Richard Collins

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.


Forget the urban fox - rabbits are now moving into the city

THE Twentieth Century fox moved to the city and is prospering. Now the 21st Century rabbit is following suit. 

The mountain chickadee stashes away food, when it's plentiful, for later consumption.

Mountain birds on higher alert

Birds living high in the mountains are better problem solvers and have more reliable memories than ones living lower down, according to research just published, writes Richard Collins.

An excavator digs around a skull of an Ice Age dire wolf as she works in Los Angeles in 2009.

Were wolves man’s best friend?

Did our ancestors exterminate their Neanderthal cousins and, if they did, were they acting alone? 

A cormorant drying its wings on an Irish beach in the afternoon sunshine. Some 40% of the world's shags breed along the coasts of Britain and Ireland.Picture: Denis Minihane

No need for a cull of cormorants

THERE are too many cormorants on the Columbia River between Washington State and Oregon, say US federal officials. Richard Collins says there's no need for a cull.


A big year for the big cat

THE YEAR of the Goat began on Thursday.

Non-native beavers have been living on the River Otter, in Devon in the UK for the past five years and conservationists must decide whether or not to allowthem to remain.

Interloper is beavering away

NATURAL England must decide whether beavers introduced to the River Otter, in Devon, can be allowed to remain. On January 28, it announced a five-year programme of monitoring by the Devon Wildlife Trust.


This goshawk beauty is spreading its wings

At the Irish Raptor Study Group conference in Dublin last weekend, Sarah Hoy of the University of Aberdeen spoke about the goshawk, a bird of increasing interest in Ireland. 


Birds will suffer if hedge-cutting dates are changed

It’s illegal to cut hedges between March 1 and August 31; birds must be allowed to nest in peace. Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, is said to be reviewing these dates.


Bird slaughter may be banned in Malta

I had resolved never to visit Malta.


Large carnivores thrive in Europe

EUROPE has only four big meat-eating mammals. 


Behaviour that’s just starling

It’s starling ‘murmuration’ time again. 


Magnetic fields guide birds

IT has been known for decades that migrating birds use the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate. 


Turtle dove numbers take a dive

THANKS to a verse in a nonsense carol, the turtle dove is a celebrity at this time of year.