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Bird Documentaries

In a follow up to the very successful World Wild Documentary Series, produced by the Mooney Goes Wild team in 2000, a four-part series on Birds will be aired in the autumn. From the Red Kite to the Whooper Swan and from Iceland to Africa, this four part series on RTÉ Radio 1 takes four highly-respected Irish ornithologists on a busman's journey of discovery.

Programme One: The Red Kite - Back from the Brink.
Wednesday 3rd November 2004 @ 7.02pm

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This programme is presented by UCD lecturer, Dr Richard Collins, who writes a weekly natural history column with the Irish Examiner as well as regularly contributing to the Mooney Goes Wild radio programme. Red Kites are the nearest birds to vultures in these islands with a wingspan of up to one and three quarter metres, resembling the frigate birds of the tropics. There has been some dispute about the kite's existence in Ireland but the birds were once widespread in England before they were driven to the brink of extinction. Kites are pirates, stealing from other birds and indeed other kites of their food. A scavenger, Kites were frequently poisoned slowly losing its numbers. However, attitudes are changing and there is now a chance that some day the species will return to its former glory.

Programme Two: The Swallow - From Egg to Africa.
Wednesday 10th November 2004 @ 7.02pm

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Ornithologist and author Eric Dempsey presents this second programme in the series. A professional broadcaster, presenter and speaker, Eric Dempsey's knowledge is much sought after as one of the leading bird experts in Ireland. This programme looks at the amazing journey of the swallow, which sees in the space of five months, the bird go from being an egg to arriving in Africa. This documentary looks at the whole life cycle of Irish swallows from the moment the adults arrive and begin nesting to the laying of the first eggs. It will follow the progress of young birds in the nest to their arrival in South Africa. For this programme and as part of a European project, metal rings have been placed on young swallows so that their movements and success rates can be monitored. The Mooney Goes Wild team will then travel to Africa welcome them and watch as the swallows change from eating insects disturbed by Irish cattle to those disturbed by African buffalo.

Programme Three: The Jay - The Colourful Crow.
Wednesday 17th November 2004 @ 7.02pm

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Terry Flanagan, who is a trained biologist and a regular contributor to the Mooney Goes Wild radio programme, presents the third programme in this series looking at the Jay. Although shy by nature, jays are found in every county of Ireland hidden in oak woodlands. Often mistaken for a more exotic bird the jay looks as if it would be more at home in a rain forest than in Ireland but looks can be deceiving and underneath all that colour is actually just a common crow. With a white rump and a shrill call, at this time of year, the jay is busy collecting acorns to be stored and used during the coming months. Throughout the winter each jay will remember the location of these buried acorns and use them as food right through till June the following year. Not the most popular of birds, jays are often accused of nest-robbing but their colourful plumage and distinctive noises still make them an admired member of Irish bird life.

Programme 4: The Whooper Swan - from Iceland to Ireland.
Wednesday 24th November 2004 @7.02pm

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Professor John O'Halloran is an ornithologist at UCC and has published over 120 academic papers on birds and pollution as well as contributing in a number of books. In this the final programme in the series, John focusses on the Whooper swan, which is one of three species of swan that occur in Ireland along with the Mute Swan and the Bewick's swan. The adult Whooper swan is white with a yellow bill that is usually held parallel to the water.

More distinctive to the Whooper swan though is it's distinctive voice of a resonant hoop-hoop revealing the reason that swans so often evoke passion and affection. The Whooper species range from Scandinavia to Korea with the Icelandic population visiting Ireland each winter. They spread out along the coasts and on freshwater lakes and marshes as well as low-lying agricultural land. This programme will track the large migratory bird from its breeding grounds in Iceland and follow their movements to Ireland in late September before their departure again in the spring.

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