Please, do not hamper a young bird's life by picking it up, and taking it home with you. It is calling its parents to help them in locating it.
After fledgling from the nest, the parent birds will keep feeding it, and look out for it, until it will be able to look after itself.
And the reason you cannot see a parent is because of your own proxomity to the young bird. And while you are ebating if or not you should take the bird home, you keep the parent from giving it well needed nutrition in the form of a meal!


The photos on this blog are all taken by me. If there is any picture you might want to use for any other than personal use, please drop me a line to the email address shown in the sidebar on the right.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wheelchair access in Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve, West Cork

Glengarriff Woods, is a beautiful nature reserve near Bantry, on the Kenmare.
Ireland had been very much a woodland island in the past, and this woodland helps you to imagine how it has been in those days.

Or, as Dave, my helper & driver for the day, guaranteed me beforehand, I would get a definite overdose for the senses. And how right he was too.

The road into the woods and onto the car park. This in its own is a wonderful experience of the Woods. Walking there with Dave, I stopped at regular intervals, because I was captivated by a certain tree, Wood Anenome, Lichen and the river. Very sad I spotted no other birds than Long Tail Tits. However, Dave had not parked very far in, because he wanted me to try out the bridge.

At the car park, and at several other places there are clear signposts. Perhaps one day we will see a sign showing a trail which would be open to visitors using wheels also? Who knows.
Until then, the best is to contact Clare Heardman, via the NPWS website, who can tell you more about it.

The little Gate Lodge at the Entrance/Exit. Plus Clare's dog.

Last week I was in the Respite in Bantry, run by Rehabcare, the staff organise an outing with their car to somewhere you would really like to go. You and two others come in to stay between Tuesday evening and Friday morning. Allowing each of us a couple of hours with the car and a member of staff.

Glengarriff was on my wish-list, of course. (among other places!) as I wanted to see how accessible it is.

Dave, who was my 'helper' and driver for the day, was only working till noon and we were late to start already. Apart from this, the wind might have died down but the rain was still in the air.

Yet this was the perfect condition to try out the hard gravel path at the other end of the bridge on the Bantry Lady Lookout. I was alarmed at the idea of a gravel path, when Dave mentioned this, but it is the 'larger sort of gravel, and very much compacted.

Clare Heardman, the manager of the reserve, was curious to know how I would get on, on this bridge and also at the other side.

Once you've gone over the bridge, the trail continues, going up steeper before getting really steep. We had to turn back to town, it was not only very cold with only my long scarf. Also, Dave had to get back to town. He finished working at noon and I would soon need a toilet too.
I will need to return to the Woods one day, so I can check out more of the reserve, and if the new Park Hotel has an accessible toilet. So an update will be posted here as soon as I've been back.

It has been weird in a way, I always go out on my own, onto the road with the camera, and going with someone else, was fun. (So Dave, if you get to read this, you're welcome to show me 'round the other parts, if you're working that week in May. )

The river is properly protected with fences like these.

To some other wheelchair users from Rehabcare in Bantry,(including one or two amateur photographers) the visit to Glengarriff Woods was a disappointment in a way because only half a trail was accessible. I had been here, twenty six years ago, when we were house hunting and viewing a little house in the woods, but I think it was further into the woods themselves, and on the other side of the road. Ten years later, I went on a bus trip with the Irish Wheelchair Association which was a bit of a let-down because I was not able to get outside and inhale that special air and smell which always captivates me.
I had no real expectations at all before I went, knowing that access to the different trails was very limited, so I went with the goal of seeing just how accessible it was, let the little forest girl emerge from inside me. She had been locked away for all these twenty six years, with a brief appearance in 2007 when I was treated to a visit to my childhood's forest in the middle of Holland for my birthday. There, my visit was limited also. So instead of going for a walk, we were invited to come and have a drink in the St. Helena cafe which is a lovely round cafe in the middle of the forest, where we would rest our tired feet for a little while before setting off on the last leg of the walk from our home to that of Nora, who lived 4 km. from us. It had been almost 40 years since my last visit.

Some pictures from the Woods:
The Caha Mountains shelter the reserve and create a lovely backdrop.

Wood Anemones were spread over the floor of the woods and their white merry heads were bobbing up and down in the strong wind.

Wood Sorrel was scattered anywhere, and I think that the little rain-drops give a good size reference?

