Nesting gulls, raucous magpies, squawking crows and dwindling swallows

Ragweed: one plant can generate up to a billion grains of pollen in a season, travelling hundreds of kilometres on the wind. Illustration: Michael Viney

Ragweed, the bane of hay-fever victims, causes half the summer attacks of asthma. It also invades ploughed fields, waysides and (...)

Diving beetles, a dead swift, and bug eggs

True colours: birds hide to finish changing their plumage. Illustration: Michael Viney

Summer is a time of coming and going, of great change, of moulting and preparation

Secretive otters, curious pine martens and disappearing goldfinches

Carbon footprint: Ireland’s herd size is set to grow. Illustration: Michael Viney

Methane from cows makes up more than half of the greenhouse gases arising from milk production. With Ireland’s dairy herd set to g(...)

Boarfish: “a special gift from a warming ocean”. Illustration: Michael Viney

A dramatic explosion in the numbers of boarfish in Irish waters has turned a minor nuisance into a staple catch

Turkey oaks, capercaillies and a motherly wren

Otters, St Mark’s flies and robins

Corncrake calling: without the EU standing watch, would we really have paid farmers to mow their meadows in ways that let corncrakes escape? Illustration: Michael Viney

The European Commission is running a ‘fitness check’ on the EU birds and habitats directives. Scaling back these conservation rul(...)

A cuckoo’s calls, a blackbird’s bravery and a caterpillar that smells like a goat

Territorial: a raven’s skirmishes can be claw to claw. Illustration: Michael Viney

Jays in California are being left eggs dosed with an emetic to discourage them from eating those of a threatened seabird. Could it(...)

Choughs, fox cubs and glowing beetles

Giant deer: as they grew, their antlers grew too. Illustration: Michael Viney

Stephen Jay Gould loved the natural history museum in Dublin, with its gleaming glass cabinets. But a financial crisis has forced (...)

False widows, burrowing bees and a clutch of ducklings

Eager beaver: could the animal’s river engineering help save Ireland’s wild salmon and trout from decline? Illustration: Michael Viney

A project to reintroduce the wild cat to Britain has won support from a public largely out of touch with farming realities. What m(...)

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Warm-water creature: the gooseneck barnacle drifts from the subtropical Atlantic. Illustration: Michael Viney

Gooseneck barnacles, clustered on drift logs, are a beauty to behold

Dandelions: we treat them as weeds, but these golden wild flowers are an important source of food for a vital insect. Illustration: Michael Viney

Without bees we’d lose much of the choice on our supermarket food shelves: 4,000 of Europe’s vegetable varieties exist thanks to p(...)

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Great lake: mayflies’ sudden emergence from the water and nuptial swarmings have signalled the launch of anglers eager to catch trout with imitation mayflies of their own. Illustration: Michael Viney

If mayflies are key signals of the health of our lakes, Ireland’s inland waters are looking increasingly sick

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Pump action: changes in Atlantic circulation could alter the ocean level. Illustration: Michael Viney

A big patch of the Atlantic between Ireland and Newfoundland is perversely cooling down while the rest of the world is warming up (...)

‘Beaming down the bog’: sunrise on Mweelrea, Co Mayo. Illustration: Michael Viney

Biodynamic growers study the lunar cycle before deciding when to sow their seeds

The caddis fly
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Monster catch: Esox lucius has a lithe and muscular beauty. Illustration: Michael Viney

They were blamed for declines in trout stocks when pollution, overfishing and drainage were also taking their toll

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French connection: dormice arrived in Ireland with hay imported by racehorse trainers. Illustration: Michael Viney

Hazel dormice are the most recent in a long line of wildlife species to come to Ireland

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Tourist attraction? Cliffs on the Wild Atlantic Way. Illustration: Michael Viney

There is a broader, deeper concern for the settings we live in than their money-making potential. Just look at Catalonia’s example(...)

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Contrails: the jet streams wrapped around the planet are broad rivers of wind often thousands of kilometres long, shifting between north and south as seasons change. Illustration: Michael Viney

This atmospheric wind powers so much of our cloudscape – and is bringing extreme weather to both sides of the Atlantic Ocean

Delightfully alternative: Carabus problematicus, widespread on Ireland’s mountain heaths and moraines. Illustration: Michael Viney

Beetles are farmers’ friends, a sign of insect diversity and great recyclers of nutrients

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Still frozen: the fjord at Klaegbugt, in Germania Land, in northeastern Greenland. Illustration: Michael Viney

Meltwater lakes are forming beneath ice as global warming accelerates

The stoat: distinctly Irish. Illustration: Michael Viney

DNA evidence indicated array of animals now recognised as distinctly Irish

Goldcrest: unafraid when picked up
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Pea thief: a slippery-sided bucket will foil the wood mouse. Illustration: Michael Viney

I’ve rushed the spring a little, but how good it feels to be surrounded by green again

Heron: enterprising   behaviour
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The vapourer moth
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Genetic heritage: protection of the red deer is a priority. Illustration: Michael Viney

Protection for the genetic heritage of the red deer a priority

What chance an Irish tsunami? Illustration: Michael Viney, with apologies to Hokusai

Some of the biggest tsunamis arose from three underwater landslides at the edge of Norway’s continental shelf, the most recent ab(...)

