Tacumshin Sunrise: Big Surf & Winter Waterbirds
An eclectic mixture of shorebirds (golden plover, snipe, lapwing, etc.) and waterfowl (whooper swan, wigeon, mute swan, Eurasian teal, shoveler, etc.) awaken to a calm winter’s morning with big surf, at Tacumshin Lake Special Protection Area, Co. Wexford, Ireland.
A recent study has revealed that Ireland has lost more wetland habitat than any other country in the entire world – we have lost over 90% of our wetlands in the last 300 years.
Tacumshin is a rare haven for wetland species in Ireland. However, all is not as it seems. Hunting at such locations is very common, and the very species which are set out to be protected are frequently terrified and flushed as a result of frequent gunshots, which of course are extremely loud and unsettling. This is the last kind of activity one would expect in an area set out to protect birds. Although the practice of hunting in such locations is, amazingly, *not illegal*, it is morally, ethically and unfathomably wrong in every facet.
These areas should be sanctuaries – safe havens for birds that are struggling to find habitat to feed and breed, many of which are in national or even global decline. Instead, with a general paucity of suitable habitat in the Irish landscape, many hunters come to these so-called Special Protection Areas, to essentially shoot goldfish in a barrel.
This needs to change. I think the first step in doing so is through sharing the truth with people so they can realize what is actually happening at these locations. If the general public were to know the bloody irony of shooting in a bird sanctuary, I am sure there would be increased pressure to bring true protection to these sites.