Mooney Goes Wild, Sunday January 29th 2017

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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 tonight...

In this special edition of the programme, we find out more about roosting starlings and rooks!  Where do birds roost - and why?  Derek Mooney teams up Richard Collins and Eugene Dunbar (from BirdWatch Ireland) at Lough Ennell in Co. Westmeath, as they find out about the marvellous starling murmurations that can be viewed there.  And in the nearby village of Kilbeggan, Terry Flanagan talks to local man TP O'Gorman, and Eanna chats to ornithologist Eric Dempsey, about the numerous amount of crows that can be found roosting there...

Google map showing locations visited in this programme (marked in red)

Top left: Richard Collins and Eugene Dunbar; Top right: Tom O'Callaghan, Eugene Dunbar and Richard Collins; Bottom: photo of a Starling by Michael Finn / BirdWatch Ireland (

Top left: Eric Dempsey and Eanna ni Lamhna; Top middle: rook roosting in Kilbeggan; Top right: Eanna ni Lamhna, Eric Dempsey and Terry Flanagan; Bottom: photo of a Rook by Ronnie Martin / BirdWatch Ireland (

***We're Looking For Your Starling Murmuration Footage For TV!***

Do you have any photos or videos of starling murmurations?  We would love to share them!  Derek will be appearing on the Today programme on RTÉ One television during the week, to talk about starling murmurations, so if you would like YOUR photos and videos of starling murmurations to appear on TV, then just send them in to us!  E-mail, and as well as sending in your footage, please tell us your name, where the murmuration happened, when you saw it, what time of day it occured, where you're from and your contact details.  Please note that there is no fee, but we will credit you!

Here are just a small sample of some of the beautiful photos and videos you have sent in to us so far!

Murmuration in Ennis, Co. Clare - photo by John Kelly

Murmuration in Ballywilliam, Co. Wexford - photos by Edward Delaney

Brian Carruthers sent us this amazing video of a starling murmuration over Lough Ennell; he writes "from December through to February, try the area around Lilliput Adventure Centre, located in Johnathan Swift Park, on the shores of Lough Ennell, 10 minutes from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath and approximately one hour from Dublin.  To be in with a good chance of viewing them, be there one hour before complete sunset on a calm evening, It is a magnificent sight to behold, one of nature's triumphs.  The video included does not do the action justice, we were told we missed the main action by 15-30mins , but still enjoyed the event unfolding!"

The folks behind the Athlone Town Facebook page sent us this link of a starling murmuration in the town: 

Gustavo Zoladz sent us a link to this video he filmed of a murmuration on Lough Ennell.

To listen back to the 2015 Mooney Goes Wild documentary Starlings, visit, and for further information on starling murmurations, visit

For an archived version of our Starlings factsheet, 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


***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



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Presenter: Derek Mooney


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