It's the most wonderful time of the year! It's the season of peace on earth and good will to all men, when those of us who are lucky enough to have family, friends and loved ones, will gather together to break bread – eat, drink and be merry – and generally spread good Christmas cheer.
Part of the Yuletide ritual is, of course, the exchange of gifts. And if you’re looking for presents that are more in tune with the holly on your own doorstep than the many delights on offer from the commercial world, look no further! Mooney Goes Wild is here to bring you a selection of ideas which, although have a commercial dimension, are drawn from and reflect the natural world. Joining Derek in studio with their suggestions are zoologist Dr. Richard Collins and fisheries scientist Prof. Ken Whelan. Derek visits Niall Hatch at BirdWatch Ireland HQ to learn more about the delightful gifts available from them this Christmas. Gardening guru Dermot O'Neill meets up with producer Ana Leddy at Johnstown Garden Centre to show her his top tree gifts and plants. And we'll also hear from the rest of our team - entomologist Eanna ni Lamhna and biology teacher / MGW reporter Terry Flanagan, with their proposals for the perfect Christmas gift for wildlife lovers!
We start by chatting about a video that was sent into firstname.lastname@example.org by listener Eric Chaloner, who wrote:
Visiting my mum-in-law in Cork for her 88th birthday yesterday and went for a walk with my brother along the Lee fields. Couldn’t believe my eyes when I spotted a seal in the water. Managed to get the phone out to record it climbing up the weir.
Great day! Kind regards, Eric
And here it is! Please note there is no sound on this video...
During the week, Derek headed down to the BirdWatch Ireland HQ in Bullford Business Campus, Kilcoole, Wicklow, to see what delights they have on sale in their shop there. They stock all kinds of things, from nest boxes to binoculars, and our good friend Niall Hatch (BirdWatch Ireland's Development Officer) was on hand to give us his recommendations, along with shop manager Niamh Ferguson...
Left: Niall Hatch and right: Niamh Ferguson, in the BirdWatch Ireland shop
Some popular purchases include food for the birds
Niall's Christmas Gift Suggestions
i) Singing Bird Soft Toys - €9 each
Available in a variety of birds, these delightful singing toys from Wild Republic will be loved by bird-loving children and adults alike. With their realistic life like design you can't help but find them irresistible. All these soft toys have an authentic digitally reproduced bird call. Suitable for children (and adults!) aged 3 and over.
Each bird is approx. 16cm long. For more information, click here.
ii) Nestboxes - from €10 to €185 - designs and functions vary
A popular choice for beginners and experienced birdwatchers alike, these come in a variety of designs, from simple constructions to high-tech camera nestbox and feeder system. For further information on all styles available, click here.
It's the gift that keeps on giving, at least as far as the birds are concerned! BirdWatch Ireland Membership lasts for one year from date of joining, and if you join now, you'll receive a free gift with your membership pack. In addition, all new members receive Wings, the quarterly membership magazine covering everything to do with birds and bird conservation in Ireland, a membership pack full of useful information, details of BWI's 20 local branches across Ireland, and free entry to BWI events nationwide, including lectures, wildlife courses and guided field trips, as well as access to their reserves all around the country. Family Members and Under 18's also receive the half yearly children's magazine, Bird Detectives.
And whilst we're talking about the Garden County ... Ken Whelan chats about the recent publicity regarding Sammy The Seal, Wicklow Town's resident seal who can be seen each day crossing the quay for his fishy treats. Mooney Goes Wild's Researcher / Broadcast Co-Ordinator Sinéad Renshaw is a frequent visitor to Wicklow Town, and pops in to talk about Sammy the Seal. To listen back to Terry Flanagan's report on Sammy back in 2014, click here, to read The Guardian's recent article about Wicklow's famous resident, click here, and to follow Sammy The Seal on Facebook, click here.
Richard's Christmas Gift Suggestions
i) Spork - €2.95, variety of colours
A ‘Spork’ is a durable back-packer item, a spoon at one end and fork/knife at the other. It brings a bit of civilization to the wild and a bit of the wild to civilisation - perfect for your backpack, boat, picnic basket, lunchbox, purse or briefcase! Richard bought his from Great Outdoors - for more information, click here.
ii) Book: Cuckoo: Cheating By Nature by Nick Davies - €20
Beloved as the herald of spring, cuckoos have held a place in our affections for centuries. But for many other birds the cuckoo is a signal of doom, for it is Nature's most notorious cheat. Cuckoos across the world have evolved extraordinary tricks to manipulate other species into raising their young. How do they get away with it? In this enormously engaging book, naturalist and scientist Nick Davies reveals how cuckoos trick their hosts. Using shrewd detective skills and field experiments, he uncovers an evolutionary arms race, in which hosts evolve better defences against cuckoos and cuckoos, in turn, evolve novel forms of trickery.
