The robin, not the turkey, is the real Christmas bird; you'll find him on cards, cakes and Christmas trees. But is Robin Redbreast having us on? Is he really the friendly and gentle little fellow he seems? Does he deserve his special Christmas place? Dr. Richard Collins, scientific adviser to Mooney Goes Wild, investigates! To read more about this special documentary, and to listen to the programme, click here.
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...
"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.
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 www.birdwatchireland.ie
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 www.treecouncil.ie
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
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!
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:
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….
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
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...
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.
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 (www.npws.ie) 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 www.irishwildlifematters.ie