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Friday, January 30, 2009

No second chance for Tasmanian Pod of Sperm Whales possible

Although I concentrate mostly on Irish Wildlife, I could not let this sad event go quietly.
The fifty Sperm Whales stranded onto a sandbank island off Tasmania, had beached onto a most remote place and rescuers had to organise boats to reach the Whales.

At first, eight of the fifty had still survived on the 23rd of January. These hard conditions in which the Whales found themselves, meant that saving the last eight stranded Cetaceans was impossible.

WildLife Extra reported this also.

But I had found it already on an Australian ABC website. where, when you click on the blue picture, you can see how helpless this large pod is. It is a real sad sight to see so many together. This should be a happy event, seeing them together, but apparently, Tasmania is susceptible to strandings.
Last year a pod of 150 individual Long-finned Pilot Whales came to their death after stranding on the west Tasmanian coast in November. I read an interesting fact somewhere, where it said that these Cetaceans are very social animals and their family bonds are so strong that if one of the family members beaches him/herself the others will follow it in doing this also. I find this hard to understand myself. But then, I am stuck in this human body and mind. I try hard not to try and necessarily think as a Whale perhaps, but am more concerned with the whole pod and how these are living together. We are too much stuck in our way of thinking , where placing yourself in another being is something we are unable to do.

The Long-Finned Pilot Whale is mostly found in colder waters, and the Short finned in warmer waters.
The reason I looked this up was because the idea of Tasmania and mass strandings made me think of the border between warm tropical and Antarctic waters around Tasmania and was wondering if this would have an effect. But then it is about mass strandings in any Whale Species, not necessarily the Long Finned Whales only.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My camera is going on a trip

I've been down in the dumps lately, bit out of sorts too. It is my poor camera, she is not working properly any more.

The poor girl's optic nerve is on the blink and after talking with the guy in Dublin where I had bought miss Lumix, he thinks that he will need to send her on to Panasonic for a new lens bloc, aftre he has received the camera from me over the post.
We talked for at least an hour or something and he was really supportive. Not only about my non-working camera, but about the special lenses which Panasonic makes for their Lumix models.

I have long been thinking about getting the tele conversion lens and the polarizing filter. Especially the filter is a must because of the photography I do at the bay, because the reflection there has been bothering me from the start.

Anyway, after searching high (not easy in a ground level house) and low for suitable boxes in which I can send the camera, I headed down to the shop where the only suitable box was one in which they collect batteries, which are then collected by the council for recycling. The next one, too big, went into the bag, which would have to do. I was sure that Francis could create something out of it. (yes, I know, it is very silly that I do not have thew original box any more. But that is part of living in a small house.

With a good knife and glue, the box has really lost weight. Tomorrow I will go down into town where I hope to get bubblewrap (the only bubblewrap we've got at home is on an industrial roll, up in the loft. This my OH got from Viking Direct when we'd first started talking about moving and he thought it was a good idea to have it.

So I hope I can send her off to Dublin tomorrow. I just hope I get it back for spring.
On the other hand (oops!- I only have the use of one!) it will provide me with time to start organising my photos and to get a lot of other stuff done.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Swede Reaction.

Most of us, cat owners, are aware that our pets can show particular fondness for the smell, or the chemicals in plants such as Cat nip and Cat Mint.

Nina, our white feline, used to have strange taste anyway, and was never fooled by either of the above plants.
For example she used to be a lover of fruit. Well, fruit she was allowed to eat that is. Avacado, Kiwis, Melons, anything I'd be peeling on Sundays for our fruit salads, and when she started licking the inside of the peels, I would cut her slivers of the fruits she preferred, and she would love these.

Last Friday, I was peeling slices of Turnip, or Swedes, as the English call these root vegetables.
As usual I dropped the waste into the yellow microwave lids. Nina, looking for a snack or just attention, jumped onto the table and became very interested in the peel of the vegetable I was preparing. However not once did she look at the peeled cubes in the bowl- all her attention was on what was in the yellow lid.

It was hard to prevent her from tipping the thing off the table, but it was even harder to keep on going.
I have no idea which chemical is inside this skin. Perhaps someone can tell us this, who knows.
I can only guess that celeriac and Fennel have similar chemicals because celery stalks/leaf is the top of the roots, growing underground.
If anyone can tell me more, please do; this silly cat has roused my curiosity now.