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Remote corner: swans on  Dooaghtry Lough. Illustration: Michael Viney

We may not think much about their chemistry or aquatic life, but the island’s small lakes contribute powerfully to biodiversity

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Mainly on the plain: happy hares in Spain. Illustration: Michael Viney

Bring a truffle hound around the midlands and you might unearth some of Ireland’s white truffles – fungi that commercial growers u(...)

Early bird: climate change has brought a trent towards earlier nesting. Illustration: Michael Viney

There is strong pressure to change the closed period for hedge-cutting and hill-burning

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Oystercatchers perch above the waves – but how high will the waves come? Illustration: Michael Viney

The final version of GLAS will bring grant applications from some 20,000 farmers

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Two in the bush: mistle thrushes feeding on mistletoe. Illustration: Michael Viney

Mistletoe, druids, myth and magic in Ireland

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Curlews: down to the last 98 breeding pairs. Illustration: Michael Viney

The list of habitats to be protected gets longer, but few are being looked after properly

Illustration: Michael Viney

Herring and black-backed gulls have been drawn by flat roofs, to nest on, and plenty of food, especially takeaways. There can be s(...)

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Seabed creatures: Lough Hyne has them in abundance. Illustration: Michael Viney

It’s 50 years since the films of Jacques Cousteau inspired the first Irish sub-aqua adventurers. Today 80 clubs, all over the coun(...)

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New life?: ancient oaks could be encouraged to spread. Illustration: Michael Viney

Large areas of Ireland’s upland habitats – above the last farmland fence – are being lost or degraded, according to the National P(...)

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Let them prey: a Daubenton’s bat snatches an insect. Illustration: Michael Viney

Mediterranean pipistrelles are moving north and there are signs of change to the number of species in Ireland

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Umbrella species: the mussels shield the future of pretty well everything else alive in our last, relatively clean rivers. Illustration: Michael Viney

Ireland may have as many as 12 million freshwater pearl mussels, a key share of the European population

Wild thing: the Greeks had tales of bottlenose dolphins. Illustration: Michael Viney

Irish Whale and Dolphin Group says even sociable wild dolphins are best left to wild lives

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When doves fly: Ireland’s doves survive in their pure form only on islands strung out from Donegal to Kerry. Illustration: Michael Viney

The arrival on Inishbofin of domestic pigeons – birds that are a result of thousands of years of selective breeding – could have b(...)

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Life, but not as we know it: slime mould is neither fungus nor animal. Illustration: Michael Viney

The way bacteria and viruses interact with Earth’s biochemistry is mesmerising in its scale and intricacy

Illustration: Michael Viney

The first deep study of this hardy creature in Ireland reveals some surprising habits

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Relaxed: the swallows have been taking their time to migrate this year. Illustration: Michael Viney

Research has found that the birds retire between 11 and 35 minutes after sunset. How they find their way to South Africa is less (...)

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Common ground?: new rules have dismayed hill farmers. Illustration: Michael Viney

Hill farmers are at sea with the complex commonage system

Keystone: frogs’ offspring play a key role in the food chain. Illustration: Michael Viney

What good are frogs? Ecologists regard them as keystone and sentinel species, with crucial roles in keeping the rest of us alive (...)

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Tranquil horizon: Inishturk beyond the hedge. Illustration: Michael Viney

As the coast becomes dotted with holiday houses, the sea is becoming dotted with fish farms. The farther away they stay, the bette(...)

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New species: the emperor dragonfly arrived in 2000. Illustration: Michael Viney

Thirty-two species of dragonfly and damselfly have been recorded in Ireland. The process has been a labour of love

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Dinner time: a peregrine with its prey. Illustration: Michael Viney

Half a century after their DDT disaster, peregrine falcons are in full recovery, but they follow somewhat different lifestyles on (...)

Illustration: Michael Viney

Garderners welcome this shy bird’s services in eating bothersome flies and midges, but they’ll struggle to make friends with it

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Pilot whales: a pod of 13 beached in Co Donegal last month. Illustration: Michael Viney

Scientists have found that stray magnetic fields can steer them off course

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Shimmering stone: Carrowniskey beach before storms. Illustration: Michael Viney

There is a wealth of geology on apparently humdrum Irish beaches where beauty and variety can be found in the quartz, jasper and (...)

Swallows: master and mistress of the garden. Illustration: Michael Viney

A beginners’ brood of swallows has emerged from the woodshed

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‘Pantano Romanesco’: gloriously obese and richly flavoured fruits. Illustration: Michael Viney

Try a home-grown version for flavour that pushes months of commercial lookalikes safely out of mind

‘Where the River Shannon Flows’ was a best-seller in 1940. Illustration: Michael Viney

The Wild Atlantic Way offers soothing views of an infinite horizon, while driving very slowly and never checking the mirror

By-the-wind sailors: not true jellyfish at all. Illustration: Michael Viney

As jellyfish and their kin move up the research agenda, their role in the global ecosystem is becoming clearer

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