Eye on Nature

Your notes and queries

I saw a blackbird battering a pygmy shrew as if it were a snail shell. Is this unusual?
Jim Madden
Banagher, Co Offaly

Yes. The RSPB has found only five similar reports in the past 50 years.

I found the colourful pink woolly balls in my photograph attached to dog roses in the Burren. Are they created by gall wasps?
Eckhard Schmidt
Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Yes, by the gall of the bedeguar wasp, Diplolepis rosae. Called the robin's pincushion, it grows on wild roses.


My garden was thronged with blackbirds, sparrows, robins and finches, but they have disappeared save for some marauding magpies. Where have they gone?
John Kavanagh

Birds hide to moult after the breeding season, the adults to replace worn feathers and the young to shed their first feathers.

Eleanor de Eyto and family found the caterpillar of the grey dagger moth on the Greenway in Co Mayo. It had white sides, a dark stripe with red dots down its back and a blunt, black spike on its upper back.

Michael Viney welcomes observations at Thallabawn, Carrowniskey PO, Westport, Co Mayo, or by email at viney@anu.ie. Please include a postal address

Michael Viney

Michael Viney

The late Michael Viney was an Times contributor, broadcaster, film-maker and natural-history author