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Save Dunmanus Bay

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Heading Off Before The Next Rain

As I was checking the weather this morning, wind direction and strength, I also looked up the tides chart for Dunmanus Bay {my local patch}. The weather did not look promising with showers in the air.

However, I had not been at the bay for a couple of weeks and needed to get an update on how ‘the birds were doing these days. The rain had been keeping me indoors, and on the few times I did venture out onto the road, sent me back home again. Not that I am shy of a little shower though, in act I love those summer showers. Not rain like we’ve had in the latter half of June; it makes the road wet and slippery.
The biggest risk to my wheels however is puddles. Some can cover holes of up to 20-25cm deep, and once a wheel get stuck in one of these, strong wo/men power will be needed to get me back onto the road again. And this I don’t carry with me, as I prefer going off on my own.

The morning was nice though; a little moisture in the air, but generally warm and dry. After some work, a visit to the shop for the papers, wine and a box of Felix for the cat, I told Francis I was going for a spin ‘round. Even if I would not be able to do my usual 3km to the little shingle beach, combining the main road along the bay{birds} and the higher back road {wildflowers} I could still go to the bay taking the main road and go as far as the Church of Ireland.

I set off with my camera and a Granny Smith, onto the main road towards Ahakista, I immediately knew I made a grave mistake in taking this road, because Saturday afternoons are mostly booked for weddings! And indeed, I was soon trapped behind & between cars which were looking for the nearest spot to park at the side of the road. Having cars parked at both sides and more trying to park, I had to continue by slipping past one car, wait between that one and the next, let other car go by, and continue in that way along the road. It was a big wedding and it seemed that not only had the whole peninsula turned out to wish the couple well, the rest of West Cork looked also to be here.

Eventually though, I recognised the smell of low tide. I usually time my visits, so that I’m at the bay a little past halfway low tide, so that by the time I get to the little ‘beach’, the tide is starting to turn with two hours still to go. This way I have the best chance of seeing birds like the Grey Herons, Whimbrel, Redshank and also the Grey Wagtails at the little bridge at the strand.
It was six Hooded Crows which greeted me first, six were busy foraging in the mud, in which they have very good camouflage. This is a pity because I find it very hard sometimes to get a good picture of these beautiful Corvids.

A pair of Mute Swans was swimming in the distance, slowly making their way in the direction of the bridge next to the Church of Ireland.
I was looking for anything moving on the grey mud, something with more delicate legs than a Hooded Crow, and did notice a Whimbrel at last; unfortunately though, I was unable to get a picture, it had moved on before I was able to focus. The curse of taking birding pictures.
From the bridge I could see the Mute Swans, with a Cygnet. They swam to me, wanting to show off their youngster, it seemed. Being able to rest my elbow and half eaten apple on the wall, just past the bridge, I started with pictures of Mum, Dad and youngster. As I was immersed into my camera and the Swans, I heard a noise behind me where I noticed a large and dark bird in the water, Suddenly the head came up and so did the wings; it was a Hooded Crow or Rook, which flew up and off from under water. I have seen Rooks do this before, but had not seen this behaviour from our local Hooded Crows. If we leave evolution do its part, will Corvids then end up with webbed feet too?
One of the Swans stood up suddenly, wings stretched out, as if to make clear that s/he was defending its young. Too late I realised my picture size settings were at 16:9 and not 3:2! I did not have enough room from where I was sitting! What a pity!

Everytime when I watch either Rooks or Hooded Crows, or Jackdaws for that matter, who also like to get their feet wet, peck delicately at the mud, finding little worms, insects or other creatures, I think back at my garden where at that precise moment the food is being raided by Jackdaws, Rooks and Hooded Crows and Magpies, not pecking at it, no scooping it all into those big black or grey beaks!

A Redshank runs off too, as soon as I spotted it, so no hope for a picture either.
Soon it got darker, and the wind started picking up too. And as a few specks of rain came down, I turned away from the \swan family and the Bay in general, to head home. As I past underneath the Rookery, based in Horse Chestnuts along the river at the church and across from there along the rectory’s garden boundary, I noticed how quiet it was as I did not hear any noise from above. Perhaps they were elsewhere in the bay, feeding and feeding the youngsters?

I was home just before it started lashing down, but the pics are a disappointment. All the close-ups of the Cygnet were much too grainy, turned out that my shutter speed was much too low. Ah well, all in the process of learning I guess. Hopefully I get another chance early next week when one or two dry days could be expected, perhaps?.

Sorry about the pictures being so dark, I hace edited the Cygnets' one, to give a bit of an idea, even though I'm very disappointed with the outcome.
Had the digital zoom on On, to be able to get a better view, but this is what actually ruined it, I think. Silly me.
Will need to get back in better lightconditions.

Aaawww...:Swimming On its Own:The Little Bridge At the Church of Ireland: One of the Hooded Crows:A Herring GullLook Back over the BayMy Sparrow in new plumageDunnock and Chaffinch in the garden this morning


  1. nice pics.never seen a hooded crow

  2. Thanks, Pete; we've a lot of these grey Corvids and although they do come into the garden and my planter with the Rooks and Jackdaws, they are even more easily spooked than the other Corvids. I love them though; they have such a lovely colouring.
    We don't have any 'real' Crows, as in Carrion, only these, Jack and Rooks. And Chough further down the coast.

  3. Found you through Petes blog. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. Nice pictures. I'd never heard of the Hooded Crow so was excited to see a picture of one. I do love Crows and Ravens.

  4. Hooded Crows are "smart" birds! This one is really well disguised on the mud!
    I sometimes see the odd one on Sheppey in the winter but usually have to go to Scotland!


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