Mooney Goes Wild - Habitats (Sundays, 10pm-11pm)

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In this five-part series of Mooney Goes Wild specials, biologist Terry Flanagan, ornithologist Eric Dempsey and botanist Matthew Jebb take listeners on a wondrous journey into the habitats of some our native and exotic plant and animal species.

Every plant and animal needs a habitat, an environment where all their daily needs are met - food, water, and a home to raise their young.  Over the next five weeks, we’ll bring you to some of the most diverse habitats that can be found around the world – from the lowland rainforests of South-East Asia, where Banana Trees thrive, to a derelict castle along the banks of River Corrib in Co. Galway, to the grasslands and farmlands of Ireland where the Skylark is common.

Listen back to the series:

Programme 1: Hedgerows, Skylarks & Banana Trees (26/07/15)

Programme 2: Bogs, Red Kites & The Alpine Habitat Of The Burren (02/08/15)

Programme 3: Derelict Buildings, Woodpeckers & Deserts (09/08/15)

Programme 4: Rivers, Little Terns & Carnivorous Sundews (16/08/15)

Programme 5: Woodland, Curlews & Water Lilies (23/08/15)

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Programme 1: Hedgerows, Skylarks & Banana Trees (26/07/15)

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For a small country, Ireland is blessed with a unique variety of habitats and wildlife.  From bog to hedgerow, from river to sea, from woodland to canal – all within an hours drive of your front door. Even more astonishing is the sheer number of birds that live on the island. Over 450 species have been recorded here. Tonight, Eric Dempsey travels to the Shannon callows to meet Dr. Alex Copland, to learn why it’s such a good breeding area for skylarks.

From the Shannon, travel with us around the world to the lowland rainforests of South-East Asia, as the Botanic Garden’s Matthew Jebb takes us through this tropical habitat, and the fascinating banana trees that grow there.

But we start tonight in the land of the Lilywhites.  Biologist Terry Flanagan travelled to Co. Kildare to meet Eugene Delaney, and to walk along a stretch of habitat that everyone is familiar with, the hedgerow.

Hedgerow

Hedgerow

From Kildare, we move westwards towards the Shannon callows. The callows are probably best known as the breeding grounds of the corncrake, but they are also an ideal breeding area for the skylark. Although most people may never get close to a skylark, many will be familiar with its beautiful song, delivered continuously from 10 metres or so above.  Ornithologist Eric Dempsey is our guide to the grasslands, along with Dr. Alec Copland from BirdWatch Ireland...

Skylark

Skylark

The lowland rainforests of South-East Asia are filled with all kinds of tropical plants and trees that wouldn’t be found in more temperate habitats.  But at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin, many of these plants, including sugar cane, coconuts and coffee plants, are thriving under controlled conditions.  Sinéad Renshaw visited the Botanic Gardens to talk to its Director, botanist Dr. Matthew Jebb, about the flora of the rainforest and about one very special banana tree...

Banana Tree at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

Banana Tree at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

Fruit on Banana Tree at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

Fruit on Banana Tree at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

Flowers on the Banana Tree at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

Flowers on the Banana Tree at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin

Join us next Sunday night, when we’ll find out about the unique flora and fauna of the bog, learn about the success of the Red Kites of County Wicklow, and explore why an alpine plant has been growing wild in the Burren!

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Programme 2: Bogs, Red Kites & The Alpine Habitat Of The Burren (02/08/15)

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For a small country, Ireland is blessed with a unique variety of habitats and wildlife.  From bog to hedgerow, from river to sea, from woodland to canal – all within an hours drive of your front door. Even more astonishing is the sheer number of birds that live on the island. Over 450 species have been recorded here, and their numbers are increasing. Tonight, Eric Dempsey travels to County Wicklow to meet Mark Ruddock, to learn about the success of the Red Kite breeding programme.

From Wicklow, travel with us around the world to the mountainous Alps, as the Botanic Garden’s Matthew Jebb explains why some Alpine plants have made their homes in the Burren, alongside flora from the Arctic and the Mediterranean...

