St. John’s River: Source

We are walking along the St. John’s River out of town, into the reed wetland. All the pictures for these blogs were taken in late autumn and winter when the reeds are golden and the trees are bare. No butterflies and wildflowers, but some bird species arrive from as far as Russia.

Alder cones are a source of food for many bird species, including this female Lesser redpoll.

Goldcrest is a busy bird with a high-pitched thin call and an acrobatic manner of foraging. Weighing only 5 gm, Goldcrest is Ireland’s, and also Europe’s, smallest bird.

Most of my pictures are about the walkway, but let’s see what is going on in the river itself.

There is a Cormorant supervising this stretch of the river. He perches on a tall pole waiting until the water is deep enough for his liking. If you are lucky, you can see him land on the surface and dive.

The cormorant swims on the water between dives, and after he is done fishing, he runs on the surface flapping his wings and making terrible noise that can be heard from a distance.

Then he returns to his pole.

Common chiffchaff is another visitor who shows up in March to stay over summer.

In the picture below, Friends of St. John’s River on their weekend rubbish pick mission. From what I observe, the housing estate across the river is the main source of chemical pollution. When somebody is doing laundry, all the detergent-polluted water is going straight into the river. I have seen a rat frantically trying to swim away from the milk-white stream spreading from a pipe. Littering is another problem. People walk home from the supermarket across the road munching on a bun or crisps, and while crossing the pedestrian bridge simple drop the empty plastic or paper bag in the water. Sometimes this is where a used shopping trolley goes too. Even in this remote area of the river I have seen many kinds of litter. Obviously, St. John’s river doesn’t have enough friends, which is sad.

A group of birch trees provides the last canopy of green over the walkway.

On the other side of the river stretches a sea of reed sprinkled with the islands of willow trees bursting with bird songs – Kilbarry Bog. I am glad it hadn’t been drained in the 19th century when St. John’s river was straightened in order to make a canal that would reach the seaside resort of Tramore. Now the wetland is a protected natural ecosystem. In these blog posts I shared photographs of many bird species, but there could be more. The reed swamp is an important summer home for Reed warbler. I don’t have pictures of Reed warblers – something to look forward.

A wide strip of reed separates us from the busy Tramore road and continues on the other side. Here we can see an occasional Blue tit and Wren.

There is always a wren somewhere 🙂

The old railway left the wetland and crossed over the Tramore road at the Black Rock. Here is another video – a piece of first-hand history.


Black Rock, the end of the river walkway.

However, we can turn to the left and walk along the Tramore road to the Ballindud Roundabout – we will, in a minute 🙂

According to Google Maps, the source of St. John’s River is somewhere there in the reeds…

I don’t always trust Google Maps. We keep walking in the direction of the roundabout. The river, hidden in the reeds, flows  through the bog parallel to our path. Suddenly it makes a 90º curve so that we can see it again, and then disappears beneath the road! The tiny stream that emerges on the other side doesn’t have a name… It meets with other unnamed streams… I guess we won’t be able to identify the source, but we have found the place from where the unnamed stream becomes the St. John’s River 🙂

Thank you for loving our river! After the long and eventful walk I want to share a beautiful song for all those who love and respect nature, for all the Friends of the rivers and oceans, mountains and meadows, deserts and rain forests of the world.

Robert Burns and Rioghnach Connolly  – Now Westlin Winds 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. Such a lovely walk along the St John’s River, Inese! Love the tiny goldcrests! And just looking at your cormoran pics makes me hear the racket he/she (?) makes. 😉 That’s so sad about the river being polluted like that. I can’t even tell how often I watch people throwing their rubbish right on the street around here, never caring or simply thinking. 😯

    1. Thank you, Sarah! When I have a piece of rubbish – like say a candy wrap – I just put it in my purse and take it home if there is no public bin. When I go to the outdoor event, I have a small plastic bag with me for the same purpose. I know for sure that many tons of rubbish are collected from the ground after such events. Why people do this piggery? It is beyond me.

  2. I love rivers, Inese, and used to walk by one where I lived before. Not so easy here. Thanks for the wonderful pictures and for the stroll. So relaxing. A great way to start the day!

    1. Thank you so much, Olga! Walking along the river from the beginning to the end seems symbolic. At least, it is what I feel 🙂

      1. A crazy month for me too, my friend. I have the feeling sometimes that I’m going to raise my head and discover that it’s already autumn. Here’s to less craziness for both of us. ❤

  3. Such a lovely place to explore. I love your photos of the wonderful birds. I would love to wander around there with my camera! Hope you are well Inese xx

  4. beautifully informative
    nature walk, inese!
    impressive skill to capture
    the wild birdies!
    i’ve not the patience
    to wait for them to sit still!
    is this location close to home for you?
    wishing you a happy moment 🙂

  5. Inese, you bring this stretch of river wonderfully alive for us all … and the variety of birds is amazing and beautifully photographed. Reeds are so restful and I love your photos of these.

  6. That Goldcrest is a cute little guy. Kind of reminds me of Bushtits. Do they travel in flocks or are they more independent?

    The double exposure worked very nicely.

    1. Thank you! No flocks, and their voice is tiny 🙂 Difficult to spot if you are not specifically looking for it.

  7. Hi Inese! Stunning bird images! I was really impressed with some of the images’ brown color tones and the one image that looks like a double exposure – really cool!

    1. Thank you! Yes, it is a double exposure, the second frame has a different focal length. Lots of brown tones since it is all taken in winter 🙂

  8. It’s a beautiful place, Inese, and you have captured it wonderfully for us all to see.
    Thank you for all your time and effort in bringing your journey to us! Resa xo

  9. Inese – this is me commenting as a test. Yes, I still have to log in to comment on your site! (it’s Tuesday 4th June 6am (New Zealand time).

    1. 😦 They say the following :

      “The screenshot shows that yes, folks don’t have to log in when they want to comment on your blog.

      If I may, maybe the fellow blogger thought they need to click the WordPress logo to log in before they need to comment on your site; while they can go ahead and fill in their name, site URL, and e-mail if they wish.

      In this case, you don’t have to do anything. You can re-inform your friends and website visitors that they are free to enter their name or contact credentials on the Comment system as they wish and they don’t have to log in to comment :)”

      Does it make any sense to you? Asking for the email is wrong either as I have this box unchecked too! I wrote them again 😦

  10. That shot of the wren in the leaves is so breath catching–the balance of the focus’ sharpness and the haze of the others is just so beautiful! xxxx

  11. People are disgusting. We were deep in the forest yesterday and still found discarded beer cans. That image with what resembles bamboo leaves and a bit of glare is incredible.

    1. Yes, these things make me sick too 😦
      That’s a double exposure picture of reeds in the wind. Two shots – one is slightly closer than the other.

    1. Thank you Derrick! The river is very narrow and it is easy to come close to the bird, but I have to run along since he swims faster than I walk 🙂 This way I manage to take 2-3 photographs before he takes off.

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