Mooney Goes Wild

    Sunday, 10pm-11pm, RTÉ Radio 1

    Mooney Goes Wild, Sunday February 14th 2016

    On Mooney Goes Wild tonight...

    Birds do it, bees do it - or do they? We learn about luurve in the animal kingdom.  Dr. Kevin Butt tells us about the giant worms on the Isle of Rum.  Terry Flanagan is on the search for Ireland's oldest pet newt, whilst Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich tells us about the placenames that have been inspired by Irish wildlife.  And can you remember what the first bird you saw this morning was? Did you know that, according to tradition, the first bird you see on St. Valentine's morning indicates the type of person you'll end up with? If you see a sparrow, you may end up with a farmer, and if you glimpse a canary, then you'll marry a doctor or therapist?  We find out more about the ancient tradition of ornithomancy, or reading signs from the birds...

    Love In The Animal Kingdom

    Photo by R Neil Marshman

    Photo by R Neil Marshman

    If you’re a single lady out there, then just for one moment, forget about the  cards, the texts, the flowers, the chocolates that you did (yippee!) or didn’t (boo hoo!) arrive today, St. Valentine’s Day - and instead, think back to this morning when you first woke up and looked out of your window.  What was the very first bird that you saw? If you can remember, then you may have a clue as to the kind of man you will marry!  Did you glimpse a goldfinch, for instance?  Well, if you did then he’s a man who’s going to be absolutely loaded!  Or was it a blackbird?  Then, you’re on your way to marrying a kind and studious man.  But if it was a crow, then – don’t hang around - you should definitely walk away from the current man in your life!  The practice of reading signs from birds, called ornithomancy, dates back to ancient times and was practised by the Greeks, Romans and many other cultures.  To give us this thoughts on all this - and to tell us about romance in the animal and avian world, Derek is joined in studio by Dr. Richard Collins, Eanna ni Lamhna and ornithologist and author Eric Dempsey...

    To read the Daily Mail article about how the first bird seen on St. Valentine's morning influences love, click here.

    Giant Worms Discovered On The Isle Of Rum

    If you happen to be a bird tapping the ground for worms on a certain Scottish island, you could find yourself getting a whole lot more than you bargained for!  Earthworms the size of a baby snake - and weighing as much as a small mouse - have been discovered on the Isle of Rum.

    Photo: Dr. Kevin Butt

    Scientists working there have found the biggest specimens ever seen in the UK, more than three times the length and weight of a normal worm.  Dr. Kevin Butt (Reader in Ecology, School of Forensic and Applied Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, Preston) is the lead researcher on this recent earthworm study by the University of Central Lancashire and he joins us from the studios of BBC Lancashire to tell us more...

    To read more about the discovery, click here.

    Packy The Newt

    After a recent recording of Mooney Tunes, a lady approached Derek with a query.  Her name was Sheila O'Quigley, and she wanted to know how long newts live for.  She had bought her son Dermot a pet newt in 1990, and wondered if this is the oldest living newt in Ireland.

    Packy The Newt

    Now newts, as we know, are amphibians and can be found in all counties in Ireland.  They are cold-blooded animals that need to hibernate in the winter.  In the wild, newts live for about six years.  During Spring and early Summer, they can be found in ponds where they mate and lay their eggs.  Later on they leave the ponds and move onto land, and they will eventually overwinter in woodpiles and rotten logs.  Curious to see what a 26-year-old newt looked like, and to find out more about his success, we sent Terry Flanagan out to meet Sheila and Packy, the pet newt...

    Placenames Inspired By Ireland's Wildlife

    One of the biggest pleasures of driving through the countryside is seeing all the signposts with the beautiful Irish placenames on.  Many of those names come from geographical features, or local history.  But have you ever wondered what role our wildlife has played in inspiring Irish placenames?  That’s the focus of a programme going out on TG4 next Tuesday, called Logainm, and the presenter of the series, Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich, joins us now to tell us more...

    Breanndán Ó Beaglaoich

    Logainm is broadcast on Tuesday nights at 8pm on TG4.  To find out more about the series, click here.  Breanndán is also a musician, and very much involved in the Ballyferriter Music School, which begins next Wednesday, February 17th and runs until next Sunday, February 21st.  To learn more about that, visit or click here for the Facebook page.  

    To read the MGW guide to great shows about nature and wildlife broadcast on Irish radio stations and TV channels, click here!

    Hedgerows: It is an offence to 'cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy hedgerows on uncultivated land during the nesting season from 1 March to 31 August, subject to certain exceptions'. For more information, click here.

    To contact your local wildlife ranger, click here for contact details. To read the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, click here.


    Please DO NOT send any live, dead or skeletal remains of any creature whatsoever to Mooney Goes Wild.

    If you find an injured animal or bird, please contact the National Parks & Wildlife Service on 1890 20 20 21, or BirdWatch Ireland, on 01 281-9878, or visit

    If you require a CD copy of this programme please e-mail  Transfer fees and terms and conditions apply.

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