Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sun day soon

Last week I set out on a trek from little island to Cobh, I was hoping to find dragonflies and butterflies, specifically ruddy darters, common hawkers, migrant hawkers and painted ladies.

The morning started out with great sunlight. Fota gardens was positively buzzing with dozens of mating common darters laying in the ponds and even a few hunting out on the cut grass in front of the mansion there. I was hoping for a ruddy somewhere but ended up finding no evidence of them there. Still, I got some close-ups of the common darter

Ok, a great start, but as I was ready to continue my walk the sun disappeared and was replaced by that flat grey light we Irish inhabitants all know so well, and that’s how it stayed. The entire walk revealed only one speckled wood, even the reserve outside Cobh had no hawkers, even though they where there this time last year. It’s amazing how clouds make insects vanish almost instantaneously. I settled instead on taking some scenery shots. I did find this gadwall in Cuskinny in with the mallards.

The below shots are HDR’s, intentionally exaggerated, they are not intended as an exercise in realism as my nature photographs are but rather are made to look like say an album cover, I am a big fan of Travis Smith’s covers, so I guess that’s what influences me here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's the Guillemot's tern

Had the opportunity to scout the Rostellan area the last day. My primary focus was the common blue population outside the quarry. Unfortunately the day had started overcast and there wasn’t so much as a speckled wood in sight. I was consoled by the presence of some actual birds. The following shots are for record purposes only and are about as good as my 200mm lens will allow, still a great day!

This distant gull turned out to be my old friend the Mediterranean gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus), the bill and white primaries give it away, along with the general shape. Still it seemed like it was worth confirming on facebook, thanks as always for the ID.

When did this gull stop being a Larus gull!?
Highlight of the day was a group of about ten terns actively hunting out on the open water. The frequent motion and screaming of terns gave me quite a spectacle. Especially when they divebomb into the water with a loud splash. I really do love terns.
These are Sandwhich terns, easy enough to identify by the yellow tip to its bill (Sterna/Thalasseus sandvicensis)
They remind me of fighter jets on an attack run
A fair few waders and waterbirds around too, flocks of tringas (green & redshank), a fair population of curlews, a few oystercatchers, scavenging turnstones, a couple of ringed plovers, some small sandpipers I couldn’t quite identify in time, shags, cormorants, little grebes, herring gulls, black headed gulls and these rather nice looking black tailed godwits, still sporting the attractive rust colours of summer plumage. The only duck I spotted was a couple of mallards.
Also, this guillemot (Uria aalge). Not entirely sure if this is a juvenile or an individual in winter plumage. Either way it seemed quite disoriented and actually swam towards me rather than away from me. Not exactly common behaviour amongst birds. It came to within a meter of me at one point before returning to deeper water.
I had never seen one up so close before, got to love its slightly pigeon like design
All in all, a morning to remember :)