Richard Collins

Although a mother spends most of the day at sea, she returns every few hours to feed her baby. Youngsters are weaned when four months old and reach maturity after four years.

The return of the monk seal

ONE of world’s rarest mammals, the Mediterranean monk seal, has returned to the Adriatic coast.

The as yet un-named geep (a cross breed of a goat and a sheep) with its mother on Paddy Murphy's farm in Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Breeding between the lines

“When the Son of Man shall come in his glory and all the holy angels with him, he shall separate one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats”— Matthew

Dead German horses on the battlefield during the First World War and, inset, a horse being lowered on to a ship (of the million British horses shipped across the Channel, only 65,000 returned). Pict: Getty Images

Gatling gun a godsend for horses?

Jo Kerrigan’s recent article on War Horse prompted me to go and see the play. The plot concerns a foal named Joey and Albert, the youth who owns and loves him. This story is enriched with multi-media content


Powerlines- like electric fences in the sky

Canals motorways, even minor roads, can divide animal populations and keep them separate from each other.

 The tagging of a great white shark allows scientists to monitor the species' migration habits. The shark's range seems to be greater than previously thought.

Shark’s travel tale stirs up frenzy

ARECENT newspaper headline announced: “As great white shark Lydia closes in on UK, Brits brace for bloody mayhem on holiday beaches.” The “man-eater” with “razor-sharp teeth” will soon arrive here, we were told. She was “on course for Ireland”. This story is enriched with multi-media content

A puffin loaded with sandeel and inset a pair of guillemots, which suffered in this winter's storms.

Puffins hit in seabird ‘wreck’

DID three months of fierce winter storms affect our wildlife? Millions of trees were felled and swathes of farmland inundated.

 We may want to rescue vulnerable cygnets from attack by their fathers because they are 'eating him out of house and home'. Swans' ways are not our ways and we mustn't interfere in their lives.

Are all swans birds of a feather? Afraid not

AT this time of year, swans get involved in fights. Worse still, young swans can be attacked by their fathers.

The white bib of the dipper and its flashing white eyelids, create a camouflage-in-motion which makes it notoriously difficult, even for experienced bird-watchers, to spot.

Birds’ adaptation an eye-opener

JACKDAWS have greyish white eyes. They make it easy to identify the bird — the other crows have dark ones.

The skeletons of two men who lived 7,000 years ago have changed scientific beliefs about the early Europeans and how they looked. These men has black hair and blue eyes, but their skin was dark.Pictures: Courtesy of the BBC

New discoveries are changing what we believe of our ancestors

WE are descended from Africans who first arrived in Europe about 45,000 years ago. The newcomers had to adapt to a colder climate and to prolonged winter darkness. It was thought that they lost their black skin, and several other characteristics, relatively quickly but a skeleton found in a Spanish cave has made scientists think again. This story is enriched with multi-media content

One of the 'papal' doves being attacked by a herring gull.

Avian mythology through the ages

CHILDREN flanking Pope Francis released two doves from the window of the Apostolic Palace in front of an audience of 10,000. Doves symbolise peace; His Holiness pleaded for the violence in Syria to end. The gesture was not peaceful.


Come fly with me in shape of a V

TOUR de France cyclists exploit the slipstreams of their competitors in ‘le peloton’.

A red-necked phalarope from Shetland has confounded everybody by travelling 16,000km on migration. It's not just the distance covered which is astonishing but its destination.

Phalaropes spread their wings

IN May, this column celebrated the extraordinary lifestyle of the red-necked phalarope. After years of research, ornithologists thought they knew almost everything about the strange ways of this little wader but they were wrong. A phalarope from Shetland has confounded everybody by travelling 16,000km on migration. It’s not just the distance covered which is astonishing but the bird’s destination.


Deadly stats on bird mortality

HOW many birds die as a result of human activities each year?

 This camera-trap photo shows a female, (left) and a male Tapirus kabomani in the southern Amazonas State, Brazil. Picture: Mario Cozzuol

Tapir ‘find’ puts science in tangle

IT was thought, until recently, that virtually all of the world’s large animals had been discovered.

A quote by John Muir engraved on the steps of one of the visitor centres at Mount Rainer National Park in Washington State.

Celebrating John Muir - a true mountain man

JOHN Muir, the “father of the National Parks” who “saved the American soul from total surrender to materialism”, died a century ago this year. 2014 will be marked by Muir celebrations in the US and his native Scotland. April 21 has been designated John Muir day.

 Most winter birds are like thrifty shoppers, they visit all the local supermarkets to discover where items are cheapest and like the greenfinches and goldfinches (pictured)return to avail of the best offers.

Bird brain? Far from it, read on

LIFE is tough for songbirds just now.


Polar bears are feeling the heat

FOUR decades on from a watershed international agreement, 2013 was designated the Year of the Polar Bear.


Cheetahs in fight for survival

DEPICTIONS of lions and cheetahs appear in centuries-old Persian carpets; the ‘Chelsea Carpet’ in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is a fine example.

Because of climate change, black-tailed godwits migrate earlier. The birds secure a better breeding territory earlier by taking advantage of milder winters and the bounty of food-rich estuaries on our shores.

Early birds get more than the worm

WITH rising temperatures, courtesy of greenhouse gas emissions, you might expect birds to linger on at migration time, taking an extra ‘sus beag’, before the arduous journey to far-off lands.

 The pike, with its torpedo-shaped enamelled green body, strong tail, huge eyes and a large mouth armed with a fearsome set of teeth make the freshwater fish one of Ireland's most efficient hunters.

Pike may not be invader species

SCIENTISTS from Inland Fisheries Ireland, led by Debbi Pedreschi of UCD, have studied the history of pike in Ireland.


Bonobos and origin of morality

MORALITY is the glue which binds society together. Without each individual’s sense of fair play, empathy and abhorrence of unnecessary violence, we could never co-operate. But when and how did these propensities develop?