Capturing the world with Photography, Painting and Drawing

Posts tagged “irish nature

Irish Butterflies – Wood White Leptidea sinapis (lep-TID-ee-uh sy-NAY-piss)

Irish Butterflies
Wood White
Leptidea sinapis (lep-TID-ee-uh sy-NAY-piss)

It a pleasure to be into photography at this time of year, nature is in full flight and at her very best.

For many personal reasons I have no been posting regularly here on my blog for the first time in many years so it also a pleasure to be able to make a start again.

Last week I spent as much time as I could taking my much love Nikon and macro lens out into our local woodlands and capturing lots of nature images. Here is just one of the many images I managed to get the time to process so far.

Now that I am starting again to post here, I plan to be very specific this summer with my images and close-up nature images will be one of my main areas.

Wood White

Family: Pieridae Swainson, 1820
Subfamily: Dismorphiinae Schatz, 1887
Tribe: Leptideini Verity, 1947
Genus: Leptidea Billberg, 1820
Subgenus:
Species: sinapis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Wingspan 42mm

The Wood White is one of our daintiest butterflies with one of the slowest and delicate flights of all the butterflies. When at rest, the rounded tips of the forewings provide one of the main distinguishing features between this butterfly and other “whites”. Adults always rest with their wings closed. In flight, the male can be distinguished from the female by a black spot at the tip of the forewings that is greatly reduced in the female. This butterfly lives discrete colonies and was only recently separated from the visibly-identical Cryptic Wood White. This local species can be found in central and southern England and also in Ireland on the limestone pavements of Clare and South-east Galway. This species is absent from Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.


Octobers wood land nature, Spending some time with the spiders

A Noiseless Patient Spider – Poem by Walt Whitman

A noiseless, patient spider,
I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them—ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d—till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.


October on the forest floor : fallen leaves

October on the Forest floor
Fallen Leaves
Nigel Borrington 2018

Today was a typical Autumn day here in country Kilkenny, we have had some mixed weather over the last few days, some sun , some rain. Today was mild but wet, so all the falling leaves were full of rain drops something I just had to capture 🙂


County Kilkenny , Nature photography – Deep in the Springtime woodlands


Images without words : The rainy days of November


Nature without words (Bumble bees)- Solo images (Ballykeefe nature reserve, county Kilkenny)

A bumble bee collecting nectar
Ballykeefe nature reserve
County Kilkenny
Nigel Borrington


Hairy Wood Ants (Formica lugubris) photographic project

Hairy Wood Ants (Formica lugubris) photographic project

Over the last few years I been involved working on a project around county Tipperary,Ireland involving photographing nests of Irish Wood Ants (Formica lugubris), this has been one of the most interesting photo project I have ever worked on.

The images in this post are captured between 2014 and 2017 ….

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, traveling 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.

Gallery 2017

Gallery 2014

Irish wood ants 11

Irish wood ants 9

Irish wood ants 4

Irish wood ants 8

Irish wood ants 6

Irish wood ants 7

Irish wood ants 8


The Otter, By :Seamus Heaney

Otters on the River Suir
County Tipperary
Nigel Borrington

The Otter
Seamus Heaney

When you plunged
The light of Tuscany wavered
And swung through the pool
From top to bottom.

I loved your wet head and smashing crawl,
Your fine swimmer’s back and shoulders
Surfacing and surfacing again
This year and every year since.

I sat dry-throated on the warm stones.
You were beyond me.
The mellowed clarities, the grape-deep air
Thinned and disappointed.

Thank God for the slow loadening,
When I hold you now
We are close and deep
As the atmosphere on water.

My two hands are plumbed water.
You are my palpable, lithe
Otter of memory
In the pool of the moment,

Turning to swim on your back,
Each silent, thigh-shaking kick
Re-tilting the light,
Heaving the cool at your neck.

And suddenly you’re out,
Back again, intent as ever,
Heavy and frisky in your freshened pelt,
Printing the stones.


