If shrews are uncommon why do I see so many? Readers’ nature queries

Eye on Nature: Ethna Viney on dragonflies, truffles, crickets and sand dollars

Eyes on nature: one of the shrews that Jack Quinn saw

Eyes on nature: one of the shrews that Jack Quinn saw

 

I have found several shrews, including the one in my photograph, this year while gardening and on walks, and friends say the same. I’ve always believed that they are fairly uncommon.
Jack Quinn
Thomastown, Co Kilkenny

Pygmy shrews are native and common but threatened by the alien white-toothed shrew, which is very local at present.

We spotted a gorgeous yellow- and black-striped dragonfly in a marshy lake area in Rathbeggan, Co Meath. It landed on my palm and was 2-2½in (4-5cm) long.
Clare O’Keeffe
Greystones, Co Wicklow

It might be the golden-ringed dragonfly, which has only been confirmed in this country a couple of times. But it is more likely to be the moorland hawker, which is found in that habitat.

Eyes on nature: the truffle that Charles Carroll found while digging out a tree in his garden
Eyes on nature: the truffle that Charles Carroll found while digging out a tree in his garden

I found the item in my photograph just under the surface while digging out a tree in my garden. I think it is a summer truffle.
Charles Carroll
North Wall, Dublin

It looks like a summer truffle. They are found here, but not many people are looking for them. You can buy a young hazel tree with roots impregnated with truffle fungus.

Eyes on nature: the oak bush cricket that Shane Kenny found in his hall
Eyes on nature: the oak bush cricket that Shane Kenny found in his hall

I found the oak cricket in my picture in my house. I believe it is rare this far north.
Shane Kenny
Donnybrook, Dublin

This oak bush cricket is local in the southern half of Ireland. It has long wings, unlike the southern oak bush cricket, which has very short wings.

Eyes on nature: the sand dollar that Anne Ryan’s nephew found on a beach in California
Eyes on nature: the sand dollar that Anne Ryan’s nephew found on a beach in California

Can you identify the shell that my nephew found on a beach in California? The top surface is slightly raised and curved, and the underside completely flat.
Anne Ryan
Enniscorthy, Co Wexford

It is a sand dollar, which belongs to the same class as the sea urchins and starfish.

Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at viney@anu.ie. Please include a postal address

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