Science & Nature

Birds: Moorhen (Cearc uisce), Gallinula chloropus

By Niall Hatch. A common sight on ponds, canals, lakes and slow-flowing streams, the Moorhen is found throughout Ireland. It belongs to the rail and crake family, though unlike most members of that group, such as the scarce Corncrake, it is not a particularly shy or secretive bird. It often comes out into the open and permits close approach by humans. 


Walks: The Basin, Blessington St, Dublin

‘The  Secret Garden' north of Parnell Square near Berkeley Street is within walking distance of the city centre. Two centuries ago, the Basin supplied water to the city from Lough Owel via the Royal Canal. Later, water was provided exclusively to whiskey distilleries. In the 1990s, spurred by a local action group, City Council refurbished the Basin. The parks department installed new railings, seating bays, mural sculptures and old-style lampposts.

Fraudsters target AIB online customers in "phishing" scam

Customers of AIB's internet banking facility are today being targeted by fraudsters who send emails purporting to have originated from AIB. The emails claim that 'a card associated with [a customer's] account has been reported lost or stolen' before prompting AIB customers to enter personal and security details relating to the account.

Space: seeing things clearly on Mars

The rock outcrop in this scene near the Martian equator is no bigger than the central tower of Christ Church cathedral in Dublin, illustrating the extraordinary seeing-power of America's scientific “spy-satellite” called the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The mound lies in a region of layered rock near the centre of Becquerel Crater, one of the best examples of layered sedimentary rocks on Mars. Sedimentary rocks are often deposited (as sediments) in water, although windblown sedimentary rocks are also common.

Gadgets: A slippery slope

Irish people with the financial wherewithal to relieve seasonal affective disorder with a winter ski holiday may have to look to alternative remedies in future. Should environmental responsibility not impel us to reduce air miles, the tonnes of greenhouse gas produced by the ski industry and all it entails will contribute to the receding alpine snowlines and glacial depths. But for those of you already booked on a ski trip this year, here are two gadgets to ensure your whereabouts are known should an avalanche or tree trunk take you by surprise.

Walks: Wicklow town and beach

Visit historic sites in the town. The statue of Billy Byrne, a pikeman of 1798 is sometimes dressed in local football colours. The Old Gaol includes a café, heritage displays and genealogy centre where I traced my Wicklow roots. Captain Halpin's memorial recalls maritime traditions.

Birds: Pheasant

Piasún, Phasianus colchicus. The best-known of our game birds, the Pheasant, is not native to Ireland; it has its origins in eastern Asia. First introduced here in the 16th century as a quarry species for hunters, it is now widespread throughout the country, the core wild population supplemented each year by thousands of captive-reared birds released by shooting clubs and gamekeepers.

Nature: blooming already?

Nature is in a state of chassis, according to Eanna Ni Lamhna. Spring is marching across Europe earlier every year, and now we have blooming daffs in January

Get in on the action

A chair that lets you swing along with your favourite films, a visor to bring out your inner nerd, and the nifty device that lets you transmit your iPod all around the house.
By Darragh O'Donoghue