Wednesday 20 March 2013

Needle in a Haystack

 The Fastnet Rock and light house which was to be the turning point today- quite literally!

We had motored our way along the Southern West Cork coast this morning, in conditions which could only be described as perfect. So glassy-calm was the sea, it was possible to catch the reflections of the clouds in the water. Despite the glorious sunshine warming our backs, the air was still chill but after all it is only March. 

So what were we doing? On Monday, there had been a sighting of a new Humpback whale just off Baltimore. Whilst this sub-adult whale was feeding, it had been possible to catch photographs of the dorsal fin which confirmed it was indeed a new visitor and was numbered HBIRL22. For the second year running, the Humpbacks were in the waters where they had not been recorded during March or April before. To the IWDG this was exciting news and a research trip on the Holly Jo was quickly convened for today. Fortunately for me, I was still going to be in West Cork and jumped at the chance to go and be a pair of eyes in the search for HBIRL22.

All along the coast, past the Stags where I had watched the early whale visitors last year and on past Baltimore where this new little fella had been spotted on Monday but we saw nothing. We knew from the start that it was going to be a needle in a haystack search but undeterred, we kept our watch as we motored on towards the Fastnet Rock, which became the turning point on our trip. The circumnavigation of 'The Teardrop of Ireland' was a first tick for me. Some 17 miles as the crow flies from our bedroom window, and from where we can see it flashing at night, it had become a definite must visit, although this wasn't what I had been expecting to photograph today. Rather we had hoped for the fluke shots to complete the essential cataloguing for research purposes.

Meanwhile, the ever opportunistic Colin Barnes threw a fishing line overboard, and along with Padraig Whooley of the IWDG, they amassed a box full of pollock, enough to feed everyone for dinner tonight (apart from me as the' low fares airline' wouldn't be too impressed with me stinking out the cabin on my home bound flight tonight!).

So this became the overriding memory of the trip today.
Calm seas, sunshine, Fastnet and pollock, but no Humpback whale.

Such is wildlife life.

Here is a link to a GPS tracking of the route we covered.
My thanks to fellow IWDG member Robert Newton for letting me share this.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

St Patrick's Day Parade. Skibbereen 2013

The sun shone on Sunday for the St Patrick's Day parade in Skibbereen, West Cork, whilst not far away in Castletownbere, they braved their parade in the pouring rain. With only a few drops of rain being whisked in by a sharp breeze during the last few minutes of the parade, the people of Skibbereen were fortunate indeed.

These are just a few of my images from the day. There will be more to follow but I am suffering serious editing issues when it comes to volume, as my resident Mac here in West Cork is now rather too long in the tooth to cope with anything more than a couple of edits. (Is there a benevolent Mac donor out there?!)

Needless to say, just as soon as I have the rest of the images available, they will join this post. You may find some images to smile at, or some that are a series of images which tell a particular story. Meanwhile, enjoy what is here.

(All images are Copyright 2013 Ailec Photography. High resolution copies are available on request)

Don't you just love this one?

The splendid Labraid Loingseach which deserves a post all of its own before too long.

This is the point where I risked my life... boiled sweets ricocheted off my lens hood and my head!
And did St Patrick obtain the boiled sweet he longingly looked at?

No, he declined it.

Sunday 17 March 2013

Happy St Patrick's Day from Skibbereen

Happy St Patrick's Day to all of my Irish friends

For a full round-up of images from the Skibbereen St Patrick's Day Parade 2013
click here to view the next post

And a big thanks to all the guys from Fields SuperValu in Skibbereen who kindly kept me stocked with
Milky Way Magic Stars, for the duration of the procession this afternoon.

(High resolution copy of this image is available to order, please send request via contact button on the right of this page)

Sunday 10 March 2013

Surprises and Wishes

On Tuesday I was basking in the comparatively balmy temperatures of 13+ degrees whilst out on my daily walk.
It was beautiful!
Finally, after a miserable Winter, Spring was with us at last...

...or was it? This morning we woke to a covering of snow and had to face almost blizzard-like conditions out on the walk. Although a change of weather had been forecast, it had still surprised us.

During this time of changeable weather, it is more important than ever to continue with feeding the garden birds, and as a result it becomes a source of pleasure to sit and watch the birds from our kitchen window. Our avian neighbours arrive with eager anticipation for the daily helping of meal worms which I put out on the wall. Next, they are all carefully gobbled up, unbelievably systematically, from left to right, dunnocks, wood pigeons and blackbirds all arriving for a share.

However, some seem to secure a larger share than others, and it has been noted that the female blackbirds, of which there appear to be two regulars, come in for their essential nutrition in preparation for the impending breeding season. So in need are they, that they do anything to chase off all other food contenders in their quest, over-sized wood pigeons included. They are feisty to the degree that even the male blackbirds have learnt to give them a wide berth, just as this one I caught today, always keeping half an eye to ensure they don't get surprised by the future mother of their brood.

Motherhood (existing or impending) is clearly powerful both in the natural world and in our own lives, and so with that, I would like to send my wishes to my mother and thank my own off-spring for their wishes too on this Mothering Sunday.

To mothers everywhere, all good wishes.