Andrew Cooper is one of a growing number of scientists for whom the impact of storms on the beaches of our west coast could hold lessons for the wider shores of Europe. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Could half of Earth’s sandy beaches be extinct by the end of the century?

Researchers discovered that crabs demonstrated behaviour ‘consistent with the idea of pain’. Drawing by Michael Viney

Evidence mounts on ‘possibility of pain experience’ in fish and marine crustaceans

‘A spotted flycatcher perched repeatedly on a twig of firethorn directly outside my bedroom window’

Michael Viney: The flycatcher has earned its reputation as one of nature’s ‘amazing’ birds

 Bluefin tuna: an ocean super-predator. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: The bluefins of the east Atlantic spawn in the Mediterranean and migrate to our western waters to feed on mackerel (...)

Can you name this common wildflower of early spring? Find the answer at end of this article

Michael Viney: Ability to identify plants vital, given their importance to food security and climate change

Kelp forest

Michael Viney: We have rich habitats in our reefs and coastal kelp forests for ocean life

Beech tree at Thallabawn: The big boughs fill and lift in a breeze, then sink monumentally, like slow Victorian bellows. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: I remember the first time I hugged our tree and the unprecedented, sensual shock of it

The Gearagh with flowering wild garlic. Illustration: Michael Viney

Strange habitat on the Lee in Co Cork is the last primeval river forest in western Europe

 “Domination of the atmosphere is not a role we ever sought or warranted.” Illustration: Thunderclouds by Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Two new books chart the Irish response to climate change over the years

The wasp: Its search for sweetness at beer gardens, kitchen tables and wine glasses has dulled our respect for it. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney extols the pollination and clear food value of the stinging aculeata

Cranes in courting dance. Illustration: Michael Viney

Return would be a great success for Bord na Móna’s peatland biodiversity measures

Hedgehog: Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Urban sprawl and increased road traffic has contributed to its decline across Europe

Speckled wood butterflies in flying contest. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: In tight spiralling flight they whirred past my nose, then vanished among distant bushes

The affinity of the Irish pine marten’s genetic heritage with the martens of Iberia echoes similar molecular links in badgers and red foxes. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Creature’s hunting of alien grey squirrel makes it agent of conservation

Kingfisher: off the the bank. Illustration: Michael Viney

Dubliners can keep watch for this regal bird on shadier bits of the Liffey and Dodder

A bumblebee buzzes around in the warmth of the polytunnel, concentrating on a bed of overwintered broad beans.

Michael Viney: With 186 biodiversity proposals, the plan seeks more land for pollinators on farms and council properties

Common gulls. Illustration: Michael Viney

Urban gulls must be Ireland’s most hated bird, seen as food thieves and noisy nesters

 Breaching humpback whale. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Celtic Mist, donated by the Haughey family, now serving as a research vessel for conservation body

Potato flowers. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Variability of Irish weather continues to pose late blight risks

A gannet negotiates giant turbines of a coastal windfarm. Illustration: Michael Viney

Gannets and other coastal birds face the cumulative loss of foraging habitat

Why are the runner beans coiling around the Dublin Spire? Given the rush to grow things in the locked-down city this spring, it seemed a nice, symbolic notion. Drawing by Michael Viney

Michael Viney: ‘Within hours it had grown another 8cm or so, curving to tighten its grip’

 Siskins feeding on seeds in alder cones. Picture: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Sometimes, and surprisingly, Irish farmland can produce its own native trees, regenerating dreams of a lost forest

 Bumblebee on flower

Michael Viney: Education in nature from an early age recommended by author

 Mushroom fairy ring. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another life: The mysterious and fascinating mycorrhizal fungi forms an intricate underground network

The French Pantano Romanesco tomato. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: ‘Look in ye drawer before money ye spend’ – good advice when it comes to seeds

Kayaking: the dream of some in fretful lockdown. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Steam issuing from caves must have seemed signs from spirit world

Tuam: ‘That job belonged to Tuam historian Catherine Corless and to the women and surviving children who, in a very changed society, had the strength to speak out.’ Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images.

