Are woodpeckers spreading across Ireland? Readers’ nature queries

Ethna Viney on seals, a common gull, sandstone rock and the common pipistrelle

The woodpecker has become a regular visitor to my garden. Are they spreading into all parts of Ireland? – Gerry Burns, Armagh
Great spotted woodpeckers, previously visitors, first settled in the east of the country about 15 years ago. Since then they have spread more widely.

The damage inflicted by humans on wildlife is evident in these photos of seals at One had a metal ring around its neck with some sort of shroud attached; the other with a rope or twine similarly attached. – Michael Keegan, Mount Merrion, Co Dublin

This unusual bird was at the Coal Harbour, Dún Laoghaire. It was beige colour with webbed feet, was the size of a pigeon and had a perfect camouflage with the rock. – Jasper Brett, Donnybrook, Dublin 4
It is a young common gull.

This photo of a rock with beautiful markings was taken at Spanish Point, Co Clare. – Deirdre Purtill, Shannon, Co Clare
Siobhán Power of the Geological Survey tells me that the sandstone rock was originally formed from a sand dune. The interesting pattern is due to erosion cutting through the layers of sandstone in the dune.


This vixen and hedgehog have been visiting my garden. When they arrive at the same time they are completely indifferent towards each other. – Sonny Jackson, Rochestown, Co Cork

I found my cat playing with this dead baby bat in my garden. It's smaller than a shrew. Can you identify it? – Sheelagh Stewart, Dunfanaghy, Co Donegal
It looks like the common pipistrelle.

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