Mooney, Friday January 31st 2014

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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...

We find out about a new survey which shows that mice are attracted to houses in Sligo and Longford more than anywhere else in Ireland! Our Friday panel tries to get to the bottom of this conundrum. We discover what bats can teach us about the mysteries of our sense of smell. And we track down one incredible redneck phalarope, a bird which clocked a record-breaking migration of 26,000 km!

Caring For Garden Birds This Winter

Caring For Garden Birds This Winter

To find out how to care for and attract garden birds, read Jim Wilson's Guide To Garden Birds - CLICK HERE!

Mice Prefer Sligo And Longford!

Mice Prefer Sligo And Longford!

We have some breaking news today on Mooney Goes Wild: new research shows that you are much more likely to find mice in homes in Sligo and Longford! This is according to a new survey conducted by AA Ireland.

Now the people working at AA Ireland have absolutely no idea why this might be the case, they conducted the survey, got their results and have been scratching their heads trying to figure out why this is the case.

So they decided to come to enlist some help from our Mooney Goes Wild experts to see if they might be able to shed some light on this situation! Conor Faughnan, who is Director of Consumer Affairs with AA Ireland, is in studio to explain more...

AA Home Rescue's pest control tips:

- Install door sweeps if you’ve got gaps underneath your exterior doors. They’re inexpensive, easy to fit and look very discreet too.
- Look around your appliances for gaps such as clothes drier vents and TV wires. Fill in these gaps with a suitable material such cement or expanding foam.
- Caulk (make air and water tight) any cracks/crevices around your windows, doors, cupboards and skirting boards.
- Install a wire mesh or similar over your attic, roof and crawl space vents to prevent birds, bats and rodents getting in.
- Fix any drips or leaky plumping. Food and water will attract vermin.
- Bring out the bins regularly, keep your floors well swept and try not leave pet food out overnight.

World Wetlands Day

World Wetlands Day

This Sunday, birdlovers are being asked to celebrate World Wetlands Day! But how common are the wetlands in Ireland, what birds can we find there, and how important is it to preserve them? To explain more, we're joined in studio by Niall Hatch, Development Officer with BirdWatch Ireland, who is also asking people to keep an eye out for swifts, swallows and cuckoos over the next few weeks... For more information, visit

Red Necked Phalaropes

According to BirdWatch Ireland, the Red-Necked Phalarope, a bird which is smaller than a starling, is a rare visitor to Irish shores. It’s also one of the UK’s rarest breeding birds mainly to be found on the Shetland Islands, off the North East coast of Scotland.

Red Necked Phalarope

Up to now it was assumed that the small number of Scottish Red necked Phalaropes joined the Scandanavian Phalaropes at their wintering grounds in the Arabian Sea. But thanks to a tracking device, weighing less than a paperclip, we now know that a tagged Phalarope made an epic 16,000 mile round journey from Shetland across the Atlantic, down the eastern seaboard of the United States, across the Caribbean, ending up off the coast of Peru in the Pacific Ocean.

To learn more, we're joined from Scotland by Malcolm Smith, Shetland Species and Habitat Officer with the RSPB... To find out more about this remarkable bird, visit

Thanks to listener Rónán McLaughlin, who tweeted us this fantastic photo of a red necked phalarope:

Thanks Rónán! And if you have a photo or story for us, tweet us @MooneyShow or e-mail!

Feeding The Swans

Most of us like to feed the birds in the back garden. There's nothing as nice as watching robins and wrens, blue tits and blackbirds, feeding merrily on the peanut feeder. Some people take this hobby a step further and travel to lakes, ponds and canals to feed the ducks and the swans. But is it only white bread that we use?  Should we not provide something more nutritious? We sent our reporter, Terry Flanagan, off to some of the favourite feeding sites around the city starting first on the Grand Canal at Portobello...

A bevy of swans on the Grand Canal in Dublin 

A bevy of swans on the Grand Canal in Dublin

Some points of note:

- There is a long tradition of people living along canals to feed the swans and ducks white bread
- White bread is a very poor food source for swans or ducks
- It is much better to feed grain or vegetables, or if you do feed bread, feed brown bread
- The vast majority of people provide white bread without realising what a poor source it is
- Grain (wheat, corn, barley), lettuce, carrots, maize and potatoes can be fed to swans
- Most pet stores sell wheat, barley and broken maize


- Processed breads – especially white bread, chips, cake, crackers, cookies, biscuits, processed cereals (Cheerio’s etc), popcorn, crisps
- Sugary, starchy or fatty foods, junk food, fast food, cooked or processed food

Using Bats To Understand The Sense Of Smell

Using Bats To Understand The Sense Of Smell

We have spoken many times on this show about the amazing echo-location abilities of bats - abilities that allow them to hunt at night, flying at great speeds, yet avoiding obstacles that we might crash into with our eyes wide open!

But with all this focus on their ability to echo-locate, the other sensory organs of bats have remained relatively un-studied in the past.

All that is changing now. Professor Emma Teeling is the Director of the Centre for Irish Bat Research, at University College Dublin, and she's just published some very interesting research into the bats’ sense of smell - in particular what it can teach us about how smell works in practical terms. And she joins Derek, Richard and Eanna in studio today to explain more!

For more information about Emma and the Centre for Irish Bat Research, visit

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


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Presenter: Derek Mooney


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