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(...)

Impatient with Impatiens glandulifera: Himalayan balsam. Illustration: Michael Viney

The unprecedented spread of misplaced plants and animals, transported through global human activity, feeds growing argument among (...)

Elephant hawkmoth caterpillar: spectacular and fearsome. Illustration Michael Viney

A “red list” of Ireland’s threatened moth species finds about 16 per cent of our 500-odd larger moths warranting concern, with sev(...)

Sunbathing blackbird: enters a trance of voluptuous bliss. Illustration: Michael Viney

A preening blackbird, and concern about UV harm to Arctic wildlife

Insect orgy: a blue tit snatching a fly from alexanders. Illustration: Michael Viney

One study counted 118 insect species visiting hogweed, some for copulation. Such insect orgies are common to many umbellifers

Killers: orcas hunt at the top of the ocean food chain. Illustration: Michael Viney

The orcas that travel between Scotland and Ireland are fish eaters, even following salmon and mullet up the River Lee into Cork ci(...)

Pine marten: devours birds, rats, mice, snails and berries. Illustration: Michael Viney

Examining the droppings of the pine marten tells us much about the animal’s biology and population

Marsh saxifrage: part of the flora of peatland. Illustration: Michael Viney

It’s hard to see the saxifrage as useful in terms of offering food or medicine. But it’s part of the peatland flora that soaks up (...)

Invasive: mink are now too widespread to eradicate from Ireland. Illustration: Michael Viney

Half a century after the first escapes from fur farms, mink are now seen across Ireland

Home brew: making country wine is no more difficult than following any other recipe. Illustration: Michael Viney

Whether elderflower, blackcurrant, rhubarb or gooseberry, country wines livened up our social life in our first decades at Thallab(...)

Zostera: its thin leaves floating in the water like a mermaid’s emerald tresses, perhaps a metre long or more. Illustration: Michael Viney

In times long past, Zostera fringed every sheltered coast on both sides of the North Atlantic

Photo opportunity: Killary Harbour, on the Wild Atlantic Way. Illustration: Michael Viney

‘Ecological clerk of works’ is an unfamiliar job title. But the clerks look after the discovery points on Fáilte Ireland’s coastal(...)

Hoverflies: many are farmer friendly. Illustration: Michael Viney

Episyrphus balteatus is one of many Irish species with bodies striped in black and yellow in hope of protective confusion with the(...)

Dominant presence: ivy’s offence is firstly aesthetic. Illustration: Michael Viney

The debate continues about the pros and cons of our most widespread climbing plant

Wood carpeting bluebells: “Falls of sky-colour.” Illustration: Michael Viney   Falls of sky-colour: wood-carpeting bluebells. Illustration: Michael Viney

The animals’ rooting can keep both plants in check. But its toxin means that too much bracken on its own may not be good for them

Bright eyes: rabbits were brought in for food by Norman settlers. Illustration: Michael Viney

Ireland’s wildlife is a limited and tenuous network, much of it imported, in which the rabbit has an indispensable place

Mistle thrush: first recorded in Ireland in 1808. Illustration: Michael Viney

‘Storm-cock’ is an old, vernacular name for a bird imagined to predict bad weather

Sealed off by a landslide: a cave of ancient bear bones at Chauvet, in France, was shut off by a landslide 30,000 years ago. Illustration: Michael Viney

A bone found in Alice and Gwendoline Cave, in Co Clare, revealed that humans arrived in Ireland 12,000 years ago, a whole 2,500 ye(...)

Carbon sink: forests cover more than 10 per cent of the land in Ireland. Illustration: Michael Viney

For Ireland to have carbon-neutral agriculture by 2050, 1.25m hectares of trees need to be planted. What will it mean for our land(...)

Cheating heart: cuckoos lay eggs in other birds’ nests. Illustration: Michael Viney

Irish pipits, as I’ve watched many times, don’t hesitate to mob the hawk-like cuckoo at its teetering perch on a telegraph wire

Blackbirds are notorious robbers and versatile snackers. Illustration: Michael Viney

While blackbirds and starlings vary their menu, crows like to bury a little snack for later

A friend welcomed a badger sett on his land even when they wrenched a sheaf from his best daffodils, just nicely in flower. Illustration:  Michael Viney

Research into getting badgers to eat drugs that counter TB has found they like chocolate

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