To be an Insect ?
Very often when I am out in our local woodlands with a Macro lens, I like to get in close and find all kinds of Insects to photograph. Its like a completely different universe down at this level, I find that I also end-up studying what these little creatures are doing in-order to keep existing day to day.
I often wonder how they see the same world that we share with them, what perspective they have on life without our daily activities and life styles.
Life without News and Media communication, life without TV or Radio and the latest phone, Life without Cars or Vans and Motorways – No Banks or need for Money with Tax to pay.
I wonder if we could even for one moment, a single day, begin to understand just how much of life in our world exists without all the things that we surround ourselves with, thinking that we actually need then in order to exist?
I also wonder when capturing nature with a camera, if its possible at all to capture these questions, to get across the true existence of a bee or a hover-fly, not only showing the outwards wonder of these insects but capturing the life that they are actually living ?
Kingdom Falconry is based and located at Crag caves, Castle-island, Co. Kerry, 2km from the town. They offer you the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of very majestic and awe-inspiring birds of prey.
One of these birds is an Eurasian eagle-owl a fantastic bird that was just wonderful to get very close to.
Kingdom Falconry can be contacted from this link.
If you are in county Kerry and near Castle-island and have sometime , I would very much recommend dropping in to meet these birds.
The Eurasian eagle-owl is described as follows :
The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is a species of eagle-owl resident in much of Eurasia. It is sometimes called the European eagle-owl and is, in Europe, where it is the only member of its genus besides the snowy owl, occasionally abbreviated to just eagle-owl. In India, it is often called the Indian great horned owl, though this may cause confusion with the similarly named American bird.It is one of the largest species of owl, and females can grow to a total length of 75 centimetres (30 in), with a wingspan of 188 centimetres (74 in), males being slightly smaller. This bird has distinctive ear tufts, the upper parts are mottled black and tawny and the wings and tail are barred. The underparts are buff, streaked with darker colour. The facial disc is poorly developed and the orange eyes are distinctive.
The Eurasian eagle-owl is found in a number of habitats but is mostly a bird of mountain regions, coniferous forests, steppes and remote places. It is a mostly nocturnal predator, hunting for a range of different prey species, predominately small mammals but also birds of varying sizes, reptiles, amphibians, fish, large insects and earthworms. It typically breeds on cliff ledges, in gullies, among rocks or in some other concealed location. The nest is a scrape in which up to six eggs are laid at intervals and which hatch at different times. The female incubates the eggs and broods the young, and the male provides food for her and when they hatch, for the nestling’s as well.
Continuing parental care for the young is provided by both adults for about five months.
There are about a dozen subspecies of Eurasian eagle-owl. With a total range in Europe and Asia of about 32 million square kilometres (12 million square miles) and a total population estimated to be between 250 thousand and 2.5 million individuals, the IUCN lists the bird’s conservation status as being of “least concern”.
Hairy Wood Ants (Formica lugubris) photographic project
Recently I been involved working on a project around Ireland to photograph nests of Irish Wood Ants, this has been one of the most interesting photo project I have ever worked on.
These Ants are on the international endangered species list and exist in locations that are kept reasonably private, just to find and get to see these nests themselves is a task and an amazing feeling.
When you get closer to the nests for the first time you will notice just how large they are (3 feet off the ground) and how many Ants that each colony contains, each nest can hold tens of thousands of Ants, the entire surface of the nest is on the move with Ants coming and going from small entrance holes. This flow of movement is 24 hours long during the months that the Ants are active.
They create a clear trail through the woods as they clear a path, travelling both outwards from the nest and returning again with food for the Queen Ant living deep in the ground under the nest itself.
It is thought she lives in a protected area some two meters underground.
In order to protect themselves and nest with its queen, they can shoot out acid some four feet from their bodies.
I will be working on this project most of this summer and look forward to each return, watching these wonderful Wood Ants is an amazing experience and working around them with a camera is great fun.
Early March Orchid
Photography : Nigel Borrington
By : Cassandra Huller
Round is the shape,
Pink are the petals.
Stem long and tall,
Leaves fluttered over, bent but not broken.
Roots deep in dirt,
Surrounded by a wall.
Some flowers fall but always rebloom~
In a Sleepy Hollow, Wild Sorrel grows
Glenbower woodlands is located near the village of owning in the south of county Kilkenn. In the middle of the wood is located a deep and very sleepy hollow, in winter the hollow is covered in fallen leaves from the trees that are located on the very edges of cliffs above.
Spring time however brings new life with fox dens located in the cliffs and a carpet of ferns and Wild woodland Sorrel with its many white and purple flowers.
Sorrel is found carpeting many Irish old, undisturbed woodlands in spring, this pretty downy perennial also grows on moss-covered trees and shady stone walls and is widespread throughout the country.
Each pretty white flower has five petals, bell-shaped some (10 – 15 mm), held on a stem which comes directly from the roots. The petals are lined with a tracery of purple veins through to the golden centre of the flower. The three petalled heart-shaped leafs fold up towards late afternoon or in rain as do the fragile flowers.
