“The view from the top balcony can be sublime.” Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: The cliffs of Ireland are the island’s last wild land, the views enchanting tourists on the Wild Atlantic Way

Upland peat. Illustration: Michael Viney

Drought takes a toll on our peaty peaks – but a follow-up of torrential rain is a landslide risk

Weeping beech: We found a drift of self-sown beech seedlings, a few inches high, and pocketed one for the garden. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: The weeping beech is the largest growing of all hardy weeping trees

For a leatherback turtle, a jellyfish or a plastic bag? Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: In 1989, decades before David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet 11’, I wrote a column for this newspaper on the threat of(...)

The Killarney fern – Trichomanes speciosum – is a filmy fern of finely cut, translucent tracery. Drawing: Michael Viney

Apart from its rarity and ethereal beauty, the botanical fascination of the fern includes a quirk of lifestyle largely peculiar to(...)

Cabbage white: many offspring are hatched by July. Illustration: Michael Viney

The cabbage white butterfly is a multifaceted insect – if only it would keep off my brassicas

A hoverfly at tomato flowers: drawing by Michael  Viney

Stingless, most no bigger than a thumbnail, hoverflies are a largely unsung legion among our insect pollinators

The angel shark has faced quite different threats to leave it ‘critically endangered’. Drawing: Michael Viney

Native to big sandy bays on the west coast it may not survive to breed there any more

For raptors like kestrel (above) and barn owl, the influx of voles and greater white-toothed shrew  offers a change of diet. Illustration: Michael Viney

The hovering kestrel has an ability to track voles on the ground through UV reflections from the urine and faeces the rodents use (...)

Pine marten: the distinctive smell of its scat is often described as like that of Parma violets. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: Michael Viney on the slow return of one of Ireland’s rarest mammals

The lark ascending: the skylark has hoisted countless poets into verse. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: Michael Viney on his awe for a key voice in ‘Dawn Chorus 2018’

Hedgerow blackthorn blossom provide early nectar for pollinating bees. Illustration: Michael Viney

Measuring some 300,000km, their value to biodiversity remains paramount

Bumblebee at broad bean flowers. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Smartphone cameras allow us to get in close, often to a hand’s breadth of the subject

Lophelia pertusa reef. Monitoring changes in reefs is prompting new remote video techniques, like that just pioneered by a science team from UCC. Illustration: Michael Viney

Lophelia pertusa is the great builder of deep-sea reefs, with live coral crests as rich in species as rainforests

Trawler balls at the house at Thallabawn. Illustration: Midhael Viney

Dr Don Cotton has produced a fascinating study of marine debris along the Sligo coast

Field mouse by Michael Viney

Every splurge of energy . . . prompts sitting down for a bit, to contemplate my own, much diminished, kingdom

Curled octopus. Illustration: Michael Viney

Timely publication of ‘Ireland’s Seashore’ (Collins Press, €15) a boon for beachcombers

Snipe: two flew up from the marsh, their long bills numbed from prodding ice at night, to try the softer ground under David Cabot’s window across the lake. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: Michael Viney on tired birds, bitter temperatures and climate chaos

The pygmy shrew: A   York University researcher  was surprised to find that a small sample of our pygmy shrews shared a distinctive genetic lineage with those of Andorra. Drawing: Michael Viney

DNA research has explored the post-glacial sources of Ireland’s mixed bag of mammals

Ancient amber: about one in 1,000 blobs of Cretaceous conifer resin enveloped an insect. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: Michael Viney on a rare find by two young sisters

Pretty penny: our “marine recreation” trips are worth almost €1.7 billion a year. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: Michael Viney on the cash value of Ireland’s coastal ecosystem

Connemara corncrake: Inishbofin, out on my horizon, is now one of the bird’s few strongholds and probably where Richard Murphy first heard its “staunchly nailed iambics”. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: Michael Viney on Richard Murphy’s Connemara life

The deep coral zones designated far offshore were closed to bottom-trawling by the Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Commission. Illustration: Michael Viney

Josepha Madigan appears to be ‘appropriate minister’ to look after our ocean ecosystem

The  brittle star, a  Silurian species new to science,  has been named by international experts for an Irish geologist, Dr Eamon Doyle

Brittle-star belonged to deep-water life of a vanishing ocean 435 million years ago

