Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Iwebs Workshop, Dublin, 25th Feb 2012

Big up and thank you to the H Bee and the O Cee for a very interesting Iwebs workshop in Dublin last Saturday.
Presentations on tips for wader id's (guess), tips for accurate Iwebs counting (again, guess), Iwebs reporting (tick anything), what's done with all the Iwebs info (bin) and why Iwebs needs to be done at all (have to), were given by the organisers and Iwebs champi-onis Helen Boland and Olivia Crowe.
Both gave excellent presentations, don't know how they do it; public speaking - shudder.

John English (and another guy whose name I can't remember, sorry) from the Finglas Branch also gave a talk, describing how they've been counting waders down at Rogerstown estuary since before time Iwebs began and discussed some of the ongoing problems they face.
They sounded incredibly dedicated to the cause and obviously cared hugely about the conservation of the Estuary area.

Some issues mentioned during the day seemed to trigger what could potentially have been very lengthy discussions, but time constraints only allowed the following Hot Topics to be touched upon:

  • Lack of volunteer Iwebs counters around the country, Rogerstown especially
  • Lack of informative monitoring/ signage around Bull Island asking owners to keep their dogs on lead
  • Lack of signage around Rogerstown reminding people how the area is an SPA (Special Protection Area) and that shooting of birds (whilst legal) should at least be limited.The problem of legal shooting around Rogerstown has become more problematic over the last few years.

Olivia Crowe giving a presentation on Iwebs reporting, Feb 2012

The task from hell - get into groups and work out how to split up the massive Strangford loch area for Iwebs reporting. Thankfully I was in the same group as Sinead Cummins, Siobhan Egan, John Cromie and Ger Franck - I respectfully listened to their wisdom - who wouldn't?! As they poured over the map, I was intrigued by how they worked everything out, they certainly know their stuff and it was cool to see their knowledge in action. Btw - that's not Sinead or Siobhan behind John and Ger - unless that's how they look in photos.
John presenting our Task from Hell masterplan (Fingal group put everyone to shame btw).

Siobhan Egan listening, Sinead Cummins texting.

Not that we'd realise too much, but the sunshine outside was splitting the sky during the day, so just before lunch we all went outside to squint into the sun for a photo and then weirdly we all went back inside to the darkness - very unusual for a bunch of birders, but there you go - we were all obviously in 'the zone'.

I think we finished up by 2.30pm and most people drove down to Bull Island to one of the Dublin Iwebs areas up close and personal.
The Bull was putting on a good show with plenty of waders prodding the mud, tucking beaks into pluamge and behaving in the required manner when guests are present.
Eventually people started heading home and myself, Dennis and Patrick Walked All The Way down to the Point to try and see the 4 reported Short eared owls - we didn't see any owls, but we did see a female Merlin who seemed to be having her after lunch sit down.
I didn't have my big lens, which was nice seeing as, like I said, we Walked All the Way Down to the Point, but I don't think I'm going to move to digiscoping anytime soon.

Female Merlin having an after meal sit down on a grass tussock, Bull Island Feb 2012

So the iwebs workshop was a very informative and interesting day - thanks to all involved.
Helen and Olivia obviously put in a huge amount of work to makeIwebs reporting accurate and efficient, they do remarkable work and seem hugely under resourced in what they do, but they seem to have risen above this and do a sterling job regardless. Muchos respectos to them.
The Iwebs season finishes in a few weeks but starts up again in October, so if you think you would be interested in counting waders (especially if you live near Rogerstown Estuary) you should email