What is this creature I found in a rock pool? Readers’ nature queries

Ethna Viney on a snowy owl, an otter, fossils and exotic black swans

A sea sponge found in Balbriggan, Co Dublin.

A sea sponge found in Balbriggan, Co Dublin.

 

While out walking I met these three black swans on the Suir Blueway near my home. – Kathleen Ryan, Clonmel, Co Tipperary

There have been several reports of these exotic visitors to the Suir near Clonmel.
Black swans spotted in Co Tipperary. 

There have been several reports of these exotic visitors to the Suir near Clonmel.

This fieldfare chases away the others, displaying the same habits as the blackbirds and the thrushes.
This fieldfare chases away the others, displaying the same habits as the blackbirds and the thrushes.

I first saw this fieldfare feeding on the crab apple tree outside my kitchen window and it’s now a daily visitor. It chases away the other fieldfares, displaying the same habits as the blackbirds and the thrushes. – Marian Carty, Drunshambo, Co Leitrim

A nice specimen of a colonial coral fossil from the Carboniferous limestone.
A nice specimen of a colonial coral fossil from the Carboniferous limestone.

The fossil featured on November 21st, sent by a reader in Co Clare, is a nice specimen of a colonial coral, from the carboniferous limestone. The branches of the colony are indeed like the branches of a plant. – Gillian Sheehan, Co Limerick

A snowy owl spotted near the summit of Tully Mountain, Co Galway.
A snowy owl spotted near the summit of Tully Mountain, Co Galway.

A friend and I were walking on Letter Hill, Tully Mountain, Co Galway, when we surprised, what we believe, was a juvenile snowy owl sheltering near the summit. It seemed to have about a 3ft wingspan, about half the size of an adult male. – Tim Redfern, Letterfrack, Co Galway

A sea sponge found in Balbriggan, Co Dublin.
A sea sponge found in Balbriggan, Co Dublin.

My son and I found this creature in a rock pool. Despite many years of coastal exploration, we have never come across something like this and would love to know what it is. – Edel O’Dea Kenny, Balbriggan, Co Dublin
It’s a sea sponge, probably the sulphur sponge also called the sea orange.

An otter spotted in Co Limerick.
An otter spotted in Co Limerick.

I was about to photograph a river Shannon scene when this guy popped up right beside me. I’m sure you’ll be able to identify it. My daughter tells me it’s an otter. – Fred Jones, Loughill, Co Limerick
Your daughter is right.

Every morning around dawn hundreds of rooks fly over our house from a woodland about two miles away, heading towards the coast. In the evening as darkness falls they head back again. Why do they do this? – Diana Duffy, Coolgreany, Co Wexford
They are moving from their roost to feeding grounds.

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

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