Richard Collins

Decoding DNA a mammoth task

Sixty-six million years after they disappeared from the face of the Earth, the dinosaurs have become animal celebrities; children everywhere are fascinated by them. 

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Youngsters get to view the siamang gibbons at Fota Wildlife Park. Picture:Eddie O'Hare

Gibbons hanging on in Hainan

HAINAN Island, which I visited a few years ago, is a crowded place, writes Richard Collins

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Eastern cougar declared extinct

NO ANIMAL has as many names as the ‘American lion’. According to the Guinness Book of Records, there are over 40.

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Beluga’s summer visit unusual

In December 1948, lighthouse keepers spotted what turned out to be a beluga whale off Clare Island, County Mayo.

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Cutting-edge study to save eels

THE European eel is in trouble. 

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Poignant tale of three bears

A story of three bears, without Goldilocks, is in the news in Canada. It began last month when a female black bear began breaking into a mobile home in Port Hardy, Vancouver Island, to steal meat and fish from a freezer.

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SNAKES ALIVE: A corn snake coils around a branch. Around 50 million years ago, snakes began hunting by day, colder conditions probably forcing them to doso. Around 85% of surviving snake families originated at this time.

Uncoiling secret lives of snakes

According to the Old Testament, a talking serpent led Adam and Eve astray, with dire consequences for us all, writes Richard Collins

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Bison, bison burning bright

I have just fulfilled a lifelong ambition to visit the great forest which stretches from eastern Poland deep into Belarus. The huge expanse of broadleaved and conifer trees, known as Bialowie´za, is now a national park and a Unesco World Heritage site.

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Keeping tabs on our birds

E UROPE, the second smallest of the seven continents, covers seven per cent of the world’s landmass and has about 742m citizens. More than two billion pairs of birds, of some 530 species, nest here.

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Up close with humpback whales

Reports that paddle-boarders encountered a humpback whale off West Cork on June 17 have made east coast dwellers green with envy.

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Ladybirds’survival of the brightest

FEW insects, apart from butterflies, have managed to become celebrities. Ladybirds are a spectacular exception; everybody knows these colourful members of the beetle family.

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Bird beaks grow as climate hots up

Birds’ beaks are getting bigger, according to researchers in Australia.

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Gorillas’ strategy for survival

COMMUNAL living has its advantages; pooling resources benefits everybody.

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Did you know that rats will save a drowning rat?

Everybody hates the humble rat but, according to researchers in Japan, this much maligned creature has a Good Samaritan side. 

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Gannets facing wind farm risks

Wind farms out a sea are probably less harmful to wildlife than land-based ones.

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No rush hour on ant highways

The traffic congestion of Celtic Tiger days is back. During that misguided era, we commandeered huge swathes of countryside and obliterated ancient sites to make way for cars.

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Lynx lobby gains traction in UK

THERE’S a ‘bring back the lynx’ lobby in Britain. Deer numbers in parts of England and Scotland have risen so much that their habitat is being seriously degraded. Excessive grazing is threatening native flora and there’s a new kid on the block; over 40,000 alien muntjac deer are destroying farmers’ crops.

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A gentler breed of cuckoo arrives from Africa

CUCKOOS are arriving from Africa. Pity the poor meadow pipits they will dupe; their clutches destroyed, they will work themselves to the bone raising the enemy’s chicks.

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Common dolphin breaching off Wexford coast will become a more familiar sights as mammals migrate. Picture: George Karbus

Ocean mammals on the move

FISH and birds of Irish coastal waters seem to be moving house, writes Richard Collins.

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Those sweet magnolias blossom

Spring is late this year but at last the magnolias are staging their pink and white displays; the flowers of some species reach a third of metre in diameter.

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The art of war exists in nature

Around 2% of Irish mute swans die in fights. As spring approaches, mature males, known as ‘cobs’, stake out ‘territories’ on ponds, lakes and rivers. Each one keeps rivals at bay so that his ‘pen’, and their cygnets, will have the resources to see them through to autumn.

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The Nathusius pipistrelle bat, a long-distance migrant in mainland Europe whose populations move southwards in autumn and return in spring.

Pipi scoops bat of the year title

BATLIFE Europe has chosen Nathusius’ pipistrelle as ‘Bat of the Year’ for 2015, writes Richard Collins.

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