Living the Wild Life

Series 5: Eider Ducks & Lizards

Colin ventures out to Inishmurray Island off the coast of Sligo in search of a duck. But not just any duck: a bird that once kept the islanders warm at night. The islanders have long since departed, but every May, the eiderducks come to shore to mate. The island's coast teems with males, easily identified by a distinctive black and white body and pale green head. The brown coloured females, however, who move to the centre of the island to brood their eggs, are hidden amongst the brambles and bushes.

Ensconsed next to the lake at the centre of the island, Colin waits patiently to just see the newly-hatched eiderduck chicks make their way across the island to the sea for the first time before they're even a day old. It's a journey fraught with danger as black-backed gulls and herring gulls scour for easy prey.

As it turns out, Colin has arrived at just the right time. Within 24 hours, the chicks hatch and soon set out for the sea where a huge swell has come in on the western side of the island.

Every year thousands walk along the cliffs of Howth Head, unaware that only feet away from the path lurks Ireland's only native reptile, the viviparous Lizard. In late September Colin meets reptile expert Rob Gandola who travels the world studying all kinds of reptiles. Rob, however, has a special place in his heart for the native Irish lizard and his enthusiasm is infectious!

The pair come across a baby lizard that sits on Colins thumb, no bigger than a two euro coin, its tail already growing back from a previous altercation despite being only 2-3 months old. The challenge switches to finding an adult male Lizard and it doesn't take long for Rob to spot the amazing colours and examine the design on the underbelly of a prime example of the species. Soon, it's Colin's turn for a close encounter as another lizard emerges to bask in the dying light of the autumn sun before hibernating for the winter.


What's On