What’s this animal washed up in Dublin Bay? Readers’ nature queries

Eye on Nature: Ethna Viney on a harbour porpoise, a melanistic fox and a growing flock of yellowhammers

 

This animal was seen on Booterstown strand on April 23rd. – James Montgomery, Blackrock, Co Dublin

It is a harbour porpoise, the cetacean most frequently washed up on our shores.

This handsome fox, with black legs and coat dusted with black, crosses my garden every day. – Catherine McGarry, Templeogue, Dublin

This is a melanistic fox, sometimes called a cross fox because the black hair pigment runs across the shoulders and down the back in the form of a cross. Melanism is a recessive trait that allows for greater expression of the dark pigment melanin in the animal’s coat. Black foxes are fairly rare.

I photographed this stick insect on the shoreline and wondered what type it was. – Nick Burridge, Sneem, Co Kerry

It is the nymph of the unarmed stick insect, Acanthoxyla inermis, which is now the species found in Kerry.

I discovered this little dormouse in a neighbour’s shed. It had no fear of me, unlike our native mouse. – Eoin Roddy, Hollywood, Co Wicklow

We now have a flock of at least 20 yellowhammers on the farm where we store grain. It started with just a pair five or six years ago. – Carmel Coleman, north Cork

Walking on Dollymount strand with my friends we saw these guys, about a foot long, scattered along the sand. What are they? – Ann O’Sullivan, Clontarf, Dublin

Commonly called mermaid’s purses, they are the egg cases of one of the rays, from the large size, probably the blonde ray.

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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