Muck & The Smell Of Rotting Sprouts

GardenGroupHedgrowJan2013-3 by Jennifer Farley

Yesterday saw the first garden group outing of 2013, arranged as always by the lovely Peter Donegan and this time ably assisted by the youngest member of the group, the gorgeous Ella. This outing involved a walk around the hedgerows near Ballyboghill in North County Dublin. It was a fairly grey old day with lots of muck. I didn’t bring wellies and lost my shoe to the muck and had to use both hands (one still holding a camera) to pull it out. To add to the flavour of the day, some of the fields were producing a fairly strong aroma of rotting sprouts. This may not sound like fun, but of course it was. Like all of Peter’s outings there’s always something new to see (in this case a patch of purple sprouts) and meself and Jason always enjoy a trip out with the garden group. Check out Peter’s blog and radio show – the Sod Show on Dublin City FM.

Here’s a few more pics from the day.

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Cloudy, With A Chance Of Tornado At Coney Island

We were in New York last week, staying in Brooklyn for a week. I’ve always wanted to go to Coney Island having seen photographs of some very interesting people and pure kitcsh there that I find very appealing. The morning we went was very cloudy with weather storm warnings which myself and Jason ignored. “Pah, a bit of rain – we’re Irish for God’s sake”. You’ll see as this set of photographs progresses the clouds give way to torrential, monsoon-like rain. As it turns out a tornado touched ground just a couple of miles up the beach while we there.

Coney Island Photography by Jennifer Farley

The full set appears below, click on a thumbnail to see it nice and big.

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Giant’s Causeway… a different view

We had a fantastic time exploring the North Antrim coast last week. What an amazing location!

Here are a couple of shots of the Giant’s Causeway — one conventional, one a bit different. These are straight off the iPhone with no post processing or any other digital jiggery pokery applied.

I’ll post some shots from Northern Ireland and Scotland taken with a real camera once I get home.

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Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) photographs

For me one of the most satisfying parts of photographing wildlife (or at least attempting to) is how even our most familiar wildlife species can offer the opportunity to capture truly spectacular images.

Whether it’s a robin in your back yard, a fox visiting your garden, or a couple of blackbirds squabbling in the local park… there’s action and drama all around you. More common species, are, by definition, more accessible, and are often easier to get close to… improving your chances of capturing that winning shot.

This Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) was hanging around Lough Ine, near Skibbereen on 06 April. I had the camera with me, and took a few shots as it came in to land

 Herring GullHerring Gull (Larus argentatus) on the wingHerring Gull (Larus argentatus) coming in to land

Nikon D90, Sigma 28-200 Zoom (300mm 35mm equivalent) @ f5.6

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New neighbours

Some recent arrivals on the dairy farm next door… shot using available light (scarce enough in the shed in question), hand-held. Nothing that special as a photograph… but posting it here because of the undeniable “Ahhh” factor ;-).

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Castlefreke Horses

Horses sillhouetted on Castlefreke Dunes, Long Strand, West Cork

Walking on Long Strand the other day we doubled back across the dunes and back along the road. It’s a conservation area, and to promote plant biodiversity they have horses grazing the dunes over the winter. I looked up and saw these two cresting a large dune, silhouetted against the overcast sky.

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Loch Rannoch, Scotland in January

I haven’t posted any photos for a while. Just going through some of my shots of a trip to Scotland during all the snow in January, and thought I’d post a couple of them up here to share.

View of Loch Rannoch

This is a willow tree outside our apartment looking out over Loch Rannoch… real winter wonderland stuff.

Schiehallion, Kinloch Rannoch, Perthshire, Scotland

…and this is a shot of Schiehallion taken from the banks of Loch Rannoch early one morning. It was the only day we saw the mountain; for the rest of our trip it was shrouded with low cloud.

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West Cork Wash out!

Flood waters submerge a West Cork road during November's floods

Best wishes and condolences to everyone in West Cork, Cork City and further afield whose homes and businesses were affected by the recent flooding….

In Ireland we don’t do climatic extremes very well.

Maybe it’s the inevitable consequence of a climate that consistently under delivers. We don’t get long, baking hot droughts, we don’t get bone-chillingly cold winters with lots of snow and ice, we don’t get anything extreme on the weather front, really… just a perpetually dreary middle ground.

As a result we’re rubbish when it comes to dealing with weather-related problems. In the summer we moan about the rain, but on the (very) rare occasions when the sun does shine for more than a few days the council starts running out of water. If it has the temerity to snow the entire country grinds to a shuddering halt until things thaw out again, and anything more than a stiff breeze has us running indoors to take refuge from falling trees.

But if there was one type of weather you’d expect the Irish to cope well with it would be rain. If Ireland had an official national weather, then rain would be it! And yet here, too, we fail miserably at the faintest whiff of extremity.

Last week it rained hard for a few days, and highlighted just how flimsy our drainage systems, flood defences and coping mechanisms really are. Huge swathes of West Cork and a substantial chunk of Cork City sank beneath the rising flood waters, thousands of homes were damaged, hundreds of vehicles stranded and countless commuters failed to make it home to their families.

In short, it was a complete shambles. And I was out in it!

I had to drive up to Cork airport and back on Thursday. The journey up wasn’t so bad, but the return trip was something else again.

According to the radio Bandon, and Clonakilty had become impassable, so I’d have to try an alternative route. I headed towards Macroom, then down the back way towards Dunmanway… and so began an “adventure” that I’d rather not repeat in a hurry, involving endless back-tracking, some hair raising floods that I managed to make it through, and one particularly bad one outside Dunmanway that I spectacularly failed to get through.

Stopped in my tracks… one of the many impassable bridges I confrontent on my drive home

Luckily a sympathetic lady in a 4×4 took pity on me as I waded through the swirling flood-water. She towed me out, and somehow I managed to get the car running again. A few miles down the road I came to a bridge… or at least a place where there should have been a bridge. It was underwater.

I hit “detour” on the sat-nav, and a very proper English voice uttered “recalculating” for the umpteenth time that day, before sending me left up a side road. I drove for hours, backtracking when the water blocked my path. Wherever I could I turned uphill, figuring that at least then the water would be heading the other way. This proved successful, to a point, but with one fairly major stumbling block… the River Bandon still lay between me and home.

Thwarted at every crossing point I tried I finally made it to Ballineen, and my last hope of making it across the river. I was in luck: the bridge was still passable, if barely. Triumphant, I headed for home, and then ran out of diesel. I could have screamed… in fact, I think I did.

After much faffing about I managed to get a bit of diesel and limped the rest of the way home I glanced at my watch…it was 4:15pm, a one hour journey had turned into a four hour plus nightmare.

I can understand us not coping well with heavy snow or prolonged droughts… these are, after all, unusual occurrences in Ireland, but rain? Give me a break!

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Ferret photos

Paul O’Mahony (@Omaniblog on Twitter) was asking for Ferret Photos, so here are a few from the archives of Frida & Frankie… my dynamic duo.

I realised whilst digging these out (and they’re not the best) that I have surprisingly few ferret photos in my library, and will have to remedy that over the coming weeks.

They’re lots of fun, quick on their feet, and full of mischief. They’d probably be great practice subjects for wildlife work.

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Starling and Lacewing – under-rated wildlife

A couple of wildlife shots pulled out of the archive… the first, a lacewing, was shot on my old, old 3.2 Megapixel Nikon Coolpix 990 back in August 2003 – amazing for Macro work, and still going strong to this day.

Lacewing

The macro is something I miss on my Nikon D90 – and a decent macro lens is on the wish list.

The next was taken the weekend I got the D90, on a shopping trip to Cheshire Oaks outlet village. I was outside playing with my camera while my wife hit the shops. There were some starlings picking at bits of food discarded by passing shoppers.

Starling

While they aren’t everyone’s favourite bird, starlings have some amazingly iridescent plumage, and the detail is amazing.

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