Everywhere you looked, there were species of Lichen and Mosses greeting you, be-it in trees, on stone rock walls, on wood, on the floor, or any other surface you might think of.
I will contact Paul Whelan of the award winning site on Lichen. Lichen.ie to help me with the ID's. , I have posted more photos of my trip to Glengarriff on Wildlife On Wheels, such as those of the Lichen, and Moss which captivated me and my camera.

I loved this tree.

Fungi too, adheres to anything it can find.

Main Gate Lodge,
Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve,
Co. Cork,

Tel: + 353 27 63636

Fax: + 353 27 63637

E-mail: clare.heardman@environ.ie

OK, so what about the birds? This is my birding blog, after all!
Well, I have seen only Long Tail Tits, and a few Rooks and Jackdaws, but I was too busy with the Lichen and other interesting lifeforms. Also, it was so cold that you did not want to go and sit still! To be fair I wanted to see (and photograph) as much as I could in the short time we had.
But I did not really come for the birds, I think. I came for the reserve. And I have adored weirth growths like Lichen, Moss and Fungi from a very young age too.
so I'm sorry no birding photos.

I will keep this blog updated with news from Glengarriff, because I am sure that gates/trails will become wider, flatter, or inany other way more accessible.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Albatross Teachings

Courtship video of the Albatross parents in the Galapagos which are teaching their youngster how to properly greet their future mate. These are the birds breeding on Espanola, where 12.000 pairs will go through this ritual before starting to breed. On Isla la Plata (or Poor Man's Galapagos) another 50 pairs will 'click beaks.'
This tiny island is situated in front of Ecuador's coast, (Puerto Lopez)

The video is pasted at the bottom of this blog. It is too wide for the main body of this blog when pasted into a post. Perhaps that way, more attention can be given to the plight of the Albatross too?

Anyone who wants to get to know more about these and other Albatross species, and to try and understand more about these intriguing birds soaring above the ocean, or if you want to help support the Save the Albatross appeal, please visit the BirdLife International website to see how you can support these wonderful birds.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Update on the photography of the local Bats

When I started this blog in the summer of 2008, I had no idea that I would start a second blog, Wildlife, as well as this blog on Birding mostly.

I have been thinking all this time, since June 2008, of how I can photograph these lovely creatures as they exiting the attic above the garda station. The problem being that I did not want to upset these little Bats with an overdose of "Sun/Moon"
as they come out of their hide-away. People have told me that I would indeed need to use the flash, if I wanted to get any pictures of these sensitive creatures.

We humans need a few seconds to adjust our eyes also, when we come from a cinema or other dark place, and we step out into the light. Now try and imagine that you have just seen a film, or another kind of show in a darkened theatre/room. you open the door and you are welcomed by an intensely bright light flashes right in front of you. It is hard to compare because we would be able to cope with it in a way a Bat cannot, I think. We would immediately start to question and think about what we have just seen. We have the ability to reason. things we do not know.

Please understand me well, I am not saying anything against the intelligence of this little mammal. I have an enormous respect and admiration for those which can use echo location and which can travel from A-B without hitting everything in their path. I assume that Bats, like Moths, use the Moon, as well as familiar hedges and other "sign posts in Nature" as a compass when flying to and fro.

Sometime this month, I decided to contact the Cork county Bat group and ask would they have any experience in taking pictures of Bats themselves? In the answer which I received last week, I have been vtold that I will need to apply for a licence first with the National Park and wildlife Service. I will go and see Brendan, our local Garda, soon so I can have a look at where the exit is in relation to the windows at the back of the bungalow. I want to get a picture of the situation for the NPWS, so I can attach it to the application.
Main thing is, my thinking and that of the people at the NPWS, is similar, and it is important that they understand this, I think. Disturbing the Bats is what I hope to minimize somehow, if I can do anything to make it less inconvenient for the Bats.
Any tips are welcome.
Ger from the Batgroup also said that if I get this licence, he seems to know of much more Batsites accessible to any wheels, whatsoever, as he put it. This in itself is great news, because even if I would not be granted the 'coveted' licence, he might still agree to tell me one or two of these, where I would be able to watch and observe them, leaving my camera behind for once.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A quiet garden and the estate's sign of spring

This morning I thought for a second that I was watching Swallows in the air, as I sat waiting in front of the shop, for the owner of a very blue car to show up and remove it so that I can get off the little ramp and on my way home. The wind had about 15 Rooks and Jackdaws float on the wing and among of the Gulls, mimicking the Corvids in style of flight or float, where what I really thought were Swallows. But of course they weren't.

