Eye on Nature: Your notes and queries for Ethna Viney

Glossy ibises, pied wagtails and scaly leg disease

Trim birds: the pied wagtails that Seán Ó Díomasaigh saw

Trim birds: the pied wagtails that Seán Ó Díomasaigh saw


Outside Durrus, in west Cork, at the beginning of the new year I saw four black birds feeding in a waterlogged field. They had long legs and long curved beaks and looked like a type of ibis.

Eoin Warner,  Bantry, Co Cork

-They could well be glossy ibis vagrants from Europe. There are regular reports of them from the south coast.

Are these swallows in silver birch trees in Trim in the photograph that I’m sending you?

Seán Ó Díomasaigh, Trim, Co Meath

They are a flock of pied wagtails. Pied wagtails used to roost at night in the old trees on O’Connell Street in Dublin before the refurbishment.

The feet and legs of a jackdaw in my garden are light grey and look flaky. The bird is having some trouble walking.

Stephen Donovan, Rathgar, Dublin

The chaffinches and one rook in my garden have scaly leg. It is awful to see them raising their legs in pain. Can I put anything out to help beat it?

Catherine Thorne, Ballina, Co Tipperary

Scaly leg disease is caused by a parasitic mite that gets under the scales on the legs. It can be treated in chickens and caged birds, but there is little you can do for wild birds, as it is not practical to catch them.

In a variegated holly tree is a pigeon’s nest full of holly berries, some partially eaten. Red squirrels are very rare in the garden, jays less rare.

Fergus Appleby, Bandon, Co Cork

Jays do store food, but other members of the crow family also do so, and more usually, but not always, in the ground.

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