The robin, not the turkey, is the real Christmas bird; you'll find him on cards, cakes and Christmas trees. But is Robin Redbreast having us on? Is he really the friendly and gentle little fellow he seems? Does he deserve his special Christmas place? Dr. Richard Collins, scientific adviser to Mooney Goes Wild, investigates! To read more about this special documentary, and to listen to the programme, click here.
Olan McGowan with his unique mix of conversation, information, advice and entertainment
Earthworm spaghetti! Bug bolognese! According to a recent UN report, eating insects could be the perfect answer to human nutritional needs, including providing a cure for obesity! We talk to one of the authors involved. Nestwatch 2013 is up and running, and we expect a clutch of eggs to be laid over the coming days. And, we meet the Trinity College researcher who reckons he's discovered the evolutionary origin of humankind's skill at deception and lying.
National Biodiversity Week
You're probably aware that May is the month of RTÉ Goes Wild, and your national broadcaster has lined up an array of radio and television output, celebrating Ireland's wildlife!
Amongst other things, the final episode of Secrets of the Irish Landscape, presented by Derek Mooney, will be broadcast this Sunday, May 19, at 18:30. Derek follows in the footsteps of Ireland's greatest environmentalist, Robert Lloyd Praeger.
Derek will also be involved in another show, next Friday, May 24th, entitled "Bio Blitz".
The event will be held at four locations; Wicklow Mountains National Park, Co. Wicklow, Burren National Park, Co. Clare, Lough Key Forest Park, Co. Roscommon and Colebrooke Estate, Co. Fermanagh.The four sites will compete to record the most species of wildlife over a 24-hour period. There will also be a programme of activities at each site running in conjunction with BioBlitz for anyone interested in wildlife to attend and join in the recording activity.
And quite apart from RTÉ Goes Wild, over the month of May, next week is also National Biodiversity Week, a week designed to give people the opportunity to really celebrate and learn more about our native plant and animal species. And also, to find out about how we, as communities, interact with our environment.
National Biodiversity Week starts off tomorrow, Saturday May 18th, and runs until the following Sunday May 26th! There are over 70 free and exciting events happening around Ireland, in all kinds of locations: mountains, forests, bogs and beaches.
Events such as the ‘Annual Dawn Chorus Walk’, the ‘Native Species Weekend at Dublin Zoo’ and a ‘Biodiversity Experience’ at the Bog of Allen Nature Centre have been organised.
Richard, Eanna and Terry have been taking a look at what's happening, and join Olan in studio to chat through some of their favourite events...
Now, around this time, many of you might be experiencing a bit of a mid-afternoon slump! And lots of you might rely on snacks to see you through until the end of the day – a cuppa, a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar. But have you ever considered snacking on grasshoppers instead? How about a nice juicy beetle? Or a handful of mealworm?!
The eating of insects is known as entomophagy, and its benefits are huge. A new report, called “Edible Insects: Future Prospects For Food And Feed Security”, takes a look at how eating insects is good for your health, environmentally-friendly, and has huge potential for improving livelihoods in developing countries! One of the co-authors of the report, Arnold van Huis joins Olan and the panel today from the Dutch town of Wageningen…
Our parent Blue Tits have well and truly settled into their nestbox in Derek's back garden, with at least two eggs in there (the female laid the first on Wednesday, and the second yesterday. Blue Tits lay one egg per day, so we're assuming that there are three eggs in there now - although the eggs are under the foliage material in the nestbox. Click here for more information about the Blue Tit, and to view the live stream.
Wildlife In The Falklands
Irish marine biologist Rowan Byrne is shortly heading to the Falkland Islands to research, investigate and draft an OSCP (Oil Spill Contingency Plan) for the Falklands government to help protect habitats and species if there is an oil spill. These are common in any Irish & UK ports and are regulated by the Marine and Coastguard Agency here in UK.
He joins us from the BBC studio in Edinburgh, where he's currently based, to chat about what he's likely to experience - and about how he ended up becoming involved in the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies!
Sea Monsters On The River Foyle In Derry
A couple of weeks ago we reported on the 30th anniversary of Fungie the dolphin’s arrival into Dingle Bay.
But up in Derry they’re currently dealing with a sea beast of an entirely different nature. Some filmmakers were out fishing when they captured this footage.
This is the first sighting of a massive black creature which witnesses insist was no whale. They were out shooting a film called “Fishing with David Lynch” – which explains why they were dressed in suits – when they came across what has become known as the Lough Foyle Monster – and this Youtube clip has now had a million and a half hits.
It has caused consternation and Deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive, Martin McGuinness, has voiced his concern.