It was hard to get any decent pictures as 'madame' was so incredibly High that she was not only unstoppable, but she was moving so fast too. And of course right underneath my nose, leaving me not much distance; All she wanted was to rub her nose right into the inside of the Turnip's skin.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Beached Fin Whale, put to rest

Ever since the news of the beached Fin Whale, in Courtmacsherry,West Cork, reached me, I have been thinking about the poor creature.

And if the amount of visitors to my blog, are anything to go by, this Fin Whale has been able to touch many hearts. they've been googling the whale in the US, in Honduras, and of Down-Under.
So I think that I owe it to all of you, to round this off with an update. I've been wating to do this at several times during these past 9 days, but physical problems, issues with my wheels, and a lot more milling in that head of mine, prevented me. Yet what does it take to stand still for a few minutes, and to connect with the other.

Joy Reidenberg, Associate Professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, whose travels in work will follow a route of animals which have either died by accident, natural causes, or, like in the case of large marine mammals, beached and then died when rescuers failed to help the animal back into the water.

I understand that this 19.7metre Fin Whale was weak already before it stranded itself in the bay of Courtmacsherry.

I might not a marine biologist, or any other 'ist' with realistic ideas about the why this poor animal stranded itself in this bay.

I watched a film once which showed how a storm affects life underwater. We only see the big waves at the surface and how these are influenced by the gales above. But how does it affect a fish, or any of those within the group of cetaceans. The film only concentrated on small-ish fish and not on the large marine mammals.
Still, whenever I think of what is happening out there, just out at sea, I immediately start feeling incredibly cold, and this can last for quite sometime.

And what certainly must be the Worst..
Try and imagine being underwater and then a strong wind raging above the water. We, who are safely sheltered from this storm (most of us at least, I hope), but what happens when you are underneath the surface?
Just try and imagine this, how the wind's sound is building up, this rumble, growing while the waves are rolling in closer, while it is building up, coming closer and closer, and louder and louder... There is mo way of escape from it, this deafening sound all asround until it is almost on top of you.

This idea alone, leaves me shivering and scared! It is the idea of no escape which scares me the most probably. Mind you, as I've said earlier, above, there was nothing about sound in this film, which is a pity perhaps, and I know of nothing which can back me up on this. Perhaps it is my sheer imagination at work here, as a friend would like to tell me, no doubt.
And even though it doesn't need to come very much closer to a Whale, Dolphin or Porpoise to have the effects it is having on me currently, because Cetaceans have excellent hearing.

However with much discussions, protests on the many (Navy) ships, using extra sensitive sound/noises, disturbing Cetaceans in the area (for example in the Englsh Channel, off the coast off Scotland, ass in many other places, seas and countries)

We've heard that the song and call of a Whale or Dolphin can carry for miles underwater, and so these sounds of the storm must carry far too?

I think it is best if I stop talking of this now. It really is having too bad an effect on me!

Joy Reidenberg, Professor at the Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, flew over to perform the post-mortum on the large Fin Whale.

The Whale has been stripped of almost all its meat, leaving the last bits for the Sea birds who will leave it clean afterwards. The meat, muscle, and blubber has been sent to county Waterford for incineration.

The skeleton will be raised and used as an exhibit somewhere in the country. Hopefully we can get it on the beach like this Grey Whale's skeleton in Mexico

I found some detailed information & photos in a Forum of the People's republic of Cork

And although I might never have seen this Whale, I still felt a strong connection with it, which is why it had me down so much lately, I think.

On Monday however, rows had already started about which village could claim the large jawbone for display in either the village of Courtmacsherry or that of Kilbrittain. And although Kilbrittain is much further inland, the villagers from there too helped in large numbers with the rescue attempt.

It is sad that these issues have to flare over such an event which grips people in very different ways.
Also: how do you explain to children, probably at the same school, that their village "won" (with stories of their parent's help in this?

I did forget to buy the Examiner on Monday, as I read and buy the Irish Times normally. I only buy the Examiner on Monday's for their Outdoors (and environmental section.

Just after I'd published this post, I came upon this:
it is the website of the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation
Just click on launch presentation. and you'll hear some of their lovely clicking and also a note on ships and their sounds.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Feline Paws & Tail in the composter?

I use those yellow, plastic "microwave lids" usually to collect my dinner's vegetable waste, which can then be moved outside to the composter.
The other day, after we had eaten, Nina, our cat, jumped onto the table and settled herself inside one of these lids, sat up, and curled the tail 'round her bum. Typically feline.