Coypum: introduced from South America, they are  up to a metre long – including a rat-like tail – and weigh some 9kg. They are rather like small beavers with a flash of bright orange incisors. Illustration: Michael Viney

The problem of aquatic rodents, first brought to Europe for exploitation in the fur trade, has grown along with their numbers

Goldfinches at the feeder. Illustration: Michael Viney

To any naturalist, Homo sapiens is a predator long out of balance with the rest of nature

Irish badgers: the potential of vaccination has only now arrived in hard evidence. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: Michael Viney on a chance for Ireland to catch up with other countries

The Nephins –  a glimpse of wilderness. Illustration: Michael Viney

Ireland’s first experiment in rewilding needs proper funding and greater autonomy

Tideline search: the Shark Trust has been leading a “great egg-case hunt” to locate the nursery grounds of shark, skate and ray species. Illustration: Michael Viney

Jump aboard: digital technology has given amateur science a whole new role

Michael Viney’s Christmas quiz, question 27: what is the name of this flowering alien invader of Irish riverbanks?

Another Life: 40 questions to answer, plus 40 solutions, to see how much you know

World’s largest freshwater fish: left alone to grow for a century or more, sturgeon can near the bulk of the ocean’s basking shark. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: Michael Viney on the unpalatable truth about lumpfish roe

Nostoc: a strange, sometimes repellent, substance. Illustration: Michael Viney

Eye on Nature: A common surface for nostoc is limestone gravel, used throughout Ireland on paths, drives and flat roofs

Water rail illustration by Michael Viney

Our feral American mink now top the list of water-bird predators in reed-bed habitats

When, how and where to launch a boat, or keep it safe from storms, was central to already difficult lives on Ireland’s western coast. Illustration:  Michael Viney

History of the fishery piers of North Clare and Galway sheds intriguing light on bygone era

Biophilia is an inherent human need to affiliate with life and lifelike processes. One could even call it love

Another Life: ‘Laudato Si’ failed to acknowledge human overpopulation as the driver of planetary degradation

Bathed in moisture: A plastic polytunnel in the shelter of trees invites the growth of algae. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: Michael Viney on gastropods and their mucus

Dublin Bay’s mudflats: long-billed waders probe for marine food in sediments enriched over centuries with the city’s human waste. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: Michael Viney’s pick of the wildlife writing and photography of 2017

Illustration: Michael Viney

Ecologists push for a critical mass of cover, extending and merging existing clusters

Illustration: Michael Viney

A website to advise the surfers of the world had proved intriguingly reliable until now

The great-spotted woodpecker. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Declan Murphy’s engaging ‘A Life in the Trees’ the result of painstaking study

The brown hare was first brought to Ireland from Britain for coursing in the mid-19th century. Drawing: Michael Viney

On walls and boundary railings of Lucan’s public park, 54 were counted on one visit in July

Threat of extinction: curlews were on the official Irish list of birds on offer to shooters until 2012. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: Michael Viney on the Irish curlew’s staggering decline

Animal welfare: pigs like edible, chewable, investigable and manipulable diversions. Illustration: Michael Viney

Bored pigs can start biting each other’s tails. It’s not hard to enrich their lives

Wasps seem to follow population cycles of their own. Illustration: Michael Viney

Wasp species common to Ireland are making much trouble for insects and birds in New Zealand

Mweelrea: the first autumn flood in the mountain river snatches at sand on its curve to the waves, mixing old grains with freshly worn ones. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: We are extracting aggregates faster than the planet can replace them

The lion’s mane jellyfish. Illustration by Michael Viney

Michael Viney: the lion’s mane jellyfish has been medically problematic for a century

 Sandhoppers, or tonachán trá: ‘Usually there are a huge crowd of them together, helping each other loyally and stoutly’. Drawing by Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Sandhoppers are the most prolific animals in the ‘splash zone’ above the highest reach of spring tides, and scienti(...)

