In January , I spend sometime capturing images of a family of otters on the river Suir, county Tipperary, this was great fun and one of the highlights of the year for my own nature photography.
A Seven image study of a Heron as it rests and hunts for Fish, standing on a stone at the river bank ……
I am always watching
the single heron at its place
alone at water, its open eye,
one leg lifted
or wading without seeming to move.
It is a mystery seen
but never touched
until this morning
when I lift it from its side
where it lays breathing.
I know the beak that could attack,
that unwavering golden eye
seeing me, my own saying I am harmless,
but if I had that eye, nothing would be safe.
The claws hold tight my hand,
its dun-brown feathers, and the gray
so perfectly laid down.
The bird is more beautiful
than my hand, skin more graceful
than my foot, my own dark eye
so much more vulnerable,
the heart beating quickly,
its own language speaking,
You could kill me or help me.
I know you and I have no choice
but to give myself up
and in whatever supremacy of this moment,
hold your human hand
with my bent claws.
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.
At this time of year our local woodlands are full of wildlife with the insects at the height of their activities.
I was lucky enough to capture this Predatory Sawfly, yesterday evening, just while there was enough sun-light left to help get a bright image 🙂
Sawfly is the common name for insects belonging to suborder Symphyta of the order Hymenoptera. Sawflies are distinguishable from most other hymenopterans by the broad connection between the abdomen and the thorax, and by their caterpillar-like larvae. The common name comes from the saw-like appearance of the ovipositor, which the females use to cut into the plants where they lay their eggs. Large populations of certain sawfly species can cause substantial economic damage to forests and cultivated plants.
The Children of Lir is a very old Irish legend. The original Irish title is “Clann Lir or Leanaí Lir”, but Lir is the genitive case of Lear. Lir is more often used as the name of the character in English. The legend is part of the Irish Mythological Cycle, which consists of numerous prose tales and poems found in medieval manuscripts.
The Children of Lir
Long ago there lived a king called Lir. He lived with his wife and four children: Fionnuala, Aodh, Fiachra and Conn. They lived in a castle in the middle of a forest. When Lir’s wife died they were all very sad. After a few years Lir got married again. He married a jealous wife called Aoife.
Aoife thought that Lir loved his children more than he loved her. Aoife hated the children. Soon she thought of a plan to get rid of the children.
One summer’s day Aoife took the children to swim in a lake near the castle. The children were really happy to be playing in the water. Suddenly Aoife took out a magic wand. There was a flash of light and the children were nowhere to be seen. All there was to be seen was four beautiful swans, with their feathers as white as snow.
Aoife said, “I have put you under a spell. You will be swans for nine hundred years,” she cackled. “You will spend three hundred years in Lough Derravaragh, three hundred years in the Sea of Moyle and three hundred years in the waters of Inish Glora,” Aoife said. She also said, “You will remain swans for nine hundred years until you hear the ring of a Christian bell.”
She went back to the castle and told Lir that his children had drowned. Lir was so sad he started crying. He rushed down to the lake and saw no children. He saw only four beautiful swans.
One of them spoke to him. It was Fionnuala who spoke to him. She told him what Aoife had done to them. Lir got very angry and turned Aoife into an ugly moth. When Lir died the children were very sad. When the time came they moved to the Sea of Moyle.
Soon the time came for their final journey. When they reached Inish Glora they were very tired. Early one morning they heard the sound of a Christian bell. They were so happy that they were human again. The monk (some even say it was St. Patrick himself) sprinkled holy water on them and then Fionnuala put her arms around her brothers and then the four of them fell on the ground. The monk buried them in one grave. That night he dreamed he saw four swans flying up through the clouds. He knew the children of Lir were with their mother and father.
This Spring I am planning another visit to the The Saltees Islands, St. George’s Channel. The Islands consist of the Great and Little Saltee, they are situated approximately 5 kilometers off the coast of Kilmore Quay Co.Wexford.
