Mooney, Friday December 13th 2013

On Mooney Goes Wild today...

On Mooney Goes Wild today...

We have some fabulous wildlife suggestions for Christmas presents – and a few special giveaways for lucky listeners as well! We have disturbing news about the dwindling number of diving ducks in Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland. Eanna and Richard explain the science behind all the beautiful red sunrises we have had recently. And we hear about new research into how the foraging tactics of wild songbirds uncover new sources of food...

Wildlife Christmas Gifts

"On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a partridge in a pear tree."

Did you know that there are now only twelve days till Christmas? And whilst a partridge in a pear tree might be a bit of an unrealistic present to give to your loved one, there are plenty of wildlife and nature gifts out there that would look perfect under the Christmas tree!

We sent our Terry, Eanna and Richard out to see what they could find… So guys, what do you have for us?


BOOK: How Irish Scientists Changed The World by Sean Duke.

Available at all good bookstores. €14.99 – A very good and easy read for non-scientists. This is the most recent (and best) book Terry has have read this year.

Earlier on in the year Terry did a report for Derek in the Bargain Bookshop on Merrion Row. He went back to see what bargain Science / Wildlife books could be got.

BOOK: The Dinosaur Hunters by Dr. Lowell Dingus. RRP £25. Price in store. €12.99 (well under half price).

BOOK: The Magic of Irish Nature by Patrick O’Sullivan. Full of information about animals and plants in Irish mythology and folklore. Hardback. Price €3.99

BOOK: Village Walks In Ireland: A quirky book of 50 adventures on foot thru’ many Irish cities and villages introducing the reader to hidden wonders of the Emerald Isle. Price €4.99.

Terry also went into the Natural History Museum (the Dead Zoo!) and they presently are having a sale in their shop. I picked up the following items:

Hot Air Balloon: A wonderful toy for a child wanting to learn about balloon flight. It is ready to launch (and can be re-used many times) and the balloon is an enormous 8ft. X 6ft!       Price €9.95.

Skull Skill: Build and sculpt a T.Rex Skull. Ideal for an 8 – 10 year old. Price reduced to €8.95.

DNA 300 piece Jigsaw Puzzle from the DNA Store. Original price was €11.80. Now reduced to €3.95.

Nature Challenge Birds Cardset: Learn all about the birds of the World with this set. Original price €7.20. Reduced to €3.60.

The Science Gallery has a shop that specializes in Science books and toys. Four things from here.

A set of finger puppets. The puppets are 4 famous scientists (Newton, Darwin, Marie Curie and Einstein). Each puppet is 4 inches tall and is magnetized so that it can double as a refrigerator magnet and it comes packaged in a puppet-theatre box. Price €25.

Cartesian Diver: A wonderful toy that teaches children about pressure in liquids. Price €6.

Diving submarine: Another wonderful toy (also €6) that will give endless hours of pleasure to a child as the submarine dives and resurfaces in water.

Flower Grenades: Each box contains 3 'seed-bombs' and when thrown onto waste ground, break open to release seeds from wild flowers that will germinate on the spot they land.

Birdwatch Ireland have a great selection of bird feeders, bird food, bird boxes, cameras and books and DVD’s. I liked the following best. (Can shop online also)

Soda Bottle Feeder: A metal attachment with 2 feeding stations that fits onto any 1 or 2 Litre plastic bottle. Rather than throw out those old plastic bottles, why not use them as bird feeders! Ideal for attracting small birds only. Price €13.

The Irish Peatland Conservation Council has a shop (online also) that carries a great deal of educational material. What Terry liked best:

ID Guides: Various guides to birds, insects, lichens etc. The guides are laminated and ideal for outdoor use. Price €6.


Christmas gifts for those interested in wildlife can be categorised into three groups.
1.     Gifts that encourage people to learn more about wildlife.
2.     Gifts that help people get out and see wildlife for themselves
3.     Gifts that actually help the wildlife and make life better for them.

Gifts that encourage people to learn more about wildlife

Into this category comes books about wildlife and several excellent ones have been published this year.

