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 tonight...
A bumper show: Derek and Richard Collins chat to Finán Gallagher about researching mosquitoes in Ireland, and to Siobhan Grehan about treating Irish travellers who've contracted exotic diseases. Terry Flanagan goes out exploring the forest and looking for mushrooms, in the company of listener James Connell. Eanna ni Lamhna visits Dr. Matthew Jebb at the National Botanic Gardens to find out more about the current exhibition there, called 'Another Bite Of The Cherry'. And we have news of two exciting events coming up very soon: a screening of Sonic Sea at GMT, and Cork's annual Birdathon!
When we think of mosquitoes, we tend to think of malaria hotspots in sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and elsewhere. But did you know that there are 18 known different species of mosquitoes in Ireland – and while this is a smaller number than the "53 species" recently reported in some newspapers, it will still concern many, especially given that climate change is a contributing factor.
Left: Siobhan Grehan of the Tropical Medical Bureau; right: Finán Gallagher of the HSE
Finán Gallagher helped carry out a study last year into mosquitoes in Ireland. He is Principle Environmental Health Officer with the HSE, and joins us in studio to tell us more about the results of the study. Derek and Richard Collins are also joined in studio by Siobhan Grehan, Director of Nursing at the Tropical Medical Bureau, who has a roundup of some of the rare and exotic diseases Irish travellers are increasing picking up overseas...
Brrrrr!! We hope you’re tucked up nice and warm, it’s pretty chilly out there! Winter is almost here, as Autumn, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, draws to a close. Autumn is known as mushroom season, and it seems that this year was a particularly good year for mushrooms - so much so that a number of listeners got in touch to ask about their abundance and variety. A word of warning though - many mushrooms are poisonous, and we really would advise NOT to go picking or eating any old mushroom you stumble across – advice that reporter Terry Flanagan was keen to stress when he met up with one of our listeners, James Connell, at Donadea Forest Park in Kildare...
Top mushroom: Fly aragic; bottom left and middle left: shaggy ink cap mushrooms; bottom right: Porcelain mushroom
So consider yourself warned – don’t eat them! Recently we spoke on the programme to author Declan Murphy about his book A Life In The Trees, in which he wrote about Wicklow’s woodpeckers. We have a recording of Declan reading a passage from his book – and if you’d like to take a listen then click here.
From the earliest cave paintings to the landscapes of Monet and Cézanne, to the photographs that you and I take of sunsets or a field of sunflowers – it is fair to say that man has always found awe and inspiration in the natural world.
Bridge Over The Ribbon Lake by Elke Thönnes, one of the pieces featured in the exhibition at the National Botanic Gardens (courtesy Elke Thönnes / Graphic Studio Dublin)
A new exhibition continues this tradition. It’s called ‘Another Bite Of The Cherry’ and has opened at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin. Here, each artist has examined aspects of the Gardens, creating fine art prints in their particular style. The prints include portraits of particular plants and animals, diverse vistas in the 19.5 hectares of Gardens, the spectacular Palm House and Curvilinear Range of glasshouses, or abstract impressions brought to life by the rich biodiverse backdrop.
Left: Eanna ni Lamhna; right: Matthew Jebb
We sent our very own aesthete, Eanna ni Lamhna, out to the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin to take a look, and to meet with Dr. Matthew Jebb, Director of the National Botanic Gardens...
On Saturday week, December 2nd, twitchers from all across Ireland will be flocking to Munster for the annual Cork Birdathon! Last year's event went really well, with 24 teams recording 688 bird sightings, and 108 different bird species, on the day. This year's event takes place from 9am to 5pm, and throughout the day, participants can meet with experts in Inchydoney, Harty’s Quay, Pillmore Strand & Ballyvergan Bird Hide and Harpers Island Bird Hide (see below for times). Participation in the Birdathon is FREE, but teams should register at www.corkbirdathon.ie or by e-mailing email@example.com.
News release: FLOCK TO THE CORK BIRDATHON!
The annual Cork Birdathon is set to take place throughout Cork County on Saturday, 2nd December between 9.00am and 5.00pm.
The Birdathon aims to raise awareness of the incredible bird life that exists in Cork, and to encourage the public to visit locations on the South and East Cork Bird Trail. The event is held in conjunction with Birdwatch Ireland Cork and West Cork branches, UCC School of Bees and the National Biodiversity Datacentre. It offers an excellent opportunity to learn more about the birdlife and biodiversity on your doorstep.
Birdathon partner William O’ Halloran from SECAD’s biodiversity initiative Wild Work, encourages participants to get out and use the bird trail: ‘’The bird trail developed by SECAD Partnership is free to use and can be enjoyed by young and old, from complete beginners to bird watching enthusiasts. The bird trail showcases Cork’s wonderful variety of bird species, and it varies within a matter of kilometres, depending on habitat. The stations with expert bird watchers will be the highlight for me this year. It’s a fantastic opportunity for people to learn from such friendly and knowledgeable birdwatchers who are so passionate and enthusiastic about birdlife in Cork".
Next Wednesday, November 29th, the documentary Sonic Sea will be screened at GMIT in Galway.
Sonic Sea is a 60-minute documentary about the impact of industrial and military ocean noise on whales and other marine life. It tells the story of Ken Balcomb, a former U.S. Navy officer who solved a tragic mystery involving a mass stranding of whales in the Bahamas, and changed the way we understand our impact on the ocean.
In the darkness of the sea, whales depend on sound to mate, find food, migrate, raise their young, and defend against predators. Over the last century, however, human activity has transformed the ocean’s delicate acoustic habitat, challenging the ability of whales and other marine life to prosper, and ultimately to survive. Sonic Sea offers solutions and hope for a quieter ocean, and underscores that the ocean’s destiny is inextricably bound with our own.
Entrance is FREE and the screening is 60 minutes in duration.
For details of more events taking place around the country which may be of interest to wildlife lovers, click here.
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 (www.npws.ie) 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 www.irishwildlifematters.ie