Only here and there a little bit of potato peel and that kind of stuff, was visible between her feet.

I am not sure if, but she might have stimulated the whole composting process?

And to close, also a glance through the window got me these images on my camera:

One of the Goldcrests,

The two Robins are now arriving and feeding together. One in centre and the other between pots on the left.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tragic Fin Whale death after stranding in County Cork.

I was shocked this morning, when I heard about a live stranding of a Fin Whale in Courtmacsherry in County Cork, here in Eire.

Via the website of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group and the local County Cork radio I was able to follow the situation and the news that bones where visible through its blubber made me feeling sick, just thinking of the poor thing.

On a Lighter Note:
After delving into Whale news on the web of Whales along our SW coast a little I came upon news of a young Humpback Whale, photographed twice, once from Holland's largest island, in the North Sea, the, Texel, and 5 months later from Toe Head in County Cork. This was the first time that movement by Whales in European waters had been recorded.

The joint press release (in English, don't worry!)
Seeing that many young Whales die in their first 12 months, this was good news, the young Whale being spotted 5 months later in a healthy condition.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Els' little creeper and Micro climates inside stone walls.

Last year Els, my mother, moved into a home after living on her own became too difficult for her, after losing her sight, and after she had been found lying on the floor a few times. she had always enjoyed living on her own and was happy that she had been able to do so until last year. when friends helped her move into her new rooms, Ger, a good friend of Els, had the honour of hanging Els' many paintings. After running out of space inside her new home, Ger took many into the corridor where they hang on both sides of Elly's door.
My mum also has a huge collection of little travel books, in which she would keep a diary of brief descriptions with lovely little black ink/watercolour sketches of what she went to see or what she saw on the little streets of wherever she went. and travel she did love.

I came upon a number of photos, Els, would send me now and then. Her ME often made her too tired to do a larger painting, so she tried to do a little one each day in one of her little books, before the cancer took hold of her, and later made her lose her sight.
Ger would travel with little books also, as did I.

I found Els' photos the other day and one reminded me of a a few photos I had made myself, last week.

I have loved these little worlds you find inside or atop the many walls inside our hedgerows. And I am always amazed that whatever the temperature 'outside' as in ground level where there may have been a few degrees below zero, inside these walls and inbetween the stones, where there is perhaps this little pocket of soil, it is still warm enough for these little plants like certain species of Ferns(?), to grow on, regardless of the cold temperatures below-ground.
These I found on the top of a wall (the Moss) and inside the wall, next to a house at the end of a terrace of houses at the other side of the school.

A micro climate on top of a stone wall.

The little creeper from Els' little book and the one in the wall here in Durrus.

A little cottage somewhere in county Clare. Els painted this when she still went to a local community centre where this group would meet and stimulate each other and do some painting or sketching.

Cyclamen and a Sunflower in Elly's little book.

A view of Riverside Cottage, by Ger in the 1990's when he and his partner had erected their little tent in our backgarden. (Riverside Cottage was our previous house, where we lived for 14 years, before having to move due to it being too cramped for my wheels. It was a lovely place; the river on two sides, a large garden and the bay just 200metres away, at the other side of the Church of Ireland.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Life along the road and in the garden.

My cold has been keeping me indoors, apart from brief spins to Eddy's, my local shop. I've been missing my regular visits to the bay, and to see what, if , has changed and to point my lens to the birds in the water and those, foraging in the mud.
So this is what I did see.
Along the road I saw plenty of life and even colour which were trying to cheer me up when I passed Saturday on my way home after having picked up the Irish Times in the shop.
The birds must be delighted with these Wild Ivy berries which are ripening a lot slower than those which grow near the pier. There were many, at various stages too, some even still having to start getting into shape at all.

This was peeping through the hedgerow a little from the estate entrance, and I suspect that it is an escapee from the garden behind it. And I've missed the best flowering period, it seems as it is fading already. But who cares. It's about the colour!

And as last, the glorious Daisy!

A few birds which called in over the last few days:
Chaffinch, female.

2 male Bullfinches had been checking me out since early December and called in a few times since. They never stay for long, and never really touch much of the food either. Last winter and last summer, it was a male and female which

Blue Tit:

Our juvenile Jackdaw, JJ: He still loves posing while he is filling his stomach