‘I was perhaps totally misled by the appearance of the convent,’ journalist says

That storms claw at Ireland’s soft shores needs no proving. They have already remodelled the contours of many western bays and dune systems. Image: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Government and its agencies finally taking threats of storms seriously

Thornback Ray: 'We wanted their wings to eat, not the whole heavy fish.' Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Rays were once the standard diet of Dublin’s Ringsend, dubbed ‘Raytown’

Landings of exotic nuts are examined at length in the latest bulletin of the Irish Biogeographical Society. Illustration: Michael Viney

The arrival of sea beans and other Caribbean fruits has been discussed for centuries

Badger and hedgehog. Photograph: David Rice, Co Clare

Michael Viney: People sought out trees, gardens and landscapes, the chance of wildlife large or small

The mid-winter of a good breeding year may find up to 20 million wrens in these islands, some six million of them in Ireland. Drawing: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: This little bird’s adaptability and pioneering spirit has created about 50 distinct races in different habitats wor(...)

Closely related to amoebae, slime moulds develop a giant cell with multiple nuclei, called the plasmodium. Drawing: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Ireland has 228 myxomycete species, 142 of them are in Co Wicklow

Trout and freshwater pearl mussels

Michael Viney: State’s star conservation invertebrate is the freshwater pearl mussel

Badger deaths total 1,990 to date, heaviest on the Dublin commuter belt in Leinster, and in Co Clare and west Cork. Drawing: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Toll of human traffic casualties is dismaying enough, but annual toll on wildlife is also extraordinary

 Blackface make the most of rough upland herbage, with a coarse thatch of fleece that’s proof against wind and rain. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: Plans to ‘enhance’ breed for a sustainable role on western farmlands

Ireland’s original ‘Scots’ pines were thought to have become extinct about AD 400. The variety above at Doolough, Co Mayo. Painting by Michael Viney

Recalling ‘a loved one’ has found a place in the urge to plant for sound ecological good

Preparing eels caught in Lough Neagh. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Michael Viney: Brexit and power stations are threats to Irish population hit by major decline

Wild Nephin. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney visits Nephin with Sean Lysaght, Connemara with Eamon Grennan

Mousetail Fern. Illustration: Michael Vinety

Co Kerry is notable for exotic species escaped into the wild from ‘big house gardens’

Coastal lake in Connemara. Illustration: Michael Viney

The Hidden Lakes of Connemara offers ‘a tribute to a fascinating landscape’

White blackbird. Illustration: Michael Viney

Blackbirds topped the list of a British ‘abnormal plumage’ survey, at over 40%

Just as dandelions close when raindrops fall, Dara McAnulty says, the bullying at school made him close himself off

Another Life: Young author and his family live as ‘close as otters’ at the foot of the Mourne Mountains

Mola mola: a near-circular disc of a fish with a rather small mouth, the sunfish swims mostly vertically. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Mola mola, with its appetite for jellyfish, are in warmer Irish waters

 Sika like to tear the bark from  young conifers. Illustration: Michael Viney

Climate change has ‘greatly enabled’ a national surge in the range of deer

An elm tree. Drawing: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Despite the threat of disease, Ireland’s living elms can still surprise

Even the robust oystercatcher had fallen from 109 pairs to 34 on the Inishkeas.

