On the weekend of the 11th of March, 19 members of our Ornithology team travelled to University College Cork to attend the 8th annual Ornithological Research Conference, the first to be held since November 2017. The event was an excellent opportunity for our team to garner exciting new insights into recent developments regarding bird sightings, research and conservation throughout Ireland.
The event opened on the evening of the 10th of March in The Hub at UCC with an introductory keynote address by Pat Smiddy, former editor of The Irish Journal of Birds and an honorary research associate at the university. Pat not only covered his work as co-author of the beautifully comprehensive guide The Birds of County Cork but also ran through his nearly fifty years of birding experience and the various habitats frequented by different species across the county. After the talk, MKO team members had the opportunity to engage with our fellow attendees at a wine and cheese reception MKO sponsored.
MKO was delighted to have a stand in the Hub for the duration of the conference, which allowed us to catch up with our peers and colleagues in the birding community. The poster presentations were also held in the same area detailing various studies completed on birds in Ireland. One highlight was Sean O’Brien, MKO, who has been investigating fluctuations in the numbers of tufted duck (Aythya fuligula) on Lough Leanne near Killarney.
After a welcome address by UCC president and avid birder Prof. John O’Halloran, the introductory address was given by Prof. David Cabot, who has spent years tagging and recording populations of barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis) between the Inishkea Islands off Co. Mayo and summering grounds in Greenland. One of our senior ornithologists, Susan Doyle, gave a highly engaging talk on the role of predation in the decline of European ground-nesting birds.
Other highlights relevant to MKO included a talk by Sean Doyle on the success of breeding cranes (Grus grus) in Ireland for the first time since the 16th century, with MKO having been involved with initial sightings of the birds. Tom Gittings gave a talk on the familiar subject of collision risk modelling on data gathered from surveys at windfarms while Alan McCarthy discussed the rates of dispersal and survival of fledgling hen harriers (Circus cyaneus). One final treat for many of our team was the final keynote address by Killian Mullarney, a famed bird illustrator, who among other things, has worked on all three editions of Collins Bird Guide over the years, arguably the birding bible for all European species.
Overall, the success of the CORC23 conference allowed for a large group of our Ornithology team to have the opportunity to gather with peers and colleagues within the Irish ornithological community.