Eye on Nature

Your notes and queries

In the week before Christmas, a flock of eight plump blackbirds sat quietly in the tree overlooking our bird feeders. On my travels down the M4 to Navan, a big brown buzzard broods on a gatepost by the carriageway. Recently he was joined by a white bird with black wing-tip feathers which I discovered was a hen harrier.

Damien Maguire, Maynooth, Co Kildare.

You must have missed the partridge in a pear tree.

Every winter a flock of 50 to 60 curlews graze in the cricket field of Wesley College, Ballinteer. When I’m around they wheel away to a rugby pitch about 400 yards away and return when the coast is clear. They frequently take off for five minutes for what appears to be fun, and circle the field like kids on a go-cart track.

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Mike Halliday, Dundrum, Dublin 16.

They are winter visitors from Scotland, northern England and Scandinavia.

On December 12th I found a huge bee collecting nectar on a hebe bush in my garden. It must be unusual for a bee to be still active in mid December.

Gerry McDonald, Balbriggan, Co Dublin.

It was a queen bumble bee, Bombus terrestris, emerging prematurely from hibernation.

Michael Viney welcomes observations at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo. Email: viney@anu.ie. Include a postal address.

Michael Viney

Michael Viney

Michael Viney is an Irish Times contributor, broadcaster, film-maker and natural-history author