It is very quiet in the garden, this year much more so than in previous years. Not that my food is lasting long though. I still got a large amount of Rooks and Jackdaws daily gobbling up the seeds. I haven't any peanut cake on the planter at the moment, simply because I didn't have all the ingredients in the house. And it seems that one particular guest is not very satisfied that it is not here. Still, a good search might show it eventually?
In these few pictures on the top you can really see the brown wing feathers which JJ still has as a bird in his first spring. It seems very hard to get these colours right.

A tree which grows near the council estate's entrance, is host to Starlings once again. They will regroup here after winter, and start courting, before spreading out in pairs to breed. The tree is across the little road to the little PC hardware factory. The tiny factory stands behind our house, down the slope.
I count myself really lucky in a way, that these Starling are not interested in the food supplied here somehow. Once did I spot eight of them wander into the front garden, and they often sit in the lower branches of the Hawthorn behind the wall, but somehow they don't follow the others into the gaden. Lucky me.

Here's a few of those which are still calling in:
Great Tit.

Robin, I am really looking forward to Robin juvies again. Their ruddy colours are simply beautiful.

The Sparrows are taking stock of the available food again in their territory. Suddenly they are coming more often again, and with them too, I can hardly wait for the result in a couple of months time.

Here are some other pictures for those Corvid lovers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rendez vous at Dunmanus Bay.

Today for the first time since weeks, I had the chance to get further from home than the Eddy's shop and the post office. The Sun was out and although JJ and my Coal Tits were trying to keep me up here at base, I simply had to go.

Since somewhere late I had not seen the little Common Teals (small Ducks) and I really wished to meet them again, before they would leave for their nesting grounds.
I have always assumed that the Teals were migratory birds, but my book is telling me that the SW corner of this island has residential Teal. Yet I never see them in summer, or anytime other than late autumn/winter or at other visits to the bay during the winter.
Before I spotted the Ducks in the bay, I was bombarded by the usual cacophony of the many Rooks and Hooded Crows repairing their nests in the large trees along the river at the church of Ireland. Although I tried, I was unable to get any shot of them. Sorry, Crow. (other time again!)
I was tempted to get up to my little "botany backroad", to see if the flock of LTTs or the Goldcrests were about. Mine might have perished, (this I assume because I haven't seen them since the cold spell hit these islands. However, the wind, very much down on previous days/weeks, was still bothering me too much.

After a little Sunny chat with a friend and her 3 dogs, en route to the school, I was glad to see parents still doing the walking school run, deciding to leave the car at home.
OK, many parents live out of the village, and a good few miles via the main road, but those who live just like my friend, between 1km-1 mile, should really let their kids get the experience of the road. It might not sound like much, compared with city traffic, I think we shuold start here. Kids should get used to either go walking, or cycling and it is quite a lot safer than the UK, yet even I would not let my kid, if I had any, out onto the main roads here. The traffic there is ruthless and it can even scare my wheels now and then. :)

As I turned onto the main road at the church of Ireland, about 5 birds were flying low over the water, and although I was unable to recognise their calls, a brief flash of black and white made me think that these were the ones I had been wanting to meet today! One or two landed on the water, close to the road, and I rode a little faster, while still trying to be as quietly as possible. From a distance, I had the feeling that they were far too small for my little Ducks, and my heart sank again. Yet the possible candidates, Black headed Gulls and Redshank, had no b&w markings on their wings nor any parts of their body. As quick as the birds had landed, they flew off again in the direction of the other bank, avross the bay. My sweet little Panasonic had not enough strength to reach that far, so her heart started sinking also.
In the end they congregated around the piece of piece of land sticking out into the bay, where the larger birds, Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Whimbrel, and Cormorants keep watch, and on which the Cormorants have "their tree" (totally empty now)

My camera had been able to shoot nice pictures of birds sitting there, I would have to do a little cropping for these photos,as these Ducks are quite a bit smaller.
My flexible case of my little bins would need another clean, I saw when taking these out, which needs doing quite regularly because the case is 'clipped onto my wheels. This way I am never without them. and also, they might be small, but I have no opportunity to bring them otherwise. I can hang shopping on the back of my wheels, for other people to remove it again, because there is no way I can reach any bag on the back. And if my neck was strong enough to have anything dangling from it, my bins would be in the way of my camera's bag which is on my lap.
In the end I was only able to get one or two shots; the wind increased and rain was getting too close. (which started indeed before I was home)


Common Teal:

jj, our juvenile (well, 9 months old) Jackdaw,

House Sparrows in the garden:

Earwig, on my table in the kitchen, on the first tentative step to stardom: