Your notes and queries for Ethna Viney
The animal in my photograph (main image, right) was seen on Booterstown strand, on the south side of Dublin Bay. James Montgomery Blackrock, Co Dublin
■ It is a harbour porpoise, the cetacean most frequently washed up on our shores.
The handsome fox in my photograph, 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 a 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.
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
When my friends and I were walking on Dollymount strand, on the north side of Dublin Bay, we saw the guys in my photo, 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.
I photographed this little dormouse in a neighbour’s shed. It had no fear of me, unlike our native mouse. Eoin Roddy Hollywood, Co Wicklow
Correction: Last week’s photograph labelled newt was a viviparous lizard.
Clockwise from main: harbour porpoise seen by James ■ Montgomery on Booterstown strand; one of Ann O’Sullivan’s mermaid’s purses; Eoin Roddy’s dormouse; Catherine McGarry’s melanistic fox; and Nick Burridge’s stick insect