Mooney Goes Wild Monday 2 December 2019

Mooney Goes Wild

Mooney Goes Wild

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

Mooney Goes Wild Full Show 021219

On this weeks show: Gull attacking and eating Pigeon, a fabulous new Bee book, some wildlife Rehab and an update from Harper's Island Nature Reserve in Cork.

Revisiting Harper's Island Nature Reserve

Derek joins Ornithologist and author Jim Wilson at Harpers Island Nature Reserve in Cork.

(Photo's - Jim Wilson)

Harper’s Island is a small low-lying island in the northern section of the harbour and, because it’s influenced by the tidal estuary, over time it has developed into a salt marsh.  Although Harper’s Island is only a small component within the Glounthane Estuary and Slatty Water complex, it’s an extremely important safe feeding and roosting haven for many species and, needless to say, it’s a fantastic place for bird watching.  From the Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank to the Golden Plover and Wigeon, the rich diversity of species here is truly incredible.

Cannibal Seagulls

Mooney Goes Wild listener Karl Ryan sent us a video clip of a most unusual experience that he had witnessed.

Karl is co-owner of Flanagan’s Restaurant in O’Connell Street and he’s always taken an interest in the birds in the city centre.

No doubt he’s well used to seeing them scavenging on left over fast food - often left strewn around the capital’s pavements - but recently, while emptying the bins, he came across a gull attacking, killing and eating a pigeon.

How common was this he wondered? And it led him to ask for our help.

We sent our reporter Terry Flanagan, accompanied by bird expert, Niall Hatch of BirdWatch Ireland -  to investigate.

A Bee's Life

Did you know that there are bees are found in every continent except for Antartica? Or that a bee will only make one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime? Or that three thousand year old honey found inside Egypt's pyramid is still perfectly edible?

 

These are some of the fascinating facts found in a new publication. 

It’s called "A Bee’s Life" and was written, designed and illustrated by three transition year students in Killina Presentation School in County Offaly.

Emma Lynam, Hannah Corble and Niamh Digan took on the project to help teach primary school children about bees and the role they play in the wider environment.  They describe a day in the life of a bee... their role in food production.... medicinal uses of honey... and lots of other interesting stuff about one of our favourite flying insects.

Our own John Bela Reilly took off to the wilds of County Offaly to meet the authors.

Wildlife Rehab - Terry Flanagan

How many times have you been out for a walk, only to come across an animal in distress - a young bird that has fallen out of a nest;  a hedgehog wandering around during the day; or a seal pup stranded on a beach. What should you do? Ring the Gardai? Ring the local SPCA? Or maybe ring a local wildlife rehabilitation organisation?

Dr. Tina Aughney - Bat Conservation Ireland (Photo - Terry Flanagan)

There are many excellent wildlife rehabilitation organisations throughout the country. Many of these are voluntary and run by a small number of dedicated people. 

The WRI (Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland) recently had a conference in Sonairte, which is an interactive visitor centre promoting ecological awareness and sustainable living, based in County Meath. This conference invited rehabilitators from all over the country to meet, share ideas and more importantly gain valuable knowledge and practical information from leading wildlife experts.

(Photo - Terry Flanagan)

A key focus of the conference was an exciting initiative to establish a National Wildlife Hospital which it’s hoped will be in operation within a few short years. To learn more about the conference and ambitious plans for the future, we sent out man, Terry Flanagan, off to Co. Meath.

 Second Chance Archive

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 

E-mail: mooney@rte.ie        Facebook: facebook.com/rtenature          Twitter: @NatureRTE

Ireland and Climate Change: Are we up for it? Professor John Sweeney - Maynooth University

When the countries of the world assembled for the now famous Rio Earth Summit in 1992 to adopt the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, they undertook to take the necessary steps to prevent ‘dangerous’ climate change. Defining what was dangerous proved a difficult task, however, and largely as a result of the European Union’s prodding, a value of 2oC warming above pre-industrial times was generally adopted as the criterion. Gradually the rest of the world fell into line with this, except the Small Island Developing States of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. For them this was something that would have condemned their island homes to submergence beneath the rising sea. So when the Paris Agreement emerged in 2015, it had a nuanced objective: "to hold increases in global temperatures to well below 2 °C and pursue efforts to limit increase to 1.5 °C." To flesh out what the 1.5oC target would actually mean, the Conference asked the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to produce a Special Report, which they did in October of last year.

