Distinctive feet a feature of Ireland's wide-ranging Moorhen

The Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus in its Latin nomenclature or "Cearc uisce" in Irish - is a bird with large feet and an even larger presence in Ireland and abroad. By Niall Hatch.

A common sight on ponds, canals, lakes and slow-flowing streams, the Moorhen is found throughout Ireland. It belongs to the rail and crake family, though unlike most members of that group, such as the now-scarce Corncrake, it is not a particularly shy or secretive bird, often coming out into the open and permitting close approach by humans.

First woodpeckers in Irish history spotted

The Great Spotted Woodpecker - known officially as "Dendrocopos majoras" and as "Mórchnagaire breac" in Irish - has recently been sighted in Counties Wicklow and Down, making it the first species of woodpecker ever to settle in Ireland. By Niall Hatch.

When giving talks to group about Ireland’s woodland birds, and especially when using bird identification books and materials designed with a British audience in mind, I used to always insert the caveat, “Of course, we don’t have any woodpeckers in Ireland.”

Wildlife enthusiasts to celebrate National Dawn Chorus Day

Wildlife enthusiasts across the country are set to rise early this Sunday to celebrate National Dawn Chorus Day 2010. By Niall Hatch.

BirdWatch Ireland’s most popular annual event, National Dawn Chorus Day, will be taking place this coming Sunday, 16 May.  This is traditionally the day when wildlife enthusiasts the length and breadth of Ireland set their alarm clocks a little earlier than usual and go out to enjoy a morning of beautiful birdsong.

Sand Martin (Gabhlán gainimh) - Riparia riparia

A member of the swallow family, the Sand Martin is a widespread summer visitor throughout Ireland.  Like the Swallow and the House Martin, the two other members of its family that breed in Ireland, it spends the northern winter in sub-Saharan Africa, but it nests in a very different location to either of these species: narrow horizontal tunnels which they excavate in sandbanks in coastal areas, at quarries and especially, as the species' scientific name suggests, along riverbanks.

Starling (Druid)

Common and widespread throughout Ireland, the opportunistic and adaptable Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is as much at home in town centres and suburban gardens as it is in parks and farmland.  Present year-round, our breeding population is supplemented in the winter by migrants from northern and central Europe.

Woodpigeon (Colm coille)

Found year-round throughout most of Ireland, save for some midland areas, the ‘Dipper' is something of an oddity amongst Ireland's birds.  Although a typical songbird in most respects, resembling an oversized, plump wren, it is a highly aquatic bird, rarely found far from fast-flowing rivers and streams.

Cuckoo (Cuach)

Famous (or perhaps infamous) for the female's habit of laying her eggs in the nests of other birds, the Cuckoo is a summer visitor to Europe. The majority arrive in Ireland during April, having travelled from their African wintering grounds. Though still widespread in Ireland, surveys show that the population has been declining, both here and elsewhere in Western Europe.

Spring Alive – tracking nature

Spring Alive is an exciting “citizen science” project organised by BirdWatch Ireland and its partners all across Europe. It is an ideal way to learn about the wonders of bird migration, and it allows you to make an important contribution to science while doing it.