 What makes the stonewort “starry” are white clusters of tiny bulbils studding its stems like star-shaped earrings. Picture: Michael Viney

Genetic fingerprinting may be needed to trace the stonewort to the reedy channels of East Anglia

Red list: 40 of Ireland’s 244 types of water beetles are at risk. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: We have never known about more species – and the list is growing

Giant squid: The squid, like the octopus, edits thousands of genes, using RNA, to serve an exceptional and complex nervous system. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Everything we know about how nerves work gleaned from squid nerves

Wild yews were part of Ireland’s first forests. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Stephen Galvin’s work established the long-lived yew as a reliable barometer of environmental change

Paper nautilus: a glossy white fan of a shell, so fragile that the sun infused it, gleaming through every tight fold. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson belongs on the same shelf as Charles Darwin

Bracken: a single plant can eventually spread to fill a whole field. Illustration: Michael Viney Bracken: a single plant can eventually spread to fill a whole field – and it is very hard to get rid of. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Is Roundup safe or carcinogenic? What about other herbicides?

How many must die?: a flight of young sparrows. Illustration: Michael Viney

The brilliant CB Moffat anticipated 21st-century avian population dynamics theory

Burnet rose: the low, densely prickled cushions of Rosa pimpinellifolia are easy to name. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Hybridising habits and costume changes boost Ireland’s ‘Rosa’ roster

Seakale is reduced to ‘probably no more than 20 wild plants’ that ought to be left alone. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: New survey finds just 27 sites that fit the EU prescription for perennially vegetated shingle, almost all within spe(...)

Doo Lough Pass. Illustration: Michael Viney

The lack of such a map is to the detriment of good planning and landscape policy

Yellow irises. Illustration: Michael Viney

There was an innocent time when one could just have thanked the sun, but that’s gone

Illustration: Michael Viney

The native oyster’s history tells both of a great loss from the coast’s ecosystem

Illustration: Michael Viney

The sight of sheep at a hedge got me thinking about animal curiosity

Dogs miss much of the colour we can see. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Michael Viney: You might wonder if any living thing sees Earth’s ‘true’ colours at all

Up in smoke?: stonechats favour nesting in furze. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: A blazing furze bush is a furnace of wildlife

Siskins at alder cones – small, mean and muscular, repelling any other bird daring to come near.

Another Life: A relative of the goldfinch, the siskin is ‘the most joyous of birds’

Beech trees on the Dark Hedges Road in Co Antrim, by Michael Viney for Weekend Review

‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ reveals a totally new insight and empathy towards trees

Decline in hill farming: only 8,500 commonage farmers have sheep, and only 6,000 of these have mountain breeds. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Ecologists would leave them to nature. Teagasc and the EU prefer farming

Irish lakes are home to rare plants and fauna that few nonsnorkelers will ever see. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Rare plants and fauna are a feature of Ireland’s hard-water lakes

Little egrets have colonised Ireland, wading in estuaries, marshes and coastal lagoons in almost every county. Drawing: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: It’s 20 years exactly since Egretta garzetta began breeding in Ireland

‘Invasive alien species’: In at least 10 counties wild boar are to be shot on sight. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney on Pádraic Fogarty’s ‘Whittled Away: Ireland’s Vanishing Nature’

Sea lettuce is nourished from the estuaries by decades of run-off from intensive dairy farming and nutrients from human sewage. Illustratration: Michael Viney

Sea lettuce is a serious problem for tourism, aquaculture and seaside communities

Mayo has more than 12,000km  of hedges, one-fifth of them along roads. Illustration: Michael Viney

Unnecessary changes to regulation could only have a negative impact on biodiversity

Potato blossom: I started planting in February, for even earlier great-flavoured spuds that we can eat in their skins. Illustration: Michael Viney

Most potatoes need up to 15 fungicide treatments. Could mapping their genome end blight?

Thornback ray. Cartilaginous species account for more than half the European list. Illustration: Michael Viney

Having survived in our seas for 420 million years, some species are now critically endangered

Violet sea snail: Janthina janthina makes a raft of bubbles by trapping air in a film of mucus that hardens into something like cellophane. Illustration: Michael Viney

Edward Lear couldn’t have dreamt up the ingenuity of the drifting predator ‘Janthina’

Mayo shipwreck: the twisted timbers after storms exposed them at Thallabawn in 1983. Painting: Michael Viney

Our columnist has been observing the local wreck for 40 years. Could it really be a medieval relic?

Severe damage to the stocks of sea trout in some Connacht rivers sparked the current research into the fish.