But we start tonight in a habitat that has sadly diminished rapidly over the years, and it’s a habitat which harbours its own unique flora and fauna. That habitat is the bog.  Biologist Terry Flanagan travelled to Lodge Bog, where he met up with Nuala Madigan of the Irish Peatland Conservation Council to find out more.

One of the great success stories in Ireland over the last number of years, has been the reintroduction of three birds of prey to our landscape: the Golden Eagle, the White tailed Eagle and the Red Kite. Although most people may be more familar with the Golden Eagles and White tailed Eagles in the west of the country, the Red Kites have been the most successful of the three - and they are now breeding and expanding their range along the east coast. Their increasing numbers and their behaviour makes them easy to spot, and they have become a tourist attraction in Co. Wicklow. Ornithogist Eric Dempsey met up with Mark Ruddock to examine their success...

Red Kite

Red Kite

For many botanists, a perfect holiday might involve climbing in the Alps, searching for that rare specimen.  But if you wanted to find one Alpine flower, the Spring Gentian, you wouldn’t have to venture as far as the south of France, but rather to the north of Dublin – to the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin.  It is considered bad luck to bring the gentian into a house, as the individual would risk being struck by lightning.  Matthew Jebb, Director of the Gardens, had no fear of this when he brought the Spring Gentian, and plants from the Arctic and Mediterranean, into the Gardens from the Burren.  Confused? Matthew explained to Sinéad Renshaw why a unique grassland from County Galway is essentially a floral global melting pot – and how it’s ended up in Glasnevin...

Spring Gentian

Spring Gentian

A slice of the Burren in the Bots

About the flora of the Burren

The Burren supports plantlife from the Alps to the Arctic, as well as Mediterranean flora, such as this orchid

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Programme 3: Derelict Buildings, Woodpeckers & Deserts (09/08/15)

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For a small country, Ireland is blessed with a unique variety of habitats and wildlife.  From bog to hedgerow, from river to sea, from woodland to canal – all within an hours drive of your front door. Even more astonishing is the sheer number of birds that live on the island. Over 450 species have been recorded here, and their numbers are increasing. Tonight, Eric Dempsey visits County Wicklow to meet Dick Coombes, to learn one of our newer species, the Great Spotted Woodpecker.

From Wicklow, travel with us around the world to the deserts of North America, as the National Botanic Gardens Director Matthew Jebb explains to Sinéad Renshaw what Californian cacti have in common with Ireland’s shorelines...

But first: the habitats most people would be familiar with would be hedgerows, seashores woodlands and bogs.  But what about manmade habitats?  Is there such a thing?  And do plants and animals use them?  One of the best examples of a manmade habitat is an old castle ruin - and many plants and animals would consider it their home.  In Spring this year, Terry Flanagan headed off to an old ruined castle in Co. Galway, where he met up with John Lusby, to explore the secrets hidden within...

Example of derelict building

Example of derelict building

In the last number of years, a number of birds have been reintroduced to Ireland - these include the Red Kite, White Tailed Eagle and Golden Eagle. But have any birds managed to make to Ireland under their own steam?  Well actually, one has.  The Great Spotted Woodpecker arrived in Ireland less than ten years ago, and since then it has not only survived, but it has managed to breed and extend its range here. Eric Dempsey met up with woodpecker expert Dick Coombes, from BirdWatch Ireland, to learn about their success...

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker

The deserts of North America, are dry, arid wastelands that receive less than 25cm of rain per year.  Here in Ireland, we get three to four times that – at least!!  So what could the cacti of the desert possibly have in common with Irish shoreline plants? Sinéad Renshaw visited the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin, to meet up with it’s Director Matthew Jebb, to find out....

Barrel Cactus

Barrel Cactus

Barrel Cactus

Detail of Barrel Cactus spines

Cactus Flowers

Cactus Flowers

Cactus Bed

Cactus Bed

Decorative Cactus Display

Decorative Cactus Display

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Programme 4: Rivers, Little Terns & Carnivorous Sundews (16/08/15)

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For a small country, Ireland is blessed with a unique variety of habitats and wildlife.  From bog to hedgerow, from river to sea, from woodland to canal – all within an hours drive of your front door. Even more astonishing is the sheer number of birds that live on the island. Over 450 species have been recorded here, and in general, their numbers are increasing.  However, numbers of Terns are quite low in Ireland, necessitating help from BirdWatch Ireland. Eric Dempsey recently travelled to Kilcoole in Co. Wicklow to learn what we can do to help our terns...

