Natural Heritage of County Cork

Congratulations to the Heritage of County Cork publication team who recently launched their latest book, the Natural Heritage of County Cork, with the support of Cork County Council and the Heritage Council.

As well as introducing the flora and fauna of the county, the book also includes details of 30 standout sites where the richness of local biodiversity can be appreciated. Digital Nature was pleased to produce all of the maps within this publication including the overview map and all 30 detailed site maps.

The book is being made freely available from libraries in County Cork and may also be purchased from various book stores – some now selling it online. In time the publication will be added to the online catalogue of the Heritage of County Cork series.


Scientific Publications

Detailed information on recent work with BirdWatch Ireland has just been published in the peer-reviewed Irish Birds Journal, Issue Number 45. This issue includes articles on:

  • Site-level trends and national trends for wintering waterbirds in Ireland 1994/95-2019/20 by J. Kennedy, B. Burke, N. Fitzgerald, S.B.A. Kelly, A. Walsh and L.J. Lewis.
  • Mapping of Farmland Bird Hotspots: a method to assist targeting of agri-environment measures by J. Kennedy, K. Finney, J. Lusby, D. Maloney, O. Duggan and A. Donaghy.

A sincere thanks to all the co-authors of these articles, the funders of these projects, and the editorial team and peer-reviewers of Irish Birds for helping deliver and publish this work.

The journal can be purchased from BirdWatch Ireland online here, and is also issued to all Key Members of BirdWatch Ireland.

Exploration of Yellowhammer Data at Irish Ornithological Research Conference

Digital Nature was delighted to be present at the Irish Ornithological Research Conference in March 2023, a conference brimming with information and expertise. Digital Nature contributed with a summary of the results of an exploration of Yellowhammer data – now available in our Showcase area. Further details are being prepared for formal publication…stay tuned!

A poster summarising an exploration of yellowhammer data
A summary of the exploration of Yellowhammer data undertaken by Digital Nature

Trends of Wetland Birds in Ireland

Digital Nature is delighted to share that the Irish Wetland Bird Survey: I-WeBS National and Site Trends Report 1994/95 – 2019/20 has just been published by BirdWatch Ireland.

This report details how 36 species of wetland bird are faring in Ireland based on the data gathered by more than 1,100 surveyors that have contributed details of more than 81,000 site visits since the I-WeBS survey started in 1994. National Trends are provided as well as Site-Specific Trends for 97 sites.

Extract from the national trends in the I-WeBS Trends Report 1994/95 – 2019/20

Details of the analysis are described in the I-WeBS Trends Report Methodology document. The Underhill technique was used to impute missing counts where appropriate, seasonal counts were indexed to focus on relative changes in abundance, and Generalised Additive Models were employed to smooth these trends. Short, Medium and Long-Term Trends have been calculated and plotted for each species.

Extract from the Lough Swilly Site Trend Report

For more information on this report see this dedicated BirdWatch Ireland article.

Mapping of Farmland Bird Hotspots

In mid-2021 BirdWatch Ireland, supported by the Heritage Council and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine, commissioned Digital Nature to develop hotspot maps of farmland birds in Ireland. After extensive data gathering and data preparation phases, hotspot maps at both 10km and 1km resolution were successfully produced, based on scientifically validated records of threatened species of farmland bird in Ireland.

An introduction to the project has been published online by BirdWatch Ireland. It outlines how the various records in the datasets acquired were scored. Factors taken into account included:

Draft BirdWatch Ireland Farmland Bird Hotspots map as of August 2021
  • the species observed and its conservation status
  • the season of the record (e.g. breeding season or winter season)
  • the typical range of that species for that season
  • any level of breeding evidence recorded
  • the age of the record (more recent records scoring higher)

As reported by BirdWatch Ireland in issue 103 of their WINGS magazine, the project has gathered an unprecedented 29 datasets containing over 2.5 million records of bird observations in Ireland. Extensive BirdWatch Ireland datasets have been supplemented with valuable data provided by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Marine, the Heritage Council, the National Biodiversity Data Centre and Bord na Móna.

After filtering for twenty-seven species of interest more than 130,000 records remained. These were transformed into a consistent structure and format, and a scoring algorithm was carefully engineered and automated to construct the required maps.

Hotspot maps were generated taking all twenty-seven species of Farmland Bird into account. Hotspot maps were also generated for various subsets of these species, including Breeding Waders. All of these maps are being updated as more scientifically validated datasets become available, and as further refinements to the scoring algorithm and scoring parameters are developed.

It has been Digital Nature’s pleasure to work with the BirdWatch Ireland Policy and Advocacy Team on this suite of innovative maps. It is hoped that they will provide valuable insights informing the intensive efforts that are underway to try and secure the presence of these species in the Irish landscape for future generations.

An Award-Winning Entry in the Dublin Region Open Data Active Travel Challenge!

Digital Nature was delighted to present its entry to the Dublin Region Open Data Active Travel Challenge Showcase organized by Smart Dublin in July 2021.

The Digital Nature analysis Active Travel to School: Locating Investments for Impact was one of 12 projects presented in a rapid-fire series of demonstrations…and was awarded Second Prize in the competition!

All of the entries identified and pursued new ways of using Open Data to support and promote walking, cycling and being active in the Dublin Region.

Find out more, view the webinar presentation, and explore Digital Nature’s award-winning entry below…

Onboard the BirdWatch Ireland CBS and I-WeBS Team…

CBS Newsletter 2021

Digital Nature is delighted to share that it is now up-and-running as part of the BirdWatch Ireland CBS and I-WeBS Team, under contract to the Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Countryside Bird Survey and Irish Wetland Bird Survey are national surveys that have been gathering important scientific data on bird populations in Ireland since the 1990s. Every year hundreds of professional and citizen scientists follow carefully designed survey protocols to gather data at hundreds of selected sites around the country. This valuable data allows trends in Irish bird populations to be established, and helps inform policy at national as well as European level.

Digital Nature is focusing on the IT aspects of these surveys, supporting the National Coordinators, Ecologists and Scientific Officers on the team with data capture, validation, loading, storage and analysis solutions. Some of these elements are introduced in the latest CBS newsletter published by BirdWatch Ireland.

Digital Nature is delighted to be playing a role in this important work.

Mayo ‘Dark and Wild’ Amenities

Mayo Dark and Wild Map Extract

Where might be suitable places to install amenities in County Mayo that could showcase biodiversity during the day, and the Mayo Dark Sky at night?

This was a question Digital Nature tackled during 2020. We are now delighted to be in a position to share the results publicly.

A Multi-Criteria Evaluation was performed to identify locations that met the following conditions:

  • near to a wildlife-rich or important habitat, such as open water, wetlands or estuaries
  • under Dark Sky, away from fixed and mobile sources of light pollution
  • near to an existing road, track or path for public accessibility and construction purposes
  • not located on sloped land – to facilitate ease of public access
  • not located near to busy roads (to minimize disturbance and light, noise and exhaust pollution)
  • not located where the view of the sky is obstructed by local terrain – e.g. by a nearby mountain

These criteria were converted into 6 geospatial constraints and 2 geospatial factors, with appropriate weightings assigned in consultation with Ecological experts, to identify the highest-scoring sites across the county. The presence of Designated Sites was carefully considered to highlight further those locations that are not formally designated.

Data from academic, state, European, NASA and voluntary sources were successfully transformed and analysed as part of this process.

We hope that the resulting map may be of some assistance to those interested in pursuing such amenities in County Mayo.

If you are wondering where might be the best places to locate something, why not Contact Digital Nature!