Side profile photo of swan in the water
Mute Swan

Certain animal and bird species are rare and threatened and are protected by law. This includes animals and birds listed in the Wildlife Acts, and subsequent statutory instruments; animals listed in Annex IV of the Habitats Directive; and birds listed in Annex 1 of the Birds Directive.  For further information on protected species and their habitats see www.npws.ie .


Featured Protected Species – Nore Freshwater Pearl Mussel

Photo courtesy of Evelyn Moorkens

Photo courtesy of Evelyn Moorkens

The Nore Freshwater Pearl Mussel (Margaritifera durrovensis) is protected under national and European legislation. The Nore Pearl Mussel was first discovered and named as a species new to science in 1928 and the only known population worldwide is found in the Nore River. Pearl mussels grow very slowly and can live to over 100 years of age. The status of this species is critically endangered as there has been no successful recruitment of young in the last 20 years. The decline of this sensitive mollusc is thought to be linked to depressed riverbed and declining water quality in its habitat. Studies and experiments are underway to try to reverse this trend.

Click http://www.npws.ie/research-projects/animal-species/invertebrates/freshwater-pearl-mussel for further information about the Nore Freshwater Pearl Mussel.



There are nine different species of bats in Ireland, some very rare, others still quite widespread. Seven of these species are widespread in County Kilkenny. Because populations of most species have declined in past decades, all bats are protected by Irish and European law. It is an offence to intentionally disturb, kill or injure a bat or its resting place, so any work in or around a bat habitat must be carried out with advice and under license from the National Parks and Wildlife Services www.npws.ie .

Bat Conservation Ireland, with co-funding from the Heritage Office of Kilkenny County Council, has undertaken a study to identify the suitability of the landscapes and habitats in Kilkenny for bat populations. The study indicates that County Kilkenny is one of the most important counties for bats.
Click here to read the report Landscape Conservation for Bats in Ireland.  Summary Report for County Kilkenny.   Also available to view is Landscape Conservation for Irish Bats – Summary Brochure.


Bat Conservation Ireland  coordinates the All-Ireland Daubenton’s Bat Water Survey; Daubenton’s Bat feeds along waterways such as the River Nore.  If you would like to find out more about our native bats or to participate in the Daubenton’s Bat Water Survey in County Kilkenny please go to http://www.batconservationireland.org/ ; or view The Daubenton’s Newsletter 2014.

The following documents provide useful information in relation to bat species in County Kilkenny and advice for householders on bat conservation:

• Conserving Bats
• How to Make a Bat Box
• Bats in Buildings
• Bats in Houses
• Bats, Birds, Buildings and You!



The Swift, Apus apus, perhaps the most iconic and intriguing of our urban bird species, is a summer migrant that breeds in Ireland, Europe and much of Asia and winters in southern Africa.  However, in recent decades their numbers have been in decline.  The latest Irish Countryside Bird Survey data shows an alarming 39% decline between 1998 and 2013. Reasons for their decline remain unknown, but it is thought that the loss of available nest sites due to the renovations of old buildings and the impacts of climate change could be significant factors.
In Kilkenny Swifts are known to nest in the City and also many other towns and villages around the county.
Swift Conservation Ireland has produced a beautiful publication which tells the story of the swift and highlights their plight – We are Swifts – We are in Trouble.

How can you help?

• Be aware of best practise in relation to building works and Swifts nests:
– Leave existing nest sites undisturbed
– When repairing buildings make sure new access holes match exactly the location of old ones
– When providing new nest sites make internal nest spaces, as they last longer
– If you can’t make internal nest spaces, put up nest boxes

• Take part in the National Swift Survey
BirdWatch Ireland is appealing for volunteers to take part in a National Swift Survey  to help identify breeding sites across Ireland. Information collected will increase our knowledge of Swifts so that more nest sites can be provided and protected. See
• Tidy Towns Groups should bring the presence of swifts to the attention of judges in their Tidy Towns reports.

Contact swiftconservationireland@gmail.com for more information.


Tree Sparrow Project

Due to the recent increase in Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) in Ireland BirdWatch Ireland established the Tree Sparrow Project to find out more about Tree Sparrows, as very little is known about their ecology in Ireland.

The Tree Sparrow Project monitors: Breeding Productivity, Adult Survival and Dispersal and Movements.  BirdWatch Ireland need as many people as possible out looking for Tree Sparrows and reporting their location to BirdWatch Ireland; see the Tree Sparrow Tribune  for more details. This project is supported by the Heritage Office of Kilkenny County Council and Kilkenny Heritage Forum.