Is your beach eroding?

Here’s a challenge for those of us who live near a beach (that’s almost 2 million people in Ireland!). Is your beach eroding? NUI Galway geographer Kevin Lynch has designed a fun beach activity to calculate whether or not your local beach is eroding.

Download: Beach Erosion & Deposition

You have to do this one twice (or more times) to see the change. If your local beach appears to be changing, why not keep an eye on it over the whole summer and see what happens when the weather changes with autumn and winter?

Birdsong 2

In week 5 (I think!) of Ireland’s COVID-19 lockdown we posted four easy to recognise bird songs with the promise to follow up with some more. If you missed that post, check it out now: Birdsong. It’s got songs for great tits, blue tits, chaffinches and blackbirds.

Since then, the number of birds in my garden has multiplied – there are four coal tits on my feeder right now and they’re all from one family. And there’s a family of sparrows in the hedge a couple of metres to the right. So it’s time for more birdsongs. Can you hear any of these in your garden?

Sparrow

Baby sparrow in my neighbour’s hedge

This is the noise coming from my neighbour’s hedge. Sometimes they all seem to have a little snooze and it all goes quite, but normally there’s a huge amount of chirping!

Sparrow calling in France. Recording by Oliver Swift, XC468309. Accessible at http://www.xeno-canto.org/468309

Coal tit

Coal tits on my bird feeder

The coal tit is probably one of the smallest birds in your garden. They tend to get pushed off the feeders by the bigger and bossier blue tits and great tits. I wish I had had my camera earlier when there were four on my feeder!

Coal tit singing in County Clare. Recording by Lüthi Thomas, XC276740. Accessible at http://www.xeno-canto.org/276740

Robin

Robin watching me

There’s a pair of Robins who visit my garden too. They never go on the feeders, but they forage away on the ground. Robins are often very unafraid, and will hang out while you’re gardening.

Robin singing in Galway. Recording by Anthony McGeehan, XC188725. Accessible at http://www.xeno-canto.org/188725

Starlings

Starling

Starlings are beautiful up close, and also have the greatest collect noun: a flock of starlings is known as a ‘murmuration’. Parts of their calls are quite distinctive – I hear the sound below in my garden all the time – but they are also great mimics so listen carefully!

Starling singing in Howth. Recording by Lars Lachman, XC352835. Accessible at http://www.xeno-canto.org/352835

This is a great video of a murmuration

The photos aren’t so snazzy this week, because they were all taken by me in my garden. If you want to attract more birds to your garden, check out our posts on:
Making a plastic bottle bird feeder
Making a bird bath
And if you want to get better at identifying those birds, check our past posts on:
Garden bird watching
Bird in the Crow family (Corvids)

Wildlife Safari

A tutorial for primary school children about some of the wildflowers that can be found growing in gardens, woods and hedgerows. Learn how to recognize new species as well as useful tools to identify and record them. We join Heritage in Schools Officer Albert Nolan on a wildlife safari, you can learn all about the wildflowers that can be found in your garden, local woods and hedgerows. Please remember the Leave No Trace principle of ‘Leave what you find’ so that others can enjoy the same beautiful flowers. Take photos of what you like and your memories but do not remove the wildflowers.

When you have watched the video, you can go on a nature Scavenger Hunt and discover the amazing world of insects. Print off this worksheet and fill in as you go.

Become a Seashore Explorer

This book was created to help you become a seashore explorer. The book can
be used on the shore to help gather and document all of the stuff you discover. The template for this book was created by Cushla Dromgool-Regan.


This book will help you to learn all about the creatures that live in
rockpools, under the seaweeds and buried in the sand. You can learn about the importance of our ocean as well as our local seashores, and how it affects our daily lives.


In Ireland we are surrounded by so many different types of beaches ranging
from sandy to shingle shores, as well as mudflats to rocky shore lines.
This makes it extremely exciting exploring all of the amazing animals, seaweeds,
plants and creatures that live there.

Download this fun book and over the coming weeks you can use it whenever you visit your local seashore. Remember when you visit the seashore, leave no trace of your visit and practise the 7 principles of Leave No Trace to protect the environment.


30 Days Wild

For Today’s nature activity, we’re advocating that you sign up to the Wildlife Trust’s 30 Days Wild, which is running all the way through June. Totally free, downloadable goodies, and things to do throughout the whole of June. All you have to do is give them your email address, and then they’ll email you activities throughout the month.

Sign up here: 30 Days Wild

Fun in the Intertidal Zone- a Virtual Visit

We just can’t get enough of the amazing intertidal zone! Have you ever taken notice of what species you see more than any other species on the rocky seashore? … there can be so many of them that you probably even stop noticing them! And how many legs does a decapod have?!

For today all you need is a pen and paper to take notes, watch Mairead share her love of the ocean and learn all about the animals you can find there.

When you are watching the video pay attention to specific information regarding conditions in the rocky intertidal zone and to adaptations organisms have for survival.

After watching, make a list of factors that might influence your life if you live in a shoreline area. These might include: salinity, heat, moisture, predation, finding food, sunlight, etc.

If you live within 5km of the shore, why not take a visit there today and see how many animals you can find and see how many you can name after watching this video and remember where ever you go to ‘Leave no trace’ of your visit, do not leave litter behind and leave all pebbles, shells or animals on the seashore.

On the trail of the Hedgehog

Photo by Pat Morris

Have you seen a hedgehog? A new citizen science project is asking people to look out for our spiky wildlife as part of the Irish Hedgehog Survey. There are a number of ways that the public can take part in the survey.

Firstly, and simply, if you see a hedgehog (alive or dead) you can record your sighting via a special hedgehog recording page on the Biodiversity Ireland website. This will provide important information for the researchers on where and how people see hedgehogs in Ireland.

If you fancy doing some hedgehog detective work, you might like to take part in the Garden Hedgehog Volunteer Survey. This requires a little more effort but it is quite easy and it’s a great project for families to do together. You can survey your own garden, your school garden or the green area in your estate. The garden survey asks you to survey for hedgehogs in your garden for 5 nights in a row using either a footprint tunnel which you can make yourself, or a trail camera if you have one. You then submit the results of your survey on an online form. You can read more about the survey, download the instructions and submit the results on the Irishhedgehogsurvey.com website.

Hedgehog footprints are quite distinctive – they look like little hands!

A footprint tunnel is a cardboard or corrugated plastic tunnel containing some food to attracts the animals into the tunnel. To get to the food they must walk over some ink and paper which captures their footprints. Its a simple, cheap and harmless way to check for the presence of hedgehogs and other small animals. A five night survey is usually long enough to tell whether or not you have a hedgehog in your garden.

Below is a short video clip to show you how to make a footprint tunnel

A quick guide to making a footprint tunnel – you can use cardboard or corrugated plastic – here we have use two old election posters taped together!

You can download the instructions to survey using a footprint tunnel or a trail camera by clicking on the images below.

Download instructions for the footprint tunnel survey.
Photo by Claire Crowley. Download instructions for trail camera survey

This project is an initiative of researchers at the Zoology Department at NUI Galway with the support of the National Biodiversity Data Centre.