Herb-Robert (Geranium robertianum) in the Sun and the Rain

Irish wide flowers
Herb Robert
Nigel Borrington

Familiar little pink flower from April to November, Herb-Robert is a hairy, unpleasant-smelling plant which grows on banks, bases of walls, shingle and shady places throughout the country. Its pink flowers (8-15mm across) have five un-notched petals and in the centre of the flower are orange anthers. Each petal is marked by small lighter-pink lines running into the centre of the flower. The hairy, stalked leaves are often tinged red and have three to five deeply cut lobes. The fruit is hairy and beak-like. This is a native plant belonging to the family Geraniaceae.

Irish wide flowers
Herb Robert
Nigel Borrington

This plant has been introduced into North and South America from Europe and Asia. In traditional medicine in the Americas it has been used to stop nosebleeds. Its leaves are also made into a herbal tea which is recommended as a gargle and an eyewash.

One wonders who is the ‘Robert’ of this plant. Maybe the name comes from the Latin word ‘ruber’ meaning red which may have referred to the colouring of the leaves and stems.


Wonders of nature, Photography and Poetry : The Genesis of the Butterfly by Victor Hugo

Large white Butterfly
Nature Photography
Nigel Borrington

The dawn is smiling on the dew that covers
The tearful roses; lo, the little lovers
That kiss the buds, and all the flutterings
In jasmine bloom, and privet, of white wings,
That go and come, and fly, and peep and hide,
With muffled music, murmured far and wide.

Ah, the Spring time, when we think of all the lays
That dreamy lovers send to dreamy mays,
Of the fond hearts within a billet bound,
Of all the soft silk paper that pens wound,
The messages of love that mortals write
Filled with intoxication of delight,
Written in April and before the May time
Shredded and flown, playthings for the wind’s playtime,
We dream that all white butterflies above,
Who seek through clouds or waters souls to love,
And leave their lady mistress in despair,
To flit to flowers, as kinder and more fair,
Are but torn love-letters, that through the skies
Flutter, and float, and change to butterflies


Otters of the River Suir , County Tipperary

Otters of the River Suir County Tipperary Nigel Borrington

Otters of the River Suir
County Tipperary
Nigel Borrington

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.

otter-on-the-river-suir-5-nigel-borrington

Distribution

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.

otter-on-the-river-suir-4-nigel-borrington

Reproduction

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.

Foraging

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.

otter-on-the-river-suir-2-nigel-borrington

Conservation Status

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.


September on the River : Swans on the river Suir, County Tipperary, Photo Story

September on the river Suir County Tipperary Irish nature and Landscapes Nigel Borrington

September on the river Suir
County Tipperary
Irish nature and Landscapes
Nigel Borrington

September Swans river Suir Tipperary Nigel Borrington 01

September Swans river Suir Tipperary Nigel Borrington 03

September Swans river Suir Tipperary Nigel Borrington 04

September Swans river Suir Tipperary Nigel Borrington 05

September Swans river Suir Tipperary Nigel Borrington 02


Returning to Skellig Michael, an island escape

Skellig Michael 30
Skellig Michael, county Kerry, Ireland
Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

I first visited Skellig Michael in 2012 and the following images and post were taken and created during and following this visit, since then the island has been used during the making of the latest Star Wars movie “The Force Awakens”.

While no one worried too much about this remote and sacred place being used for this purpose, I think a lot of people are very much hoping that it does not mark the start of the island being openly used in such away, here it Ireland places like this are treasured and their peace is defended strongly. The Island is also the home to some very unique and protected wildlife.

Skellig Michael : an island escape

Skellig Michael is an Island some 12 to 16 kilometres by boat from the ring of kerry, county Kerry, Ireland. It is most famous for the fact that during the 6th to the 8th Century’s a religious settlement was established here.

The Island is a world heritage site and falls under the guardianship of UNESCO, you can find the official historic details from the link on the world heritage web page here : Skellig Michael

In my last two posts I shared the boat trip to the Island and then the long but wonderful walk up to the settlement at the very top of the Island some 218 meters from sea level. Today I just want to share images of the inside area , the location that the people who lived here spent their life’s and also the location in which they are buried and there final resting place.