Michael Viney: A new survey brings arresting confirmations of decline

Janthina. Illustration: Michael Viney

The by-the-wind sailor’s sworn foe, the violet sea snail, floats upside-down alongside it

 Great Skua: Illustration Michael Viney

Michael Viney: North Atlantic’s top predator now shares island with 13 other species

A tree planted closer to the house grew into a strong-muscled, shapely candelabra, beautiful in every season. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: The wayside ashes of the west stand as defiantly healthy emblems of their kind

Winged ants emerging for take-off. Illustration: Michael Viney

Individual ants are certainly not smart, but their group wisdom may exceed our own

Gannet with fish: Anyone who has watched the birds plunging vertically from the sky to seize mackerel deep beneath the surface must marvel at their anatomy. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Irish numbers have more than doubled since the counts of Operation Seafarer in 1970

Fox with prey: The urban adult is “thin and exhausted” from finding and ferrying food to its cubs. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: A predator denning in parks, gardens and wasteland gets mixed responses

Choughs. Illustration: Michael Viney

A beefed-up, independent National Parks and Wildlife Service would be just the ticket

Cocksfoot grass: their hint of purple strong against the light in a sunny meadow

Michael Viney: Wild grasses have loved the mood swings of our climate this year

Puffins visit land only to breed, nesting in burrows and crevices. Illustration by Michael Viney

Another Life: As one of many of the world’s declining seabirds, puffins are now receiving much more necessary and serious attentio(...)

Alice C Tyler presenting the first Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement in 1974

Another Life: A new book on the founders of the Tyler Prize shows their political influence

The spotted flycatcher. Illustration: Michael Viney

Avian science journal Ibis reports ‘great conservation concern’ about the species

Dung beetle. Photograph: iStock.

Another Life: Dairy farmer Bruce Thompson examines impact of worming drug on beetles

 Ridge above Thallabawn.  Illustration: Michael Viney.

Michael Viney: Crumbling hilltop trig pillars’ played key role in the mapping of Ireland

The large and admirable Lumbricus terrestris earthworm, key architect of the structure and fertility of soil.

Antipodean flatworms pose risk to indigenous variety which could have severe knock-on effects

Cuckoo at other bird’s nest: Most cuckoos of both sexes resemble some sort of hawk. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: Some floaters circle territories and sneak the odd ‘extra-pair copulation’

Swinging back the polytunnel door, I wish its leafy occupants a cheery good morning and ask them how they’re doing. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Plant intelligence rests in the ways by which they solve their problems

Goat willow in flower. Illustration: Michael Viney

A Life on Our Planet is a terrifying catalogue of our self-sabotaging transgressions

The narrow entry corridor for grey squirrels at Sutton Cross offered hope for the reds at a crucial balance in their breeding.

Greys carry squirrel-pox virus which is fatal to Ireland’s native reds

House sparrows: their modern decline in most cities of western Europe, in places to virtual extinction, has prompted much research. Illustration: Michael Viney

Another Life: The disappearance of this bird from cities has prompted much research

A Connemara bog. Illustration: Michael Viney

Robinson has followed Mairéad, his wife and collaborator, into the list of Covid-19 fatalities

Supermarkets emptied of eggs, Britons are seeking hens for their back gardens – such a bonanza for the UK’s urban foxes. Illustration: Michael Viney

Will Covid-19 begin a resurgence of the 1970s withdrawal from growth-driven capitalism?

Once a local badger chose to wrench a bunch of leaves and stems from a stand of flowering daffodils.

Greater industry involvement required if bovine TB to be eliminated by 2030 target

Ireland had an estimated 223,000 Irish hares in the winter of 2018/19. Picture: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: Camera traps are now used as a regular part of hare monitoring

Fish in seagrass. Illustration: Michael Viney

Marine life with very specific habitat needs threatened in the face of sweeping change

The lizard shares the Burren’s warmth with an alien but locally naturlised reptile, a legless lizard that most resembles a snake. Picture: Michael Viney

Three terrapins as pets seems a bit ambitious considering their needs

Wind-blown sheep. Illustration: Michael Viney

The list of causes of damage is long, making it hard to know where to start

Grey seals tend to eat fish whole. Illustration: Michael Viney

Few, if any, of Ireland’s mammals have evolved the ability to eat venomous creatures

Golden kelp. Illustration: Michael Viney

Golden kelp is notably bare of other sea life, so there are concerns over its possible impact

