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The festive season is fast approaching, and if you are still looking for the perfect Christmas present for the nature-lover in your life, we've got you covered. On tonight's special edition of Mooney Goes Wild, join Derek Mooney, Richard Collins, Éanna Ní Lamhna, Terry Flanagan, Ken Whelan and Niall Hatch as they discuss their favourite wildlife-themed gift ideas for budding naturalists of all ages. Who knows, you might even find yourself dropping hints of your own to your nearest and dearest.
Éanna Ní Lamhna
Connecting to Nature aims to raise happiness levels by introducing the birds and the bees to households nationwide.
Studies have shown that using bird feeders and growing wildflowers increases people's connection to nature, leading to feelings of wellness.
Using our combination of bird and wildflower expertise, Connecting To Nature will enable people to give a gift of wellness to loved ones by creating a bird feeding oasis and native flowers in spaces as small as an apartment balcony.
You don't have to be in the countryside to connect with nature, all you have to do is create an environment that consistently attracts birds and bees.
After lockdown, we now have a new awareness of the mental health benefits of connecting to nature, a renewed interest in our living world and improving our gardens for the benefit and love of wildlife.
However, many people are unaware of the importance of feeding birds year-round and how they need different food at different times, or to successfully cultivate a wild garden.
Studies have shown that greater bird biodiversity can make people more joyful.
The World Economic Forum has published research that the happiest Europeans are those who see the most bird species in their day-to-day life.
Being connected with nature is about feeling close to the wider natural world. Research shows that being connected with – rather than simply being exposed to – nature is more important for our mental wellbeing.
Feeding birds is a very good way of feeling closer to nature and bringing wildlife closer to you, and Ireland has a wonderful array of small wild birds that you can feed.
Connecting to Nature specialises in different types of food depending on the time of year, so that now, as we are heading into winter, we recommend high energy food such as suet-based products – Fat Balls and suet covered oat flakes are two great examples.
The birds' diet changed in recent months from one that was predominately insects to eating more seeds and fruit as autumn arrived and our range reflects the different feeding requirements needed throughout the year.
Once the frosts set in we will enter the Hungry Gap, the most challenging time of year for birds when natural food sources are at their lowest.
Berries, seeds and grains that were plentiful during the autumn and early winter have been depleted.
1. A poster of ALL of Ireland’s birds, created by John Rooney Art. Price. €30. Handmade in Ireland.
A poster of the Wildlife of Ireland, created by John Rooney Art. Price. €50. Handmade in Ireland. Also available in Irish version
2. A Bat detector: These can be expensive, ranging from about €80 or so upwards.
3. A Hedgehog House: Reasonably cheap. Regularly in Lidl and Aldi and also in Wildlife suppliers.
4. A Moth Trap: These can be very expensive to buy, generally starting at over €100
There are also lots of videos on YouTube explaining how you can make one yourself.
And of course you can start with the very basic one: - A sheet over the line and a torch!
The Chester Beatty Museum. Access is free but they have a 'Friends Membership’ scheme.
Jenny visits children's bookshop "Halfway Up The Stairs" in Greystones with her 12 year old son Jamie who reviews "A short. Hopeful Guide to Climate Change". Her daughter Holly age 9 will review "Remarkable Creatures - A Guide to Some of Ireland's Disappearing Animals."
Other notable books:
Guinea Pigs go Gardening by Kate Sheehy (€12.50) - halfwayupthestairs.ie/product/9780241453100 A gorgeous guide to gardening in a picture book - suitable age 3-6
Animal Crackers by Sarah Webb and Alan Nolan (€12) - halfwayupthestairs.ie/product/9781788490658 A small animal encyclopedia filled with facts, puzzles and activities, including lots of Irish animals - age 6+
"Wild Child" by Dara McAnulty, illustrated by Barry Falls (€18) - halfwayupthestairs.ie/product/9781529045321 A beautiful gift book, shining a light on the intricacies of nature, using a mix of poetry and prose and gorgeous illustrations. Age 7/8+
"Remarkable Creatures - A Guide to Some of Ireland's Disappearing Animals" by Aga Grandowicz (€12) halfwayupthestairs.ie/product/9781527293205 A beautifully illustrated guide with facts, activities and tips on how to help protect these animals. Age 8/9+
A Short, Hopeful Guide to Climate Change by Oisín McGann (€11.50) https://halfwayupthestairs.ie/product/9781912417742/. A guide explaining the key issues and what can be done to help. Age 10+
"Tree Dogs, Banshee Fingers and Other Irish Words for Nature" by Manchán Magan, illustrated by Steve Doogan. (€20) halfwayupthestairs.ie/product/9780717192557 A gorgeous gift book, with striking illustrations, exploring how the Irish language describes elements of nature. Suitable for adults as well as children!
"A Field Guide to Leaflings" by Owen Churcher and Niamh Sharkey (€16) halfwayupthestairs.ie/product/9781783425228 A gorgeous lift the flap book, where the leaflings share lots of facts about trees from all over the world. Age 4+
Niall will give us a run down on what gifts are available from the Birdwatch Ireland shop this Christmas.
Wild life Adventures on the Great Irish Lakes
Options: Angling / wildlife / birding / boating
Example - Lough Corrib
Frank Costello - staybeyondgreen.com
Catherine O'Grady - Her business is close to Cregganbaun on the Carrowniskey River County Mayo.
https://www.glenkeenfarm.com/ - arrange wildlife tours in her local area.
Full List of angling guides – for any area of the country - Fishing in Ireland
Many guides / ghillies will now take out those interested in seeking out the wildlife on our beautiful lakes - also will take out those interested in birding.
Clip on Lenses for a smart phone – essential for anybody interested in getting the most out of the camera in their phone: macro/ wide angle / telephoto (images wildlife / leaf venation / insects / etc.) - recording biodiversity – National Biodiversity Data Centre Waterford: National Biodiversity Data Centre - National Biodiversity Data Centre (biodiversityireland.ie)
Waterproof back packs:
My favourite – sturdy rugged takes the punishment: