It’s safe to say that we in Cairn are exceptionally proud of our Archers Wood development in Delgany, Co. Wicklow. Not only are the homes spacious, stylish and built to our exacting high standards, but they’re located in one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland. We’ve always had a deep appreciation of the wonderful countryside, woods, mountains and meadows of North Co. Wicklow, and we’re proud to be able to add to their beauty with a number of measures to protect and conserve the flora and fauna in the area.
Archers Wood is located next to the Three Trout Stream, a nature corridor that leads into the Glen of the Downs, a Natura 2000 site. This is an important area for plant and insect life, a complicated jigsaw of nature that is essential for the health and wellbeing of the planet and the environment. To help, we have put in a number of measures to protect and encourage this life, such as a raised pathway through the wetlands, the planting of 10,000 trees and the protection of a neighbouring meadow.
But as well as the plant and insect life, this area is significant for the number of species of birds that nest in the area. With this in mind, Cairn also collaborated with BirdWatch Ireland on strategies to both protect those birds already in the area and to encourage more to nest in the area. Fortunately, a local resident in the area is Dick Coombes, who is also BirdWatch’s National Coordinator of the Countryside Bird Survey, a comprehensive yearly study of breeding birds in some 380 sample sites across Ireland. Dick was therefore well placed to advise us on the species who nest in the area and how to encourage help protect their habitat and encourage more to make their homes in the area.
“It’s swings and roundabouts really,” says Dick, when we ask him about the general state of play for birds in Ireland right now. “On the negative side, we’ve seen species like the Barn Owl dramatically decline throughout the country apart from the Southwest. Yellowhammers used to be seen everywhere but are only now seen in a handful of counties in the Southeast as we’ve had a dramatic switch over to pasture land from grain, which is what they feed on. We know that the Corncrake is only hanging on by their fingernails. And Swifts are also on the danger list due to a lack of nesting sites – which is often blamed on building in old and ruined buildings during the Celtic Tiger.”
“We also have some positives, such as a few new species that have made their way up from warmer countries, such as the Little Egret, which began nesting in Cork in 1997. This must be due to climate change though. The Common Buzzard has really revived, especially in Co Wicklow, possibly thanks to the ban on the use of strychnine by farmers.”
"We’re putting up about 45 boxes for the three species of Tit that we see in the area. Then there will be about 20 open boxes that suit birds like Robins and occasionally Wrens. We’re also putting up a box for Dippers, who tend to nest on the river – at the moment they’re in quite a vulnerable spot so I was hoping to put a box in upriver to get them to a safer place. We’ll also have two Barn Owl boxes, which have to be made to a special specification."
Dick got involved in Cairn’s plans for conserving the area both officially with BirdWatch and personally, as a local resident. “When we moved into the area years ago, we never saw a robin in our garden as they didn’t like to cross open ground, and there was a field between us and the woods,” he says. “It really brought it home to me how important those ribbons of trees and vegetation are.
“Part of the project includes us providing nesting boxes, roughly 90, funded by Cairn – this is probably the most visible part of the project for residents and visitors. These provide a cavity for birds to nest in, those birds who might find it difficult to find a natural cavity thanks to the level of building and renovating that has happened in Ireland in recent years.”
These nesting boxes are built in different sizes to suit different species of birds, as Dick explains. “We’re putting up about 45 boxes for the three species of Tit that we see in the area. Then there will be about 20 open boxes that suit birds like Robins and occasionally Wrens. We’re also putting up a box for Dippers, who tend to nest on the river – at the moment they’re in quite a vulnerable spot so I was hoping to put a box in upriver to get them to a safer place. We’ll also have two Barn Owl boxes, which have to be made to a special specification. And, we’ll put up a few Woodpecker boxes. So there are quite a few species covered with these boxes.”
The boxes are just one of a few conservation and protection measures being taken by Cairn in the area – and as our new residents get settled into Archers Wood, many more will come online. In the meantime, look out for the nesting boxes and enjoy the wonderful birdsong that will guide you through your day.