Mooney Goes Wild

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    ***Dawn Chorus 2016***

    On Sunday, May 1st 2016, Europe will wake to the sound of bird song, due to a collaboration between RTÉ and EBU Members.  Thanks to EBU members NRK in Norway, the BBC, Radio Moscow and National Public Radio in the Netherlands, Derek and his team at RTÉ will be representing the full splendour of the Dawn Chorus live across the continent, featuring some of Europe’s finest performers in full voice.  Experts will be on hand to explain to listeners what is happening, in real time, and to shed some light on the hidden lives of these amazing birds.  The Dawn Chorus will take place on Sunday, May 1st 2016, from 00:00 - 06:00 (Irish time).  Click here to read more about this exciting and ground-breaking broadcast!

    Please watch our video and share on social media!

    Mooney Goes Wild, Sunday April 24th 2016


    On Mooney Goes Wild tonight

    How can we best protect nature in our cities?  We find out from some of those involved in Dublin City's Biodiversity Action Plan - and to mark Dublin City Biodiversity Month, which starts next Sunday, our reporter Terry Flanagan has been taking a stroll along the River Tolka to discover the wonders of our waterway birds and what they can tell us about our environment...

    The true colours of our long lost creatures are being brought to life once again.  Eanna ni Lamhna talks to Dr, Maria McNamara about her groundbreaking research at University College Cork, which unlocks the door to a whole new multi coloured world, where even dinosaurs could finally be re-imagined in their full resplendent glory...

    And we tell you about our plans to mark International Dawn Chorus Day, which takes places next Sunday, May 1st.  From midnight until 6am, we invite you to awake to the magical sounds of the Dawn Chorus, and join us in celebrating glorious birdsong from east to west, as millions of listeners across Europe have the chance to tune in and experience nature's spectacular symphony.  Our regular contributors will be reporting from all around Europe and they're here tonight to give us a tantalising flavour of what's in store...

    Dublin City Biodiversity Action Plan

    When we think of nature and wildlife, the image that most readily comes to mind is one of rolling countryside, verdant woodland and deep forests.  But towns and cities are also a rich habitat for many species of flora and fauna. They offer nesting and feeding sites for birds and can be a wonderful haven for mammals, from foxes to squirrels to bats, as well as a wide range of insects.  City life with all its pressures and demands means that nature can  be overlooked, so what can we do to ensure that our urban wildlife is protected and continues to thrive into the future?

    Clockwise from top: launch of Biodiversity Month; exhibit in Dublin City Council's Civic Offices; members of Mooney Goes Wild team (Richard Collins, Sinéad Renshaw, Niall Hatch, Sheila O'Callaghan and Derek Mooney); MGW flags flying along the River Liffey

    Well, the new Dublin City Biodiversity Action Plan strives to answer those very questions.  It was  launched last Wednesday morning by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Críona Ní Dhálaigh, in the Atrium of the Civic Offices, and Derek went along to talk to Shane Casey (Dublin City Biodiversity Officer and responsible for both preparing and implementing the Biodiversity Action Plan); Niamh Ni Cholmain (Biodiversity Facilitator at Dublin City Council) and the Lord Mayor herself...

    Críona Ní Dhálaigh, Shane Casey, Niamh Ni Cholmain and Derek Mooney

    Críona Ní Dhálaigh, Shane Casey, Niamh Ni Cholmain and Derek Mooney

    Well, to coincide with the launch of the Dublin City Biodiversity Action Plan, 'Biodiversity Month' in our capital city kicks off next Sunday and runs for the rest of May (click here to read more).  If you're out and about in the city centre, keep an eye out for the Biodiversity Month and Dawn Chorus flags flying along the River Liffey, or pop into the Civic Offices of Dublin City Council on Wood Quay to view the exhibition in the Atrium.  A number of exciting events are planned and some fascinating projects are underway.  Prominent among these is the Dublin Urban Birds Project which is jointly organised by Dublin City Council and BirdWatch Ireland, and one strand of this project is the focus upon our river birds.

    The aim of this project is to monitor and protect a number of key species of birds which are dependent upon a river habitat and to raise awareness of these species among the general public.  A river habitat differs from all other habitats in that it is a linear one, and its water is constantly flowing.  These factors pose particular problems to the birds living there.

    River birds, especially dippers and kingfishers, are also wonderful indicator species and by monitoring their numbers we can get an insight not only into the condition of our birds, but also into our actual river systems.  So how are our rivers doing here in the city? Recently, our reporter, Terry Flanagan met up with Brian Caffrey of BirdWatch Ireland and they both went for a stroll along the River Tolka... To learn more about the Dublin Urban Birds Project, click here.

    To find out more about the events taking place during Biodiversity Month, click here.

    Fossilised Snakes

    What colour was a T-rex, a Triceratops or a Diplodocus?  It’s a question that’s puzzled many a film-maker, including Steven Spielberg no doubt, but scientists may now be able to finally solve this incredible mystery.  A landmark breakthrough at University College Cork could unlock the secrets of our planet’s long-vanished creatures, including dinosaurs, early mammals and reptiles.