The Bird Atlas 2007-2011 published by the BTO is the latest in the series of Bird atlases going back to 1968 and is a must for those with an interest in the distribution of Irish Birds and how this is changing as our climate changes. A huge book – 720pps- it is available from Birdwatch Ireland for around €80

Heritage Trees of Ireland is for those who are interested in the very best trees Ireland has to offer. Every county in Ireland is represented and if you get it you could spend the rest of the year going to visit and admire the nearest specimens to where you live. Available from the tree council of Ireland for €20

Ireland’s Butterflies – A Review is the book for the butterfly lover. All Irish species, their eggs, caterpillars and distribution are described in great detail. This lovely 272 page hardback is available from the Dublin Naturalists Field Club at 35 Nutley Park, Dublin 4

The Birds of Ireland – a field guide is the latest work from Jim Wilson and Mark Carmody. No-one who ever looked out the window and wondered what’s that bird should be without this book. It costs €15 P&P €3 extra from Birdwatch Ireland.

Gifts that help people get out and see wildlife for themselves

Sitting inside reading stuff is all very well but nothing beats getting out and seeing wildlife for yourself. But where to go, how to get there and what will you see when you do get there? Last year I gave my list of top twelve sites to visit. I am sure having done all these you are up for more this year.

Native Irish woodlands are great places to visit – trees, birds, mammals, creepy crawlies – half of our native fauna can be found in woodlands. You need:

Stopping By Woods – A Guide To The Forests And Woodlands Of Ireland by Donal Magner available from the Tree Council for €15. It covers all the woodlands in the whole country with detailed of maps of how to get there and a map of the woodland itself. You will be doing well to have have all the woods in own county alone visited by this time next year as details of 346 woods are included.

And while you are ordering it ask for the handy guide to identifying trees by their leaves. This is a key ring with 22 cards 7cm square. Each card has an account, and colour pictures of the shape, leaves, and fruit/seeds of our common trees. A steal at €5

Equipment such as hand lens, binoculars, telescopes are all useful here and Lidl has a special offer this week on Telescopes and binoculars

Gifts that actually help the wildlife and make life better for them.

This is the category where people want to improve conditions for wildlife in their own surroundings.

Garden Centres stock huge varieties of bird nest boxes and bird tables, bird feeders and bird food. Any help you can give wild birds over the winter or in providing nest boxes for them is great.

But if you have all these you might consider a camera nest box and feeder. This has a camera on a feeder in the winter and it goes into the nest box when the breeding season comes. It is available for €185 plus €10 P&P. From Birdwatch Ireland


•        Bat detector (€50 and upwards) – contact Bat Conservation Ireland for recommendations
•        Peanut batter feeder - €17 from BirdWatch Ireland
•        Secrets Of The Irish Landscape by Matthew Jebb & Colm Crowley
•        The Complete Field Guide To Irish Birds by Eric Dempsey
•        Oak bird feeders from Quercus in Cork - €30
•        Oak chips for wood burners and BBQs - €4.50 per bag – also from Quercus


Irish Wildlife Trust Gift Membership

With Irish Wildlife Trust membership (€35) you will receive a nice welcome pack with a Gift Certificate, Welcome Letter, IWT ‘Our Wetland Heritage’ booklet and the winter issue of our ‘Irish Wildlife’ magazine. The membership is for the full year 2013 and the recipient will also receive quarterly copy of the award-winning ‘Irish Wildlife’ magazine and invitations to our events.

Badger Club members receive our ‘Badger Club’ magazine instead. : €15

Family members receive both ‘Irish Wildlife’ and ‘Badger Club’ magazine. (€50)

Other gifts – the “Total Boar” and “Badger not Guilty” teeshirts. The Irish Wildlife magazine also just won ‘Best Customer Magazine’ at the 2013 Irish Magazine Awards!

For more information visit

BirdWatch Ireland Membership €40

BirdWatch Ireland Beginning BirdWatching Gift Kit €199

*One Year's membership of BirdWatch Ireland *Four issues of Wings magazine over the next 12 months *BirdWatch Ireland 2014 Calendar *A pair of Opticrons excellent 8x42 Adventurer binoculars *The Complete Field Guide to Ireland's Birds by Eric Demsey and Michael O'Clery *Finding Birds in Ireland by Eric Demsey and Michael O'Clery

All proceeds go to support BirdWatch Ireland's conservation work.

