Dzogchen Beara Sunrise

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Dzogchen Beara is a Tibetan Buddhist Retreat Centre located on the Western tip of the Beara Peninsula in West Cork. I took these photographs early one morning in 2006, while Jason was attending a retreat. The place is breathtakingly beautiful (as is every nook and cranny of West Cork) and very, very peaceful. We went back down for a week in 2010 and picked out several houses and locations that would be ours when we win the lotto. In lieu of that big lotto win we’ll just have to visit on a more regular basis. We’re bombarded with misery here in Ireland on the radio, on the television and in the papers, it’s nice to know peaceful places and scenes like this exist in little pockets throughout our beautiful country.

 

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In the garden, there was a lovely horse, behind him is a not-so-lovely wall and behind that is the sun coming up over the Atlantic.

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This is a view of the centre, which overlooks the sea.

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Farther to the left are views of the cliffs along the coast, and to the right (below) are lots of houses dotted on the landscape.

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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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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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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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