In a special programme broadcast in Sept. 2016, we spoke to Prof. Nick Davies about his lifelong work on cuckoos - click here to listen back to that programme.
Cuckoo: Cheating By Nature is written by Nick Davies and is published by Bloomsbury. The RRP is €20 and the ISBN is 9781408856567. For further information, click here.
Ken's Christmas Gift Suggestions
i) Clim8 Outdoor Clothing - €150
Ken choose this item as our listeners love the outdoors and this range represents affordable, quality waterproof clothing. For more information on Climb 8's jackets, plus links to their other angling clothing, click here.
ii) Battery-Operated Socks - €30
Ken says they are a normal pair of socks, but along the calf is a little pouch where you slip a PP3 battery. They release a very gentle heat along the instep and along the calf. The photographed pair above are by Springyard and cost about €30. They boast the following: Pair of Unisex Battery heated socks warming the toe area to approx 40 degrees Celsius helping to keep your toes from becoming cold during the winter months. The toe section of the sock is heated and produces a mild warmth preventing toes from becoming cold. Ideal for walking, hiking, skiing, hunting, winter sports and those working outdoors. Easy to use - simply insert and conceal the batteries in the battery pouch and close. Powered by 3 x AA batteries per sock (not included). It is recommended that good quality batteries are used to achieve best performance. It takes on average 5-10 minutes for the socks to reach maximum temperature. Made of a wool-mix that does not absorb moisture. Hand Washable.
Eanna's Christmas Gift Suggestions
Eanna ni Lamhna
i) Book: Robby, The Christmas Robin - €6.50
This is a book for children written in English by Dale Treadwell called Robby, The Christmas Robin. This book tells the story of Robby the Robin who doesn’t want to share his garden with any other bird and tries to scare them away. Birds like the Blackbird, Thrush, Goldfinch, Blue Tit etc... all come in, and he tries to frighten them off by singing his aggressive song. But it turns out that they all eat different food to him and are not trying to take the bite out of his mouth. It is all very accurate - this is what those birds do in our gardens in winter so the book combines a nice story with accurate scientific detail and of course a happy ending.
It is published by Naturally Wild, Gumtree Cottage, Colehill, Kinnegad Co Meath and costs €6.50. Eanna bought her copy in the Botanic Gardens bookshop. To order online, visit www.naturallywild.ie.
ii) Bushnell NatureView Essential HD - €145
This is really the business if you are interested in wildlife. Eanna was using one with Billy Flynn earlier this year when carrying out a badger survey. You tie it to a tree and switch it on and when something moves in front of it, it is activated and begins to film. When the object moves away it stops. It films at night too so you can get great footage of whatever say visits your garden at night, or your nearby woodland or whatever. You could have it filming birds visit a nest, bats emerging from a roost, badgers, foxes - the neighbour’s cat - whatever breaks its beam. Features:* 0.3 second trigger speed: This is the time taken between the PIR sensor being activated and the camera taking an image or video. With moving animals, even a small difference in trigger speed can mean the difference between a great photo and a shot of an animal disappearing out of the frame. Please note that the stated trigger speed applies to the capture of still images only.* Adjustable PIR: The PIR motion sensor is active to a distance of 24m. The sensitivity of the motion sensor is also adjustable and can be set to low, medium, high or auto. When set to auto, an internal temperature sensor regulates the sensitivity so that it is optimised for all weather conditions.* Hyper night vision: Ensures that your night-time images are clear and crisp. For further information, click here.
iii) Book: Scealta na nEanlaithe - €10
The third gift is a book on wildlife written in the Irish Language. It is just published and is called Scealta na nEanlaithe. It is written by Helen Ó Murchú and is published by The Jesuit Irish Language publishing house, Timire-FS, and costs €10. Again it is available in shops that sell Irish books. This book is written for young people of approx ten years old and upwards, which in fact means everyone. It is just the thing that all the Gaelscoileanna are looking for and it is unusual in that it only appears in Irish and is not a translation of an English language book. It explains with lots of pictures and graphs - all about our winter visitors, our summer visitors, our resident birds. It speaks about how climate change is affecting these birds - what causes climate change and indeed what can be done about it. A very engaging book.
The ISBN is 9781906982577 - for further information, click here.
