Mooney, Friday January 2nd 2015

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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!

Robin - The Christmas Bird

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.

On Mooney Goes Wild today...

Each year, from late October through to February, hundreds of thousands of Starlings come together to form magnificent aerial displays just before they roost. Why do they do it?  In this special programme, Starlings, Derek Mooney and Dr. Richard Collins investigate one of nature's greatest spectacles: Starling murmurations... 

Some of those featured in this afternoon's documentary are:

Niall Hatch, Tom O'Callaghan and Eugene Dunbar, BirdWatch Ireland

Richard Collins, Niall Hatch, Tom O'Callaghan and Eugene Dunbar, on Lilliput Shore of Lough Ennell, Co. Westmeath, waiting for the Starling murmuration

To read more about the Starling, click here.

Ronald Surgenor

Richard Collins & Ronald Surgenor, Weir Operative with the Department of Social Development, on the River Lagan in Belfast

 Dr. Richard Collins with Ronald Surgenor by the Sacha 

Ronald Surgenor & Richard Collins

Under Albert Bridge, on the River Lagan, in Belfast. The shelf-like structure is the perfect roosting site for thousands of noisy starlings

Derek observes a starling murmuration in Belfast with Claire Barnett, Senior Conservation Officer (Species and Habitats) with the RSPB in Northern Ireland:

Derek shows evidence of starling dropping on Albert Bridge Belfast

Starlings gathering over the Albert Bridge in Belfast

Prof. Chris Feare

Prof. Chris Feare with Dr. Richard Collins

- Owner of WildWings Bird Management, Guildford, England.
- Research and consultancy in the management of wild birds for conservation and pest control
- Head of bird department, Department of Environment and Rural Affairs, UK, May 1974 – March 1996 (21 years 11 months)
University of Leeds, BSc PhD, Zoology, 1962 – 1969
- Activities and Societies: British Ornithologists' Union (former Vice-President), British Trust for Ornithology, BirdLife International, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Seabird Group, Indian Ocean Seabird Group
- Honors & Awards
1994 Elected to International Ornithological Congress Committee
1995 Appointed Honorary Visiting Professor, University of Leeds
2008 Awarded British Ornithologists' Union medal

Lloyd and Rose Buck

Lloyd & Rose Buck

Over the past 22 years, Lloyd and his wife Rose have been involved with many different film and television productions. They have a team of birds specially trained for filming on location and in studios but can also train new birds for specific projects.

Richard Collins with a hand-reared Starling

Lloyd and Rose are the world's experts at in-flight and tracking filming with birds. "We have our own family of birds that we work with exclusively for documentaries, film , drama, commercials and photography projects". For more information, visit

Prof. Dr. Charlotte K. Hemelrijk

Richard Collins & Dr. Charlotte Hemelrijk

• Chair of the Dutch Society of Theoretical Biology (NVTB)
• Board-member of the Groningen Center for Social Complexity Studies (GCSCS)
• External board-member of the Ethologische Gesellschaft
• Chair of the NWO-VICI committee for ALW
• Member of the complexity call of NWO
• Editor of PlosOne

Research Field: Self-organization in social systems

Charlotte and her team are interested in all aspects of self-organisation in social systems. In their models they try to produce complex phenomena by self-organisation as a side-effect of interactions of individuals with their environment. At present their focus is on social systems of primates, fish and birds.

Daniel Pearce

Dr. Richard Collins with Daniel Pearce

Research Interests:
During the course of his Ph.D, Daniel looked at collective behaviour in animals, primarily how birds are able to organise themselves into huge flocks so easily. He studied this by both simulation and observation on large starling flocks in the wild. For more, 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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