Eye on Nature: Your notes and queries for Ethna Viney

Mute swans, peregrine falcons, birds’ nests and birch sawfly caterpillars

 

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?
Pat Good
Clonsilla, Dublin

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.
Deirdre Owens
Clontarf, Dublin

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?
Brigid Murtagh
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.
Paul Butler
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 viney@anu.ie. Please include a postal address

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.