Spring On The River
By Archibald Lampman
O sun, shine hot on the river;
For the ice is turning an ashen hue,
And the still bright water is looking through,
And the myriad streams are greeting you
With a ballad of life to the giver,
From forest and field and sunny town,
Meeting and running and tripping down,
With laughter and song to the river.
Oh! the din on the boats by the river;
The barges are ringing while day avails,
With sound of hewing and hammering nails,
Planing and painting and swinging pails,
All day in their shrill endeavor;
For the waters brim over their wintry cup,
And the grinding ice is breaking up,
And we must away down the river.
Oh! the hum and the toil of the river;
The ridge of the rapid sprays and skips:
Loud and low by the water’s lips,
Tearing the wet pines into strips,
The saw mill is moaning ever.
The little grey sparrow skips and calls
On the rocks in the rain of the water falls,
And the logs are adrift in the river.
Oh! restlessly whirls the river;
The rivulets run and the cataract drones:
The spiders are flitting over the stones:
Summer winds float and the cedar moans;
And the eddies gleam and quiver.
O sun; shine hot, shine long and abide
In the glory and power of the summer tide
On the swift longing face of the river.
Irish Landscape Photography : February’s frost and snow along the river , River Suir , County Tipperary
As we say Goodbye to February and Hello to the Springtime month of March, we are still in the middle of a very cold week here in the southest of Ireland. This month has been one of the best for mixed weather that I can remember, we started the month wet and windy but then the weather turn much warmer and you could just start to imaging that the spring was on its way 🙂
This week , the final week of the Month has however been the most interesting end to the Month of February for some years, we awoke here in Kilkenny to some snow but only about 1cm, further north in Dublin and the Wicklow mountains they had some 10cm of snow overnight with about 20cm in places by the end of the day light hours today.
The fun however is only about to being, starting from 4pm tomorrow the south of the country is going to be hit by a storm (Emma) heading our way along the French west coast as I post and making land fall in both Ireland and Cornwall in the UK at the same time.
Overnight Thursday into Friday it is predicted that we will receive high winds of around 40 MPH and about 8cm of snow.
The main risk however will be from the high winds as this will of course increase the chance of the snow drifting, its a worry at this time of year as many farmers will have animals outside ready for the spring season. There has however been good notice of whats to come so hopefully there has been time to bring in sheep and livestock.
The only blessing could be that with the Springtime only just around the corner, when it stops snowing the temperatures should recover much more quickly that would be the case in the middle of the winter season.
The last time I experienced such cold winter weather was on a winters visit to the Welsh hills to visit a friend Sandy, here are some of the images from that visit.
While the Snow and Cold can bring hardship at times the landscape views it can bring are wonderful 🙂
Gallery of the Welsh hills in Winter
Sailing to Byzantium
by William Butler Yeats
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon‐falls, the mackerel‐crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing‐masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
The Water Replies
Maybe we have washed our hands
and drunk deep and swam
and think we know her,
but water’s reputation goes before her like a flood:
she does not suffer fools or gadflies.
Therefore I have prepared some questions.
Where do you get your ideas & your tide from?
Don’t say the moon – that’s really pretentious.
But as I clamber down the coast
I lose my footing and spend our allotted time
tossed around in her backwash,
pummeled by tiny stones.
When I am baptised I ask the water
Where have the demons gone?
Were they hiding behind the H, the 2 or the O?
I emerge finally able to see that I have not changed,
that I can of myself do nothing, that water decides.
On the towpath behind the church
I wring out my jacket. I ask the water:
Will you convey these thoughts away?
These itching hatreds, toothache of jealousy,
These squalid appetites and dog thirsts?
Just as far as the next city will do.
The ripples of the moon’s tablature.
When was the last time you cried, and why?
I ask the water. I ask the water:
Do you have plans later?
Early March walking along the banks of the river Suir, county Tipperary.
The trees are still bare but not for long now, we had the first dry day for a long time yet it was cool.
I love this river walk very much, a mountain view of Slievenamon county Tipperary, on the north side of the river and of the hills of county Waterford on the south side.
The river Suir, Tipperary, March 8th 2017 🙂
A winters morning along the river Suir county Tipperary ….
February and while sometimes it can feel like spring is just around the corner, some mornings can be as cold the coldest the winter can offer here. With this cold weather can come some of the most stunning views of the season along the river banks here in the south of Ireland, frost and mist and the deep blue of a morning sky …..
My study of an Otter family on the river Suir, county Tipperary continued today Friday, Each time I visit this family I manage to get closer and closer, today being the most noticeable.
