Saltee Islands

It has been five wonderful years

I don’t know where all these years have gone, but they have been wondrous. 233 posts, at least 2000 photographs… Happy Blogoversary to me! ūüôā


The beginning was shocking. I got the WAMP and wrote a bunch of articles related to the family photography since this blog was meant to be a portfolio. I launched the blog in February, but to my horror, it got a close attention from various adult websites, and I  had to delete all my articles and children photographs.

My Blogger Friends, I would quit right there if it wasn’t for your support.

I started from scratch in March.

Please, click on the photos and it will open the pages.

I wrote about myself, shared my memories and adventures. I also wrote about my friends. That year I started my annual Saltee Islands series.


I went to many street festivals, like the Durrow Scarecrow festival.

I also started Pat Gibbons and his Foxes series.

It was a great year, I blogged twice a week.


I started getting more feedback. It was wonderful. People asked questions, commissioned photographs. That year I wrote about Clonmel photographer William Despard Hemphill, and what a rewarding surprise it was to get this email:

Just a quick Thank you for your excellent blog on Clonmel and William Hemphill. I am his great great grandson and my dad has all his books and helped produce the book about his pics. His mum lived in Oakville, Dr Hemphill‚Äôs house in Clonmel and I went there once before it was demolished and the supermarket car park built. When I left school (1976) I cycled round the area taking pictures also based on Dr Hemphills…¬†

…Thanks again for the blog. I‚Äôll be showing it to my dad (93 on Tuesday) and he will be thrilled. Born in Carick-On-Suir he has incredible recall of the area, and your pics will bring them back again.

R… E…

That year I also wrote about my travels, and as always, about birds and animals.

I didn’t forget to visit Pat and his foxes.

I did some street photography. This is Cian Finn.

He sings about life, and I wholeheartedly agree with him.

I also started Waterford Walls series that summer. In October I went to Donegal to attend Elena Shumilova’s first international workshop, and the trip resulted in four blog posts.


That year I started Anne Valley series and wrote three blog posts. Since then I regularly visit the trail.

I started Clonegam series.

I wrote about myself, and shared my opinions ūüôā


I met two journeymen, and after a month, got a feedback from a fellow blogger on their further travels in Ireland.


I started Comeragh and Knockmealdown, Greenway, Mount Congreve and Curraghmore House series.

The blog posts about Pat and his foxes were the most popular. Many websites around the world translated the story into different languages, and some of them actually asked permission. There were also some who removed my logo ūüôā It doesn’t matter to me, because the sole purpose of my blog was to spread a word. I was so delighted when my friend told me that Bored Panda website used my pictures along with the story from the Irish Examiner :). Anyway, I am happy that Pat and his foxes are getting so much attention.

I continued with the street festivals-related posts: Waterford Walls, Harvest Festival, St Patrick’s Parade, Spraoi.


I didn’t blog much last year.

I started, and will continue Follow The Vikings series, and Kerry series. 

Puffins and foxes surely took all the limelight, as always ūüôā Amazing¬†Poet Rummager Rose Perez wrote a charming haiku inspired by the tiny puffin


I have wings to fly

They never are really used

‚ÄėTil I see your smile

Another lovely feedback was received last year in response to my post The Last Butler of Curraghmore.

… I am Basil Croeser‚Äôs daughter, living in Montreal, Canada. My brother… sent the link to your blog post entitled The Last Butler of Curraghmore and I just wanted to thank you so much for your lovely words and photos. ¬†
…They were really chuffed and surprised and I think it made their week!…
Thanks again and best regards,

What you won’t find in my blog:
– ANY sort of radicalism and also lies, defamation, hate, envy
What I want to ask:
– Please, link your Gravatar picture to your current page so that every blogger could easily visit your blog ‚ô•
РUse Calendar and Archives widgets so that your visitors could access your earlier blog posts. You deserve to be heard.

