Author: inese

Baby bird boom in Great Saltee, Part I

As I do every summer, I went to the Great Saltee once again, this time in July. You can find some of my previous posts here, and learn more about the history, geography and wildlife of the island.

Thanks to the kind Captain Bates we got an extra hour on the island – a treat! Here is his An ForachaA Guillemot – waiting for us to board.

Overcast at the start of my trip, the sky cleared by the time I climbed to the highest point of the island.

To get there, I had to walk through the shoulder-high ferns, full of wildlife. Thankfully, I travel light, and I actually enjoy the steep climb. People often ask me how long it takes to walk to the Gannet colony, and I can honestly say – it depends on how fast you walk. The distance is less than a mile.

I quickly walked through the Black-backed gull territory leaving them for later. First, I would go to visit the gannets.

It was so exciting to see the Gannet colony get larger and nest on the former path. I also noticed that the Shag dynasty who used to nest under the rocks for years and didn’t mind the visitors walk over their heads, abandoned their nesting territory. Later I spotted a Shag family on the side of the cliff, far from the path. Fledgling time?

I climbed down and camped behind the rock in the right side of the picture. The birds didn’t mind.

Nothing like clumsy, fluffy, sweet and defenseless chicks! How many of them have been snatched and eaten by gulls… They have nowhere to hide on this bare rock.

This is what I love most – the facial expression of a chick looking up at his mother.

Looks like this chick is asking for food. It is what they do – only look, never flap their wings or move about the nest.  Now and again some of the gannets take off, and some land. The colony is always in motion. Gannets never fly with fish in their bill. They swallow the fish under water and feed their young regurgitated fish opening their mouths wide for the chicks to fetch the food –  I have a picture in one of my blog posts.

Gannets look beautiful in flight, but landing is not their forte.

This poor devil crash-landed on a wrong nest.

This one landed smoothly and displayed a dance.

This gannet landed right in front of me. I think it is a female. After displaying some moves I could not interpret, the bird walked away and finally found her nest.

These gannets are grown up but they are not breeding this year for some reason.

I spent an hour alone with the gannets. Sadly, it was time to leave. I quickly took some in-flight pictures and a video to send to my grandchildren. Till we meet again, beautiful birds.

Great black-backed gull chicks are cute, but their growing numbers are worrying. These gulls are opportunistic feeders and predators who attack and kill other seabirds and juveniles.

There are chicks on the top of every rock. Look at these skinny legs!

I took these pictures from the path. Mama gull wouldn’t let me come any closer.

This one is a Herring gull’s son.

Guillemots, elegant birds who remind me of a whippet, have a baby too. This baby is almost a fledgling.

A younger and fluffier chick.

This Razorbill daddy made my day.

There was a chick somewhere under the rock, and the daddy was feeding him with the sand eels, one at a time.

The last sand eel.

Done with the feeding. What a good daddy!

Thank you for reading! I will share more pictures in two weeks.

www.inesemjphotography   Have a wonderful weekend!

Two hours in Medieval Waterford

If you are visiting Waterford and after taking a Crystal House tour still have two hours left, I recommend you to cross the street, walk up the steps and set off on a Medieval treasure hunt. Hope this blog post will help you with ideas.

The best place to start is  Medieval museum. The Cap of Maintenance of Henry VIII in my opening picture is one of the items you will find. It was a gift to the Mayor of Waterford in 1536. The Cap was worn under the crown that makes it a very important item.

Speaking about Mayors. There is a free Mayor exhibition on the ground floor which you can visit before your guided tour in the museum. The names of 650 Mayors of Waterford are listed up to the present day since the first known Mayor Roger le Lom (1284-85). Among many other amazing pieces there is a Mayor’s Chair ( you can sit in it and take pictures). It was made of American oak from the very first bridge across the River Suir – the Timbertoes bridge.

American bridge builder Lemuel Cox designed the bridge and construction began in 1793. The bridge was opened a year later. Until then, ferries were the only way to cross the river – for 800 years!

