Science & Nature

Walks: Avondale, Rathdrum, Co Wicklow

Have you been to Avondale? The Forest Park is the jewel in the crann of Coillte. The Georgian house was restored to honour Charles Stewart Parnell, the Irish leader. The parkland of 214 hectares is ideal for strolls or longer hikes.

Death and resurrection

Not only delicious with a bit of bacon, fungi provide an invaluable service in the cycle of life, says Éanna Ní Lamhna

Birds: Chough (Cág cosdearg), Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax

A scarce and localised member of the crow family, now more or less confined to our western and southern coasts, the Chough is a species for which Ireland is of particular importance in a European context. The Irish population currently stands at just over 800 breeding pairs, making it one of the most significant in Western Europe.

Nature: Leave the daddies alone

They don't bite. They don't sting. They don't carry disease. All they do is fly around looking for a mate, and occasionally pop into your house by mistake. By Éanna Ní Lamhna Not your

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BIRDS: Tufted Duck (Lacha bhadánach) Aythya fuligula

Common throughout Ireland year-round, though much more numerous in the winter with the arrival of migrants from Iceland and northern Europe, the Tufted Duck is really the only wild duck we have, apart from the Mallard which is comfortable visiting small ponds and parks. They can become quite tame around humans, and some will come to feed on bread where habitually offered, though our migrant visitors are warier.

Old railtracks in Donegal

This walk follows bog roads and a dismantled railway. Trains served Donegal's north coast, linking Letterkenny with Burtonport, until the line closed in the 1940s. We parked the car at McCarry's bar, Kildarragh, near Creeslough, and followed signs to Lough Agher below Muckish mountain.

Birds: Bullfinch (Corcrán coille), Pyrrhula pyrrhula

A widespread bird in Ireland, the handsome Bullfinch is with us year-round. At home in woodland and dense hedgerows, it will often visit gardens to feed on wild berries, seeds, etc., though it will only fly to bird tables on rare occasions. Its favourite foods are tree and flower buds, which in the past served to make them very unpopular with orchard owners.