Ireland

Mysteries of Clonegam

Clonegam

This is one of the most peaceful views in the country. You are slowly driving uphill watching for pheasants and cars coming in the opposite direction, and when you finally reach the top of the hill you stop for a second to take in the view of the green fields dotted with ancient trees – a pastoral landscape rolling towards the Comeragh Mountains. Curraghmore Demesne, beautiful like a picture.

Clonegam

I parked my car at the Clonegam Church gate and used the stony steps to get on the other side of the wall. The whole herd of cows stopped grazing and stared at me. I crept along the wall and tried to blend with background. My target was too far away, and I didn’t want any cow companion to follow me. First I had to reach this group of trees encircled with stones.

Clonegam

If you enlarge this picture, you will see the object I was heading to in the distance.

I am getting closer.

Clonegam

Finally there. Good afternoon, Mother Brown!

Clonegam

No one really knows what Mother Brown is. She is not listed in the Archeology inventory, and majority think that she was made 300 years ago. Not me. I am sure that her presence right near the stone circle and the grove of beech trees, which make you think of druids, has a meaning. If you still believe that all of this – the Mother, the trees and the stones are a folly, you have never stood in the grove, and never looked in Mother Brown’s face.

Clonegam

Clonegam

Clonegam

Mother Brown looks down the valley at the Curraghmore House, the ancestral home of Lords Waterford. I will write about my visit to the house later in November.

Clonegam

Clonegam

I fight the temptation to touch Mother Brown. How can I be sure she won’t find it disrespectful. I also mumble my apologies when I am taking pictures of her. Wishing her well, I retire to the beech trees and step over the stone circle fighting my doubts that I might get it all wrong again. But suddenly I feel peace and know that I am not offending anyone by standing there. I pat the tree trunks and we have a small chat.

Clonegam

I take a few photographs from the grove.

Clonegam

There are many tree stumps at various stages of decay.

Clonegam

Clonegam

Some of them are quite recent.

Clonegam

I have a thing for beech trees. Not only are they majestic and beautiful, but they also feed an army of wild creatures. They are like an autonomic world, an entity that will function long after we are all gone.

Clonegam

In the picture below you see the Clonegam church I have already written about.

Clonegam

As I was walking between this point and the church, many things happened.

First of all, I came across two sheep corpses of which I took pictures but won’t display them in this blog. I am afraid that the sheep died due to the complicated labor, and wild foxes and other predators finished the job. Sad.

Then I investigated the wall trying to figure out what was that sound that scared me on my visit last year. I didn’t find any answers on this side of the wall and decided to go to the graveyard again since it was still light. I have never forgotten that knocking sound. I know that at the steps of the church there is a footprint from goat, and it is haunted. Was that the sound of goat’s hooves clicking on the stone path?

To my surprise, the back gate was closed, and there was a small horse trailer standing at the front porch. I thought that was very strange. I kept walking towards the hole in the wall to climb over to my car when just behind my shoulder, someone said “huh” twice.

I jumped in the air and turned around. There was no one.

Slightly shaken, I walked faster, and then there was another ‘huh’. This time I realised it was coming from above. I lifted up my face in horror, and saw a group of goats looking down at me.

Clonegam

Clonegam

I was never so happy to see a goat…

The goats came running to the front gate where I stood. I think they were left in the graveyard to clear it of weeds, and thought I brought them some snacks to add to their boring diet. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any goat snacks with me.

As the front gate was closed, I tried to stick out my lens between the rails, but it didn’t work well and my pictures came out ‘framed’. Still, it was a fun photo session.

Clonegam

Clonegam

Clonegam

This one was a true sweetheart. He was standing and looking at me after all the other goats left. He pressed his forehead to the rails, and I was scratching his head and patting his back, and he loved it.

