Your notes and queries for Ethna Viney
I was lucky to photograph this heron on the Grand Canal in Portobello, in Dublin. It walked out of the rushes holding a struggling rat in its beak and flew to the other bank, waited for the rat to stop struggling, then swallowed it whole. Local pest control. Rory Harte, Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6
I found this live newt, which had lost its tail. What are its natural enemies – and will it regrow its tail? Frank Folan, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare
Yes, the smooth newt can regrow a limb or its tail. Fish, ducks, herons and kingfishers all eat newts. I found this very soft shell on the beach in Castlegregory. – John O Shea, Ventry, Co Kerry
It is a potato urchin, which is normally covered with short spines. They live in the sand from the lower shore out to deep water. My daughter Amelia found a multiple-headed daisy in the grounds of her school. How can this happen? Anne Golden, Glenageary, Co Dublin
This is a phenomenon called fasciation, caused by damage to the growing point. It can be caused by genetic mutation, viral or bacterial infections, or environmental factors such as fungi, insect attack or exposure to chemicals. Clockwise from top left: heron on the Grand Canal; newt which had lost its tail; swan’s nest on the banks of the Dodder; well-stocked thrush; and a potato urchin, which is normally covered with short spines This well-stocked thrush was spotted on the banks of the Slaney in Enniscorthy, in Co Wexford. Larry Dunne, Rosslare Harbour, Co Wexford Birds build nests in strange places: Frank Folan, in Ballyvaughan, has one in a teapot; Ellen Crushell found a robin’s nest with eggs in her son’s bike helmet; Micheál O’Faharta has a wren’s nest in a hanging coil of rope. But Ronan Copeland, of Sandymount, saw this swan’s nest in the right place on the banks of the Dodder.