They Can be eaten and have a sharp taste of oxalic acid, wonderful with salads and as a garnish. The flowers blooms from April to June.
Wild Sorrel is a native plant to Ireland and belongs to the family Oxalidaceae.
Sleepy Hollow Image Gallery
Each June and July growing locally we have lots of wild strawberries, they do best in dry and well drained ground such a raised hedgerows or like these ones, along a river bank in a disused slate quarry near the village of Windgap, County KIlkenny.
Wild Strawberries : Wikipeadia
One Saturday afternoon last summer I arrived back from a morning visit to a local wildlife reserve, I had got some good images mostly of a fox sitting in a field just outside the woods.
I sat down in our garden with a cup of tea and started looking at my fox friend on the back of the camera, Right in front of my view landed this young and fantastic looking Sparrowhawk. As he was so close to the table I wondered if even to lift the camera would make him fly off but I had to do something, so I slowly put the camera to my eye and just for a moment he did move his head but I took about five shots and stopped just to check that the noise of the camera had not made him fly off.
In the end he stayed on the fence for about four minutes looking around the garden and letting me get some more images, we have bird feeders and I think he knew exactly what he was looking for. Sometime they very thing your looking for is under your nose!
The following web page is a great little description on the Sparrowhawk in Ireland.
On an early morning walk along our local river bank, I noticed these fading Primrose’s. Spring was very late this year and as a result all the spring time flowers have lasted a long time. The primrose is always the first out but even now they are fading.
I think its made for some wonderful images so here they are, the last primroses of this year.
The Vee – County Tipperary
The Vee in county Tipperary is one of Ireland most visited landscape locations. ‘The Vee’ refers to a V-shaped valley in the Knockmealdown mountains. Formed in the ice age the Vee itself is on the Sugar Loaf mountain , and forms a pass from Tipperary to Waterford between Knockaunabulloga (on which you will find Bay Lough) and the Sugar Loaf mountain.
The Vee is predominantly famous because of the breathtaking panoramic views afforded to travellers and sight seers going through the pass. The journey rises to about 2,000 feet (610m) above sea level above Bay Lough, and as it does so it gives wonderful views of a portion of the ‘Golden Vale’ between the Knockmealdown and Galtee Mountain Ranges.
On a clear day (or night) the Vee affords views along and across the valley to Clonmel, Cahir, Ardfinnan, Clogheen, Ballyporeen and even Cashel. You can also see the Galtee Mountains across the valley, the Comeragh Mountains along the valley and Slievenamon, behind Clonmel, quite clearly.
Each June however the entire area is covered in the bright pinks of Rhododendron flowers, I visited the area on Saturday just to photograph this event taking place, in the wild this plant is incredibly invasive and as you can see from these images has become the overwhelming feature the the entire area.
This web site decribes Rhododendrons as an invasive species and for good reason.
Habitat: Mixed deciduous forest. Temperate heaths. Raised and blanket bogs.
Description: This species was first introduced to parks, gardens, and demesnes in Britain and Ireland in the 1700’s. Rhododendron ponticum is readily recognised by its distinctive attractive flowers and large dark green coloured, oval leaves. It can grow quite tall with specimens regularly attaining 8 m.
Origin and Distribution: The species is native to both Europe and Asia. It is believed that the current populations of Rhododendron in Ireland have been introduced from material taken from both the Iberian Peninsula populations and the Asian populations of this species. Rhododendron has a complex history.
Impacts: Rhododendron can from very dense thickets and out-compete native plants for space and resources, especially for sunlight. Other impacts on fish and invertebrate communities have been recorded. Rhododendron can also prevent access to sites by the shear mass of plant material blocking paths and right of way.
How did it get here? Natural dispersal by seed and vegetative means and planted by people.
Where is it found in Ireland? Planted in gardens, parks and demesnes.
Import only clean soil from known source
Ensure all vehicles and equipment are cleaned to avoid cross contamination.
Be aware of the threat of colonisation from upstream areas washing Japanese knotweed material downstream.
Promote native species and biodiversity – use alternative, native plants
Know what you are buying/growing and source native Irish seed and plants
Do not swap plants and cuttings
Clean plants before adding to ponds (dispose of water away from water courses)
Never collect plants from the wild
Safe disposal of plant material and growing media
In the aerial photograph above, the Rhododendrons show as the lighter green area in the middle of the image and rise the full hight of the mountain on the left of Bay Lough and follow the flow of the river that flows from the lough down the valley and into the woods below.
From a personal stand point, each June it is a wonderful site to see, many Tourists visit the area during this period just to take in the views it offers, however it is a little overwhelming to witness the extent this plant has taken over the mountains in this part of county Tipperary. When you take into account that it was only introduced in the 1700’s as a decorative plant into a local garden in the valley below.
All images taken using a Nikon D7000
Irish landscape photography : Nigel Borrington
The Vee, County Tipperary
I took this image yesterday, while walking along the banks of the river Barrow here in County Kilkenny. There had been a shower just before I got out of the car but the weather and the temperature afterwards was like a head wave for Ireland !