Clonegam

One of the Clonegam mysteries was solved.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Little Robin of Marlfield Lake

Robin

We let the zoos be for now. I hope they become a place of refuge and education, as they should. This is a post about Marlfield Lake inhabitants who are free to move around as they please. The low fence is protecting them from the visitors who can fall in the water and frighten the chicks. I have mentioned Marfield lake in one of my last year’s posts.

Robins live an average 2 years, but it all depends. If there are no predators, the weather is good and the food is plenty they might live a decade. This particular robin has been around for some 5-6 years. Of course I cannot tell for sure that it is exactly the same robin, but I think I recognize the behavior.

As it happened, during my latest visit the robin had been moulting.

Robin

He probably could not fly well, so he hid in the shrubs and came out only to pick up some crumbs.

Robin

A century-and-a-half long history of feeding the local waterfowl with bread has probably made them sort of domesticated.

Robin

After the lunch, robin comes from behind the fence to visit with me. When there are no dogs around, this robin can come quite close. He is a great poser.

Look at him! He is standing right next to my feet.

Robin

Robin

The robin is hopping around, picking something invisible from the cracks in the rocks.

Robin

I notice something else, and say bye-bye to him. I swear he knows the word.

Robin

‘Something else’ is a young blackbird that sits on the ground behind the fence with his wings spread wide. There is nothing wrong with him. He is just cooling himself.

Robin

I wonder why he doesn’t walk to the water and drink a few drops to cool off. May be he is afraid of the swan family? This is a daddy swan…

Marlfield Lake

… and this is his mate and their cute fluffy cygnets.

Marlfield Lake

I also spot four female ducks strategically perched on a fallen tree, minding each other’s back.

Marlfield Lake

Marlfield Lake

If you think that I have posted too many bird pictures in this blog, here are two butterflies and two very useful herbs for you.

Red Admiral – Vanessa atalanta, a very common butterfly around the Marlfield Lake.

Robin

Speckled Wood butterfly.

Fragrant Pineapple weed is good for your stomach. When you crush its feathery list between your fingers, you feel that sweet pineapple scent. If you taste a flower head, it has a light citrus flavor.

Hedge Woundwort smells like mouse urine – so they say; for me it is just a very unpleasant aroma. Woundwort is a very powerful antiseptic remedy, healing to the wounded tissues.

I will be away for a couple of weeks. For my next blog I have scheduled a Halloween ghost story, and after that you can walk around the Mount Congreve Gardens two weekends in a row 🙂

I link this blog post to the Robin’s blog – you can see why  🙂

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Dublin Zoo II

Dublin Zoo

Shortly after my trip to the Zoo I read this blog post on Weave A Web. It is supposed to be humorous – which it sure is – but in connection with my zoo visit, it gave me some food for thoughts. Do we really need to interfere and ‘improve’ the Nature? Is the ‘conservation’ real? What is the percentage of successful reintroduction of a species to the wild? Especially if ‘the wild’ is made unlivable for animals by humans.

I don’t want to upset you at the beginning of my post. Let’s go back to the hippos and watch Atiya and her antics.

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo

In 2002 a tragedy struck. Linda, a 28 years old female hippo, became ill and died. A post mortem revealed the tennis ball blocked her intestine. As they don’t sell tennis balls in the zoo, it had to have been brought in by a visitor. Linda’s 13 month old son Hoovie who had never left her side, kept wandering around the enclosure, lonely and confused, looking for his mother. Henry, her mate of 16 years, was left bereft. Later he got a new mate, Heidi.

Dublin zoo 2007

The last group of animals we will visit today are our ‘cousins’, the primates.  Saki monkey in this picture looks gorgeous, but I would love to see him more contented.

Dublin Zoo

Western lowland gorillas look even less contented. It was the saddest place I visited in the zoo.

Dublin Zoo

Are they still grieving?  Sunday May 29 2016 was one of the saddest days in the zoo. Harry, the ‘gentle giant’, beloved silverback passed away. Ireland was heartbroken.

harry

Harry presumably suffered a stroke after being unwell for a few days.

