Room with a Sea-view for Warrenpoint’s Black Guillemots

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Friday, March 23rd, 2012
Black guillemots have returned to our shores to find a common problem faced by many seasoned travellers – the accommodation they expected on arrival has been changed. But thanks to the ingenuity of the Roads Service, Newry and Mourne District Council, Warrenpoint Harbour Authority and the RSPB it is hoped that they will be more than happy with their new living arrangements. The penguin-like seabirds, easily recognisable with their striking black and white plumage and bright red feet, spend the winter at sea before coming inland in the spring to breed along the coast of Carlingford Lough. They have historically nested in the rocky crevices in the sea walls along the Warrenpoint to Rostrevor Road. But when these sites were filled in during essential structural repair work an alternative nesting site was needed. Now, through funding from the Roads Service, ten specially designed nesting boxes have been put in place at Warrenpoint Harbour to replace the guillemot’s previous nesting sites. The project is supported by Newry and Mourne District Council, Warrenpoint Harbour Authority and the RSPB. Mayor of Newry and Mourne District Council Councillor Charlie Casey expressed his delight at the efforts made to resolve this problem. Councillor Casey said, “The Council has a strong commitment to safe guarding the biodiversity of the area and it is heartening to see how our Biodiversity Officer has worked along with the other agencies to ensure the black guillemot gets the home it deserves on its return to Newry and Mourne’s shores” Kerry Leonard from Sterna Environmental who designed and constructed the boxes explained, “In Northern Ireland a significant proportion of the black guillemot population use man-made sites, such as piers and jetties, because natural nest sites are often in short supply. Although it may take a year or two for birds to start using an artificial site, it has been proven once they do they may use it for many years.” Chief Executive of Warrenpoint Harbour, Peter Conway added, “Every year we get many visiting vessels from all over Europe so we can easily accommodate a few more of the feathered variety. It’s good to be able to assist the RSPB and Newry and Mourne District Council in this worthwhile project.” If you would like further information on black guillemots or local biodiversity, please contact the Newry and Mourne District Biodiversity Officer on 028 30313100.
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