Bird feeding in Mid March – Greenfinches

Continuing my occasional bird feeding notes – but this time with original pictures!

The wonderfully-shot Wild Ireland documentary inspired me to reconsider my childhood dream job – wildlife photographer/cameraman. Why did this ever fall off my radar? Partly the common adolescent/late teenage/early adulthood loss of interest in wildlife, partly a certain lack of confidence in my artistic ability in general.

Recently, of course, most of us carry a digital camera every where we go via our smartphones. I have tried taking photos of animals, but what in real life is a magnificent, clearly visible creature is a small dot in most photos I have taken.

This has changed somewhat with the advent of a bird feeder that sticks to the window. After some time birds seem fairly OK with feeding while I am there. One rather well-fed looking greenfinch in particular seems to be quite happy with my (relative) proximity:

Life in a Drop of Water: an interview with underwater photographer Liam Marsh

One of the blogs I follow is the Freshwater Blog, which is a wonderful resource. I have reblogged below an interview with underwater photographer Liam Marsh.The images that accompany the blog post are extraordinary. I particularly loved Liam’s line: “I’m fascinated by the idea of this entire world that goes on almost without our knowledge, just below the water’s surface” which captures the the fascination of freshwater – and I was glad to note he shares my love of dippers….on which topic it is well worth watching Liam’s short film Spring on the River:

The Freshwater Blog

fresh_water_shrimp Freshwater shrimp in a drop of water. Image: Liam Marsh

Liam Marsh is an award-winning natural history and wildlife photographer based in the Blackdown hills of south Somerset in England. His photographs of aquatic life – both above and below the waterline – are creative, unusual, and often beautiful. We spoke to Liam to find out about his approaches to revealing freshwater worlds through photography.


Tell us about your work as a wildlife photographer: how did you get started, and what are you working on at the moment?

I have always loved photography, and as a process it encourages you spend more time examining the world around you. I’ve always found wildlife to be the perfect match for that approach. Photography has given met a set of tools with which to examine the many wonderful creatures that live around us. All of my images are a result of countless…

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Bird feeding mid February

My last “Bird feeding notes”, was from mid November. One of the nice things about bird feeding is the heightened awareness of the passage of the seasons, and how even in the depths of winter new life is awaiting. Based purely on subjective perception of temperature and the how-hard-it-is-to-drag-oneself-out-of-bed factor, I find the “traditional” beginning of Spring on St Brigid’s Day a little implausible, but from the point of view of the natural world it is perfectly right – indeed, possibly a little late.

I have noted before that there are far more collared doves around this winter/spring, although I have noticed slightly fewer of late. There is an abundance of greenfinches, somewhat more than chaffinches with is a reversal of the usual pattern. A pied wagtail which normally was more evident at the front of the house now seems to be a regular at the back (or is this the same wagtail at all?) and a sprinkling of rooks and jackdaws – though, again, slightly fewer it seems.

And still no magpies (thought I will probably see a flock in a few minutes having written this)


Ceramics from Joe & Anne Kane, The Studio, Moyra Rectory, Falcarragh, Donegal

Nearly a decade ago I first visited The Studio, a gallery and ceramics workshop run by Joe & Anne Kane, featuring amongst other things Joe’s beguiling ceramics work. Finding little about the Kanes work online I have decided to post some photos (amateurishly taken with a phone) of the pieces I own. I find a beautiful clarity and sense of timelessness about these pieces. If you are in North West Donegal, The Studio is highly recommended.

The first is a tile featuring an image of what I initially thought was a boat, but is a depiction of the Holy Trinity. I recall how the afternoon sunlight shone off this piece in The Studio. I find this a magical piece which a photo cannot do much justice to:

I have visited Moyra Rectory more recently. Sadly, as Anne explained to me, Joe died in 2012. His moulds remained and allowed some pieces to continue to be made. I bought this beautiful cross, whose clear simplicity has a real air of the monastic era about it:

More whimsically (and least successfully photographed by myself) is a piece with a real Donegal flavour – a sheep and a green bird (a greenfinch? a siskin?)

Detail of sheep:

Detail of bird:

Finally, at some point in between buying the two pieces above I bought this small pedestal (not sure if that is the right word) which I have used to display various fossils (some of which are in the left of this photo) The photo does capture the rough texture of this piece, and the subtle spiral, which makes it feel very much like a sort of found artifact from the natural world. Of course it isn’t, but testament to the Kanes’ artistic vision.

Bird feeding notes, mid November

A while since the last bird feeding note – and now, with cold beginning its bite, the feeds are highly popular. Once again, apples halves rapidly disappear – it seems like yesterday (though it was actually summer)  that they languished uneaten. Even more recently, suet blocks which – during October – were rather half heartedly pecked at have vanished.

There are finches – chaffinch and greenfinch – in reasonable numbers, but what dominates the garden is a flock of collared doves. A bird I had thought moved almost exclusively in pairs turns out to flock in the low double figures (at least in our garden)

Our garden remains a notably magpie free garden. Other corvids are frequent visitors, however.

Where are the magpies? October edition

At the end of March, I wondered, where are the magpies? In July, I noted that there were indeed magpies and helpfully I reblogged James Common’s excellent post on whether magpies do indeed “kill all the songbirds”

However the magpie resurgence in my garden has not ended. The level of feeding activity has certainly picked up – with very many greenfinches, quite a few sparrows, a robin or two, blue and great tits, the odd chaffinch, two pairs of collared doves, rooks and jackdaws. But no – or no visible – magpies. So again this little corner of South Tipperary seems to be an anomaly. Or is it simply the proximity of a rookery?

I’ve begun to put out some winter-focused feeds such as suet blocks and cut apples again to reasonable effect. Sunflower hearts are hugely popular with finches, and I am conscious that what i see reflects what food is out there as well as the local avian fauna.


Kingfishers on the Suir

I blogged before about not seeing kingfishers along the Suir (on the Suir? in the Suir?). This was finally rectified this week. Rather than the “classic” sighting of a kingfisher either diving or perching, ready to dive, on this occasion the kingfisher was flying in barrelling , rather forceful style, across a reasonable length of the Suir before coming to perch. My first Tipperary kingfisher and one I won’t forget.