New research shows sea trout have more lice the closer they swim to salmon farms

Scots pines at Doolough, Co Mayo. Illustration: Michael Viney

The theory that this lofty Irish conifer became extinct has now been disproved

Do blackbirds find the modern city stressful?  Illustration: Michael Viney

How urban blackbirds differ from their country cousins

New arrival: the hazel dormouse came to Ireland recently, perhaps in French hay. Illustration: Michael Viney

From dormouse to whale, Ireland’s small but unique mammal community is doing well

Constructed wetlands promise relief from gathering floods and pollution of our waterways

A ferret imported from England cost 30 shillings. It needed muzzling when put down the  rabbit burrow or it would stay below to gnaw on its prey and then go to sleep. Illustration: Michael Viney

Author Michael Conry puts pre-myxo rabbit numbers at 40m, with half killed annually

My old dad  left me his restless work ethic, along with a dodgy heart. Armed with both, I’ve been sorting the seeds for another year in the polytunnel

I would like to hang around to see final episodes of US’s bizarre rush into trumpery

Perfect  purple: the greater butterwort wildflower of Kerry. Illustration: Michael Viney

A chronicle of Irish plants prompts reflection on grand floral designs not attempted

A storm petrel at sea by Michael Viney

BirdWatch Ireland says impact of fisheries on seabirds is thousands killed as bycatch

Ecosystem engineers: ants   can alter the properties of soil. Illustration: Michael Viney

No organism is more important than the ant to the complex ecology of our soil

Passion for trees: autumnal colours in Co Mayo. Illustration: Michael Viney

With the sycamore taking over, it is time to get less random about what trees we plant

Long-distance swimmer: one Irish eel covered 6,900km in 10 months. Illustration: Michael Viney

We used to think that eels sped to meet up in the Sargasso Sea for a single, springtime orgy, but it seems some are quite happy to(...)

The freshwater pearl mussel, which has been singled out for special threat of extinction. Illustration: Michael Viney

Environmental Protection Agency’s latest report makes for a very sobering read

In the 1980s there were about 5,000 breeding pairs of curlew in the Republic; today, surveys have found fewer than 150 pairs.

Decimation of nesting bird populations has prompted measures to protect habitats

Mweelrea: waiting at the top of the bog road for half my lifetime. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: The €40,000 judgment for a woman who fell on the Wicklow Way, a strenuous hillwalking route, might trouble anyone wi(...)

This summer has demonstrated, once again, the very different regimes of weather in Britain and Ireland

Autumn in these islands is becoming a blurred and hesitant season, unmarked by anything so distinct as ‘the fall’

‘No helpless bit of flotsam’: a Portuguese man-of-war. Illustration: Michael Viney

The venomous ‘jellyfish’ on European coastlines are not the passive drifters they seem

Favoured food: A linnet at thistledown. Illustration: Michael Viney

The prickly problem of thistle removal can result in a sore wrist . . . and much muttering

Peak arrival: flocks of geese arrive from the Arctic in October. Illustration: Michael Viney

‘Anser albifrons flavirostris’, or the ‘bog goose’, long a traditional quarry of Ireland’s rural hunters, is now Europe’s rarest g(...)

Direction home: some seabirds use smell to  guide them. Illustration: Michael Viney

Maps for seabirds, rain for grass and some shade for Earth: the many gifts of DMS

Gale force: the wind carries scores of insects and spores. Illustration: Michael Viney

Their gossamer allows spiders to go ballooning, sometimes taking off in their millions

Sensitive: choughs, the red-billed crows of the coast. Illustration: Michael Viney

A reader’s report made me uneasy: choughs are deliciously wilful and wild; shall we see them tamed into pigeons by the Wild Atlant(...)

Virtual reality: a beanstalk twining up the Millennium Spire. Illustration: Michael Viney

The digitisation of human life suggests at least a psychic transformation of the species

Tallamh Bán: around a high bend on the Wild Atlantic Way. Illustration: Michael Viney

The US presidential candidates hopes a €9m wall will save his golf links in Co Clare. But nature might be more powerful than that

Urbanite: Vulpes vulpes has moved into towns. Illustration: Michael Viney

Dogs are catching ‘lungworm’ from molluscs infected with the potentially fatal Angiostrongylus vasorum. So many Irish foxes are in(...)

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