Harry arrived at Dublin Zoo in September 1995 when he was just nine years old. He was 29 when he died. His mate of 21 years, Lena, and the other gorillas  searched the island for Harry and cried. Lena and Harry had six babies over the years. When Harry died, she was pregnant and gave birth to a healthy baby boy Kitoko two months later.

harry

It is what their enclosure looked like in 2007. The main entertainment was to sit and stare through the glass into the greenery.

harry

Henry died shortly after the troupe were relocated to the spacious Gorilla Rainforest. Was it too much for the 29 years old leader to monitor such a big territory? I don’t know. He was a great leader anyway, calm and gentle. If a fight broke out, he would step in and stop the conflict.

harry

Life is going on. New babies are born in Gorilla Rainforest.

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo

And here are some pictures from the Chimpanzee Island.

This chimp looks sad and lonely.

Dublin Zoo

Another chimp sees that and hurries to his pal to offer comfort.

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo

Too late! Someone else is already there with a hug.

Dublin Zoo

Oh well.

Dublin Zoo

It is so good to have a friend by your side.

Dublin Zoo

As some of you might have guessed, I went to the Dublin Zoo to see Philip. However on that day the old Reptile House was closed as the animals were in the process of moving to the Zoorassic World. I left without answers. Later that day I emailed to the customer service and asked if they had a Water dragon in their Zoorassic World collection. A lady named Jennifer replied that they hadn’t. Then I asked if a water dragon they got from the Reptile Village has died, and she said no, he just moved to Dudley Zoo in April this year. I opened their page. The dragon didn’t look like Philip to me. I have to see the dragon to be sure as he has some distinctive features I could recognize. I don’t give up on finding Philip yet.

Thank you for your wonderful company!

inesemjphotography Have a great weekend!

Dublin Zoo I

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo was opened to the public on the 1st September 1831 with 46 mammals and 72 birds on display, all donated by London Zoo. The entry charge was sixpence that later was reduced to one penny on Sundays. It was basically a shed with the animal cages housed in a random order. The animals were routinely taunted and abused by the visitors. During the Famine of the 1840 many animals died and the institution almost collapsed. Another tough time was in the end of the 1980’s. The zoo was struggling and the council considered closing it, but with the aid of the Government it eventually started to recover. At present, Dublin Zoo is a home to some 400 animals.

I am going to the Dublin Zoo once in a decade. I have mixed feelings about the Zoos, especially about breeding in captivity. This time there were three baby elephants born within a year.

This little baby bull elephant Kabir was born to mama Yasmin in May. He is Yasmin’s fourth calf.

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo

The other two baby elephants are Zinda born in September 2016 and Avani born in March this year, both girls.

Zinda’s mum Asha was the first Asian elephant born in Dublin Zoo back in 2007, the year of my previous visit (picture below). She was hiding behind her mother and I had a hard time taking a good picture of her.

dublin zoo 2007

Asha’s mum and Zinda’s grandmother Bernhardine is still alive. She is the matriarch of the herd.

Dublin Zoo’s first elephant was a female called Sita, and her keeper was James McNally. In 1903 Sita cut her foot and as James was applying ointment to her wound, she knocked him down with her trunk and stamped on his head. The coroner decided she had acted out of malice and sentenced her to death. Nearly 30 years of good behavior prior the accident didn’t help, and after two days an experienced elephant hunter and a firing squad did the killing. Even McNally’s son said that his father would not have wanted the animal killed.

Sita’s stamping foot was preserved as an umbrella bucket in the Zoo cafeteria for decades.

I didn’t have a good view of the other babies – you see Zinda in the middle and Avani on the left. They look happy, but their future is unclear.

Dublin Zoo

Another set of cute babies –  Tamworth piglets.

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo

Not a baby anymore but still good looking 😉

Dublin Zoo

African Red river hog, shy nocturnal animal with long tufted ears.