The report confirmed that significantly greater climate problems would be experienced at a warming of 1.5oc compared to the present day, even though we have already warmed by 1oC over pre-industrial levels. These would include increases in extremes of heat and heavy rainfall events in several regions, accompanied by more frequent and more intense droughts. But most worrying was the realisation that the remaining carbon budget to avoid this warming would only last for a decade or two at the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions. After this budget was exhausted the carbon would be in the atmosphere for a century or more. Globally, emissions needed to fall by 45% on 2010 levels by 2030. It was this realisation that galvanised many groups and energised many individuals around the world, culminating in the mass protests we see around us. This was true, even in an Ireland whose compliance with its international obligations are failing miserably and its laggard status approaching the level of a national shaming. As a developed country with historical responsibility, we should be bearing more of the burden of tackling this problem than most other countries. Instead our per capita emissions are 50% higher than the EU average and place us as the second worst contributor to climate change on a per capita basis within the EU. The recently released 2018 figures confirm we are now 5M tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over the limit we agreed solemnly with our EU partners over a decade ago.

At the same time as we declared a climate emergency in Ireland this year we also declared a biodiversity emergency. This was in recognition that Ireland was also experiencing serious threats to its species and habitats, partly due to climate and also a number of other drivers, such as agricultural intensification. Another UN report in spring 2019 confirmed that human actions are now threatening more species with global extinction than ever before. The current rate of species extinction is 10-100 times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years. Around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades.

In Ireland, our peatland, coastal marsh and mountain habitats are particularly at risk. 29 different bird species and 120  species of flowering plants are in serious decline. Some bird species such as the Corn Bunting and Corncock have become extinct. Others such as the Curlew have been decimated and many species such as the pearl mussel, bumblebee, barn owl and marsh fritillary butterfly face serious threats. At the same time invasive species are moving into newly favourable ecological niches providing additional competition and stress to native species.

Ireland has warmed by 0.5oC over the past 30 years and is likely to warm by a similar amount over the next 2-3 decades. This  will have impacts on our growing season, making crops like maize much more feasible to grow. However, projected changes in rainfall are likely to be the main climate change problem Ireland will face. Already we are seeing an increase in intense rainfall events. Increased winter flood problems will result and the government will need to find €1B of taxpayers’ money to protect against future events. Winter storms are also likely to become more problematical. Winter 2013/14 was the stormiest winter in Ireland for at least 143 years. Winter 2015/16 was the wettest winter on record over half of Ireland. Former hurricanes such as Ophelia and Lorenzo pose additional late autumn threats which are likely to increase as the Atlantic warms and summer droughts will bring their own difficulties for agriculture and municipal water supplies. All in all, it is changing weather extremes which will bring the message of climate change home to Irish people and instil in them the urgency of playing a constructive role in international negotiations.

Conscious that it their legacy that is under threat, young people have been in the vanguard of protest. The ‘Fridays for Future’ schools protest has taken up the baton of Greta Thunberg who has become the icon that communicates the reality of climate change more effectively than a hundred graphs and tables. Armed with the factual knowledge of the Green Schools, it is to these inspirational leaders that the rest of society must now turn. The time for tinkering around the edges with excuses about efficiency or identifying ‘low hanging fruit’ on the basis of economic cost benefit curves is now over. The problem is now an ethical one of intergenerational equity, one where scientists can no longer be labelled ‘alarmists’ but rather ‘realists’. In an emergency the unthinkable has to be considered and Ireland is now at a crossroads where the next decade will determine what legacy we leave to the next generation. It’s an awesome responsibility. Are we up for it or not?

Professor John Sweeney is Ireland’s foremost climatologists and was a  lecturer at Maynooth University’s Geography Department for 40 years until his recent retirement. Over the past 30 years he has published approximately 60 scientific papers and edited and co-authored texts on various aspects of climatology and climate change in Ireland.

Hedgerows

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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

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 www.irishwildlifematters.ie

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E-mail: mooney@rte.ie

Facebook: facebook.com/rtenature

Twitter: @NatureRTE

Presenter: Derek Mooney

Series Producer: Ana Leddy

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