The Querrin Pier Biodiversity & Bird Hide Project

The Querrin Pier and Village Community Development Group decided in 2020 after the completion of many projects around the pier like the slipway , the carpark, the benches and tables, and the rejuvenated hand ball alley that it was time to turn our sights to something different.

We were all very aware of the issues surrounding the ecological status of our environment due to climate change and environmental vandalism. A lot of us who lived in Querrin knew of the loss of biodiversity in our own area over the last 30 to 50 years. Disappearance of an abundance of fish, the populations of birds especially curlew, lapwing, redshank and dunlin declining , insects like grasshopper gone ! We have allowed what was one of western Europe’s most unspoiled natural environments to deteriorate. For example nearly half of the surface waters in Ireland are failing to meet the legally binding water quality objectives set by the EU water framework directive. There is no excuse for this. Ireland does not have the legacy of long term industrial pollution and our wet climate means we do not have the problem of the over-extraction of drinking water from rivers and lakes. Nitrogen and phosphate pollution from farming has been allowed to run out of control.

Ireland is still in better shape that most of Europe and given a chance as nature is resilient there is hope. Do we love the place we live in , enough to care for it ? So what could we do as a local group to help. We already were doing beach and road cleans a few times a year mainly due to the problems of plastic and we realized if we could help educate the children and adults about the beauty around them it would be a start. So we hit upon the Bird Hide! Our vision is to turn the tide on biodiversity loss with special emphasis on habitat , animals and plants.

An area of land of approximately .2 of a hectare, inside the SPA (Special Protection Area) and SAC (Special Area of Conservation) area, which was once the site of a fisherman’s thatched cottage and small holding. The family name was O’Keefe and one of our committee Ned Griffin was in touch with the family descendants in USA and after some correspondence they agreed to fund the purchase of the property as a legacy to their forefathers. The owner was contacted and a price agreed.

Around this time also the Loop Head Initiative driven by John Aston was in full swing and all the members of the sub group , LT for Nature , were encouraged to come forward and join a course to develop a biodiversity plan in your area. The Biodiversity course was hosted by Clare Local Development Company and delivered by Dr Fran Giaquintin, Linda Gilsenan and Phoebe O’Brien. The training consisted of three phases.

Phase 1: 12 week webinar training program.

Phase 2: Onsite training.

Phase 3: Completion of 3 year Action Plan.

The course started gently equipping us with the knowledge, skills and tools to develop a meaningful biodiversity plan. We were shown how to survey habitats ,collect species records ,submitting data to the National Biodiversity Data Centre, mapping the vegetation, to developing a plan for increasing carbon storage and measuring it. It is to much in this short article to go through the whole webinar training however if any of you get a chance in the future take it. I learnt so much and of course I found out that a lot of information I had was not correct. The on-site training then began and this was just fantastic. It was not long till we were down on our knees in the undergrowth keen to learn from these enthusiastic nature loving educators. We learnt about positive indicator plants, grasses , how to design and plant hedgerows , creating corridors, pollinator schemes and loads more. They also guided us with our biodiversity plan and wrote two reports. The first was to help us understand what was in our chosen areas and the strengths and challenges that lay before us. The second report was to help us design our plan. They then helped in refining the plan after it was submitted. Without them the task would have ended up in another of the drawers full of good intentions.

We have four more webinars in September 2021 to back over our course and begin to get a deeper understanding of biodiversity and enhance our plans if needed.

We would like to thank Fran , Linda and Phoebe without whom this would not have happened. Their dedication and love of subject light a spark that I hope will never go out ! Thanks.

Robert Brown, August 2021

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