Eye on Nature: Your notes and queries for Ethna Viney
Mute swans, peregrine falcons, birds’ nests and birch sawfly caterpillars
Eyes on nature: the birch-sawfly caterpillars in Paul Butler’s garden
Eyes on nature: the nest that Brigid Murtagh’s friend found on her lawn
I walk along the Royal Canal most days, and lately I was shocked to see a dead adult mute swan with its neck missing. The bank was full of feathers, and the body was in the water. Later I spotted an otter very close to where the swan met its fate. Would the attack have happened at night, and would the otter be the culprit?
The culprit could well have been an otter or a mink. And the attack most probably happened at night.
This year I left food out for the large group of wood-pigeon fledglings in my garden. Last month the sight nearly left my eyes when I looked out and saw the garden littered with feathers. Smack in the middle was a peregrine falcon with her hooked beak and big claws, wearing feather bloomers, pulling bloody innards out of one of the fledglings. The nerve of it.
Can you identify the little nest in my photograph, which a friend found on her lawn recently? Why do you think the brood died in the nest?
Bray, Co Wicklow
Many birds’ nests are similar. The brood would have died from starvation because the parents abandoned the nest or were prevented from returning to it.
I found the group of caterpillars in my photograph eating away on my Himalayan birch. My guess was small tortoiseshell. I moved them to the larger trees.
Stradbally, Co Waterford
They are the larvae of the birch sawfly, which in those numbers can strip a tree very fast. You’d have been better destroying the lot of them if there were not enough birds around to eat them.
Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a postal address