**By the way, a bit of a celebration here... this is my 500th blog post - hip hip hooray!**
During my trip out to West Cork last week, the weather was kind enough (for once) for me to get out and about with my camera. Although this visit was made for a particular assignment, it was the unplanned shots that ended up being the winners for me. However, I must warn you that you may find some of the following images upsetting.
Rainbows, a phenomenon which never cease to please but it is a case of being in the right place at the right time, so when this one suddenly appeared over Dooneen, as I was going out on a tea-time foray at the end of a glorious day, I was fortunate to be set up with my gear.
Rolling a little further down the hill and I came across the next phenomenon - starlings. There is a small murmuration that happens around Bawnishall most evenings between late Autumn and early Spring. Nothing on the scale of the Fen Drayton show I usually go to watch here in the UK but wonderful none the less.
On this particular evening they were just starting to gather on the wires as I sat watching from the rain protected car, their distinctive chatter confirming their presence.
An hour or so later on my return journey along the Glandore road, the next phenomenon caught my eye. The rooks were noisily having their turn at gathering for the night - safety in numbers and all that. In the trees, along the wires - in the fading light it could be viewed as menacing but for me, a fascinating thing to watch. How they all stay put on a swaying wire amazes me and depending on which way they faced, they carefully adjusted their 'trim'. The overall effect was like looking at a bird-barbed wire (and as I was tucked in on a narrow road, I was getting barbed looks from the passing motorists too!)
A phenomenon which can either be interesting or distressing is cetacean stranding. Live strandings, whilst stressful for the creature, with the right care from trained volunteers they can have a successful outcome. Whales, dolphins and porpoises can be successfully returned to the sea.
Unfortunately, sometimes it is too late for a successful rescue, as it was for this common dolphin, which had been thrown over the sea wall by storm waves at Tragumna.
It was clear that this one, a female, had probably died at sea and was subsequently washed up in the carpark. I didn't know how long it had been there but I took the stance that it would be better to report the stranding to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group rather than assume it had already been reported.
In the event, IWDG's Padraig Whooley and Calvin Jones had already been on the case and their reporting of it has been logged.
Whilst this may seem a distasteful action in some eyes, this data is important in determining the health, welfare and habits of the cetacean population around the coast of Ireland
By the time I saw this stranding, the carcass had been at the location for almost a week, with the elements and predation clearly having taken its toll. Happily, by the next day, the carcass had been removed.
However, I couldn't help but be amazed at the zipper-like set of teeth.
Finally this phenomenon is practically something that occurs all the time but these unusual waves on 3rd March off the West Cork coast were seemingly appearing from nowhere in an otherwise calm sea. Such was the enormity of the waves, I was able to observe them breaking right over the top of the Fastnet Lighthouse, some seventeen miles in the distance. We shouldn't underestimate the power of the sea, as we have seen, the recent storms hitting the coast and doing millions in damage. However, it also has the power of cleansing by taking some of the unfortunate strandings back out to sea for nature to continue with recycling - you could say, one last phenomenon.