Episode 107: Remarkable Creatures with Aga Grandowicz

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In many conversations on my podcast, we have observed that long-term success in nature conservation will be impossible without engaging and educating future generations.

Today kids, like their parents, are more and more disconnected from the natural world. Even the children’s dictionary has replaced words about nature with newer words. And so acorn has been replaced with analogue, buttercup with broadband, clover with chatroom, and so on.

That’s why, if you are a conservation-minded parent who cares about the future of the natural environment and preserving it for your children, you need to take their education about the natural world into your own hands. As you should with any other topic.

To help you with this, I would like to wholeheartedly recommend a wonderful book for children, ages 10 to 15, titled “Remarkable Creatures: A Guide to Some of Ireland’s Disappearing Animals” written by Aga Grandowicz. Aga is a wildlife artist, illustrator, graphic designer and author.

On this podcast, I had a wonderful conversation with Aga about her book, her motivation to write it and her life close to nature. After listening to the podcast, visit Aga’s online store and buy the book. You might also be tempted to buy some of her artwork!

Episode 106: Irish Cave Bones with Ruth Carden

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Regular listeners have already heard that this episode was coming. And we’ve been planning it for a long time. Conflicting schedules, travel plans and life, in general, were always getting in the way. But boy, was it worth waiting for! 

And so, we sat down for a chat with Dr Ruth Carden, a zoologist, who specialises in the zooarchaeological analysis of faunal assemblages. To the casual reader, Ruth is probably best known for her groundbreaking discovery of butchering marks on a reindeer bone found in the Castlepook Cave in north Cork. This discovery dramatically changed our understanding of Irish human history, pushing back the earliest signs of human activity by 20,000 years. 

We discussed this discovery as well as other topics related to Ruth’s research, including Irish glacial fauna with a particular focus on the Giant Irish Deer which is sometimes, incorrectly, called Irish elk. I wouldn’t be myself if I hadn’t asked Ruth about wild boar in Ireland. Were they native to Ireland at one point in time? You need to listen to this episode to find out.

And here is the craziest thing. All that research work is self-funded by Ruth and done largely in her spare time. Please, keep an eye on Tommy’s Outdoors website as we will shortly let you know how you can financially support Ruth’s efforts. For now, I want to give a massive shout out to the car company that co-sponsored one of those projects: K&N Motors, Dublin 22. A big round of applause for these folks, please!

Episode 105: Human, Nature with Ian Carter

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Keeping a diary can be a useful thing. Especially if the diarist focuses on events and experiences pertaining to their area of expertise. Ian Carter, naturalist, ornithologist and author, has kept his wildlife diary for over three decades. Ian worked for Natural England, a governmental advisory body, for twenty-five years. He has written articles for respected wildlife magazines and has co-authored papers in scientific journals. Ian was also involved with the Red Kite reintroduction programme and other bird reintroductions and wildlife management programs. 

It was therefore my pleasure to chat with Ian on my podcast about his latest book titled “Human, Nature – A Naturalist’s Thoughts on Wildlife and Wild Places” published by Pelagic Publishing. The book is an elaboration on Ian’s diary. It discusses his observations and extends them to wider philosophical questions related to our interactions with wildlife. Many of those questions and observations are quite similar to the ones I myself have accumulated over time. So I really enjoyed the opportunity to discuss them with Ian.

I would definitely recommend Ian’s book to all wildlife enthusiasts. It comprehensively discusses most, if not all, topics related to nature conservation and our relationship with wildlife. A special shoutout to Pelagic Publishing, an independent academic publisher of books on wildlife, science and conservation.

Episode 104: Project MarPAMM with Naomi Wilson, Anuschka Miller and Alex Callaway

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Conservation of the marine environment is prominently featured in many episodes of my podcast. Regular listeners have heard on many occasions the opinion that marine protected areas, or MPAs for short, is where it’s at. But as always in these cases, if you start digging and asking questions everything is more difficult than it looks at first glance.

To start the discussion about MPAs, today I bring you an introduction to an environmental project called MarPAMM. Our guests are Dr Naomi Wilson from Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Dr Anuschka Miller from the Scottish Association of Marine Science, and Dr Alex Callaway from Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. The goal of MarPAMM is to develop tools for monitoring and managing a number of protected coastal marine environments in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Western Scotland.

