Mooney Goes Wild, Sunday September 4th 2016

Dawn Chorus 2018

This year's Dawn Chorus programme will take place on Sunday, May 6th 2018, and will be broadcast from across Europe and beyond between midnight and 7am!  For more information, click here.

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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.

Events & Listings

Click here for a full list of events taking place around the country, and movies currently on release, which might be of interest to wildlife lovers!

Nature LIVE

On Sunday May 6th, 2018, RTÉ's Wild Island season goes international as Derek Mooney hosts one of the most ambitious LIVE natural history programmes ever undertaken. Broadcasting live from six countries across Europe, Nature LIVE will showcase some of the continents most extraordinary wildlife, from Polar Bears in the Norwegian Arctic to Flamingoes in southern Spain to Basking Sharks off the west of Ireland. This one-hour special will be anchored by RTÉ presenter Derek Mooney from the banks of Dublin’s River Liffey, with wildlife film-maker Colin Stafford-Johnson on the Blasket Islands.

Viewers can take part by sharing their own pictures and videos of nature and wildlife using #naturelive from wherever they live in Europe.


We have a limited number of audience tickets for this live event. Apply for tickets by email to

Location: Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin

Date: Sunday 6th May 2018 

Time: 16.30 - 18.00      

*Gates close at 16.45!

Please note that this is an unseated event and outdoors so you will need to wear appropriate clothing for the Irish weather. We need the following information: The number of tickets you are applying for. Your name, surname, age contact phone number and address. The names, surnames and ages of your guests.

*Unfortunately we cannot accommodate for Children under 12yrs. All minors under 16 must be accompanied by an adult/guardian

Tickets are limited so first come first served!

On Mooney Goes Wild tonight...


The great bogs of Ireland developed from fens thousands of years ago.  Shallow lakes, invaded by sedges, teemed with fish amphibians and dragonflies, to the evocative sounds of warblers, water-rails and bitterns.  Over time, dead vegetation built up in these primeval wetlands, contact with the ground-water was lost and the fens became raised bogs.  A visit to East Anglia gives an impression of what our Irish midlands may have looked like long ago.

The market town of Ely developed on slightly raised ground surrounded by marshland in a great fen basin.  Its name, ‘Eel island’, recalls the fisheries which once thrived there.  A rebellious place, it was here, in 1072, that Hereward the Wake made his last stand against William the Conqueror.  The town’s most famous son was the notorious Oliver Cromwell.  The huge gothic cathedral, with its famous octagon, can be seen from far and wide.

Ely Cathedral (pic: Tim Crawley) & Wicken Fen (pic: National Trust)

Left: Ely Cathedral (photo courtesy of Tim Crawley -; Right: Wicken Fen; photo: National Trust - for more information about and views of Wicken Fen, visit

Of course, the area today looks nothing like what it did in the past.  Dutch engineers drained the wetlands in the 17th Century; 99% of them are gone.  Only four of the original fens survive.  The most famous is close to the village of Wicken, 8km north of the town.

This 900-hectare wilderness of swamps reed-beds and scrub is the oldest protected nature reserve in Britain.  A virtual outdoor laboratory for the University of Cambridge, 15km away, it’s owned and managed by the National Trust.  This, one of the most extensively studied areas of its size in Europe, has spawned a wealth of scientific papers on topics ranging from micro-organisms to birds.

Dr. Richard Collins & Prof. Nick Davies inside the old hide Tower on Wicken Fen

Dr. Richard Collins (l) & Prof. Nick Davies (r) inside the old hide Tower on Wicken Fen

Professor Nick Davies first visited Wicken Fen over thirty years ago.  He has been drawn to the place ever since.  A Liverpool man, he studied natural sciences at Cambridge, graduating in 1973.  His doctoral thesis there was on the feeding behaviour of insectivorous birds.  In 1995, he became Professor of Behavioural Ecology at the University.  Ground-breaking research on Dunnocks carried out by Professor Davies during the 1980’s, has revolutionised our understanding of the lives, not only of Dunnocks but of songbirds generally.

Left: Dunnock (photo by Shay Connolly); right: Cuckoo (photo by Marcin Karetta), courtesy of BirdWatch Ireland

Since then, he has turned his attention to cuckoos, studying them each summer at Wicken.  His current focus is on the interactions between cuckoos and the reed warblers they trick into raising their young; ‘how cuckoo chicks manipulate their hosts and how hosts vary their costly defences in response to parasitism’ he declares on his website (

From left: the Old Tower Hide on Wicken Fen; Nick Davies, Derek Mooney and Richard Collins; Cuckoo chick in a reed warbler nest; Nick and Richard smile for the camera on the Fen

Derek Mooney and Dr. Richard Collins caught up with Nick Davies on a beautiful July day at Wicken.  Dragonflies and butterflies were on the wing.  Reed warblers sang, the unlucky ones oblivious to the cuckoo chicks squatting in their nests...

Cuckoo, Cheating By Nature by Nick Davies

Cuckoo, Cheating By Nature by Nick Davies

Prof Nick Davies is the author of Cuckoo, Cheating by Nature, published by Bloomsbury. The ISBN is 9781408856567 and the RRP is £16.99 (approx. €20).  For more information about the book, visit

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.

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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Presenter: Derek Mooney


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