Mooney Friday 14 February 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!

On Mooney Goes Wild today

Irish waters are proving increasingly attractive to Marine mammals, including three types of bottlenose dolphin, fin whales, minky whales, and even the iconic blue whale.

We hear how a population of red squirrels is thriving at Fermoy golf club.

And, as it’s Valentine's Day, we look at courtship rituals across the main animal groups.

Does Ivy Damage a Tree

Does Ivy Damage a Tree

Eanna Ní Lamha and Richard Collins discuss whether the presence of ivy on a tree make it more prone to blowing over. Paul Whelan, Lichenologist, takes issue with Eanna. He thinks it should be minimised and managed to increase biodiversity.


Dolphins and Whales

Dr Simon Berrow is a Lecturer in Marine Biology at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in Galway, and is also with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.

In the North Atlantic there are maybe 12,000 humpback whales. In the same area there are probably 20,000 fin whales and 20,000 minky whales. We probably know more about the humpback whales than any other. They are normally identified by their tail and dorsal fin

Pictures below are of a humpback whale called Dutchie. It was recorded first in May, 2009 by Connor Ryan, who photographed it off the coast of Ireland. The following December it was recorded in the Netherlands. Then in late 2012, in Northern Norway. That is an incredible journey for a humpback whale.

 Ireland Sighting

Netherlands Sighting


 Norway Sighting

Images of match of Dutchie to Tromso, we identified it from Ireland to the Netherlands by barnacle scars on its head and its dorsal fin as it didn't fluke in Ireland.


Animal Courtship and Copycat Behaviour

Associate Professor and Head of Zoology at Trinity, Nicola Marples explains how biologists from Trinity College Dublin have shown that individuals with very different, ingrained approaches to trying new foods are influenced by the presence and actions of rivals eating those same new foods.

Through a combination of genetic hard-wiring and environmental influences, animals in a given population conform to one of two foraging strategies. However, it seems with chicks – as sometimes with young children – that imitation goes hand in hand with development.

Nicola also discusses animal courtship which can be wild, wacky and even romantic. Animals will dance, strut and sometimes even fight for their true love. They will sing, bellow and offer things to eat. They change colors, leave scented notes and build homes to attract and win over a suitable partner.

In the animal world, it is usually the boys that are trying to impress the girls and courtship isn't limited to one particular species. Mammals have many diverse and often affectionate ways of courting their prospective mates, but it's birds, reptiles and even insects that have some very unusual ways of wooing their mates.

Raven Love

Raven Love

Love is in the air and traditionally St. Valentine’s Day is the day in which the robin chooses its mate. Well, for the much larger Rook, it happens a lot earlier in the year!

Eddie Drew runs Copsewood Aviaries in Kilmacanogue, Co. Wicklow and he has a pair of ravens for a number of years now. They have bred successfully for three years and are presently nest building and eggs should be laid in the next week or two. The aviary is open to the public at weekends and there is a wide variety of birds on show and for sale.


Crow Puzzle Solver

BBC presenter Chris Packham is a guest on MOONEY Goes Wild today. And he tells us about one of the most remarkable birds he has ever encountered. A Crow solving a complex, eight-stage puzzle, demonstrating its extraordinary intelligence. Take a look at the video below:




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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