Is this a field mouse with a long tail? Readers’ nature queries

Ethna Viney on sparrowhawks, starlings, herons, dogfish, pilot whales and divers

A baby rat

A baby rat

 

I came across this mouse on the roadside. It has a very long tail, longer than its body. It it a field mouse? – Michael Kavanagh, Kilsallaghan, Co Dublin
The size of its feet indicates that it’s a baby rat.

A female sparrowhawk feeding on a pigeon
A female sparrowhawk feeding on a pigeon

I looked out our kitchen window and saw this sparrowhawk feeding on a pigeon. I think it might be a female. – Martin Glynn, Knocklyon, Dublin 16
The female sparrowhawk is bigger than the male and so can take on a pigeon.

In November, a murmuration of starlings flew over the garden. The noise from their wings was tremendous. It always happens in November and is a real sight. There were hundreds of them all flying together. – Vanessa Drew, Ballymoney, Co Down

Some weeks ago I saw 13 herons flying together east to west. I have never seen so many together – usually it’s less than three. – Conor Foley, Kilkenny
Herons often roost together in sizeable numbers, but your flock may have been adults and juveniles from this year’s brood.

A dogfish found on Cushendun beach
A dogfish found on Cushendun beach

This little guy came to an end washed up above the tideline of Cushendun beach. Is it a dogfish? – Frank McGreevy, Cushendun, Co Antrim
Yes, it’s either the lesser or the large spotted dogfish, depending on the size.

A long-finned pilot whale, a member of the dolphin family, found on Thallabawn Beach in Co Mayo
A long-finned pilot whale, a member of the dolphin family, found on Thallabawn Beach in Co Mayo

On December 6th I saw this whale stranded on Thallabawn Beach, Co Mayo. It was 3.5m to 4m long. – Liam Cabot, Westport, Co Mayo
It was a long-finned pilot whale, a member of the dolphin family. Adults measure from 3.8m to 7m long.

A red-throated diver in Howth Harbour
A red-throated diver in Howth Harbour

This red-throated diver in Howth Harbour was very confiding as it meticulously conducted its ablutions. – Francy Devine, Howth, Co Dublin
It was in winter plumage.

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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