From Wicklow, travel with us around the world to the wet sandy soils of South Africa, as the National Botanic Gardens Director Matthew Jebb tells Sinéad Renshaw about the exotic carnivorous plants from the southern hemisphere that can be found in the Gardens...

But first we head off to the Annalee River in Co. Cavan. This is a tributary of the River Erne and it is one of the best river fisheries in the whole country.  Last May, Terry Flanagan headed up north along with Dr. Ken Whelan to learn more about river habitats and in particular the River Annalee...

Annalee River

River Annalee

Heron fishing on river

Heron fishing on river

Gulls have been very much in the news recently, and a visit to the seashore is gaurenteed to provide a good view of “Seagulls”. But the term “Seagull” is a very general one.  It includes herring gulls and common gulls and many more, but there are other similar birds found there.  Terns are very pretty birds, so much so, that they are often called “Sea Swallows”. However, numbers of Terns are quite low in Ireland, necessitating help from BirdWatch Ireland. Eric Dempsey, recently travelled to Kilcoole in Co. Wicklow to meet with Niall Keogh, to see what help they’re getting...

Little Tern

Little Tern

Little Tern Colony News

Little Tern Colony News

Irish sundew plants can be found in our peat bogs, but their South African cousins, the Cape sundew plants are found in wet acidic sand.  Both are so low in nutrients they have to supplement their diets by being meat-eaters!  Sinéad Renshaw visited the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin, to meet up with it’s Director Matthew Jebb, to find out about the collection of carnivorous plants there...

Drosera

Drosera

Drosera

Drosera

Carnivorous Plants at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin

Carnivorous Plants at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin

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Programme 5: Woodland, Curlews & Water Lilies (23/08/15)

Click here to listen to this programme

For a small country, Ireland is blessed with a unique variety of habitats and wildlife.  From bog to hedgerow, from river to sea, from woodland to canal – all within an hours drive of your front door. The sheer number of birds that live in Ireland is quite astonishing – but sadly, the number of Irish curlews has declined dramatically in recent years. Later on, Eric Dempsey visits the River Shannon to find out what can be done to stop this decline...

From Galway we move East to north Dublin, as the National Botanic Gardens Director Matthew Jebb tells Sinéad Renshaw about the variety of flora that can be found growing over, under and around our ponds, including the spectacular Irish Water Lily...

But first: a very different habitat. Woodlands are one of our commonest habitats found throughout the country. Many species of plants and animals can be found there. In fact, this habitat is so important to many of them, it has been incorporated into their names; think of woodpigeon, woodmouse and woodcock to mention but a few. Back in early Summer, Terry Flanagan headed off with Niall Hatch to a mature deciduous woodland, deep in the heart of Co. Wicklow...

Bluebells on woodland floor

Bluebells on woodland floor

Wood Pigeon

Wood Pigeon

Many of us have visited the Bull Island during the winter and marvelled at the huge variety and numbers of waders to be found there, and one the stars of the show is the curlew. However, almost all of these curlews have travelled here from abroad and they will have left by the following Spring. The actual number of Irish curlews has declined severely in recent years. Why is this so, and what can be done to increase their numbers?  Ornithologist Eric Dempsey travelled to Inishee island in Co. Galway to meet Dr. Anita Donaghy from BirdWatch Ireland, to see what measures are being undertaken... For more information on the GLAS scheme as discussed in this interview, click here.

Curlew

Curlew

The flora and plantlife that can be found in our ponds support a unique ecosystem, providing food and shelter to micro organisms that share the water.  One of the most fascinating pond plants is the White Water Lily, which thrives in the water – but can also be found growing on mountain slopes! Sinéad Renshaw visited the Botanic Gardens in Dublin to find out more... 

White Water Lily

White Water Lily

Matthew Jebb, Director of the National Botanic Gardens, by the pond

Matthew Jebb, Director of the National Botanic Gardens, by the pond

Pond Flora

Pond Flora

White Water Lily

White Water Lily

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Presenter: Derek Mooney

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