Sunday, 17 May 2015

Meet the Rockabill Team!

As usual, Rockabill is being wardened throughout the season by two wardens living on the island for the duration of the breeding season (May-August), with support from the mainland. Despite both being from inland counties (Roscommon and Carlow), this years wardens have plenty of experience between them.

Meet the Rockabill 2015 team:

Brian Burke

This is Brian's second season as a Roseate Tern Warden on Rockabill. He holds a degree in Zoology and a Masters in Wildlife Conservation and Management, both from University College Dublin. From work done during his masters he recently published research on the media coverage of the Irish White-tailed Eagle reintroduction project and will soon publish a study on the breeding Peregrine Falcon population of Co. Wicklow, carried out in conjunction with NPWS conservation rangers. Soon after completing his masters, Brian did an internship with the National Parks and Wildlife Service at Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, studying and documenting the Greenland White-fronted Goose (GWFG) in Ireland over the last thirty years. Irelands hosts c50% of the flyway population of GWFG every winter, the majority of which can be seen at Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, with important flocks in his native Roscommon. The GWFG is also the species featured on Birdwatch Ireland's logo.

Brian is delighted to be back on Rockabill and is already feeling the benefit of having a year of experience under his belt. Last year was a record year for Roseate Terns here, and he's eager to top that success in 2015.

You can follow Brian on twitter:

Andrew Power

This is Andrew’s first season as a Rockabill Tern Warden after two years working with Little Terns in Kilcoole and Baltray. He has been secretary for the Carlow Branch of BirdWatch Ireland for the past five years and holds a degree in Zoology from Trinity College Dublin. Little Terns formed the subject matter of the research he undertook for his final year thesis. Following this, Andrew went on to complete the first ever study of the rare endemic Sinai Hairstreak Butterfly in Egypt as part of his Master of Research in Conservation Biology for the University of Nottingham. Since then, Andrew has continued to work in exotic climes; venturing to both Cape Verde and back to the Sinai, Egypt. In Cape Verde the work focused on the endemic Cape Verde Warbler, whilst in Egypt they were looking at the importance of Bedouin gardens to biodiversity. 

Andrew is delighted to be a part of the Rockabill team and hopes to bring some good luck to the project after being involved in a couple of record breaking seasons in Kilcoole and Baltray.

You can follow Andrew on twitter:

Dr. Steve Newton

Dr. Steve Newton is Senior Seabird Conservation Officer for BirdWatch Ireland. He is responsible for seabird research, monitoring and colony management. This comprises coordinating, on an annual basis, the Irish input to the Seabird Monitoring Programme (UK-Ireland) and managing the Rockabill Roseate Tern and the Kilcoole Little Tern Projects. Equally importantly (to us anyway!), he brings us out bread, milk and fruit on a regular basis!

Steve organised the first quantitative survey of nocturnal petrels and shearwaters on west coast islands in 2000-2001 as part of the Seabird 2000 Project. He was also responsible for managing the BWI/NPWS Chough Survey and follow-up research programme (2002 to 2010), the NPWS/BWI Upland Bird Survey (2002-2004), and other work on upland habitats and their birds, including Hen Harrier and Red Grouse. He is a member of the all-Ireland team responsible for the 'Birds of Conservation Concern' process which reviews the Red, Amber and Green lists for Ireland and is a member of the Irish Rare Breeding Birds Panel.

Skerries Seatours
While they don't do any work on the island, the guys from Skerries Seatours play an important role in the project. They drop the wardens and their mountain of supplies out to the island at the start of the season, they bring us home safely at the end of the season, and they keep us topped up with everything we need throughout the summer months (volunteers, water, shopping . . . . the occasional pizza . . . . all the essentials!). Eoin is a local RNLI crewman and is always just a phonecall away if we ever have any problems. 

They do tours around Rockabill - a great way to see the island and all of the birds without causing any disturbance. See or their Facebook page for more details. And give us a wave if you see us!

The project is funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, to whom we are very grateful, as well as to the individuals in NPWS who provide various logistical support early in the season. 
We'd also like to thank the Commission of Irish Lights who allow us to use and stay on the island.

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