Is this an octopus or a squid and is it unusual? Readers’ nature queries

Ethna Viney on the lesser octopus, great spider crab, blackcap and yellow brain fungus

I saw this squid or octopus on Cahore beach in Wexford. Is this species unusual on an Irish beach? – Valerie Duffy, Ballygarret, Co Wexford
You saw a lesser (also called curled) octopus ,which are found all around the coast and have been reported from southwest Kerry.

Could you identify this small, red crab, about the size of a female hand, discovered alive in a rock pool on Béal Bán, Ballyferriter, Co Kerry? – Maol Iosa Gough, Blackrock, Co Dublin
It's the great spider crab, which is not the largest of the spiny crabs. It is found all around the coast.

Could you identify this bird for me? He recently arrived in my garden and is very territorial, chasing away the great tits and blue tits. – Neil Vaughan, Foxrock, Dublin
It's a blackcap, very aggressive when they claim a territory.

This recent visitor to the garden was feeding on the frozen ground. I think it may be a jack snipe but I'm not sure. – Conor Johnson, Abbeyside, Waterford
It's a snipe, which has a much longer beak than a jack snipe. It should be feeding in marshy ground but the frost may have sent it into the garden.

We spotted this yellow stuff high up an a tree branch along the Liffey. Is it a mushroom, and is it poisonous or edible? – Lorna Walsh, Lucan, Co Dublin
Yellow brain fungus grows on dead wood. It is eaten in some parts of the world but the taste is regarded as bland.

I found several of these beetles around our cottage near Maumtrasna; what are they? – George Nohilly, Greystones, Co Wicklow
It's a rove beetle, Staphylinus caesareus, the same family as the devil's coach horse or dearg-a-daol.

Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at
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