The images in the Gallery below are placed in the order that you view the buildings when you walk through the site, the only access is through a small passage in the outer walls.

Skellig Michael 33

Skellig Michael 37

The very first thing that greets you are two small head stones, in a very small patch of grass. These are the graves of two young boys, it was a tradition that monks in this period would take very young boys as members to their orders. These boys where from families on the main land and once they moved here they would most likely never return to see there families. Our guide informed us that it is a possibility that both boys were killed by Viking invaders as when the remains where examined wounds were found that indicate that they were killed by the use of weapons, both boys did not pass the ages of ten or twelve. It is also thought that other graves in the pictures here, in the centre of the living area contain some adult victims of such attacks.

Skellig Michael 35

A monastery may have been founded as early as the sixth century, reputedly by Saint Fionán but in 1044 rededicated to Saint Michael, the image here shows a large sculpture that is located towards the middle of the complex. It was described by our guide as being a cross but it could also be very much in the form of a human figure, with the arms to the side and a head looking over the site.

The word Skellig is defined as meaning “splinter of a stone”, and thus this rocky island was dedicated to saint Michael, there are also other Islands around Europe and maybe further away that are dedicated to this saint ( Mont Saint-Michel France, St Michael’s Mount Cornwall)

Skellig Michael 24

One of the most famous features of Skellig Michael are the so called Beehive structures, there were may be six or seven of these of which six are still standing, they were the living spaces for each of the monks, this fact would indicate that a maximum of seven people lived here in the beehives at any one time, there is a structure at the very end of the settlement that is constructed completely differently, It is thought that the head of the order would have lived in this building but few fact to prove this exist.

In any case the indications are that eight people lived on Skellig Michael at anyone time during its long history.

Living with in these stone constructions looks very harsh , during the time they were occupied however they would have looked very different, in some of the pictures you can see supporting stones that stick out of the main buildings by some amount, it is thought that these stones supported a covering of thatch consisting of straw and clay, this would have been deep and was used to keep the inner stone structure warn and dry. Not all but some of the Beehives have a hole in the roof that was used to let out smoke from fires inside.

At some point I want to post about the life’s of these people, who they where and why they chose to live here, I need to read a little more however , so for the moment that’s it. Three post over the last three day, that I hope share a visit to this wonderful and mystical island.

If you get a chance I would really encourage you to visit. Its an experience of a lifetime and helps you to open your mind to European history.

I cannot help however feeling that this place holds something else other than the official history, The question as to why these monks felt the need to occupy Skellig Michael, so far of the Irish coast line, is very big !

This place feels like an escape, a refuge but from what and why ?

With such massive risk’s taken by a small group of people to construct three stone stair-ways to the top of the Island and then build the walled settlement, the question of why looms very large. These were times when the word of Christianity was first being spread across Ireland so why the need to hide away here ?

I need to do much more reading, before I understand these bigger questions 🙂 and even then maybe some of the answers have been lost !

Gallery

Skellig Michael 23

Skellig Michael 31

Skellig Michael 33

Skellig Michael 34

Skellig Michael 35

Skellig Michael 43

Skellig Michael 38

Skellig Michael 40

Skellig Michael 39

Skellig Michael 42

Skellig Michael 37

Skellig Michael 36

Skellig Michael 41


Irish national tree week 2016

In the Irish Woodlands 2

In the Irish Woodlands 1

This week in Ireland is National tree week, so I thought I would share some of the images that I have taken during my time living here in county Kilkenny.

Irish Trees, a Gallery

Yesterdays Sun 2

Yesterdays Sun 5

Kells, county Kilkenny Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Birch Polypore fungi in January 1

Find a forest walk 1

Viewing tower Inistioge 1

Sigma SD15 Golden fall 1

Who Has Seen the Wind

KIlkenny landscape photography woodstock 2

KIlkenny landscape photography woodstock 5

Irish wild Mushrooms 5

Sunrise Fair Green Callan 1


When will I see the Bog Cotton again ?