    Dr. Maria McNamara

    Dr. Maria McNamara

    Dr Maria McNamara, a paleobiolgist at UCC's School of Biological and Earth Sciences, has been studying the fossilised remains of a snake which died in an area of modern Spain some ten million years ago.  Her study has revealed that fossils can retain evidence of skin colour from multiple pigments and that colours are far more vivid than the browns, blacks and muddy reds that were thought to dominate the ancient landscape. 

    Dr McNamara’s research is extremely exciting because it has the potential to open up a whole new multi-coloured world of fossilised animals, as Eanna ni Lamhna found out...

    To read more on this, click here, to read Maria's paper Reconstructing carotenoid-based and structural coloration in fossil skin, click here, and to find out more about Dr. Maria McNamara's work, visit

    Dawn Chorus Preview

    Here on Mooney Goes Wild we have the perfect weekend wake-up call for you.  Imagine waking up to the beautiful sounds of the Dawn Chorus...  Awake with nature next Sunday morning by joining us for the 21st Dawn Chorus here on RTÉ Radio 1, as we come together with the rest of the world in celebrating International Dawn Chorus Day. And we’ll be truly delighted to have your company!

    From midnight on Saturday right the way through to six o’clock on Sunday morning, the airwaves will be coming alive to the magical sounds of birdlife.  As dawn breaks and the morning light spreads from east to west, listeners from right across Europe will be joining us in this unique event for the very first time in the history of the Dawn Chorus, which is in collaboration with the European Broadcasting Union.

    We’ll be capturing the first burst of glorious birdsong from as far east as  Russia, then onto the bordering country of Norway, through central Europe and onto the Netherlands, followed by England, northern Ireland, as well as many other countries along the way, building momentum until the morning light finally touches Irish shores and birdsong envelops the country, from the south of County Cork all the way up to the tip of Donegal, culminating in a magnificent ornithological concert.   

    Not only will we be able to hear this on RTÉ Radio 1, but millions of listeners across Europe will have the chance to listen on their own national radio stations with live commentary from bird experts in the various countries as they’re joined by some of our regular contributors on Mooney Goes Wild.  Among them will be Dr Richard Collins, Niall Hatch of BirdWatch Ireland and, expert and author, Eric Dempsey, who will be capturing the wonderful sights and sounds from a diversity of locations.  They join us to night to tell us about what the Dawn Chorus means to them, and what we might expect to hear...

    Richard Collins, Niall Hatch and Eric Dempsey

    Richard Collins, Niall Hatch and Eric Dempsey

    For more information on the 2016 Dawn Chorus programme, click here.

    Hedgerows: 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.

    UPDATE: February 29th 2016 - Press Release From BirdWatch Ireland:

    Putting the record straight: Dates for burning and hedge-cutting have NOT changed

    BirdWatch Ireland, Ireland’s largest conservation charity, is very concerned about misinformation that is currently circulating regarding the dates within which the burning of vegetation and cutting of hedges is permitted.  It would like to remind landowners that all burning and cutting must cease on 29th February this year and that burning and cutting remains prohibited from 1st March to 31st August.

    Despite attempts by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D., to change the laws regulating these dates by introducing the Heritage Bill 2016 earlier this year, it is important to note that the proposed date changes were ultimately NOT made.  This is because the bill failed to pass through both houses of the Oireachtas before the recent dissolution of the Dáil in advance of the general election.

    The laws in place governing the dates for hedge-cutting and upland burning therefore remain unchanged. The period within which cutting and burning is prohibited are set down in Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 (as amended in 2000), which states that:

    (a) It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy, during the period beginning on the 1st day of March and ending on the 31st day of August in any year, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated.
    (b) It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing in any hedge or ditch during the period mentioned in paragraph (a) of this subsection (above).

    The existing law provides exemptions for road safety and other circumstances and should be read carefully to ensure compliance.

    Section 40 of the Wildlife Act exists to protect nesting birds. Many of our upland bird species are in decline and are in danger of extinction in Ireland; amongst them is the Curlew, which has declined by 80%. Many birds which nest in hedgerows into August are also in serious decline, including the endangered Yellowhammer. The changes to the cutting and burning dates which had been proposed in the now-defunct Heritage Bill 2016 would have caused serious impacts to these birds. A petition launched by BirdWatch Ireland in conjunction with several other national conservation organisations to stop these changes attracted more than 16,200 signatures and rising.

    BirdWatch Ireland would also like to advise members of the public that if they see hedges being cut or fires in the uplands on or after 1st March, such activity could be illegal.  In such cases, we would encourage people to contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service ( to report such activity.

    BirdWatch Ireland warmly welcomes the demise of the Heritage Bill 2016 and sincerely hopes that any future administration will consider the importance of Ireland’s natural heritage and will not attempt to reintroduce such a flawed and damaging piece of legislation.

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


    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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