Richard Collins

A big year for the big cat

THE YEAR of the Goat began on Thursday.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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Bird slaughter may be banned in Malta

I had resolved never to visit Malta.

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Large carnivores thrive in Europe

EUROPE has only four big meat-eating mammals. 

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Behaviour that’s just starling

It’s starling ‘murmuration’ time again. 

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Magnetic fields guide birds

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

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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.

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Female minds outperform those of males ... among garden birds at least.

Girls gain higher marks than boys in the Leaving Certificate exams. Women are better at ‘multi-tasking’, and their intuitive faculties, it’s claimed, are superior to men’s. When it comes to ‘spatial ability’, however, males are judged the better performers.

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Leopards encountering a spot of bother

A cat among the dogs: leopard diet in a human-dominated landscape is the intriguing title of an article published in September by Vidya Athreya, an ecologist with the Centre for Wildlife Studies in Bangalore. 

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The adventures of our swans

According to tradition Richard Lionheart, returning from a crusade, brought the first mute swans to England. Later, the Normans took them to Ireland.

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Sacrificed on the altar of ignorance

Rhinos are in the news and for all the wrong reasons. Suni, a northern white rhino, was found dead at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya on October 17. 

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Do dolphins have a built-in GPS?

FUNGIE, Dingle’s resident bottle-nosed dolphin, is Ireland’s most famous wild creature. 

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Birds vary in response to stress

A NOTABLE centenary passed almost unnoticed this autumn; in August 1914, the Endurance set sail for Antarctica. 

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Zoos and the horrors of war

According to press reports, two traumatised lions have been moved from Gaza to a new home in Jordan. Let me apologise in advance for dwelling on the plight of animals when more than 1,200 people, including hundreds of innocent children, were killed in the 50-day onslaught on that beleaguered enclave.

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Sharks’ short shrift in life aquatic

I WENT ‘cage-diving’ with great white sharks off South Africa’s Dyer Island last month. The giant fish are lured to the boat by a smelly concoction of offal and the head of a large tuna, suspended from a line in the water.

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Home birds baulk at sprint finish

SWALLOWS are still around but most southern migrants have left our shores by now. The wheatears from Iceland, Greenland and Canada, now passing through Ireland on their way to Africa, are ‘the last of the summer wine’.

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