The larger island Great Saltee is the most famous bird sanctuary in Ireland and is very popular with both day-trippers and birdwatchers alike. These Islands are privately owned and are one of the world’s major bird sanctuaries.
It’s a wonderful visit to make if your into wildlife and Photography or just a wonderful place to spend the day.
The below images were taken last spring.
Saltee Island Gallery
By : Edwin John Pratt
For one carved instant as they flew,
The language had no simile—
Silver, crystal, ivory
Were tarnished. Etched upon the horizon blue,
The frieze must go unchallenged, for the lift
And carriage of the wings would stain the drift
Of stars against a tropic indigo
Or dull the parable of snow.
Now settling one by one
Within green hollows or where curled
Crests caught the spectrum from the sun,
A thousand wings are furled.
No clay-born lilies of the world
Could blow as free
As those wild orchids of the sea.
by : William Cowper
There is a bird who, by his coat
And by the hoarseness of his note,
Might be supposed a crow;
A great frequenter of the church,
Where, bishop-like, he finds a perch,
And dormitory too.
Above the steeple shines a plate,
That turns and turns, to indicate
From what point blows the weather.
Look up — your brains begin to swim,
‘Tis in the clouds — that pleases him,
He chooses it the rather.
Fond of the speculative height,
Thither he wings his airy flight,
And thence securely sees
The bustle and the rareeshow,
That occupy mankind below,
Secure and at his ease.
You think, no doubt, he sits and muses
On future broken bones and bruises,
If he should chance to fall.
No; not a single thought like that
Employs his philosophic pate,
Or troubles it at all.
He sees that this great roundabout,
The world, with all its motley rout,
Church, army, physic, law,
Its customs and its businesses,
Is no concern at all of his,
And says — what says he? — Caw.
Thrice happy bird! I too have seen
Much of the vanities of men;
And, sick of having seen ’em,
Would cheerfully these limbs resign
For such a pair of wings as thine
And such a head between ’em.
Puffins on skellig michael
I will post fully very soon on the Skellig Islands, a visit to both Islands is just Magical.
Each year the Islands are home to one of the worlds biggest colonies of Puffins and the above image is just one from many I got on a Visit back in July. The cliff top slopes on Skellig Michael are just breathtaking and you have to be very careful not to slip.
I really enjoyed getting these images as these wonderful bird are just magical to be around.
September is a wonderful month in Ireland, all the hedgerows come to life. Blackberries and insects, the red of autumn leaves and fading flowers.
My posts today will attempt to show just how wonderful the Hedgerows become at this time of the year.
When we first arrived at the lodge house in Kerry, Zoe the very friendly and helpful women who looks after the house told us about the Kerry sea-eagles project. She also informed us that even though they had not been seen for a couple of weeks, we did stand a great chance of spotting them.
Well one morning while walking Molly our golden retriever down to the banks of the lake, there they were soaring above the water. We watched them for about 15 minutes before they headed back towards the coast at Waterville.
I will never forget the sight of these birds just soaring high above us, well done to the people in the Kerry eagle project for reintroducing these wonderful birds to the Irish landscape.
Not everyone has welcomed them back to Ireland local Farmers for one, but they need to look at just how much money they bring into Scotland’s Islands since they were re-introduced, almost three million per year just because tourists come to get a view of them, above the hill’s of Mull and Skye.
On a very recent trip to the Skellig islands I got lots of images of the puffins that nest here in large numbers each year, Ireland has two large populations of Puffins, one here and the other the Saltee islands of the Wexford coast line.
When you visit both these locations, it is very hard to be perfectly honest to miss getting great images of these birds. They are very trusting of humans and can get very close to you, so even with a camera like the Canon G1x you can get some very good images. These are just two and I got lots more.
They are a lot smaller than you may think if you have never seen them in the flesh, it’s when you see them in flight that they are at their most impressive.
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.
I can remember the first time I came across the Slate quarries near Windgap, County Kilkenny, there are about four or five of these sites in the area all of the now disused and flooded, How long they have existed varies but all of them go back to the Victorian period.