Bog Cotton  Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Bog Cotton
Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Each year that comes and goes in the Irish bog-land landscape, for me is marked by the summer Bog Cotton. This amazing grass covers many of Ireland boggy wet lands , on the mountain sides and the low lands of midlands through out the country. Only for the fact that much of the Countries bogs are farmed for peat ( leaving the landscape scraped and scared, with no plant life left ! ) then their would be huge areas in the summer months all covered with white Cotton blowing in the wind.

When Will I see the Bog Cotton again ?

Well Starting from this May and June I hope, and I will be getting lots more pictures and just taking time to appreciate the views it brings !!!

Will I get to see the Bog cotton again 5

Will I get to see the Bog cotton again 1

Will I get to see the Bog cotton again 2

Will I get to see the Bog cotton again 3


Irish Landscape Photography : Winter in the woodlands

Irish Landscape Photography Winter in the Woodlands Nigel Borrington

Irish Landscape Photography
Winter in the Woodlands
Nigel Borrington

If you take a walk through some of the many Irish woodlands at this time of year, it may appear that there is little to see or take any images of. However I just love the textures and colours to be found during these months. Often the woodland floors are wet and this adds to some wonderful light to be found in photographs.

These Images are from a walk yesterday in one of out local woods.

Winter in the Irish Woodlands

Kilkenny in Winter Woodlands 00

Kilkenny in Winter Woodlands 01

Kilkenny in Winter Woodlands 02

Kilkenny in Winter Woodlands 03

Kilkenny in Winter Woodlands 04

Kilkenny in Winter Woodlands 05


Gorse flowers – in mythology

Irish Gorse flowers Nigel Borringtpn

Irish Gorse flowers
Nigel Borringtpn

Gorse flowers – in mythology

Gorse, also known as furze, is a sweet scented, yellow flowered, spiny evergreen shrub that flowers all year round.

In fact, there are several species of gorse that flower at different times of the year making it a much-loved plant for the bees and giving it the appearance of being in bloom all year long. There is an old saying that goes, “When the gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of season.”
Gorse Tree copyright Ireland Calling

Gorse is often associated with love and fertility. It was for this reason that a sprig of gorse was traditionally added to a bride’s bouquet and gorse torches were ritually burned around livestock to protect against sterility. However, one should never give gorse flowers to another as a gift for it is unlucky for both the giver and receiver.

Monday Mornings in Kilkenny 02
.

Beltane bonfires

Gorse wood was used as very effective tinder. It has a high oil content which means it burns at a similar high temperature to charcoal. The ashes of the burnt gorse were high in alkali and used to make soap when mixed with animal fat.

Onn, meaning gorse, is the 17th letter of the ogham alphabet. It equates to the English letter O.

In Celtic tradition, gorse was one of the sacred woods burned on the Beltane bonfires, probably the one that got them started. It was a shrub associated with the spring equinox and the Celtic god of light, Lugh, doubtlessly because of its ever blooming vibrant yellow flowers.

In Brittany, the Celtic summer festival of Lughnastdagh, named after the god, was known as the Festival of Golden Gorse.


Flowers used in wine and whiskey

The flowers have a distinct vanilla-coconut aroma and are edible with an almond-like taste. They can be eaten raw on salads or pickled like capers. They have also been used to make wine and to add colour and flavour to Irish whiskey. However, consuming the flowers in great numbers can cause an upset stomach due to the alkalis they contain.

The prickly nature of gorse gave it a protective reputation, specifically around livestock. As well as providing an effective hedgerow, gorse made an acceptable flea repellent and the plant was often milled to make animal fodder.


Kilkenny Photography – Nature images

Butter Cap Fungi 1
Butter Cap Fungi
Nature Photography : Nigel Borrington

While I was out walking on Sunday , I noticed the first mushrooms growing in our local woodlands so I took these images.

These Mushrooms are Butter cap Fungi as described below.

We are still in summer time but heading quickly towards the late months of the season, it was great to look ahead to the forests coming to life with all kinds of Fungi.

