Today is the first day of Spring, the year is moving fast and soon we will be treated to the wonderful sights of new plants a wildlife in the landscape around use.
So I just wanted to post some nature images to mark and calibrate the day !!!
Welcome to Spring 2014 !!!
Spring time gallery 2014
During the Winter months the Suns is sitting low in the sky for most of the day, this is a feature that I personally like a lot when taking images. Long shadows form on the landscape from woodlands and trees , hedge rows form deep and dark areas in your images during the morning and long into the afternoon.
What about the Sun in the deepness of the forests, its light finds it hard to penetrate far into the woodlands and onto forest floors.
If you get as deep into the woods as you can and find an thinned area of old tall trees however the light that does get through can be used to wonderful effect, in the images below I did my best to capture the light that was getting through, making use of some moss covered rocked and the trunks of the trees themselves.
One thing I noticed was that if you position the sun right behind a tree , the light wraps its way around both sides of the trees in front of you, forming an outline of sun light.
I also very much like placing the sun on the very edge of the image or just outside it and using lens flare to bring a beam of light on to some of the rocks and plants.
Following the suns light through the trees: Gallery
is a genus of about 400 species of flowering plants in the family Hypericaceae
Some species are used as ornamental plants and have large, showy flowers. Numerous hybrids and cultivars have been developed for use in horticulture, such as H. × moserianum (H. calycinum × H. patulum), H. ‘Hidcote’ and H. ‘Rowallane’. All of the above cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
St. John’s-worts can occur as nuisance weeds in farmland and gardens. On pastures, some can be more than a nuisance, causing debilitating photosensitivity and sometimes abortion in livestock. The beetles Chrysolina quadrigemina, Chrysolina hyperici and the St. John’s-wort Root Borer (Agrilus hyperici) like to feed on Common St. John’s-wort (H. perforatum) and have been used for biocontrol where the plant has become an invasive weed.
Hypericum species are the only known food plants of the caterpillar of the Treble-bar, a species of moth. Other Lepidoptera species whose larvae sometimes feed on Hypericum include Common Emerald, The Engrailed (recorded on Imperforate St. John’s-wort, H. maculatum), Grey Pug and Setaceous Hebrew Character.
Hypericum olympicum in Botanic garden Liberec
Common St. John’s-wort (H. perforatum) has long been used in herbalism. It was known to have medical properties in Classical Antiquity and was a standard component of theriacs, from the Mithridate of Aulus Cornelius Celsus’ De Medicina (ca. 30 CE) to the Venice treacle of d’Amsterdammer Apotheek in 1686. Folk usages included oily extract (“St. John’s oil”) and Hypericum snaps.
H. perforatum is the most potent species and it is today grown commercially for use in herbalism and medicine; other St. John’s-worts possess interesting properties and chemical compounds but are not well researched. As these secondary compounds appear to be related to deterring herbivores, they are present in varying and unpredictable quantities: still, a number of high-yield cultivars have been developed.
Two main compounds of interest have been studied in more detail: hyperforin and hypericin. However, the pharmacology of H. perforatum is not resolved, and at least its antidepressant properties are caused by a wide range of factors interacting. As psychiatric medication, it is usually taken as pills, or as tea. Standardised preparations are available, and research has mainly studied alcoholic extracts and isolated compounds. What research data exists supports a noticeable effect in many cases of light and medium depression, but no significant improvement of severe depression and OCD.
The red, oily extract of H. perforatum may help heal wounds. Both hypericin and hyperforin are reported to have antibiotic properties. Justifying this view with the then-current doctrine of signatures, herbalist William Coles (1626–1662) wrote in the 17th century that
“The little holes where of the leaves of Saint Johns wort are full, doe resemble all the pores of the skin and therefore it is profitable for all hurts and wounds that can happen thereunto.”
Hypericum perforatum may also be capable of reducing the physical signs of opiate withdrawal. Caution should be taken, as high-dosage H. perforatum interacts with a wide range of medications due to activation of the Pregnane X receptor detoxification pathway, and it also causes photosensitivity.
Hypericum extract, by inducing both the CYP3A4 and the P-glycoprotein (P-gp), can reduce the plasma concentrations of different antineoplastic agents such as imatinib, irinotecan and docetaxel, thus reducing the clinical efficacy of these drugs.
Its the weekend, so why not get out and explore. Spend sometime walking and discovering the things that Autumn has to offer …..
The nature that Autumn brings : Gallery
The crows will only grow louder
By : Laura Breidenthal
There is no celestial place for you to guide my thoughts
Can you not see that I am free from you?
I am a crow perched high in the treetops
You will hear my crowing and you may hate it
But, you cannot take away my voice!
Yet still, as fire oppresses forests of life,
You can abuse my freedom to find your glory
You may discard these words for your love of gods,
And in so doing you may simply ignore
All the cries that I so passionately utter
But my infectious species will guide your mind straight back
To that once so lonely treetop where you merely glanced
And there will be multitudinous, oppressing thoughts
That shall enslave you and bind you unwillingly
The crows will only grow louder when you turn away—
When you pretend to ignore with your remaining, strangling pride
For my voice is a production sent from above
Dispatched to judge you pitilessly for your swelling lies!
And the choirs of ferocious beaks shall open forever
Harmony and dissonance as one
The Mute Swan
Our largest bird, the mute swan is also the most common swan species in Europe. Its widespread distribution is linked in part to its domestication at various periods in history. These elegant, graceful birds can be seen all year round on lakes, rivers and ponds around the country, even in the middle of our cities. Most of the swans we see today are wild birds, although some, particularly in urban areas, are likely descended from domestic lines and remain semi-dependent on human supplements to naturally available food sources.
