A survey of hen harriers is planned for next month in a bid to monitor the dwindling numbers of the endangered bird.
The Golden Eagle Trust, Irish Raptor Study Group, and BirdWatch Ireland have formed a conservation partnership and are co-ordinating the 2015 Irish Hen Harrier Survey on behalf of the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht.
The most recent national survey on hen harriers recorded 128 to 172 breeding pairs across the country, giving an estimated total of 344 adult birds.
Several regional declines were recorded during the last survey in 2010. The new survey will establish the status of the species in Ireland, including within six special protected areas which have been designated to maintain and enhance hen harrier populations.
The survey will get underway next month and the project co-ordinators will be running a series of training workshops in the coming weeks to ensure all surveyors are familiar with the methods involved and to offer opportunities for new fieldworkers to participate to help monitor the hen harrier population.
The survey will rely on the support of a substantial volunteer network, and the group hopes that members of the public will consider volunteering to support the survey.
Farmers across the country have received over €13m in government funding for implementing measures aimed at conserving the protected hen harrier on their lands.
On a yearly basis since the scheme was launched, this equates to about €12,900 each for an estimated 144 birds located in the six designated special protection areas.
For more information on the survey, you can contact www.birdwatchireland.ie.
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