Distribution

Very common and widespread across Britain and Ireland as well as throughout mainland Europe, the Butter Cap is also found in the USA, where it is sometimes referred to as the Buttery Collybia, and in many other parts of the world.

Sometimes found in deciduous woodland, Rhodocollybia butyraceae is mainly associated with coniferous forests on acid soils, where it grows in large numbers beneath even the darkest of canopies.

Kilkenny Photography – Nature Gallery

Butter Cap Fungi 5

Butter Cap Fungi 2

Butter Cap Fungi 3

Butter Cap Fungi 4


The Oak tree in Pagan life, Poems and Oak tree stories.

The Oak tree

Mighty Oak Tree

By : Russell Sivey

The mighty oak tree sits near
Orange and red leaves
Looking like it is on fire
They clog up the eaves
Beautiful to see Sight
unlike any around In awe completely

The Oak tree in Pagan Mythology

An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus, of the beech family Fagaceae, having approximately 600 extant species.

The Pagan world gave the Oak tree the following properties :

Planet: Jupiter and Mars
Element: Water
Symbolism: Sovereignty, rulership, power,
Strength & Endurance, Generosity & Protection, Justice & Nobility, Honesty & Bravery
Stone: Diamond, Aventuring
Metal: Gold
Birds: Oriole, Wren
Color: Gold
Deity: The Dagda, The Green Man, Janus, Diana, Cybele, Hecate, Pan
Sabbat: Summer Solstice (Litha)
Folk Names: Jove’s Nuts, Juglans

Medicinal properties:

The medicinal park of the Oak is its bark, because of the strong astringent properties. Internally as a tea it helps fight diarrhea and dysentery. Externally it can be used to treat hemorrhoids, inflamed gums, wounds, and eczema. The tannin found in oak can help reduce minor blistering by boiling a piece of the bark in a small amount of water until a strong solution is reached, and applying to the affected area. To cure frostbite, American folk medicine called for collecting oak leaves that had remained on the tree all through the winter. These leaves were boiled to obtain a solution in which the frostbitten extremities would soak for an hour each day for a week.

Magickal properties:

Dreaming of resting under an oak tree means you will have a long life and wealth. Climbing the tree in your dream means a relative will have a hard time of it in the near future. Dreaming of a fallen oak means the loss of love. If you catch a falling oak leaf you shall have no colds all winter. If someone does get sick, warm the house with an oakwood fire to shoo away the illness. Carry an acorn against illnesses and pains, for immortality and youthfulness, and to increase fertility and sexual potency.

Carrying any piece of the oak draws good luck to you (remember to ask permission and show gratitude.)

Oak twigs bound together with red thread into a solar cross or a pentagram will make a mighty protective talisman for the home, car, or in your desk or locker at work.

“Oaken twigs and strings of red Deflect all harm, gossip and dread.”

Celtic Moon sign – Oak Moon

The oak tree endures what others cannot. It remains strong through challenges, and is known for being almost immortal, as is often attested to by its long life and ability to survive fire, lightning strikes, and devastation. If you were born under this sign, you have the strength of character and purpose to endure, too – no matter what your challenges. Direct your energies wisely, make sure your your risks are well-calculated, and you’ll overcome whatever seemingly “impossible” quests are sent to you.
Written by Kim Rogers-Gallagher, and Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2000

The Oak moon falls during a time when the trees are beginning to reach their full blooming stages. The mighty Oak is strong, powerful, and typically towering over all of its neighbors. The Oak King rules over the summer months, and this tree was sacred to the Druids. The Celts called this month Duir, which some scholars believe to mean “door”, the root word of “Druid”. The Oak is connected with spells for protection and strength, fertility, money and success, and good fortune. Carry an acorn in your pocket when you go to an interview or business meeting; it will be bring you good luck. If you catch a falling Oak leaf before it hits the ground, you’ll stay healthy the following year.

Growth and fertility spells work best at this time of the year. Focus on building and consolidation your wisdom, endurance and security.

