Mooney Goes Wild, Sunday May 14th 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!

Mooney Goes Wild

Mooney Goes Wild

We visit some mysterious, uninvited guests lodging in a Donegal cooker hood, enjoy an unexpected encounter with a heron along the banks of the Grand Canal, and we celebrate some of the highlights from last Sunday’s very International Dawn Chorus programme!

International Dawn Chorus 2017

On last Sunday’s Dawn Chorus, we were joined by broadcasting colleagues from all over Europe, the UK and India, to bring you a glorious array of birdsong from around the world.

When embarking on Safari, enthusiasts tend to go in search of the Big Five – the lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros.  So we were delighted that here on the 2017 Dawn Chorus, amongst many other species, we went in search of – and found – our very own key species.  In order of appearance on our marathon six-hour broadcast, we first heard we heard the elusive Corncrake.  Unbelievably there were eight of them singing all night up in Carrickfinn in Co. Donegal here in Ireland.

From Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary in Agra, virtually in the shadow of the Taj Mahal, we were treated to an incredible array of exotic birds – from Black Indian Cuckoos and Mynas, to White-breasted Water Hens to Peacocks.

Austria provided us with the pure and persistent, sweet voice of the Nightingale, and then - as if appearing right on cue as we joined our colleagues in Lithuania - the cuckoo started to call.

And the pièce de résistance for many was right here in Ireland, in St Anne’s Park in Dublin – when the residents of the heronry interrupted Derek's conversation with bird-box designer extraordinaire, Eric Simonds.

It really was an epic broadcast, taking listeners in three continents on a six-hour, six-time zone journey, following the wave of light as Dawn broke, traversing every latitude and longitude from a scorching India to a chilly Iceland.  Tonight, we relive some of the highlights of an extraordinary night...

To view our Flickr gallery with all the photos leading up to, and during, the Dawn Chorus broadcast, please visit

The Donegal Cooker Bird

Kate O’Halloran lives in an old schoolhouse between Letterkenny and Glenties in Co. Donegal – an idyllic setting, surrounded by the Donegal Hills with the River Swilly running along the bottom of the garden.

As you can imagine it’s rich with the sound of birdsong, and Kate appreciates birds as much as the rest of us.  That was until she began to hear a constant cacophony coming from the cooker hood – right in the heart of her kitchen.

Derek recently went up to Glen Swilly to meet Kate and her son Maurice...

Derek's Dublin Heron Encounter

During the Dawn Chorus programme, the Herons in St. Anne’s Park in Raheny were a star turn.  They’re a familiar species in Ireland, where they live all year round.  The Heron feeds along the edge of a wide range of wetland habitats - from coastal waters and estuaries - to loughs, marshy ground and streams.  Derek encountered one recently, as he was walking along the Grand Canal near Portobello in Dublin...

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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