Urban BioBlitz leads to rare Barn Owl sighting in Limerick City

A rare sighting of a barn owl in Limerick City was one of the highlights of Ireland’s first ever Urban BioBlitz at the weekend.

Online PR News – 27-August-2013 – Limerick, IRELAND – A rare sighting of a barn owl in Limerick City was one of the highlights of Ireland’s first ever Urban BioBlitz at the weekend.

The bird was spotted in the Corbally area by one of the estimated 200 members of the public who joined wildlife experts and ecologists in identifying and documenting wildlife species, from butterflies and birds to flowers and fungi, over a 24-hour period from Friday evening to Saturday evening.

The event was hosted by Limerick City Council, Limerick City Centre Tidy Towns Group and the National Biodiversity Data Base Centre.

Centre Director, Dr. Liam Lysaght commented: “Barn Owls are a Red-listed Bird of Conservation Concern In Ireland due to a decline of over 50% in their population during the past 25 years. They are also listed as a Species of European Conservation Concern (SPEC3) having an unfavourable conservation status in Europe.”

“The southwest of Ireland, particularly County Kerry, is a stronghold for Barn Owls at present so this sighting in Limerick is very encouraging. Barn Owls inhabit old buildings and chimney stacks and co-exist with people very well. However, the widespread use of rat poison, loss of food sources, agricultural intensification, and the loss of nesting sites in barns and old churches is having a negative effect on population numbers around Ireland, believed to be around 800 breeding pairs. Other factors that have been implicated in their decline are the loss of suitable nest sites, an expansion of major road networks and the increased severity of winters,” he added.

The Barn Owl was amongst 45 separate bird species and 240 wildlife and plant species identified during the 24-hour Urban BioBlitz. Also recorded were 3 mammals (all bat species), 38 separate moth and butterfly species and 137 different plant species. Information on all species recorded will be added to the National Biodiversity Database, managed by the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

According to Sinead McDonnell, Environment Awareness Officer, Limerick City Council: “The primary aim of the BioBlitz was to promote the abundance of animal and plant life in Limerick City and in doing so increase public awareness of the importance of biodiversity in urban areas. We are delighted that despite the inclement weather conditions on Saturday that so many people turned out to demonstrate their interest in their natural surroundings and help to record an impressive number and range of wildlife and plant species. The BioBlitz also gave everyone a chance to enjoy and explore the glorious wildlife of the City.”

The Urban BioBlitz also included a Bat Talk by NPWS Conservation Ranger, Elaine Keegan, a moth viewing and trapping event in People’s Park, Art workshops for families with a wildlife-based theme in the Hub (Limerick City Art Gallery), and a Birds of Prey Display by Animal Magic in the Peoples Park.