The quarry in these images is located near Ahenny, Co.Kilkenny and the reason I find it more interesting than the others is that it still has remains of some cottages that the workers would have lived in during the period that the quarry was in operation.
I don’t know how deep the lake is, I have been swimming in it many times and it feels deep very deep, the miners would have had to blast most of the slate out and the sides of the lake go strait down below the water. If you swim underneath the water and down the sides a little you still cannot see the bottom of the quarry, many would feel a little unhappy swimming here.
There are some ten cottages in this row, its just around the corner from the lake, which when the quarry was in operation would have been a very dangerous location, with blasting and all the machinery in very close proximity to the cottages it cannot have been great living condition. This as-well the fact that the location is miles away from any village, the conditions for the worker must have been very poor.
The Quarries Today
Today these quarries have become a wildlife and natural reserve, slate lies everywhere but this has provided a haven for plant life and wildlife, Herons hunt in the rive below the quarry and the lake is full of fish. The area covers about 2 square miles.
I will come back to these quarries over the next weeks as they are wonderful places to post about and I love being around these quarries very much.
I was out early this Monday morning looking for a good start to the week along with having a hunt for a young Heron that I spotted at the weekend.
Each year we get these wonderful birds along the Kings river, county Kilkenny and its also wonderful to stop and photograph each years youngsters….
Two young Gulls taking a rest on a cliff top, on the Saltee islands, county Wexford…
I took this images on a visit to Heywood Gardens, County Laois, two years ago and then place some of the photographs into an exhibition held in Callan, Co. Kilkenny the same year.
Heywood Gardens are not vast, but they offer one of Ireland’s most private wildlife locations.
I am just doing a review of images that I have used for local exhibitions here in Kilkenny since 2008.
This image of a feeding Hover fly was displayed in a exhibition held in Callan, Co Kilkenny in 2009, It was printed onto photo board at A3 size.
Over the next week or so I will post some more of these images, as I would very much like to share them.
The Irish National Biodiversity Data Centre is one of the best resources you can get, if you want to do some wildlife photography.
You can use the on-line map to find the locations of any wildlife you are looking for.
This is the link for Bees and it contains plenty of valuable information, you can also log your own personal findings by setting up an account and adding your own data.
Nikon D7000, 50mm f1.4 lens
Great black backed Gull,Saltee Islands, County Wexford
Wildlife photography : Nigel Borrington
OK, lets put a bit of wildlife colour into the day….
I took this image on a visit to the Saltee islands, county wexford. This wonderful Black backed gull was guarding her eggs very well indeed . What I cannot get across in the picture is the noise of the islands, with thousands of these birds both on the ground and in the air it is one of the best wildlife experiences you could dream of having on a spring day.
The photograph in my last post is of the Saltee Islands, County wexford. You can only visit the island via boat and mostly with a wildlife group or on days when the boat is booked with a good amount of people. The island is a wildlife paradise and a photographers dream, you can find almost any position on the cliff tops to setup your camera and the birds will just come to you. However moving to find the type or group of bird is advisable.
The Saltee Islands has over 220 species of birds, these included images are of the Great black backed Gull.
“GREAT BLACK BACKED GULL
Great Black backed Gulls are the lords of the seabird colonies. They choose the highest vantage points to build their nests. The adults are unmistakable because of their size, jet black wings and mantle, measuring two and a half feet with a five foot wingspan. The massive bill is yellow with an orange spot on the lower mandible. If an intruder approaches the parents call anxiously and the young birds “freeze” in the dense cover and are hard to locate. The parents also will also make low swoops at the intruders head, however they seldom strike. Great Black backed Gulls breed on the island, and are in abundance all year.”
You can only stay on the island for a day as you have to leave on the last boat, this is to protect the environment of the island as birds nest on almost a hundred percent of the ground area and no camping would be possible.
I got some three hundred usable images from this day so will keep posting images along with some information on the wildlife involved….