Science & Nature

Birds: Robin (Spideog, Erithacus rubecula)

Having covered lots of different Irish bird species in previous issues, it's probably about time that I got around to writing about the one that most people tell me is their very favourite. The Robin is a very common year-round sight in gardens, parks and woodlands all over the country, and as many as four million breeding individuals are estimated to live here.

Walks: Budapest, Hungary

Stroll along the cultural route linking the castle district in old Buda with the city park in Pest. Theatres, museums, churches, art galleries and cafes enliven the way. High above the Danube, Buda was a strategic site during Turkish and Austrian rule. Restored after World War II, the castle area is ideal for walking. Reflecting diverse styles, the Royal Palace houses the National Gallery where art depicts Hungary's turbulent history.

Apophis is heading our way

What appears to be a lightly bright object in the glint of an astronomer's telescope sits silvery and stark on the printed astronomical photo of the stars. It was printed from the astronomical log in NASA several years ago as one more sample in thousands of produced filaments in a hectic scientific schedule to map our solar system; and measure the trajectories of the preposterously large abundance of asteroids that traverse Earth's orbital pattern in a multitudinous cyclical rotation.

Gadgets 17.05.07

That's exertainment! Tom Rowe breaks a sweat to find some innovative ways to keep the flab at bay

The yew - Taxus baccata

The yew is a native tree and is found in old woodlands but more commonly in the artificial surroundings of demesnes and graveyards. An evergreen, the yew is a dramatic tree with its dark foliage and red berries which encase a single seed. The foliage is poisonous to livestock but not to deer. The seeds are also toxic, although the red casing is not. This explains why it is so often seen in churchyards, where there are no animals.

Walks: Ramelton, Co Donegal

The O'Donnells had a castle here before the Gaelic chieftains were defeated in the 17th Century. In the Ulster plantation, the Stewarts built a town for Scottish and English settlers. Their legacy is evident in Ramelton's architectural heritage.