Dublin Zoo

Just a billy goat from the Family Farm.

Dublin Zoo

Bored chicken from the Family Farm.

Dublin Zoo

Southern white rhino, endangered species. They have a big herd here in Dublin Zoo, and a male calf was born last August.

Dublin Zoo

More than 100 animals died at Dublin Zoo during the 24 month period from 2014 to 2016, among them Southern white rhinoceros, two Rothschild giraffes, three grey wolves and a red panda.

Rothschild giraffes in 2007. They are no more.

dublin zoo 2007

Red panda in 2007. Gone.

dublin zoo 2007

Humboldt penguins are very quiet. Ten years ago there were more of them, and I remember the sounds they made – trumpet-like, even elephant-like.

Dublin Zoo

This picture is 10 years old. Three Humboldt penguins died in 2015. There are fewer than 12000 of the penguins left in the wild..

Dublin zoo 2007

Penguins and zebras look good in monochrome pictures.

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo

I love these neat animals.

Dublin Zoo

Another black & white favorite – European magpies. They are living in the zoo along with many other wild birds including a Grey heron. I saw him in 2007 and he is still alive, still hanging with penguins and probably stealing their fish 🙂

Dublin Zoo

Here are some links you might be interested in:

National Animal Rights Association, Ireland

Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS)

Thank you for visiting Dublin Zoo with me. One more post next Saturday.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Harvest festival in Waterford, 2017

As we crossed the Knockmealdowns and returned to County Waterford, why not to visit Waterford city again, especially on a Harvest festival weekend.

Harvest festival is a lot about eating and being merry. Parnell street is turned into an outdoor restaurant, live music is playing, some people are cooking and all the other people are eating.

Cuisine from around the world.

And cakes, cakes and more cakes! I got a bag of delicious homemade marshmallows – passion fruit flavor, yum.

Apple juice from the award winning Clashganny organic Farm. 

Banana bread from Dunmore East Amish Mennonite community bakery.

Organic vegetables from GIY Waterford, which stands for, of course, Grow It Yourself.

This is Síona from GROW.

She and her colleague are running the Grow Cook Eat stand, and I can see that it is popular and many people stop by to get a brochure. GIY is a not-for-profit enterprise dedicated to supporting, educating and inspiring people to grow some of their own food.

I am a huge fan and supporter of the GIY idea. It is not only about food. It is one of the aspects of carers mentality. Care for the Earth, resources, health, life.

GROW headquarters in Ardkeen offer a great variety of classes and workshops, including yoga and mindfulness meditation, chicken and bee-keeping, fermented drinks and beer brewing. Just everything.

I am moving from one location to another looking for some craft workshops, but cannot find any. Last year there were plenty – some of them were featured in my blog.

Honey harvest stand looks and smells beautifully.

This man is selling miniature Standing Stones. They look cute and I would love to talk about them with the artist himself, but I am afraid he doesn’t like photographers 😉 As far as I know the artist’s name is Peter Atkins, from Waterford. The replicas he makes are really cute 🙂

But this beautiful lady from Ballybeg Greens likes photographers. Good for her!

I spot a pair of donkey ears in the painting. Carol Murray’s works are here as a part of the outdoor exhibition Art on the Railings where young and established artists of different mediums can hang their artwork in the Viking Triangle.

And look who is here! My ‘friends’ from Dunmore East 🙂

Of course these two gentlemen had nothing to do with the incident at the oyster farm 🙂 They were nice and didn’t mind to be photographed.

These poor creatures deserve a word of mention. They had to wear heavy wigs and thick garb, and those creepy ride-on costumes with fake legs… No wonder they looked so sad. They didn’t even have a proper walking staff to keep their balance and had to use tree branches …

… while there were hundreds of beautiful Shillelaghs!

I just couldn’t take my eyes off all those cute animals.

I hope you enjoyed the festival. Next week we are going to Dublin.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!