To listen to RTÉ.ie's radio and podcast services, you will need to disable any ad blocking extensions or whitelist this site.
On a very special edition of Mooney Goes Wild, tonight we bring you a selection of our favourite clips from some of the programmes that we broadcast earlier in the year: our very own "best of 2021" compilation, if you will.
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. Back at the start of August, we spoke to Joe Freeley from Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo, who breeds, rears and trains doves for weddings, funerals, anniversaries, birthday parties and even divorce parties!
Joe filled 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 discussed what the difference, if any, is between a dove and a pigeon, talked about the symbolism around these much-loved birds, and also shed 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 joedoverelease.com
A Blackbird at Derek's house
Back in May, during the height of dawn chorus season, Derek noticed a loud, fluty song echoing around his living room. He immediately recognised it as the distinctive rich, mellow song of a male Blackbird, and on further investigation found that this particular bird’s favourite song-post was the top of his chimney pot. Well, that would certainly explain why the song sounded so loud inside his house.
A Blackbird perched on the chimney cap on Derek's house. Another fabulous photo by Derek Mooney.
Derek’s discovery prompted a really interesting discussion amongst our panel about birdsong, and in particular some key insights from Richard Collins as to why a Blackbird might choose such a lofty, obvious perch from which to perform.
The sound of Blackbird was coming from Derek's fireplace.
For more information on Blackbirds, visit birdwatchireland.ie/birds/blackbird
Let’s hop to it: what was behind a frog invasion in Baltimore?
In February, we spoke to Richard O’Flynn, who owns the Yellow Door Gallery and Gift Store in Baltimore, Co. Cork. Richard has a large pond in his back garden, in which he keeps ornamental Koi Carp fish. He has been very surprised to note the sudden arrival of large numbers of another species into his pond: an unprecedented invasion of Common Frogs. Just what was going on?
Richards Pond which is full of Kai fish - Photo Richard O'Flynn
For more information on frogs in Ireland, visit ipcc.ie/a-to-z-peatlands/frogs
For more information on Richard O’Flynn’s Yellow Door Gallery, visit theyellowdoorbaltimore.com
First Golden Eagle born in captivity in Ireland
Once a well-known sight in many parts of Ireland, the majestic Golden Eagle was sadly shot, snared and poisoned to complete extinction here by the early 20th century. Thanks to sterling efforts by the Golden Eagle Trust and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, in 2001 an ambitious reintroduction plan using wild-caught eagle chicks from Scotland was begun, and the species has been returned to its rightful place in Irish skies.
Last May we heard the great news that for the first time in Ireland – a rare Golden Eagle has been born through artificial insemination. This relates to birds in captivity as opposed to those which were reintroduced into the wild here about 20 years ago. Brian McCann is the owner of Newgrange Falconry, the man who has made it all happen.
Brian and the Eagle chick
Until recently, however, nobody had managed successfully to breed a Golden Eagle chick in captivity in Ireland. In June, Brian McCann, the owner of Newgrange Falconry on the Louth/Meath border, came onto the programme to tell us all about how he used artificial insemination techniques to produce Ireland’s first entirely captive-bred Golden Eagle. He discussed the challenges of doing this and of keeping such large birds of prey with our panel, as well as the history of the species in Ireland. He also provided some, shall we say, 'intimate’ details of his close relationship with his eagles, which proved essential to the whole artificial insemination endeavour.
For more information on Golden Eagles in Ireland, visit birdwatchireland.ie/birds/golden-eagle
For more information about Newgrange Falconry, visit newgrangefalconry.com
A Summer Solstice to remember
On 21st June 2021, the longest day of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere, we had a first for Mooney Goes Wild: an entire programme dedicated to the Summer Solstice. Our Summer Solstice Special proved to be one of our most popular programmes of the year and featured, amongst other highlights, a vivid and eloquent description of sunrise over Mount Leinster by John MacKenna, a report recorded precisely at local noon by Niall Hatch from BirdWatch Ireland’s East Coast Nature Reserve, and reports from the locations of the earliest sunrise and the latest sunset in the Republic of Ireland, from tern warden Emma Tiernan on Rockabill Island, off the coast of Co. Dublin, and Éanna Ní Lamhna in Kilrush, Co. Clare.
The programme also featured wonderful contributions from some of Ireland’s most celebrated musicians, namely Paddy Glackin and Dónal Lunny, who brought us some gorgeous traditional Irish tunes, and acclaimed pianist Finghin Collins, who charmed us with a superb performance of Bartok’s Night Music.
You can listen back to our full Summer Solstice Special at rte.ie/radio/podcasts/21973039-mooney-goes-wild-summer-solstice-special
Badgers beside the M50
Badgers are widespread but mysterious creatures, shy and slow to reveal themselves. Though often found in rural areas, they have also been making their homes in far more built-up parts of the country too. During the summer, Terry Flanagan and Gustavo Zoladz paid a visit to a Badger sett at a secret location just a stone’s throw, quite literally, from the busy M50 motorway around Dublin city. There, they shed some light on the hidden lives of these largely nocturnal creatures for us, and explained their foraging strategies.
For more information on Badgers in Ireland, visit vincentwildlife.ie/species/badger