Terry's Christmas Gift Suggestions
i) Book: Tales Of The Irish Hedgerows - €16.99
The book Terry has chosen is called Tales Of The Irish Hedgerows, by Tony Locke. It was first published this year by the History Press of Ireland. It costs €16.99 and can be had from all good bookstores. Terry got his in Easons.
Sadly, Ireland is losing one of its most important habitats, the hedgerow. There are many reasons for this including intensive farming, land usage for house building and motorway infrastructure. With their disappearance, there is an alarming loss of flora and fauna that is associated with them. Many animals not only live within hedgerows, but also use them as corridors to move from one area to another.
This book introduces us to the plants and animals of the hedgerow, their biology and the folklore associated with them. There are lots of really interesting facts and titbits of information, and this book is a truly enjoyable read.
The ISBN is 9781845889302 - for further information, click here.
ii) Galileo thermometer
Terry's first present is a Galileo thermometer. Although accurate, it is used mostly for decoration and makes an ideal Christmas present. It consists of a sealed glass tube filled with a liquid (either water or alcohol), with several floating bubbles of coloured liquid inside. Attached to each glass bubble is a little metal tag that indicates a temperature. A number, with a degree symbol are engraved on the tag. The glass bubbles float at different positions within the tube. To find the temperature of the room, simply read the tag on the lowest floating bubble. As the temperature changes throughout the day, the bubbles will rise and sink within the glass tube. Galileo thermometers range in price from €25 to €45 depending on the size. The larger ones are the more expensive, but they are also more accurate. The can be bought from many stores. Terry got his in "Knobs & Knockers" opposite Trinity College.
iii) Clip External Phone Camera Lens Kit
Terry's other gift idea is a clip lens set. This is a set of clip-on lenses that attach to any camera phone. They allow the user to change their camera to Wide angle mode, Macro mode or Fisheye. They start at about €10, and Terry got his set in the Science Gallery in Dublin. They are really simple to use - they simply attach to the camera lens of the phone - and the results are very good. They come in a carrying pouch and take up little or no space. They would be an excellent present for someone who might come across a small insect when out walking or a panoramic view that that might like to save.
A selection of images taken by Terry using his clip-on lenses, including a hawthorn berry, lichens and a snail
Mooney Goes Wild Music
To add to the festive feel of this programme, we've included some Christmas classics, including Celine Byrne with the stunning favourite O Holy Night. Celine will be playing the part of Mother Abbess in The Sound Of Music at the Bórd Gáis Energy Theatre, which begins on Tuesday, and will run until January 6th - for more information, visit http://bordgaisenergytheatre.ie/index.php/artist/the-sound-of-music1.
Christmas Gifts For The Green-Fingered
Christmas is a great time to think about plants – and not just mean dashing out on Christmas Eve to grab a festive Poinsettia which will most likely wilt and die before New Year is even on the horizon! Plants can make great gifts for Christmas as we look ahead to spring and the renewal that it brings.
Left: Dermot O'Neill; right: Ana Leddy
Mooney Goes Wild producer Ana Leddy – not what you’d describe as the most green-fingered of our species – went out to consult the expert: writer, broadcaster and Editor of Garden Heaven, Dermot O’Neill. They took a stroll round Johnstown Garden Centre in Co. Kildare, to take a look at some perfect plant presents... Don't forget to get your copy of the RTÉ Guide each week for Dermot O'Neill's gardening column!
vii) Holly (self-fertile) Alaska - click here for details
viii) Water holding Christmas Tree Stand - click here for details
We’re taking a break over the festive period and will be back on Sunday, January 7th 2018. But don’t forget to tune in with the little ones at 1.45pm on Christmas Eve for our Santa Special. If you would like to contact Santa - or even be in with a chance of talking to him - then send your letter to email@example.com or Santa, c/o RTÉ Radio Centre, Donnybrook, Dublin 4.
From all the team tonight, Derek Mooney, Richard Collins, Eanna ni Lamhna, Terry Flanagan, Niall Hatch, Ken Whelan, Dermot O’Neill – and indeed from all the Mooney Goes Wild production team, Ana Leddy, Sheila O'Callaghan, Sinéad Renshaw, Elaine Carraher, and John Reilly - may we wish all our listeners a very happy and peaceful Christmas!
Mooney Goes Wild - Programme Podcast 17/12/17 - Special - Christmas Gift Special
On Mooney Goes Wild tonight: not sure what to get the nature lover in your life for Christmas? Join Derek, Richard, Ken, Eanna, Terry and Niall for our bumper Christmas gift suggestions programme! www.rte.ie/mooney
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