I thought this creature was a piece of plastic, what is it? Readers’ nature queries

Ethna Viney on fossilised plants, peacock butterflies and long-eared bats

A Portuguese man o’ war in Waterford.

A Portuguese man o’ war in Waterford.

 

I discovered a peacock butterfly with wings folded sheltering behind a bucket and wondered if it was going into hibernation. I need to move the bucket; where would be the best place to put it? – Maryll McCarthy, Carrigrohane, Co Cork

Peacocks generally hibernate in walls or wood piles or in outhouses.

A sparrowhawk in Dublin.
A sparrowhawk in Dublin.

I witnessed this amazing sight of a sparrowhawk feeding on a pigeon in our back garden. We were mesmerised watching her strip the pigeon for more than half an hour. – Michael Flanagan, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14

Sunflower bulbs in Dublin.
Sunflower bulbs in Dublin.

We had a few errant sunflowers over the summer. An extremely tall sunflower that we thought failed to flower turned out to have tubers attached. Are they Jerusalem artichokes? We have never planted these. – Kate Hogan, Stilllorgan, Co Dublin

It’s hardly a Jerusalem artichoke if you didn’t have any. Perennial sunflowers grow tubers.

A brown long-eared bat in Meath.
A brown long-eared bat in Meath.

Could you tell me the name of this bat? My niece found it at her house in Sligo. – Barbara Coughlan, Athboy, Co Meath.

The brown long-eared bat is widespread in this country.

A Portuguese man o’ war in Waterford.
A Portuguese man o’ war in Waterford.

I found this creature washed up on the beach in Tramore and, at first, thought it was a piece of colourful plastic. – Gabi Zagnoj, Tramore, Co Waterford

It was a Portuguese man o’ war, a hydrozoan composed of many individuals with different functions. They are commonly referred to as jellyfish.

A fossil in Clare.
A fossil in Clare.

We picked up this amazing stone on Fanore beach in Co Clare. I think it is a fossil of Fucus Vesiculosus. I am a geography teacher and my second years want to establish whether it is a fossil. It would seem that the plant has become petrified like marble embedded within the limestone. – Carol Flynn, Co Clare

It is a fossil and certainly looks like a plant.

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

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