What is this big spider in our shed? Readers’ nature queries

Ethna Viney on once plentiful mussels, and a Portuguese dogfish washed up in Dingle

My husband found this spider in the shed and we wondered what it was. – Sharon Ní Loideáin, Galway city The giant house spider was in Eye on Nature recently but I’ve had so many emails to identify it, so here it is again.

Aoife Curran (9) found this mussel in an old tail race beside the river Bann in Banbridge. Is it a freshwater mussel? I heard they were common around Banbridge 50 or 60 years ago. – Ciaran Smylie, Banbridge, Co Down Freshwater mussels were plentiful near Banbridge at one time. They are still found in three other rivers in Northern Ireland.

I was walking Dingle Bay when the tide was out and my dog stumbled on this 3-4ft-long shark. I was hoping you might be able to identify it. – Stephen O'Sullivan, Dingle, Co Kerry It's a Portuguese dogfish. Retired fisheries officer Kevin Flannery says it was probably dumped from a Spanish trawler into the bay. It's a commercially valuable fish as well as a threatened species.

I saw this colourful bird on Pigeon House Road, Dublin 4. A learned friend reckons it's either an eastern or a western rosella, a native of Australia, that escaped from an aviary. – Brendan Briscoe, Sandymount, Dublin 4 It's the western rosella. The eastern rosella has a yellow belly while the western has a red one.


This dog fox stayed 4m from me while observing collared doves feeding on their daily oats. – Paul Dunne, Lettermore, Co Galway

I took the attached photo in Bushy Park. Two of the birds are obviously mallards but the third one is different. Can you help? – Inez Fletcher, Templeogue, Dublin 6W The odd bird is probably a hybrid female mallard. Male mallards are promiscuous and mate with other duck species.

Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at viney@anu.ie. Include a postal address