I don’t know how long I will blog, but I think that all my efforts throughout these five years were worth it ūüôā

Thank you so much for all the inspiration and support! ♥

With love

Saltee Island: big adventure 2016


Sweet puffin looks at me with his wise grey eye. ¬†Another hour on the island and the boat will come to pick us up. I don’t want to leave. I want to stay there, on the edge of the cliff, and see what he sees.


The aquamarine blue water turns a shade darker.


There is a dark cloud coming from the East, and it means rain.


Before long it was raining lazily, and the¬†raindrops sat on the puffin’s back and head, like diamond beads.

puffin puffin

I have had a fabulous time and took many photographs. I photographed¬†birds perched¬†on the cliffs, and in flight, from the front and from behind, …



… single and in groups.


We even saw a family of partridges and a rabbit.


It is time to leave.


Enjoy this short video from Saltee Islands website .

We take the stairs down to the rocky shore, and walk along the water edge taking photographs of everything that lies around.

saltees 2 152

saltees 2 143

Huge thanks to the Neale family who have turned the islands into the bird sanctuary, and set up a shelter for those who might get stuck on the island overnight.

saltee islands

Our boat arrived with more photographers on board. This group will stay until the dark to take pictures of the sunset. The rubber dinghy is speeding towards the shore. It is also named after a bird. Guess which? A Puffin! ūüôā


This is Declan Bates, the captain of  An Crosan, The Razorbill. Last August Captain Bates spotted an overturned boat that capsized near Great Saltee Island. Ten people had been in water for five hours. They were rescued and taken by An Crosan to Kilmore Quay. Nine of them survived.

Thank you for the safe trip, captain!

Captain Declan Bates

I do hope you enjoyed this trip, extended over so many blog posts ūüôā

Don’t lose connection with the beautiful things of the world. Everything else won’t last long.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Saltee Island: lost in the ferns


This young European Shag¬†was a juvenile¬†when I saw him last year, almost in the same place, and here is his mama and his new brother or sister. I recognized him because of his distinctive shyness, in opposite to his mama who is bold and¬†ill-tempered ūüôā


I have never seen a puffin chick. Something to look forward to.

All sorts of  seagulls in the island also have chicks around this time. The parents are standing on the top of the rocks watching their young, ready to swoop and attack an intruder.

Four species of seagulls breed on Saltees. Herring gull is on the Irish Red List of the most threatened bird species. In the 1980s there were about 500 pairs on Great Saltee, and now just over 50 pairs. Good that they can live up to 30 years.

sea gull

This Herring gull clearly enjoyed posing for a portrait.

sea gull sea gull

Two species of the Black-backed seagulls are nesting on the island. We didn’t want to upset the male perched on the rock and took pictures of the chicks from a distance. This is a Greater¬†Black-backed gull, one of the largest gulls in the world. In one of my previous blogs, I have pictures of this gull in flight.

sea gull

Two fluffy Black-backed gull chicks enjoying the sun.


After leaving the Gannet colony I suggested that we should explore the north side of the island. It looked like a green meadow sprinkled with some white flowers. Off we went, and on our way we came across some nests with the eggs and the chicks wandering around. The¬†eggs belong to different species of the gulls. Later I googled ‘seagull eggs’, and was shocked as all the pages¬†that came up were related to cooking and eating these eggs!

Most of the seagulls lay three eggs. One must be stolen from the nest.

sea gull eggs

These are the eggs of a Great Black-backed gull. The pair of them is nesting in exactly the same place as last year. You can enlarge the picture to see the chick use its egg tooth to break through the egg shell. It might take 24 hours or even longer.


This speckled blue eggshell is quite big which means that it belongs to a seagull.


A chick is hiding in the weeds and playing dead.


After that, our detour took a bad turn, literally. We turned to the East and gradually entered the area covered with the ferns. In the beginning we managed to keep to the frail path but it led us nowhere. The seagulls hated us. Then the thorns and brambles came into the picture, and the path completely disappeared. My companions suggested that we keep moving along the coast no matter what, but the green sea of ferns might hide dangerous holes and who¬†knows what else – I didn’t want to dive in it again.


