Loughrea birdwatching and beach clean-up
Caitríona Cunningham from Clean Coasts tells us about a recent event where the community got involved in birdwatching and a clean-up of the Blue Flag beach in Loughrea.
Clean Coasts groups from Loughrea Tidy Towns and the local St. Brendan’s Boys National school went birdwatching in January 2019, at an event organised by Clean Coasts, the LA Waters Programme, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Loughrea Lake has been awarded the prestigious International Blue Flag award for the past number of years for its excellent water quality, provision of environmental information and education and safety and services such as lifeguards and toilet facilities.
Loughrea Lake is home for about 3,000 birds during winter, with about 15 species living there, and on the day they saw Black-headed gulls, a lesser Black-headed gull, drafts of Coots, Pochards, Mute Swans and Mallard Ducks.
Recent Birdwatch Ireland surveys also recorded Little Grebes, Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants, Shovelers, Tufted Ducks, Goldeneyes, Lapwings and Great Black-backed gulls. Most of the water birds are migratory and come to Ireland to overwinter from northern countries, and need a safe, undisturbed area with clean water and good feeding to get through winter. Loughrea Lake is a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EU Birds Directive as it has nationally important populations of Shoveler and Coot.
Bird Watch Ireland have recorded a dramatic decline by nearly 50% of the number of water birds at Loughrea over the last 30 years. The decline in birds can be due to what is happening during their breeding season elsewhere, the severity of the winter, and local factors.
After the bird-watching event Loughrea Lake Tidy Towns volunteers, and 4th & 5th class pupils from St. Brendan’s Boys National School along with their teachers Mr. Pearce Mulhall and Patricia Callaghan conducted a beach clean-up of Loughrea Lake. Speaking at the Loughrea Lake’s beach clean, Clean Coasts Officer Caitríona Cunningham said, “every single piece of litter removed during the beach clean is one less piece of litter that will pollute the beautiful Loughrea Lake or harm its wildlife.”
Caitríona Cunningham, Clean Coasts