The mute swan’s graceful appearance belies a somewhat belligerent demeanour. Adults regularly bully smaller species and in the breeding season the male stakes out a large area of water and defends it aggressively against all-comers. While not strictly mute, the mute swan is a much less vocal bird than the other species of swan found in Ireland, the Bewick’s swan and the whooper swan, both scarce winter visitors. Its repertoire consists mainly of soft grunts, snorts and hisses – with the occasionally feeble trumpet. In flight however the swan is anything but silent: it’s wings create a loud, rhythmic throbbing noise as they beat the air, the rhythm of which is said to have inspired Wagner when composing Ride of the Valkyrie.
Take off is a laboured affair with the swans running across the surface of the water to gain momentum while frantically beating their powerful wings in a struggle to get airborne. Once in the air, however, flight is fast and smooth with slow, powerful wing-beats and outstretched neck. Swans land on the water, skiing across the surface to slow their substantial bulk before settling.
On the water mute swans cruise gracefully, their necks held in a characteristic curve not found in other swan species. The male, or cob, is slightly larger than the female, or pen, with a larger black knob at the base of the orange-red bill. Breeding usually takes place on still inland waterways from late April. The pair builds an enormous nest of water plants, sometimes up to 13 feet (4 metres) across, close to the water. Three to eight large blue-grey eggs are laid and the adults will defend the nest aggresively. The sight of an attacking adult is usually enough to keep most intruders away, including people. Reports of human injury from swan attack are greatly exaggerated, although a bird of this size and power is certainly capable of inflicting damage. As a rule of thumb swans on and around the nest site should be left well alone.
Cygnets hatch in 34-38 days, and the female often carries her downy grey offspring on her back, where they can be seen peeking out from beneath her arched wings. The family usually stay together until the following spring, when the aggressive parents will chase off the younger birds as they start to get their white adult plumage. The young birds will take three to four years to mature and can live for up to twenty years.
There are thought to be 20,000 or so mute swans in Ireland. Unlike the Bewick’s swan and whooper swan, which are migratory, the resident mute swan rarely moves far, although individuals have been recorded travelling over 200 miles. During the post-breeding moult and over the winter mute swans sometimes gather in large flocks on certain bodies of water, like lakes and estuaries, where their incessant foraging can seriously deplete limited stocks of aquatic plant life.
The oft-quoted statement that mute swans pair for life is in fact a myth, although it is not uncommon for the same pair to breed in consecutive years. It is, of course, also untrue that if one of a pair of swans dies that the other will soon die of a broken heart.
by Calvin Jones
One sight I love to see in the summertime is the Peacock butterfly as I walk through the local county kilkenny woodlands, They add so much life and colour to the green of the hedgerows and paths.
Unlike some wildlife they are not hard to find or take pictures of, you do need to move very slowly in order not to disturbed them and you need a camera with a macro lens.
The butterfly conservation website has the following details.
Scientific name: Aglais io
Red wings with black markings and distinctive eyespots on tips of fore and hind wings.
The Peacock’s spectacular pattern of eyespots, evolved to startle or confuse predators, make it one of the most easily recognized and best known species. It is from these wing markings that the butterfly gained its common name. Undersides of the wings are very dark and look like dead leaves. A fairly large butterfly and a strong flyer.
Although a familiar visitor to garden buddleias in late summer, the Peacock’s strong flight and nomadic instincts lead it to range widely through the countryside, often finding its preferred habitats in the shelter of woodland clearings, rides, and edges.
The species is widespread and has continued to expand its range in northern parts of Britain and Ireland.
Size and Family
Family – Nymphalids
Wing Span Range (male to female) – 63-69mm
UK BAP status: Not listed
Butterfly Conservation priority: Low
European status: Not threatened
Common Nettle (Urtica dioica), although eggs and larvae are occasionally reported on Small Nettle (U. urens) and Hop (Humulus lupulus)
Countries – England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales
Throughout Britain and Ireland
Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = +17%
Common and found in a range of habitats.
Wild Cotton grass, Comeragh mountains, county Waterford
Last evening we went for a long walk with our dog through the comeragh mountains and came across an area of Bog cotton, it covered the entire hill side and valley in front of us as we walked through it.
So I just wanted to share this wonderful view and I hope get across just how amazing a view this offers on the hill sides of these mountains in the middle of a very warm July.
Common Grass Cotton
As its other common name, Bog Cotton, might suggest, this is a plant of very damp peaty ground. Its leaves mostly arise from the base of the plant, often being tinged with red or brown. It has tiny insignificant little brown flowers in April and May but it is really when it is in fruit that this becomes a most eye-catching and attractive plant. Borne on 30-50cm high, cylindrical stems, the little seeds are held in fluffy, downy, white tufts which quiver and shake in the wind, a most effective dispersal method. This is a native pant belonging to the family Cyperaceae.
Wild Cotton grass – Gallery
Rosa spinosissima (Briúlán)
A walk along a woodland path or river bank at this time of year will give you a wonderful view of Ireland wild flowers, yesterday I photographed these wild roses.
“This little rose is such a delight to find, usually on sandy soil, limestone pavements and grassy heaths. It’s an erect, bushy shrub, about 50cm in height with numerous straight thorns and stiff bristles. Its pretty 3-5cm flowers can be white, cream or pink and are comprised of five heart-shaped petals. They flower from May to August after which the bush displays its fruit in spherical, purplish-black hips which still have the remnants of the sepals at their tops. The leaves are 3-5 pairs of small rounded leaflets. This shrub usually sheds its leaves in winter. It is a native plant belonging to the family Rosaceae. There are some microspecies. ”
Ref : Wildflowers of Ireland
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
Cuckoo flowers on the banks of the Kings river, Kells, County kilkenny…..