Fire Threatens Vital Bird Conservation Project

Fire Threatens Vital Bird Conservation Project

A comprehensive study of wildlife in the Killycolpy area of Lough Neagh has suffered a major setback after a shed housing essential equipment was deliberately set on fire.

Site of shed burnt at Killycolpy area of Lough Neagh

Peter Harper, Shoreline Environment Officer, Lough Neagh Partnership, said the incident, which was reported to PSNI, has dealt a crippling blow to the ambitious Constant Effort Bird Ringing project at Killycolpy.

The project, led by Lough Neagh Partnership in collaboration with renowned bird ringing expert Aidan Crean, aims to monitor and protect avian species through meticulous data collection.

Peter Harper said: “We are just at the beginning of what we hope will be a very exciting, long-term project. The shed was an important element of our project as it was used to house minor equipment and as a base for our staff and volunteers.”

The Constant Effort Bird Ringing initiative involves capturing small birds in mist nets, applying unique metal rings on their legs, recording their weight, and releasing them unharmed. By monitoring bird populations, the project provides valuable insights into migration patterns and guides conservation efforts to protect vulnerable species.

“One of the birds we ringed had already been ringed in France. Smaller birds like Willow Warblers, travelling from as far away as West Africa, choose to nest at Killycolpy, underscoring the significance of this site for understanding migration patterns,” Peter added.

“The Lough Neagh Ranger Team, in collaboration with Aidan Crean, has been diligently collecting data on a wide range of bird species and this project is one of only nine ringing sites on the island of Ireland. The information gathered helps to inform our understanding of bird migration patterns and overall numbers,” he said.

Aidan Crean (right) and Lough Neagh Ranger team members ringing birds with Lough Neagh Partnership

Peter continued: ”It’s hard to understand why this happened. However, apart from burning down a shed, whoever did it could have easily started a major wildfire incident threatening wildlife, livestock, and potentially, property in the surrounding area. This is an important project and despite this setback we will be continuing with our work.”

Anyone with information or an interest in the Bird Ringing project should contact Lough Neagh Partnership by email at:  

The Constant Effort Bird Ringing project has already resumed its operation and will continue to do so until the end of August and every year thereafter throughout the Lough Neagh Partnership’s 10-year lease period.

For further updates and involvement opportunities, visit the Lough Neagh Partnership website or social media channels.

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