IT WAS a close shave for some of the Ennis Road wildlife in the city during the week.
Feathers could have been flying, but Limerick City and County Council’s environment department has called in the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) to decide if a tree with a birds nest should be felled.
Local wildlife enthusiast Albert Nolan, a regular contributor to this newspaper, said it appears that the nest was home to a “colony of rooks” – crows and their chicks –but he is stunned that it has been protected by the council, one of their workers – or a concerned local resident who may have interjected in the operation.
“Crows are classed as vermin in the agricultural landscape. People can shoot them and they have no protection under Irish law, so I am doubly surprised by this, but also thrilled that it has been protected by someone. It’s extremely heartening that they decided to leave it alone,” he told the Limerick Leader.
Mr Nolan said he believes that as crows are often vilified by farmers for feeding on their crops, more crows are coming into the city where they are less under threat.
Local resident and photographer Billy Butler captured the unusual sight this week, where all but one tree was left standing.
“There were a cluster of trees there for years, some were very high and maybe they had to be knocked because they were dangerous,” he suggested.
“The weather has been very stormy, but it was just strange to see one lone tree on the horizon. You’d imagine it would have blown away in the past few days but it’s still standing tall,” he told the Limerick Leader.
A spokesperson for the council’s environment department explained that they planned to cut down all the trees as part of routine maintenance work – but the presence of one nest foiled their plans to do it in one clean sweep.
“We have raised the issue with the NPWS, and this is a standard matter in these cases. We have to check to see if the tree can be felled, and would hope to get an answer in a few days’ time. We will decide on the best option when we receive advice from the NPWS.
“The trees were knocked for safety issues, due to legacy issues with Storm Darwin, which left many trees in a compromised state. They were not highly dangerous but were possibly inappropriately placed in the first place,” explained the spokesperson.
A spokesperson for the NPWS said: “All we can say in general terms is that it is an offense under the Wildlife Acts to disturb the nests of any bird species except under licence.
“There are a number of exceptions to this rule including where work may relate to road construction but as we do not have any detailed information on why the local authority is felling this tree with bird nests, it would not be possible for the Department to comment any further.”