Lesser celandines. Credit: Michael Viney

Long-term objective is to see how wildflowers are responding to changes in weather patterns and climate

The skylark is among the species that has been attracted to Feargal Ó Cuinneagáin’s meadows of richly mixed native herbs and wild flower. Drawing by Michael Viney

Time to restore meadows once full of insects and nectar in summer and spires of seeds in winter

Dark Hedges of Stranocum, Co Antrim by Michael Viney

A new report shows no let-up in the loss of wildlife in Northern Ireland

Corncrake: important place in literature has romanticised  the bird

Corncrakes get major EU funding despite being of ‘least concern’ on Red List criteria

The shiny black backs that came curving along the waves behind me were those of bottlenose dolphins, out for their own kind of fun. Picture: Michael Viney

As top marine predators, dolphins accumulate the most man-made toxic pollutants

“Without warmth released from the Gulf Stream in the north Atlantic, our winters could be about 5 degrees C colder and the storms could get even fiercer.”

Global warming presents potentially damaging cascades of impacts, new study finds

Question 20: Which alien mammal climbs trees in rural Cork?

Fifty brain teasers on all things natural from sealife to flora and what tofu is made of

‘In my bicycling years, I once took a few weeks to trundle right around Ireland.’

Local communities challenged to make the best of what is a dense weave of waysides

Most of Ireland’s uplands are farmlands and wetlands with “high natural value”.

Study says hill farmers should supplement income by developing recreational activities

If an island is lucky there’s a flock of choughs, the red-billed crows of Ireland’s western seaboard. Illustration: Michael Viney

Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax (so good they named it twice) is one of the rarer birds of western Europe

The otter, Lutra lutra, is now the symbolic animal used by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Illustration: Michael Viney

Mammologists at University College Cork are leading an extensive study of the urban otter

The innocence of early writing about Irish nature gave way to centuries of dramatic change, from druidic worship of the ancient forest to modern, ecological passion and alarm. Picture: Michael Viney

Woven Shades of Green is a ‘a generous treasury of Irish nature poetry and prose’

Rarest of all the Dooaghtry snails is the sand-bowl amber snail or Quickella arenaria

A soft day in late spring finds them copulating everywhere in the dunes

Not until the spread of light bulbs 150 years ago did bright light seriously disrupt the boundaries of night and day. Illustration: Michael Viney

Michael Viney: The nocturnal dazzle of the western world is upsetting the natural order

Robin in the polytunnel. Illustration: Michael Viney

The feeding of so many different species of birds has become ecologically important

A dearg-a-daol. Drawing by Michael Viney

The beetle’s reputation comes from both folklore and its threatening posture

‘With Lorenzo at full tilt or not, its kind seems sure to proliferate as a warming Atlantic draws hurricanes north.’ Picture: Michael Viney

Before double glazing we watched gusts bowing the windows - now we get out candles and Scrabble and enjoy what’s left of the wine

Clare Island cliffs. Illustration: Michael Viney

Clare Island’s increasingly rainy climate offers special rewards to scientific fieldwork

Viney drawing for September 28 - wasp on windfall apple. Illustration: Michael Viney

We may not like then as much as bees, but without wasps, we could be ‘overrun with spiders’

Rare moss at the Allihies mine in west Cork. Illustration: Michael Viney

Digging below the surface of our 58 habitats, it’s clear some are thriving better than others

Cep or penny bun, Boletus edulis. Illustration: Michael Viney

There are old mushroom hunters and bold mushroom hunters but no old, bold ones

 Swan lake – where the gossamer gleamed.

Certain species can use gossamer threads and planet’s electrical field to take flight

 Scoter sea ducks. Illustration: Michael Viney

Latest survey of almost 700 key wetlands offers fascinating insights into the changing world of migrant wildfowl and shorebirds

A honeybee at hollyhock. Photograph: Michael Viney

A swarm of bees is remarkably docile – it’s focused on the queen and not rushing to sting anyone

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