I managed to spend 40min with this one adult Otter as he or she hunted the river for fish, this process involved diving as deep as possible and spending about a minute below the water before coming back up for breath, during the 40 minutes I think two fish in total were retrieved.
I hope to keep returning many times of the winter months to monitor just how they are all doing, ist amazing to be able to get so close and exciting to study such wonderful wild animals.
Last weekend while on walk between Clonmel and Carrick-on-suir, both in county Tipperary, We came across a family of Otters, they had made one of the rivers contributor’s their home ( A Holt or Couch in otter terms ). We spent about an hour with them watching as two adults and four pups hunted and play in the waters. One of the Pups managed to catch a fish and then share this food with the other three pups on the river bank.
For a long time I have hopped to have an encounter with these otters, I knew they were around this location but had never been in luck when it came to seeing them, so this hour was a truly special time and one I will not forget 🙂 , it changes the way you feel about a river when you have the chance to view its wild life for such a long period of time.
Here are some basic facts about the otter in Ireland …..
Written by Dr Mathieu Lundy
The otter (Lutra lutra) is regarded as one of Ireland’s most charismatic native mammal species.
The otter is highly secretive and although widespread people tend to only get rare glimpses of the species in the wild. Otter populations declined throughout Europe after the 1960s and the species is now very rare or absent from many parts of its former range. The Irish otter population appears to have remained largely stable and is regarded as a European stronghold. In Ireland otters are found in a diverse array of aquatic habitats, from small streams to major rivers, upland lakes to coastal lagoons and sandy beaches. However, otters that live at the coast do need access to some freshwater habitat to bathe. Within these habitats otters feed on a range of both aquatic and terrestrial prey. Much of the information regarding distribution, habitat use and diet comes from spotting otter tracks and signs. Individual otters are highly territorial, using droppings called spraints to mark their home ranges. Favoured locations for leaving spraints are in-stream boulders, bridge footings and grass tussocks, these are called seats. These territorial signs are an ideal way to tell if otters are using an area. Within its territory an otter may have a number of resting sites, called couches and underground denning sites called holts, which can be a considerable distance (up to 1km) from a river, lake or the seashore.
The species of otter that occurs in Ireland is called the Eurasian otter and is found in Europe and across Asia to China and Japan. In other regions the otter shares aquatic habitats with species specialised to different habitats such as sea otters, but in Ireland the otters that live at the coast and those that occupy our rivers are the same species.
In Ireland the otter population is geographically widely spread. In local areas its presence will depend on the provision of suitable aquatic habitats, sufficient food and cover for resting and breeding. During different seasons male otters and juvenile otters will disperse and otter signs may be observed in areas where they have not been present hitherto.
Home ranging behaviour
The territories of otters can stretch for several kilometres; the total length of the home range depends on the availability of food. The smallest territories are thought to occur at coastal sites, where territories may be as small as 2km. The longest territories occur in upland streams where an individual may have to range more than 20km to find sufficient food. The territories of males tend to be larger than females and indeed may overlap with a number of female otters. The availability of suitable territories along the coast and inland at lakes and rivers is thought to maintain the otter population of Ireland. The entire population is estimated to be in the region of 10,000 adults.
Within their territories an individual otter may utilise a number of holts. These tend to be natural crevices, associated with the roots of trees growing along river and lake banks. These natural recesses provide the otter with a holt that has multiple entrances from which the otter can escape if disturbed. Whilst individual otters rarely dig their own holts they will use burrows made by other animals such as rabbits and foxes. It is possible to build artificial holts to attract otters to use certain areas. Artificial holts are built to resemble natural holts, with a resting compartment and multiple entrances, these are particularly important where the natural bank side vegetation has been removed.
Other resting sites are also used, frequently in dense vegetation and may be associated with frequently used runs and slides into the water.
Although otters can breed at any time of year most seem do so in spring or early summer. Scent markings by the females signal to male otters that the females are ready to mate. The pregnancy lasts for around two months after which a litter of cubs is born, usually two or three, but as many as five have been seen. The cubs remain in the natal holt for up to two months before venturing out on their own, although the mother may move the cubs between holts within her territory periodically. Unlike other resting sites the natal holts do not tend to be marked with spraints. The juvenile otters remain as a family group for around six months or longer before the young otters disperse to establish their own territories.