Support the Podcast and Buy Me a Coffee

For the past four years, I’ve been providing you with recorded conversations about wildlife and the natural environment. My guests range from the world’s top scientists, members of environmental organizations and award-winning authors, to hunters and anglers with a lifetime of experience. We often discuss difficult and unpopular topics. This is all in the name of sharing ideas and understanding different points of view on critical environmental issues. For all of you who want to support Tommy’s Outdoors podcast and my work, now you can buy me a coffee! Simply go to buymeacoffee.com/tommysoutdoors and do your thing. Thanks!!!

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Episode 103: Hunter-Gatherers with Graeme Warren

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The term hunter-gatherers is often understood as a description of primitive people who live in an idyllic state of harmony with nature. In reality however, the lifestyle of hunter-gatherers is way more complex than most of us think.

To shed some light on this fascinating subject and to clarify some misconceptions I bring you my conversation with prof. Graeme Warren of the University College Dublin, School of Archaeology. Graeme is a specialist in the Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers, the leader of the UCD Hunter-Gatherer Research Group and a Vice-President of the International Society for Hunter-Gatherer Research.

During our conversation, we touched on many interesting topics. The impact of hunter-gatherers on their environment, modern-day hunter-gatherers, political implications of archaeology and many more.  We also touched on the often discussed topic of wild boar in Ireland.

Finally, if you want to delve deeper into the topic of hunter-gatherers you should check the website for the upcoming Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS13) by going to www.ucd.ie/chags13


For more on hunter-gatherers, follow Graeme on Twitter @GraemeMWarren; the UCD Hunter-Gatherer Research Group @HunterUCD; the Thirteenth International Conference on Hunter-Gatherers Societies @CHAGS131; and the International Society for Hunter-Gatherer Research @ISHGR5.

Sorry for trashing your mailbox

My dear valued subscribers, last week you might have received a strange email with a bunch of links and code. As you can probably imagine it was sent as a result of an error that happened while making improvements to the Tommy’s Outdoors website. Sorry about that.

I am gearing up for some significant technical changes to the podcast and these modifications to the website were necessary prerequisites. As one of the changes, I have replaced the SoundCloud embedded player with the one from Spotify. Also, now the website loads quicker on mobile devices.

As an added bonus, Tommy’s Outdoors podcast is now also available on Audible and Amazon Music. Thank you for your continued support and I hope you will enjoy this week’s podcast. Coming up soon!

Episode 102: Humane Animal Treatment with Alick Simmons

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You often hear hunters and anglers boasting about humane animal treatment. Whether it is a “quick humane kill” in the case of hunters or “fish welfare” in the case of anglers practising catch and release, this subject is mentioned a lot. Also, environmentalists frequently bring up humane treatment and animal welfare in their conversations. But what does it actually mean to do something in a humane way?

In this episode, we try to shed some light on these issues with my guest Alick Simmons, a veterinarian, naturalist and photographer. Alick is the chair for The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare – The International Animal Welfare Science Society and also, the chair for The Humane Slaughter Association. I don’t know about you but, to me, that sounds like pretty good credentials for today’s topic!

Episode 101: Beak, Tooth and Claw with Mary Colwell

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Last month, I wrote a review of an excellent book titled “Beak, Tooth and Claw: Living with Predators in Britain” by Mary Colwell. At the end of that blog, I said that I would really love to have an opportunity to talk with Mary on my podcast. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait too long! After a brief exchange of messages, Mary and I agreed to get together and record an episode.

Mary Colwell is an environmentalist, campaigner, freelance producer and author. She is also well known for her work protecting an endangered wader, the Eurasian Curlew.

During the podcast, we talked about her motivations for writing the book and its reception. We also discussed how Mary approached the research required to write her book, along with various facets of living with predators and the complexity of issues this creates. From there we went on to the ever-interesting subjects of conservation and rewilding.

Obviously, this podcast wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention the curlew, our largest wader. Mary explains why the curlew population is declining so rapidly, what is being done to stop this trend, and what can you do to help out!