Eye on Nature: Eithna Viney answers your notes and queries

Chiffchaff, red squirrel, sparrowhawk, wagtails and porcelain fungus

 

I took this photograph of a sparrowhawk with her kill (a pigeon) outside my house. While I was taking the photograph she flew towards me with the prey in her grasp and then flew away.

Fiona O’Connor (12), Baldoyle, Dublin, 5

I watched a chiffchaff flitting among the briars by the Yacht Club in Howth frantically searching for underleaf mites, eggs, etc. She is either overwintering or very slow about leaving.

Francis Devine, Howth, Dublin 13

Some chiffchaffs remain throughout the year along the south and east coasts in mild winters.

On the Bray bypass I fleetingly observed a “hawk” hovering about 1m over the ground under a streetlight. Considering the small size and hovering behaviour, an ornithologist friend thinks it was probably a kestrel,

Declan Quigley, Wicklow

I have a nest box in a creeper which contains a nest, and there is another nest built on top of the box. Wagtails are seen going into the creeper but it was impossible to see whether both nests were being used or the same birds moving up a storey. Should the nest box be cleaned out now or left alone?

Janet Harvey, Liscarney, Co Mayo

Yes, the nest box should be cleaned out ready for next year.

In October these toadstools were growing in profusion on a fallen tree in the Phoenix Park.

Kevin Smith, Dublin

If the fallen tree was a beech, then they are likely poached egg/porcelain fungus.

I spotted my first ever red squirrel on the Border between Fermanagh and Donegal. He was relishing the winter sunshine.

Emer O Shea, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal

Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at viney@anu.ie. Include a postal address.

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