Your notes and queries for Ethna Viney

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - OUTDOORS - Ethna Viney wel­comes ob­ser­va­tions and pho­to­graphs at Thal­labawn, Louis­burgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at [email protected] Please in­clude a postal ad­dress

I re­cently found this lit­tle crea­ture dead on our path. The body was 7cm long and the tail 3cm. It didn’t look like a field mouse or a dor­mouse. Joe Kearns, Ballindarra, Co Of­faly

■ It’s a ju­ve­nile bank vole. They are rel­a­tively re­cent ar­rivals in this coun­try, first dis­cov­ered in north Kerry in the 1960s. Full size mea­sures about 15cm, of which 5cm is tail. Be­tween the il­le­gal culling, tan­gle nets and by­catch, Water­ford coast­line is a death zone for seals. This photo, taken on Wood­stown beach, is of a dead seal with in­juries con­sis­tent with gun­shot. It is il­le­gal to kill seals. Bren­dan Price, Ir­ish Seal Sanc­tu­ary, Gar­ris­town, Co Dublin

We found these un­usual look­ing fungi in our gar­den. Niall Watts, Leopardstown, Dublin 18

■ It is one of the earth­star fungi, prob­a­bly Geas­trum triplex. I found an in­sect on the floor at night. It was like an ear­wig but big­ger and bulkier, and its ab­domen ended in a point. It be­came ag­gres­sive when I trapped it and held up its tail like a scor­pion. Gerry Wheeler, En­nisty­mon, Co Clare

■ It is a rove bee­tle called the devil’s coach horse, or dearg-a-daol in Ir­ish. It hunts slugs and in­sects at night. (The dearg-a-daol pic­tured is from one of Michael’s draw­ings.)

I re­cently came across a cork oak tree grow­ing on the perime­ter of a ceme­tery in Co Water­ford. How com­mon is this tree in Ire­land? Brian Robin­son, Daingean, Co Of­faly

■ The Tree Coun­cil of Ire­land lists four cork oak trees in the Repub­lic: one each in Cap­po­quin, Clon­mel, Court­mac­sh­erry and Shil­le­lagh. There are two listed in Co Down, and the Na­tional Botanic Gar­dens has one. There may be oth­ers in pri­vate gar­dens, and they are avail­able for plant­ing from spe­cial­ist gar­den cen­tres.

■ Clock­wise from top left: Dead ju­ve­nile bank vole; earth­star fungi; rove bee­tle called the devil’s coach horse; and dead seal with in­juries con­sis­tent with gun­shot on Wood­stown beach

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