We were right in the middle of the green area in the picture below. If you zoom it, you will see a stone wall crossing the island, with the seagulls perched on top of it. I suggested we walk to the wall, climb on it, and walk on top of the wall¬†until we reach a surface free of vegetation. So we did. The wall wasn’t flat on top, of course. The rocks were sharp and slippy, I fell, and my backside stuck between the rocks like a keystone. If I were alone I would cry. Thankfully, I was lifted up and put on the straight and narrow again. After a while we reached the main path and thus escaped being consumed by ferns. Lesson learned – keep to the main path because there is no other.


Beautiful weather had changed and the drizzle started to thicken. Suddenly the dark clouds opened in the middle revealing a perfect rectangle. Was it some sort of a message?


Another surprise Рtwo pairs of ringed pigeons. How did they make it to the island?


On our way to the boat we returned to the Puffin cliffs.


I just cannot stop taking pictures of puffins. This one came running Рsweet, funny bird!

puffin puffin

Thank you for sharing the dangers of this trip with me! The last blog about Saltee Islands is coming next Saturday!

inese_mj_photographyHave a wonderful weekend!

Saltee Islands – treasure bigger than money -part 1


“All people young and old, are welcome to come, see and enjoy the islands, and leave them as they found them for the¬†unborn generations to come see and enjoy.”¬† ¬† ¬† –¬† Michael the First

Even after I shared two posts on my Saltee experiences I still have a lot to say. I love this place.

When we arrived to Kilmore¬†Quay to catch our motor boat, the sea looked rough. In the days of sail, the area around the Islands was known as “the graveyard of a thousand ships”. ¬†I cannot tell that I have a brilliant memory, but this sort of information somehow always gets stuck in my head.

We boarded our boats Рtwelve in each Рand off we went.  Not wanting to get soaked in salty wate, I went inside the boat, and it was a grave mistake. The waves were rolling over the boat; a few times the wave hit the bottom of the boat so hard that I though it would break up in pieces. Half way to the island, fighting sea sickness I had to get out, and there I stood another 15 minutes all soaked but unable even to move to make myself comfortable.  I barely remember the short trip on the inflatable boat; I was focused on staying conscious. It took me some six hours to completely recover Рright before our trip back.

We walked¬†up the steps, passed¬†by the owners’ house and headed to the Puffin place. The island was wrapped in fog.


The cliffs surrounding the first bay  near the cave known as the Wherry Hole are the nesting place for Atlantic Puffins.

I am very glad to tell you that there were remarkably more puffins this year than the year before.  Knowing that the birds return to their old burrows, I went to check out my buddy who made such a great model for me last year, and there he was Рwith some more neighbours, possibly his own grown up chicks from the previous years.


Puffins start breeding when they are five years old.  They use their pre-breeding years to learn about feeding places, choosing a mate and nest sites.

I went around for some more shots. The fun will start in the afternoon when the puffins go fishing and return with the bunches of the Sand eels in their beaks.






During winter, the beaks and feet of puffins fade in color, and every spring they turn  bright orange again in preparation for the breeding season.  The beak increases in size as the bird matures.

Here you can listen to a puffin¬† –¬†¬†you will love it ūüôā¬†¬†Puffins usually make noises when sitting in their¬†burrows, and the acoustics are very impressive. ¬†I will post the link separately to give a credit to ProjectPuffin :

In this photograph you can see two cameras set up by the Ornithologists to watch the puffins.


We came a couple of weeks too early: most of the puffins young haven’t hatched yet, ¬†but still we got lucky to see some feeding¬†birds that afternoon.

The puffin’s beak can¬†hold up to 60¬†fish. ¬†The¬†raspy tongue holds fish against spines on the palate allowing the puffin to open his ¬†beak to catch more fish.




We were lucky with the weather also. It was a dry day,  a little bit overcast. It is difficult to take photographs of puffins in the sun because of their black and white plumage.

A few more puffins. The couples stay together all their life. Males are usually slightly larger than females, otherwise there is no difference.



