To listen to RTÉ.ie's radio and podcast services, you will need to disable any ad blocking extensions or whitelist this site.
Going all lovey-dovey!
Doves have long been revered as symbols of peace and love and are held in high regard by many, but some people take their affection for these birds to a whole new level. On tonight's programme, we talk to Joe Freeley from Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo, who breeds, rears and trains doves for weddings, funerals, anniversaries, birthday parties and even divorce parties!
A Dove flying - Photo Getty
Joe fills us in on the challenges of training doves to return home when released, what prompted him to take up such an unusual pastime upon his retirement three years ago, and the particularly special bond he formed with Su, a young dove he nursed back to health after she had been injured by a hawk.
Our expert panel also discusses what the difference, if any, is between a dove and a pigeon, talks about the symbolism around these much-loved birds, and also sheds some light on the lessons that doves taught Charles Darwin about the process of evolution by natural selection.
For more information about Joe and his doves, visit https://joedoverelease.com/
Giving a hoot: keeping an ear out for owls
Three species of owl occur regularly in Ireland, with the Long-eared Owl being the most common and widespread of these. We still have a lot to learn about their population levels and distribution across the country, however, which is why BirdWatch Ireland has this year launched a special Long-eared Owl Survey, asking members of the public to submit their records of this secretive nocturnal bird.
A Long-eared Owl in the Phoenix Park - Photo by Gustavo Zoladz
Long-eared Owls can be very hard to locate, except during the latter part of the summer. This is when, after the sun has set, the young owls, not long out of the nest, loudly and incessantly beg their parents to bring them food. Their begging call is a high-pitched, drawn-out squeal, often likened to the sound of a gate swinging on rusty hinges, which is easily recognised once known.
On tonight's programme, roving reporter Terry Flanagan meets up with owl-enthusiast Gustavo Zoladz in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, where they try to track down some Long-eared Owls for themselves. Back in studio, Niall Hatch fills us in on the current survey of the species and tells listeners how they can contribute their records.
For more information about BirdWatch Ireland’s Long-eared Owl survey and to log your own records, visit https://birdwatchireland.ie/keep-an-ear-out-for-owls-this-summer/
Butterflies hit hard by changing weather patterns
Many listeners have been in touch with the programme to say that they have noticed fewer butterflies than usual on the wing this summer. It seems that the unseasonably cold and wet weather conditions in the spring have impacted many species of these vulnerable insects very badly, delaying their emergence and affecting their survival.
Close-up of butterfly pollinating on purple flower in the UK - Photo Getty
On tonight’s programme, we are joined from Co. Fermanagh by Rose Cremin, Senior Conservation Officer with UK-based charity Butterfly Conservation. She will tell us about her organisation’s Big Butterfly Count and why it is making an urgent appeal for the public’s help in assessing and monitoring butterfly populations across Britain and Northern Ireland. Our panel will also discuss how butterflies have been faring throughout the island of Ireland, and whether there is cause for concern.
For more information on the Big Butterfly Count in the UK, visit https://bigbutterflycount.butterfly-conservation.org/
To submit records of butterflies that you have seen in the Republic of Ireland, visit https://www.biodiversityireland.ie/