This is a painting by Thomas Sautelle Roberts depicting the Timbertoes bridge. The bridge served until 1910.

You can also find the painting screened over the scene in the Theatre Royal – just ask at the reception desk and they will assist you.

On your way to the main exhibition, don’t miss this set of golden dentures with the real human teeth. It is not medieval though. It was found during the construction of the building in 2012.

This is my favorite tour guide.

There are two exquisite exhibits in the museum. One is The Royal Charters of Waterford, of which I hope to write more in the future,

The other is the set of 15th century Benediction copes and High Mass vestments. They are made from Italian silk woven in Florence. Depicted on the embroidered panels are scenes from the Bible. The set consists of three copes, two dalmatics and a chasuble.

(The photographs were taken through the glass case)

The High Mass vestments consist of a chasuble, dalmatic and tunicle.

A dalmatic is T-shaped garment with open sides. It is worn by bishops and deacons.

Semicircular Magi Cope.

The hood is the most spectacular part of the cope. It depicts three scenes: the visit of the Magi in the centre, and two scenes from The Old Testament.

The vestments were buried in 1649-50 to save them from the Cromwellians, with the secret of their hiding place so well kept, that they were accidentally discovered only 125 years later, after the Norman Gothic cathedral was demolished in 1773. Famous Waterford architect John Roberts designed the present cathedral which was completed in 1779. The Christ Church cathedral belongs to the Church of Ireland.

The current building is actually the third church on this site. The first was built by the Vikings in 1096. In that church Aoife and Strongbow got married in 1170 – I wrote about that important wedding before.

So, where the precious vestments were hidden? I would say – in plain sight.

In this spot exactly, on the right from the altar. To make sure that I get it right, the tour guide moved away the seats for me to take pictures.

The church welcomes visitors of all beliefs to visit and appreciate the beauty.

There are many memorials in the church, but this tomb of James Rice, eleven time mayor of Waterford, is special. It depicts a badly decayed corpse, crawling with worms and frogs. The inscription says : I am what you are going to be, and I was what you are”.

The architect of the Cathedral John Roberts built both Catholic and Protestant cathedrals in Waterford city. I mentioned him in my blogs before, since he designed many historical buildings in our county. I want to point out an important detail of the interior. A symbolic image of the sun contains the Tetragrammaton, the Hebrew letters YHWH that stand for Jehovah, reminding of Christianity’s roots.

Old and young visitors of the cathedral.

An Epic Tour guide with a group outside the Cathedral.

The building regularly gets updated, the clock was changed last year. No more hidden treasures found though.

On the right from the Cathedral is the Bishop’s Palace, another museum. You can get a combination ticket for both, and the Cathedral is free to visit. The architect was – you can guess – John Roberts 🙂 What a man! In this museum you will find many treasures dating to the 17th century. Don’t miss the Mourning Cross of Napoleon Bonaparte with a lock of his hair.

When the new Bishop’s Palace was completed, the bishop gave a lease of the old Bishop’s Palace to Roberts. Here in this building, John Roberts, his wife and children lived for over fifty years. They had 22 children, but only eight of them lived into adulthood.

Reference: Waterford Treasures by Eamonn McEneaney with Rosemary Ryan

Thank you for reading! Sorry the comments are closed for this post. I won’t be able to reply. Talk to you in two weeks!

www.inesemjphotography  Have a wonderful week!

Tall Ships in Waterford

lord nelson 2019

Tall Ships’ Races 2019 began in Aalborg, Denmark this morning, Sunday 16 June!

Last Friday, while walking along the river, I was very pleased to see Lord Nelson berthed near the bridge. At home, I went through the old pictures and decided to put up a blog about the tall ships – for a change.