This family is still working on their nest.  Puffins lay one egg per year.


Puffins are very clumsy on the ground and in the flight. They are rather falling than landing, with a thud. In this photograph you can see some spots around the puffin. You might think it is some dirt on my lens, but it is the sand in the air. When a puffin is taking off he beats his wings and lifts up all the dust and sand.

A puffin can fly 48 to 55 mph (77 to 88 km/hr) though.  The wings can move so fast that they become a blur.


Great Saltee Island is some 2-3¬†km long.¬†¬†I am leaving the Puffins’ place and start hiking to the Southern part of the island along the¬†well-trodden path.




The islands  were used as a base for pirates and smugglers for centuries. The gain of these folks could very well be hidden in the many caves, like the one in the image above, but there are treasures bigger than money, and they are not hidden anywhere.

More from the Saltees in the end of the week. Hope you loved the puffins.

IneseMjPhotographyHave a peaceful week!

Golden faces, silver eyes and blue eyelids.


It started raining. Creeping from one rock to another I was finally done with photographing the puffins willing to pose.

I looked around and saw that my peeps took off and started to disappear one by one in the sea of ferns. So I hurried after them.

Saltee islands

Our next destination was Gannet Headland, a nesting ground for the Northern gannets. You cannot see the place before you climb up to the highest point of the island through the high ferns and then walk down to the rugged cliffs. Then you just stop there, speechless.

gannet colony

gannet colony

The gannet is Europe’s largest sea bird with a wingspan up to 2 metres. The adults are white and the young birds are very dark¬†¬†brown. It takes 5 years for them to reach maturity and start breeding. They say there are two thousand couples nesting there on the island. The gannets make their nests from seaweeds, feathers and human made materials found in the water.




Gannet with a bunch of seaweed to furnish the nest.


Gannets hunt fish by plunge-diving from a remarkable height into the sea and then using their wings and feet to swim deeper. After returning from the sea they have this gentle ritual of affection with the other partner, preening and touching the bills.


The young chick reaches deep into its parent’s throat for its meal of partially digested fish.


The parent birds take turns warming the eggs and protecting the chicks.


The gannets are very vocal:)


As you can see, there are some couples with very young chicks, naked and helpless, and some with the older ones, covered with soft white down.



Gannets have very interesting features. For example, they have no external nostrils: they are located inside the mouth. Their eyes are positioned slightly up to the front which gives them a better view.

There is my reflection in the gannet’s eye:)


Clumsy on take-offs and landings the gannets are powerful fliers with an impressive wing span.



Now I want to share something sad. Please read this article…

Gold-faced, silver-eyed, gracious¬†birds… Isn’t there anything else to eat in this century?

There are also other species of birds on the island. This is a Herring gull in its flight.

herring gull

This is a Fulmar.


These are the  Blackback gull chicks.

great blackback gull chick

great blackback gull chicks

This angry bird is a Shag. Shags breed colonially between the rocks and in sea caves.



This is the island owners’ house. We were¬†heading to the shelter to hide from the rain and wait for our¬†boat.


The ferrying boat could not come closer, so we had to  be carried over there by an inflatable boat.


Little and Great Saltee islands on the horizon.  It was one of the most memorable trips in my life.



I hope you enjoyed this trip with me. You can click on the pictures to make them¬†bigger. They are all resized for the web with resolution 72, so you won’t have problems opening them. Same for the previous post about the Puffins.

Photography tip of the day: When you are going to take pictures of sea¬†birds, not having a telephoto shouldn’t stop you – the¬†birds let you come¬†close enough. ¬†These pictures were taken with a 70-200, but you can¬†bring any lens you have. ¬†The settings matter, as I wrote in the previous post, and your vision matters. I wanted to get dreamy, a little bit grainy pictures with¬†blurred background. Also watch your white colors. It is¬†important ¬†to see the details on the white feathers, ¬†otherwise they look like¬†burnt-out spots.

inesemjphotographyHave a great week!