As you may be aware, Derry-Londonderry is currently the UK City of Culture and the monster has appeared at a time when a major festival to celebrate the Return of Colmcille to the area is being prepared. What you might not know is that the earliest report of a Loch Ness monster appears in a manuscript on the life of Colmcille, written in the 7th century.
The Return Of Colmcille is written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, the author and screenwriter who wrote the stunning opening ceremony to the Olympic Games – and he joins us on the line from Liverpool today.
The Return of Colmcille will be taking place in Derry on June 7th and 8th.
Bird Feeder SOS!
Mooney Goes Wild reporter Terry Flanagan is a fount of knowledge on all things relating to wildlife and nature! We often get e-mails and texts from people asking Terry to go and visit them to help them ... well this week, we received a message from St. Mochta's School in Clonsilla, who wanted Terry's advice about their bird feeder!
The Evolution Of Lying And Deception in humans
Primates benefit hugely from co-operating with each other - humans being the shining example of how far a group can come with a little bit of quid pro quo. But we also have a remarkable ability to deceive – the finesse and art and games we play have been around for a long time. But how this ability came about remains unclear in evolutionary theory.
Luke McNally is a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, and he has an article that was published this week in the prestigious “Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biological Sciences” which is put forward a most interesting thesis to how this all came about...
To explain more, he joins Olan and the panel today from the BBC's Edinburgh studios.
NestWatch 2013 [Blue Tits]
Olan and the panel of Richard Collins, Eanna ni Lamhna and Terry Flanagan chat about the latest developments in our Blue Tit NestWatch, where our female has laid at least two eggs!
Arnold van Huis is co-author of a new UN report that advocates the eating of insects, saying to do so is good for your health, environmentally-friendly, and has huge potential for improving livelihoods in developing countries! He joins us from Dutch town of Wageningen to explain why...
Marine Biologist Rowan Byrne is off to the Falklands; he tells us about some of the wildlife he is expecting to find there. Plus he tells us how he ended up becoming involved in the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies!!
The author & screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce tells us about the Return of Colmcille event [part of the Derrry-Londonderry City of Culture celebrations]; the culmination of which will be a battle between Colmcille and a giant Sea Monster on the River Foyle!
How has the art of lying changed? Luke McNally is a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh who published an article in 'Proceedings Of The Royal Society Of Biological Sciences', which included his theory as to how lying and deception evolved...
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.
UPDATE: February 29th 2016 - Press Release From BirdWatch Ireland:
Putting the record straight: Dates for burning and hedge-cutting have NOT changed
BirdWatch Ireland, Ireland’s largest conservation charity, is very concerned about misinformation that is currently circulating regarding the dates within which the burning of vegetation and cutting of hedges is permitted. It would like to remind landowners that all burning and cutting must cease on 29th February this year and that burning and cutting remains prohibited from 1st March to 31st August.
Despite attempts by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D., to change the laws regulating these dates by introducing the Heritage Bill 2016 earlier this year, it is important to note that the proposed date changes were ultimately NOT made. This is because the bill failed to pass through both houses of the Oireachtas before the recent dissolution of the Dáil in advance of the general election.
The laws in place governing the dates for hedge-cutting and upland burning therefore remain unchanged. The period within which cutting and burning is prohibited are set down in Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 (as amended in 2000), which states that:
(a) It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy, during the period beginning on the 1st day of March and ending on the 31st day of August in any year, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated.
(b) It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing in any hedge or ditch during the period mentioned in paragraph (a) of this subsection (above).
The existing law provides exemptions for road safety and other circumstances and should be read carefully to ensure compliance.
Section 40 of the Wildlife Act exists to protect nesting birds. Many of our upland bird species are in decline and are in danger of extinction in Ireland; amongst them is the Curlew, which has declined by 80%. Many birds which nest in hedgerows into August are also in serious decline, including the endangered Yellowhammer. The changes to the cutting and burning dates which had been proposed in the now-defunct Heritage Bill 2016 would have caused serious impacts to these birds. A petition launched by BirdWatch Ireland in conjunction with several other national conservation organisations to stop these changes attracted more than 16,200 signatures and rising.
BirdWatch Ireland would also like to advise members of the public that if they see hedges being cut or fires in the uplands on or after 1st March, such activity could be illegal. In such cases, we would encourage people to contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service (www.npws.ie) to report such activity.
BirdWatch Ireland warmly welcomes the demise of the Heritage Bill 2016 and sincerely hopes that any future administration will consider the importance of Ireland’s natural heritage and will not attempt to reintroduce such a flawed and damaging piece of legislation.
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 www.irishwildlifematters.ie