Lesson of the Oak

from The Wisdom of Trees

by Jane Gifford

The oak represents courage and endurance and the protective power of faith. The tree’s noble presence and nurturing habit reassured ancient peoples that, with the good will of their gods, their leader, and their warriors, they could prevail against all odds. As the Tree of the Dagda, the oak offers protection and hospitality without question, although its true rewards are only apparent to the honest and brave. The ancient Celts deplored lies and cowardice.

To be judged mean spirited could result in exclusion from the clan, which was one of the most shameful and most feared of all possible punishments. Like the oak, we would do well to receive without prejudice all those who seek our help, sharing what we have without resentment or reservation. The oak reminds us all that the strength to prevail, come what may, lies in an open mind and a generous spirit. Inflexibility, however, is the oak’s one weakness and the tree is prone to lose limbs in storms.

The oak therefore carries the warning that stubborn strength that resists will not endure and may break under strain.

The Oak Fairy

by Teresa Moorey

Oak is one of the most sacred trees, traditionally prized by the Celts and Druids. The oak fairy is very powerful, and imparts strength and endurance to any who stay within its aura.

Each oak tree is a very metropolis of fairies, and each acorn has its own sprite. Bringing one into the house is a way to enhance contact with the fairy realm. Oak beams are often used to make doors, but the tree itself is a great portal to the other realms.

The oak is associated with many gods all over the world, notably Zeus and Thor. In sacred groves of oak, the Goddess was believed to impart her wisdom through oracles. The oak has sheltered many a king and hero, in myth and real life. The oak spirit is distinct from fairies, and may become very angry if trees are felled or wildlife harmed.

The oak fairy brings courage and a stout heart, necessary to brave the challenges in this world and to journey in the Otherworld. Bearing strength from the heart of the earth, oak fairy can bring steadiness and a deep joy that endures through all.

Oak Tree.

By : Bernard Shaw

I took an acorn and put it in a pot.
I then covered it with earth, not a lot.
Great pleasure was mine watching it grow.
The first budding green came ever so slow.

I watered my plant twice a week
I knew I would transplant it down by the creek.
One day it will be a giant oak,
To shield me from the sun a sheltering cloak.
Lovers will carve their initials in the bark,
An arrow through a heart they will leave their mark.

It will shelter those caught in a fine summers rain,
Under its leafy bows joy will be again.
Creatures of the wilds will claim it for their own,
Squirrels will reside here in their own home.

Birds will build nests and raise their young,
They will sing melodies a chorus well sung.
Under it’s branches grass will grow,
Here and there a wild flower it’s head will show.

My oak tree for hundreds of years will live.
Perhaps the most important thing I had to give.


The Bog of Allen (Móin Alúine in Irish) , Gallery

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The Bog of Allen (Móin Alúine), County Laois
Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

The Bog of Allen

The Bog of Allen is one of my favourite places to visit in Ireland for Walking and Landscape Photography. It covers some 958 square kilometers (370 square miles) stretching into County Offaly, County Meath, County Kildare, County Laois, and County Westmeath.

Although it main function is for Peat production, which is mechanically harvested on a large scale by Bórd na Móna, the government-owned peat production industry.

The bog of Allen is one of the most tranquil areas in the country and of great inter national importance.

This link shows how a raised bog is formed : raised bog formation

The Images below were taken on a recent visit and I feel that they show just how amazing this location is, from the large open sky’s and landscape to the amazing colours produced by Sphagnum moss and its flowers.

Gallery

The bog of Allen 2

The bog of Allen 3

The bog of Allen 4

The bog of Allen 5

The bog of Allen 6

The bog of Allen 7

The bog of Allen 8


Hairy Wood Ants (Formica lugubris) , Irish woodland wildlife.

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Hairy Wood Ants( Formica lugubris)
Wildlife and Nature photography : Nigel Borrington

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.

Gallery

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Irish wood ants 9

Irish wood ants 1

Irish wood ants 2

Irish wood ants 3

Irish wood ants 4

Irish wood ants 5

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Irish wood ants 7

Irish wood ants 8


The Blue Monday’s of May – Sitting in the Bluebells

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Bluebell Monday in Knockadrina woods, County Kilkenny
Landscape photography : Nigel Borrington

Blue Monday’s of May

Monday again and the month of May is truly in full flight in our local woodlands, In an effort to get my week started I took Molly for a walk in the woods and found the entire woodland floor covered in Blue bells.

