The cold weather in March, April and May had a huge impact on growth of vegetation, grasses, wild flowers, trees, but also green algae on the shore and in ponds lakes etc. As a result insects and other invertebrates who depend on these species were also set back, with a knock on effect on birds and mammals. Swallows were most notable in their tardiness, arriving at least 10 days later than last year on the Cooley shore. Other species were also late including willow warblers and chiff chaffs. The wily cuckoos wisely stayed south and were very thin on the ground in contrast to last year. However from mid-May things picked up and it seemed that by the middle of June everything had caught up on itself with bumper crops of silage/hay judging by the amount of cutting going on right now! However this is probably too late for many insect species such as bumblebees, various flies as well as butterflies and moths.
Numerous sightings of great spotted woodpeckers would seem to confirm that they are well established in the county with reports from Slieve Gullion, Ravensdale, Ballymascanlon, Castlebelingham, Dunleer, Barmeath, Williamston (near Kilsarin), Drummin and Darver over the last two years.
Thanks to everyone who phoned in with variously injured birds, birds fallen out of nests an variously rescued. People knocking down house martin nests on their gable continues to be the biggest complaint…what can you do? Folks should be aware that knocking down an active nest is an offence under the Wildlife Act – if you don’t want the birds there, better to prevent them starting: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/h/housemartin/preventing_from_nesting.aspx.
An excellent study was done on wetlands in County Louth – details available here: http://www.louthheritage.ie/publications.shtml . All Louth wetlands are now accurately GIS mapped and digitised and are regularly monitored (if any concerns in this regard please contact Louth CC environment http://www.louthcoco.ie/en/Services/Environment – not me!!)
The little tern protection scheme at Baltray has broken all records this year with over 100 pairs of little terns (previous record was 48 pairs) and probably 200 chicks hatched – see www.louthnaturetrust.org.
The hide at Lurgangreen (it will be situated by the south bank of the Fane in the water works area) is on track; thanks to the Action For Biodiversity programme for funding this! Hopefully it will be operational for October.