Mooney Goes Wild Monday 19 August 2019

Derek Mooney and crew filming the TV documentary 'Back From The Brink’, in the Netherlands. It will be broadcast as part of RTÉs Climate Change Week this coming Autumn - more details coming soon!

Behind the scenes filming 'Back To The Brink' in the Netherlands

Behind the scenes filming 'Back To The Brink' in the Netherlands; left: Derek and the crew of 'Back From The Brink', which will be broadcast on RTÉ television this November; right: Jacques Van Der Neut, a wildlife ranger with the state forest service in the Netherlands.  Jacques was part of the team of scientists responsible for reintroducing the Beaver to the Netherlands

Mooney Goes Wild

Mooney Goes Wild

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


Charles Darwin’s "On the Origin of Species" is arguably the most influential book ever published in the history of science. Darwin published the work following an expedition to the Galápagos Islands in 1835, where he became beguiled by the finches there, and how their beaks had evolved in a variety of ways to adapted to different food sources.

But now these very same finches – commonly known as Darwin’s Finches - are themselves under serious threat. Maggots of a parasitic fly are eating the finches’ beaks, causing deformations.  This has the effect of weakening the male bird’s mating call, rendering it indistinguishable from that of other closely related species - consequently making it harder for the birds to find mates and reproduce.

Surveys on the Galápagos islands show that the larvae are now rife and are killing more than half of all nestling finches.  Professor Sonia Kleindorfer conducted new research on Darwin’s Finches for Flinders University in Adelaide, and the University of Vienna, from where she spoke with Richard Collins.


Recent media headlines brought us the news that a flightless bird, which had been extinct for 136,000 years, had returned from the dead after evolving again.  The bird in question is the White-Throated Rail Bird, which lived on the Indian Ocean atoll of Aldabra. The birds became extinct after the atoll sank under rising sea levels.  Now scientists from the University of Portsmouth, and the Natural History Museum in London, say that the birds have come back to life!  Lead researcher Dr. Julian Hume is avian palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum.  He explained what happened to Niall Hatch.

Julian's paper 'Repeated evolution of flightlessness in Dryolimnas rails (Aves: Rallidae) after extinction and recolonization on Aldabra'

Further information - Click Here


Toads have long captured the public imagination of folklore, music and fiction, and one of the world's best-loved toads has got to be Mr. Toad of Toad Hall. He's one of the main characters in the novel The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame, and is also the title character of the AA Milne play Toad Of Toad Hall, which was based on the book. Dramatised for BBC Radio in 1973, it celebrates the importance of friendship, as a bunch of pals in the English countryside - Mole, Rat, and Badger - try to protect their feckless friend Toad from his own reckless behaviour.

Mr. Toad is an anthropomorphic Common Toad, and it may surprise you to learn that Common Toads are not native to Ireland.  But it appears that the Common Toad is, after all, actually present here.

A public campaign was recently spearheaded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Herpetological Society of Ireland (HSI) to report sightings of the Common Toad in south Dublin and north Wicklow, after they had been seen there in recent years.

(Photo by Terry Flanagan)

The first toad has now been captured by a member of the public on the back of that campaign and has been handed over to the HSI. Trevor, as he has been no doubt called after Trevor's toad in Harry Potter, is now in the home of the HSI Senior Science Officer Rob Gandola.  He is going to be used for information campaigns to raise awareness about toads. Recently, our reporter, Terry Flanagan, paid Rob and Trevor a visit.

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 

E-mail:        Facebook:          Twitter: @NatureRTE



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

Music Played on the Show

Ducks And Currents

Ducks And Currents

Hans Zimmer, Hans Zimmer, Jacob Shea & David Fleming




Contact the Show



Twitter: @NatureRTE

Presenter: Derek Mooney

Series Producer: Ana Leddy


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