Waterford hosted the Races twice – in 2005 and 2011, and has the honour of being the first Irish city to host the start of the Tall Ships’ Races with almost 90 ships in 2005 and 45 ships in 2011. This is Lord Nelson in 2011.

lord nelson 2011

A mile long Waterford Quay was packed in 2005. It was the most colourful festival Waterford had ever seen. A whole fleet of ships were berthed on both sides of the river, and it was quite a hike to get around all the people queuing to board and receive a stamp in their souvenir passport. Some ships were docked by two, and the crew members from the outside vessel had to walk through the other vessel to get to town. This also made photographing difficult. Besides, the weather was not great for photography with just a few sunny spells in five days.

Ireland was represented by three ships. This is a famine ship replica Jeanie Johnston.

jeanie johnston

jeanie johnston

The other replica famine ship is Dunbrody. You can visit her in New Ross, just 15 minutes drive from Waterford city. Patrick Kennedy, JFK’s great-grandfather, set off to America from the New Ross quays in 1848.

dunbrody

In the picture below, you can catch a glimpse of the Pride of Baltimore II. The first Pride of Baltimore was lost at sea returning from the Caribbean on May 14 1986. She was possibly struck by a white squall, and her captain and three of the crew died. In September 2005, only two month after docking in Waterford, the Pride of Baltimore II sailed in a squall in the Bay of Biscay and suffered a complete dismasting. No one died, thankfully.

pride of baltimore II and artemis

Pride of Baltimore II, docked behind Tenacious.

tenacious and pride of baltimore II

As the focus of the races is on training, at least 50% of any crew has to be between 15 and 25 years old, but of course there are some much older trainees, and also trainees with disabilities. The SV Tenacious is a British wooden sail training ship, specially designed to accommodate people of all physical abilities to sail side by side as equals.

This is the figurehead of SV Tenacious.

tenacious

Below, Russian three-masted training ship Mir in 2005.

mir 2005

I finally got on board of Mir in 2011, with a friend of mine. I was in awe.

mir 2011

Not being able to swim a full lap in the local swimming pool, I love all things water and can successfully navigate a paddle boat. I have been on Stena Line ferries, but there is nothing like standing on a sail ship and looking out at the water ahead.

mir

This young cadet is barely sixteen. Hope he has a successful career.

mir 2011

I checked the trackerMir is currently taking part in the races. Wishing them best of luck!

Another legend  – the barque Eagle, formerly Horst Wessel, one of four sailing ships that were distributed by drawing of lots with the allies after the end of the World War II. A smaller vessel with the colourful sails is a three-masted schooner of the Uruguayan Navy – Capitan Miranda.

eagle and capitan miranda

Magnificent Sagres, a school ship of the Portuguese Navy has a long history. Indonesian three-masted barquentine Dewaruci moored behind her was ‘adopted’ by Waterford city following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2004.

sagres and devaruci

A young sailor from Sagres.

sagres I

Dewaruci‘s figurehead.

dewaruci

It was so sad to see Dewaruci leave the quays. The dancing crew gave their last performance which was truly spectacular.

dewaruci

Another friendly and fun crew that left fond memories were the young sailors from the Omani Royal Navy barquentine Shabab Oman, which can be translated as Youth of Oman.

Originally named the Captain Scott, the ship was built as a schooner, and refitted as a barquentine after she was sold to Sultan of Oman. She is constructed of wood and looks charming. In 2014 she was replaced with a new ship of the same name and remains moored at the Royal Navy base in Oman. I wish I took more pictures…

shabab

shabab oman

The weather was perfect when we came to Waterford for a day in 2011. I was delighted to take pictures of Norwegian Sørlandet, the world’s oldest full rigged ship still in operation.

sorlandet 2011

sorlandet

Magnificent Europa, a three-mast barque registered in the Netherlands, was originally built in 1911, but there was little left of her when a Dutchman bought her from Germany in 1985. She was fully restored, and what a beauty she is!

europa

europa

Another beautiful ship from the Netherlands, Eendracht. She is Holland’s largest three-masted shooner designed for training young and inexperienced sailors.

