Mooney Goes Wild, Monday September 9th 2019

Mooney Goes Wild

Mooney Goes Wild

Derek Mooney and guests explore the natural world in all its forms.

On Mooney Goes Wild tonight...

There's good news for the world’s greatest long-distance traveler as Arctic Terns raise chicks on Dalkey Island for the first time, we watch as a floating rubbish bin is launched in Howth to fight pollution in our seas and we visit the swallows that have built a nest on a Cavan listener’s wind chimes!

From left: Dr. Richard Collins, Tara Adcock and Eanna ni Lamhna chat about the Arctic Terns on Dalkey Island

Success For Dalkey's Arctic Terns

Arctic Tern (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

It’s estimated that there are 10,000 different species of birds in the world and one of the most fascinating of them has got to be the Arctic Tern.  Nicknamed the "Sea Swallow", this small bird weighs no more than a lemon but is the world’s greatest long-distance traveler, migrating further than any other animal.  Over the course of their lives they can journey more than three million kilometres, which is the equivalent of almost four round trips to the moon!

Left: Ken and Shelly Biswell, Shelly helped with the rat baiting programme; Middle: Chris Johnson during rat baiting programme; Right: Arctic Tern nest on Lamb Island decorated with bones (photos by Tara Adcock)

Video courtesy of BirdWatch Ireland (

Unfortunately, the future for the Arctic Tern is uncertain.  Here in Ireland they have an Amber conservation status which means that, although they’re not on the verge of extinction, they are vulnerable.  Ninety percent of the Irish population of Arctic Terns is concentrated at ten or fewer sites. 

Left: First ever tern chick to be ringed on Dalkey Island; Middle: Arctic Tern chicks using chick shelters on Dalkey Island; Right: Stephen Newton and Tom Murphy ringing Arctic Tern chick Lamb Island (photos by Tara Adcock)

Video courtesy of BirdWatch Ireland (

So it’s especially good news that this year, for the first time on record, Arctic Terns have successfully raised chicks on Dalkey Island in south Co. Dublin, giving this colony a much-needed lift.

Tara Adcock is BirdWatch Ireland’s Dalkey Tern warden and joined Derek in studio alongside Dr. Richard Collins and Éanna Ní Lamhna, to talk all about what's been happening on Dalkey island.

Left: Tom Murphy, Sandra Jordan and James Tallon; Middle: Sandra Jordan searching for chicks on Lamb Island; Right: Fluffy Arctic Tern chick (photos by Tara Adcock)

Video courtesy of BirdWatch Ireland (

Left: Graham Prole of Irish Midlands Ringing Group ringing gulls on Dalkey Island; Middle: Great black - Backed Gull Dalkey Island - ringed by Graham Prole (photos by Tara Adcock); Right: Guided Walks on Dalkey Island (photo by Des Burke - Kennedy of Dalkey Tidy Towns)

Left: Guided Walks on Dalkey Island (photo: Des Burke - Kennedy); Middle: Larger Arctic Tern chick on Lamb Island (photo: Tara Adcock); Right: Roseate Tern decoy in front of Dalkey Island (photo: Des Burke - Kennedy)

For more information about this remarkable breeding success, click here.

Seabin In Howth Harbour

You may remember the special programme we did last year on The Bergen Whale, the Cuvier's beaked whale which stranded close to the city of Bergen on the southwestern coast of Norway.  A post-mortem found at least theirty plastic bags in its gut, focusing minds around the world on the immense problem of marine litter.  (To find out more about that MGW special, and to listen back, click here).

Rowan Byrne featured on that programme.  He's the Principal Marine Scientist and Plastics Leader for the global engineering consultants Mott McDonald.

Dr. Richard Collins (l) and Rowan Byrne (r) at the seabin in Howth harbour

There have been far too many other similar incidences of marine animals dying as a direct result of plastic in our oceans, and it’s in this spirit that Rowan has been looking at this global issue and bringing it back home.
He has just helped to install a Seabin in Howth harbour, which will help keep the area clear of plastic rubbish which would otherwise be washed out to sea.

Dr. Richard Collins met Rowan at the launch of the Seabin.

Seabin in Howth Harbour

To find out more about the Seabin, click here.

Swallows Nesting On Wind Chimes

It’s that time of year again; the nesting season has just finished and while some birds have only one clutch, and may have finished in early June, other species like swallows, yellowhammers and wood pigeon continue throughout the summer and even into the early autumn with two or three clutches.

Over the years we’ve reported on many different nesting pairs and particularly on unusual nest sites.  Robins and wrens often build nests in the most unusual of places like clothes hanging out on the clothes line or within the engines of active vehicles!

Swallow (photo: BirdWatch Ireland / Stephen McEvoy)

Swallow (photo: BirdWatch Ireland / Stephen McEvoy)

But one species of bird, the swallow, has always been considered conservative in its choice of nest site which is generally outbuildings with dark ledges.  Not anymore however!

Swallows nesting on wooden windchimes (photo: Terry Flanagan)

Regular listener Mary Doherty, from Ballyconnell in Co. Cavan, got in touch to tell us about a swallow’s nest on top of a set of wind chimes in her front porch.  Every year the swallows return to the same nest, paying little or no attention to the comings and goings of human occupants.

We sent our reporter Terry Flanagan off to Co. Cavan to investigate!

Swallows nesting on windchimes (video: Terry Flanagan)

Second Chance Sundays

Have another chance to hear some of our Mooney Goes Wild programmes uncovered from the RTÉ Radio 1 archive. Click the links below for more information. 

The Dance of the Cuckoos - Mooney Goes Wild Special 

The Blue Whale - Mooney Goes Wild Special

Feathers - Mooney Goes Wild Special

Bergen Whale - Mooney Goes Wild Special

Sparrows  - Mooney Goes Wild Special 

Wildlife Film Makers - Mooney Goes Wild Special 

The Common Swift - Mooney Goes Wild Special 

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Statement from BirdWatch Ireland, Thurs Feb 28th 2019:

BirdWatch Ireland wishes to remind the public, local authorities and contractors that hedge-cutting is NOT permitted between 1st March and 31st August inclusive, except in the case of any of the derogations permitted under the Wildlife Act 1976, as amended. The Heritage Act 2018 gives the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the power to make certain changes to these dates, but it is important to note that, as yet, the Minister has not done so. As a result, the usual dates when hedge-cutting is prohibited currently remain unchanged.

It is an offence to 'cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy hedgerows on uncultivated land during the nesting season from 1 March to 31 August, subject to certain exceptions'. For more information, click here.  To read the Heritage Bill 2016, as passed by Dáil Éireann on July 5th 2018, click here.  To read the Heritage Act 2018, click here.

To contact your local wildlife ranger, click here for contact details. To read the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, click here.

Caring For Wild Animals

Please note that many species of mammals, birds, invertebrates etc... are protected under law and that, even with the best of intentions, only someone holding a relevant licence from the National Parks & Wildlife Service should attempt the care of these animals.  For full details, please click here to read the NPWS Checklist of protected & rare species in Ireland.  If you are concerned about a wild animal, please contact your local wildlife ranger - click here for details.


Please DO NOT send any live, dead or skeletal remains of any creature whatsoever to Mooney Goes Wild.  If you find an injured animal or bird, please contact the National Parks & Wildlife Service on 1890 20 20 21, or BirdWatch Ireland, on 01 281-9878, or visit



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Twitter: @NatureRTE

Presenter: Derek Mooney

Series Producer: Ana Leddy


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