Otters that live in rivers and lakes tend to be completely nocturnal, described as being crepuscular – activity peaks at dusk and dawn. Foraging at night or in ‘muddy’ water is aided by their highly sensitive whiskers, which detect their prey items. Otters are principally piscivorous, relying predominantly on salmonids (salmon and trout), but also eel and small fish species such as stickleback. However, otters are not limited to fish and feed opportunistically on a range of prey when available: frogs are frequently eaten by otters, and the remains of invertebrates (crayfish), birds and small mammals have also been found in spraints. Otters that forage at the coast may have flexible foraging times linked to the tides. At low tide otters hunt in the exposed rock pools and seaweed covered rocks for fish and invertebrate prey.
The Irish otter population remains one of the most stable in Europe. There is some evidence to suggest that since initial national surveys in the early 1980s there have been declines in the prevalence of the species. It is hoped that the reasons for these declines will be addressed by the designation of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), ongoing national assessments and by targeted intensive surveys. The risks to the current otter population are the availability of sufficient food within their habitats and provision of resting and denning sites. This species is protected under the Wildlife Act (1976) and Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000.
Otters have been found dead in illegal snares, which may not be intended for otters, but which still pose a threat to individual animals. A significant number of otters are also killed on our roads. There is some evidence that the incidence of these accidents increases during periods of flooding when fast flowing rivers at bridge crossing become impassable and otters must venture onto roads to find alternative routes. The occurrence of otters at any site relies on a complex interaction of the characteristics of the wider landscape and local site specific habitat factors. Broad-scale intensive agriculture and urbanisation of catchments reduces the likelihood that otters will occur, along with reduced diversity of river banks and lake shores. Maintaining prey populations and preserving the natural features of rivers, lakes and coasts will benefit the Irish otter population and ensure that the Irish population remains a European stronghold.
Fishing on the River suir
The walk along the river Suir, County Tipperary is one of the best river walks in the south east of Ireland. It is currently undergoing an upgrade to a hard surface that will for the first time allow for both walkers and cyclists.
The river is used by many local people during the year but the fisher man are most probably it’s most common visitors, the River is renowned for its game angling, holding both salmon (Salmo salar) and brown trout (Salmo trutta).
I have taken many photographs of the fishermen here over the years alone with the boats they use for their fishing, these boats ( all made locally ) are used more like punts as the have a completely flat bottom and are moved along the river with a pole.
The River Suir from Clocully to Carrick-on-Suir is a combination of deep pools, fast glides and varying widths and depths.
From Clocully to Ballydonagh, a consortium of private landowners control the angling, these are all private fisheries. This stretch also includes parts of the River Tar and River Nire, which contain good stocks of trout of up to 30 cm.
Fishing on the river Suir : Gallery
The Waterford / Deise Greenway
The Amazing new Deise Greenway is almost completed and for anyone who has not heard about this new public cycle and walking path in county Waterford Ireland, here is some basic information !
The History of the Greenway – A Railway history
Waterford to Dungarvan
The Railway Line from Dungarvan to Waterford was constructed during the 1870’s and was officially opened on the 12th August 1878 with the first train departing Waterford at 10.10 and arriving at Durrow just over an hour later.
The building of the Railway was a remarkable project in that it had to be contructed over very harsh terrain. From the Dungarvan side, two causeways had to be contructed, one over the Colligan estuary and one through the sea at Barnawee, a very impressive viaduct has to be built at Ballyvoile and an even more impressive tunnel, 480 yards long, fully lined was constructed just a little further down the line. Another viaduct at Kilminnion and an almost 100 feet high curved viaduct at Kilmacthomas to name just a few. It headed down towards the lovely station at Kilmeaden and then on the riverbank of the River Suir below Mount Congreve into Waterford City.
The Railway line was not just of national importance, it was also our line with the UK with many Irish people emigrating there but many used it to come over and back. In March 1967, the last passenger train left Dungarvan station for Rosslare. But it reopened again with the opening of the Magnesite ore processing plant at Ballinacourty but this plant closed in 1982. Engineers ran occasional locomotives on the line up until 1990.
CIE own the line but Waterford County Council acquired a license from them at the start of this century to make it into a pedestrian walkway/cycle path for tourism and leisure.
It has impressive history, a history we can not neglect by not taking an interest in the line, we need to preserve it for the people as an amenity for the people.
Rebirth of the rail line – The Deise Greenway
The Deise Greenway is almost complete so last weekend we took a walk along the section from Ballyvoyle brick-lined tunnel down to Dungarvan Bay. This section of the route is just fantastic to walk as it induces the Ballyvoyal tunnel and viaduct and then the wonderful views of the waterford coastline above the town of Dungarvan.
Below are some of the pictures I took on Sunday ……