eendracht

Gorgeous figurehead of Christian Radich, a Norwegian full-rigged ship, has a blush on her cheeks, probably because of the fresh breeze. Christian Radich is a remarkable ship – she took part in the very first races in 1956, and came the second. Merchant and captain, Radich died in 1889 and left 90,000 Norwegian kroner to build a training ship. The current Christian Radich is the fourth ship to carry the name.

christian radich

My young friend and I visited Colombian three-masted barque Gloria, and took a ton of pictures with the crew.

gloria

We also took some pictures of the interior.

gloria

gloria

This is the figurehead of Gloria.

gloria

Russian four-masted barque Kruzenshtern, (length 114.4 m, or 375 ft) was built in 1926 in Germany as Padua, and given to the Soviet Union as war reparation. I was very surprised to see her in Waterford in 2005, because I wouldn’t imagine this kind of ship fit in our river. It was amazing. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to get aboard, only had a small chat with two young cadets.

kruzenshtern

kruzenshtern

kruzenshtern

I did want to know the purpose of those ‘cats’, and learned that these are the guards preventing the rats from walking up the mooring lines and getting on board.

kruzenshtern

Amazing job done by our tugboats!

kruzenshtern kruzenshtern

kruzenshtern

The tall ships set off to Cherbourg.

kruzenshtern

I want to share a 2005 video. It is very imperfect and long, but it gives you a unique chance to see the tall ships sail out of the Waterford harbour. It wasn’t a good day for sailing since there was no wind at all and the race had to be delayed. The video begins with an interview with a person from the Kruzenshtern – the guy you see in my picture. There was another nice video, but I decided against it because of the Titanic theme they used 🙂 Not the best choice I would say.

Thank you for reading!

www.inesemjphotography Have a wonderful week!

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 🙂

 

https://inesemjphotography.com/2019/04/06/st-johns-river-confluence/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2019/04/20/st-johns-river-sneaking-through-town/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2019/05/04/st-johns-river-straightening/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2019/05/18/st-johns-river-cherrymount/

 

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a wonderful weekend!

St. John’s River: Cherrymount

This is the part of the river you see from the Cherrymount foot bridge.

And this is the walkway.

You can hear birds sing on both sides of the river. I love taking photographs of birds simply to acknowledge their beautiful presence, but usually I make them a part of a composition. In these blog posts I share both kinds of pictures to showcase the diversity of bird species around the St. John’s River.

Magpies check the ground for crumbs and dog kibble.

Male Blackbird and female Chaffinches: size against the numbers 🙂

Male Blackbird stares disapprovingly, and continues his lunch. Blackbirds are sexually dimorphic species – males and females look very different.

This is a female Blackbird foraging in the undergrowth.

Beautiful Siskins more likely have traveled from Scandinavia or Russia. They arrived in flock, and I spotted them feeding in the Alder tree. In the photographs below: two males and a charming female Siskin.

Of course, there is always a curious Robin.

Male Chaffinch is singing his heart out.

The walkway is beautiful, with many species of trees and shrubs.

Golden willow on the other side of the river is a delightful sight in the grey of winter.

Daffodils planted by Friends are blooming from February.

There is a little pool I always worry about. Frogs are a rare sight, and each one is precious. Tadpoles stay in a tight group when the weather is cold. It takes one thirsty dog to gulp down a whole generation.

All four Tit species can be seen around St. John’s River.

This is a Great tit.

Who wouldn’t like this funny face 🙂

Blue tit is a stunningly colourful little bird. The hue of blue is the most vibrant in the winter months.

Coal tit has a distinctive white mark on the back of its head. Like the other tits, it is a busy and cheerful bird.

Tiny Long-tailed tit is another beauty in the family.

 

If Robin likes to watch you openly, from a close distance, Wren will stay behind the scenes. Don’t be fooled – Wren is always somewhere there 🙂

We will meet again in two weeks. Thank you for joining the walk!

https://inesemjphotography.com/2019/04/06/st-johns-river-confluence/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2019/04/20/st-johns-river-sneaking-through-town/

https://inesemjphotography.com/2019/05/04/st-johns-river-straightening/

www.inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!