sunday 29th January Bull Island birdwatching

On Sunday 29th January about fifteen members of the Dublin Branch braved the cold and the rain to attend a bird watching event led by birding enthusiasts Sean Kelly and Niall Keogh on Bull Island - Dublin’s well known nature reserve. They were rewarded for their efforts by seeing a variety of birds - lapwings, redshanks, black-headed gulls, knots, teal, shovelers and Brent Geese among them. Bull Island has an excellent range of coastal birds, especially its overwintering flocks which come to avail of the many invertebrates (worms and things)that live in the mudflats. Niall Keogh explained how Dublin's Brent Geese are unique because of their lack of fear of humans compared to the geese on the continent- probably due to the fact that they won't be shot on sight! So much so that they have been known to get in the way of golfers trying to play on the Island's golf courses. Dublin's Brent Geese have also taken to grazing on the city's open spaces and playing pitches in a big way, to the extent that this is now a major source of their food supply.
After about an hour the freezing cold and rain put an end to the outing, but enough birds had been seen to make it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

21st January 2012 National Gallery Tour

Twenty members of the Dublin Branch went on a guided tour of the National Gallery, with the theme "Nature in Art - European Masterpieces" on Saturday 21 Jan. Marie Pike, our excellent guide, selected and discussed the most interesting paintings. Not a lot of nature, but a super introduction to “European Masterpieces”. Great morning had by all.