They have also a selection of binoculars and telescopes, feeding stations and feeders, books and CDs, Kitchen ware… a selection are below:

Squirrel proof Peanut Feeder €27.00

Camera Nestbox and Camera Feeder System €185.00

Christmas Cards - "Frost and Snow" €5.00

Bird Atlas 2007–11 €94.00

To find out more visit

World Wildlife Fund

Top 5 Species Adoptions… tiger, panda, free-toed sloth, polar bear or African Elephant

Sample of what you get with Adopt a Tiger [for $50 or €36]

There could be as few as 3,200 tigers in the wild, most in isolated pockets spread… across increasingly fragmented forests, stretching from India to southeastern China and from the Russian Far East to Sumatra, Indonesia. Largest of all cats, the tiger is one of the most threatened species on Earth. Tigers prefer to eat hoofed animals, but will also prey on fish, birds and even other predators like leopards and bears. These beautiful cats are threatened by growing human populations, loss of habitat, illegal hunting (of both tigers and their prey species) and expanded trade in tiger parts used as traditional medicines

With this gift you will receive:
•         Soft plush version of your adopted animal
•         5" x 7" formal adoption certificate
•         5" x 7" full-colour photo of your species
•         Species spotlight card, full of fascinating information about the animal
•         FREE priority shipping
•         Personalized acknowledgment letter to your gift recipient

World Wildlife fund also have a whole range of tee-shirts, key chains, magnets, golf umbrellas, pjamas, boxer shorts….

For more information visit

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have calendars and Christmas cards…

Also presents such as a small ISPCA Pet Bed (€8) and Hooded Cat Bed and a large ISPCA Pet Cushion or €30 each.

Irish Whale and Dolphin Group
Membership - €30

Apart from supporting our conservation work, IWDG membership has other benefits. You will receive:
- IWDG News: our e-zine and special access to members only area on our website
- Monthly group email updates and local reports on strandings and sightings of interest in your area
- Discounts on all IWDG events, weekends and training workshops.
- Reduced rates on IWDG publications: sighting reviews, posters etc
- Opportunities to take part in IWDG research cruises and fieldwork
- An opportunity to join like-minded people interested in marine conservation.
- Advice on whale-watching and related topics

Or you can buy a day’s whale watching with IWDG…

They also have merchandise – books, teeshirts…  

Early Bird Catches The Worm

Early Bird Catches The Worm

Around this time of year the papers and magazines are all full of advice about how to watch your weight, and how to lose weight if you do eat too many of those mince pies. Life would be so much easier if everybody ate just what they needed to eat - as birds do.

You don’t see fat birds, because if they get too fat they can’t fly. And if there are enough berries and worms about, they don’t get too thin.

A study now published in the journal Biology Letters looks at the actual strategies wild songbirds have to get their diet balanced. It was conducted by Damien Farine from the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology at the University of Oxford, and Damien joins Derek and our panel today from the BBC studios in Oxford...

Wintering Water Birds On Lough Neagh

The largest lake in Britain and Ireland is Lough Neagh. Five of the six counties of Northern Ireland have shores on the Lough. It supplies 40% of the region’s drinking water - and it has lost more than three quarters of its overwintering water birds in the past ten years.

The tufted duck (above) is one of the water birds whose population is declining

A study funded by the Northern Ireland Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation attempted to uncover why this was happening. The research was led by Dr. Irena Tomankova from Quercus, Northern Ireland’s Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, and she joins us today from Belfast studio.

Red Sky In The Morning

All this week, we have been treated to some stunning red skies, early each morning. In fact, a lot of people have been posting pictures on Facebook and other social media of these beautiful skies.

We are all familiar with the old rhyme

"Red sky in the morning, sailors’ warning.
Red sky at night, sailors’ delight."

But is there any truth in this saying? What's the science behind it? And the science behind these glorious colours?

Richard and Eanna have the answers!

Unseasonal Ladybirds

We talk to listener Paul O'Neill about the twenty-something active ladybirds he found in his Christmas tree...


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 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

The Early Bird Always Gets The Worm

The Early Bird Always Gets The Worm

E.C. Ball


Twelve Days Of Christmas - Instrumental

Twelve Days Of Christmas - Instrumental

Piano Trio




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Presenter: Derek Mooney


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