Everybody gives two hoots about birdman Pat

Sean Keane

Sean Keane

EVER wondered where the saying: “I don’t give two hoots” comes from? The 90 people who attended the Dawn Chorus in Jenkinstown Wood on Sunday found out thanks to Pat Durkin who was officiating at his last event as PRO of Birdwatch Ireland in Kilkenny.

Just where he decided to stop and start his talk, above him, in the trees, a long eared owl “crooned” his two hoots which were follwoed by what can only be described as a squeal by a female of the species, reciprocating his advances during what is the mating season. The owls are not that common in Kilkenny and it is unusual still to hear them call.

Mr Durkin then delighted his audeince when he and they heard and identified the cuckoo, which is very rare in these parts because the bird prefers coarse grassland like you get in Pat’s home county of Sligo.

The morning was tinged with sadness for Pat who stepped down after 30 years of service to the voluntary body during which time he has always put the best interests of plants, insects, birds and animals first. He has been responsible for the rescue of many species over the years, especially swans and is held in the highest esteem by people everywhere.

He was taken aback when one of those present for the 4.45am start, made a presentation to him.

Cllr Catherine Connery, who lives nearby, is chairwoman of Kilkenny County Council and she thanked Pat on behalf of the people of Kilkenny for his outstanding work and his dedication to all wildlfie and in helping to retain the ecological balance needed for flora and fauna to survive.

Afterwards, the group had breakfast with a number of barbecues produced from the backs of cars and vans. Tasty puddings, rashers, sausages and fried eggs were enjoyed by all.

There was also a religious service performed jointly by Fr Richard Scriven and the Rev Elaine Murray.

Looking back on his years with Birdwatch Ireland, Pat said biodiversity was the keyword to sustaining the rich plant and animal life we enjoyed and that protecting plants to allow insects to feed on them and in turn the animals and birds to feed on the bugs was crucial for the long term future of our wildlife.

He will still be taking an active role in Birdwatch Ireland but will no longer be leading walks and other events in the future.