Each Springtime these wonderful flower, fill the woods with the colour blue and its just a fantastic moment. It easy to forget just how green the these place are for most of the year. We get the odd purple orchid and yellow of other flowers but only during May do we get the colour blue filling the forest floor in every direction.

The Month of May – a blue month…….

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Sitting in the blues bells 4

Sitting in the blues bells 3

Sitting in the blues bells 5


The first spring Primrose on the river Lingaun

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Primrose along the river Lingaun
Nature Photography : Nigel Borrington

At the end of June 2013 I posted about the “last of the Primrose” , well its hard to believe that its a full year since the first Primrose’s flowered in 2013 but these wonderful little river bank flowers are back again.

These Primrose grow beside the banks of the river Linguan as it works its way down towards the river suir, at Carrick -on-suir. I take Molly our golden retriever here for a swim in the rock pools, its a perfect place on a spring day.

I found the following information about Primrose’s :

Botanical Information

Primrose Flowers

Primroses grow on shady river banks, and in woods and hedges and are common in Ireland. The characteristic rosette of green crinkled leaves appears first in March. The flowers then come up on individual stalks and open in the month of April. The flowers have five pale yellow petals.

In some flowers the stems are very long and the centre is small – these are called thrum flowers. If on the other hand you are looking at a flower with very short stem, it is called a pin flower.

They are perennial flowers, which means that they survive from year to year and grow again every Spring without having to be planted.

Folklore

Primroses were very important to farmers long ago for their cows. The butter-making season began in May and in order to be sure that the cows would produce lots of milk for butter, primroses were rubbed on their udders. In other houses primroses were scattered on the thresholds of houses before dawn on May day to protect the butter from the fairies.

Primroses were also associated with hens and the laying of eggs. It was considered unlucky to bring primroses into the house if eggs were being hatched there.

Primroses were often gathered and given as a gift. However it was considered to be very unlucky to give just a single primrose, whereas a very full bunch would be a protection against evil spirits.

Primroses bloomed in Tír na nÓg and people returning from there in the old Irish legends always brought primroses as proof that they had been there.

In folk medicine, rubbing a toothache with a primrose leaf for two minutes would give relief from the pain. It was also widely used as a cure for jaundice.

Poem

What is a Primrose?

To the question, “what is a primrose?”
There are several valid answers

One person says,
“A primrose by the river´s brim”
A yellow plant was to him, just that.
Nothing more.

Another, a scientist, says,
“A primrose is a delicately balanced
Biochemical mechanism requiring
Potash, phosphates, nitrogen and water
In definite proportions”

A third person says they are,
“Primrose of spring from the gods”

All these statements are true.

Primrose along the river Lingaun, Gallery

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Primrose 02

Primrose 04

Primrose 03


Easter (Ostara) time and the, Hawthorn Flowers

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Crataegus monogyna, Common hawthorn, County Kilkenny
Nature Photography : Nigel Borrington

Easter(Ostara) time and Hawthorn flowers

In my last post I hinted that I was going to take a little time off over the Easter holidays, sometime away from my phone or laptop and get outside as much as possible, its spring time here and after all our winter storms the landscape is returning to life with colour and wildlife in full flow.

Yesterday I took some time to do some long walks, just myself and Molly our Golden retriever, around many of county Kilkenny’s paths and country lanes.

Each Easter here one of the first signs of Spring and Summer is the Hawthorn flowers, Hawthorn is a very popular form of hedging in the county and all the road side and field hedges turn to white as the flowers bloom.

The images here I hope show just how white and full these flowers are, its a wonderful sight each year and really lets you know that summer is only just around the corner..

Hawthorn Flowers : Gallery

Easter hawthorn bush 01

Easter hawthorn bush 02

Easter hawthorn bush 03

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