Mooney, Friday December 20th 2013

Follow Us On Social Media:


Twitter: @naturerte

E-mail Us:

Caring For Wild Animals

Please note that many species of mammals, birds, invertebrates etc... are protected under law and that, even with the best of intentions, only someone holding a relevant licence from the National Parks & Wildlife Service should attempt the care of these animals.  For full details, please click here to read the NPWS Checklist of protected & rare species in Ireland.  If you are concerned about a wild animal, please contact your local wildlife ranger - click here for details.

Events & Listings

Click here for a full list of events taking place around the country, and movies currently on release, which might be of interest to wildlife lovers!



Derek Mooney with his unique mix of conversation, information, advice and entertainment

On Mooney Goes Wild today...

Your garden birds need to be fed this winter. But be warned! Christmas leftovers, and Turkey fat in particular, can be deadly. We discover the fascinating range of strategies used by plants and animals to cope with the winter cold. And, good news for polar bears, as Arctic states reach a landmark agreement for their protection.

Mooney's Merry Messages!

Mooney's Merry Messages!

Christmas is a special time when, if we’re lucky, we get to spend precious moments with the friends and family we love. For many that means making the long trip home – or jetting off to foreign parts to be with our nearest and dearest. But for others, being together is simply not an option.

Whatever YOUR situation, here on MOONEY we want to help make your Christmas the best ever. On Monday, Brenda Donohue will be out in Dublin Airport, Katriona McFadden will be at the ferryport in Dún Laoghaire and Fergus Sweeney will be at Busarus - waving off the travellers and welcoming back those returning home...

...And if YOU can’t be with the one you love – we want you to let us have your Christmas message to them and we’ll send them out across the world over the airwaves.

You can send a text to 51551 whilst the programme is on air (3-4.30pm, Monday - Friday) or you can e-mail or tweet us anytime: or @MooneyShow. Tell us your story, send us your message and we’ll do the rest on Mooney’s Merry Messages – this coming Monday from 3pm.

RSPB Warning On Turkey Fat

RSPB Warning On Turkey Fat

The RSPB is warning that cooked turkey fat is extremely dangerous to birds and could even kill them. Many people put the leftover contents of Christmas dinner roasting tins outside for birds, wrongly believing it’s as beneficial to them as other fats like lard and suet.

But cooked turkey fat is completely unsuitable for birds for a number of reasons.  Derek is joined in studio today by ornithologist Eric Dempsey (pictured), to tell us what we should and shouldn't leave out for the birds...

For more information, click here.

Winter Strategies For Birds

Winter Strategies For Birds

Well winter is well and truly here: snow, frost and stormy weather. So how are our birds doing? What strategies have they developed to overcome harsh winters? Our reporter Terry Flanagan (pictured) met up with Niall Hatch of BirdWatch Ireland to find out more!

Birds In The Cold

Birds In The Cold

It's a bit 'nippy' today and Met Éireann are predicting a cold weekend, with wintry showers and that Christmas Day will have a 'frosty start'. You’ll probably be curled up by the fire, rubbing your tummies after all that turkey and ham – but what about the creatures peering in the window at you from outside?

How do the birds cope with the cold?

Ornithologist Eric Dempsey is in studio to tell us...

Eric has a Garden Bird Day coming up in Wicklow ...  it will take place on January 18th at 10am at Sycamore Hill [his house] near Newcastle in Co Wicklow, along with fellow ornithologist Declan Manly. More details are available by visiting or clicking here.


Filming In The Extreme Cold

If you play the above video, you'll see a most extraordinary scene!

But, imagine being the person who has to patiently wait in freezing conditions to get that shot!

The Weddel Seal has a layer of blubber to insulate it from the cold. Humans are less well-adapted!

Doug Allan is the wildlife cameraman behind that particular Killer Whale/Weddel Seal sequence.

He has featured on Mooney Goes Wild several times now. He’s responsible for some of the most extraordinary scenes in nature programming, many of them in David Attenborough documentaries.

He’s a man who knows a lot about the cold. He lived in Antarctica for several years before becoming a film maker and, as he says himself "there isn’t much filming happening in the Polar regions nowadays that I don’t have a hand in!"

Doug was here in studio with us last September before he started a Talking Tour of Ireland and today he joins us from the BBC Bristol studios...

Plants In The Cold

Plants In The Cold

When WE get cold we can put on a jumper or a coat, we can drink a hot drink or we can go indoors. Animals can hibernate or migrate. They’re able to find shelter from the elements.

But what about the poor plants?

Plants don't have legs or wings. They have to stay put and brave the cold. But they do have a few 'tricks' up their sleeves to survive...

Matthew Jebb is Director of the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, and he joins us in studio to explain more...

The palms at the National Botanic Gardens in the snow

Gairdíní na Lus is a new 6-part television series about the National Botanic Gardens, which will be screened on TG4 next year. The first episode will be screened on Tuesday, January 7th 2014 at 8pm, with a repeat on Sundays starting on January 12th at 9pm.

For more on the National Botanic Gardens, visit or their Facebook page:

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 ( 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


***Download the Dawn Chorus 2017 podcasts***

Dawn Chorus 2017 - First Hour - 00:00 - 01:00

Dawn Chorus 2017 - Second Hour - 01:00 - 02:00

Dawn Chorus 2017 - Third Hour - 02:00 - 03:00

Dawn Chorus 2017 - Fourth Hour - 03:00 - 04:00

Dawn Chorus 2017 - Fifth Hour - 04:00 - 05:00

Dawn Chorus 2017 - Sixth Hour - 05:00 - 06:00



Contact the Show

RTÉ is not responsible for the content of external websites

Presenter: Derek Mooney


Ways to Listen

Radio Player