A Birthday Treat

Yesterday was my birthday, which I don’t normally celebrate. However, this year was different. My cousins L and G wanted to celebrate it with me, and I felt it was important to let them love me in this way.

We went to the London Wetlands Center, probably my favourite place in London. Here are just a few photos from the day out.

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Action Man Asks “What The Fuck Is Hurling?” – And A Trip To An AA Meeting

Excuse my language. Richard tells me that I’ve got to get a grip on it, he also says that I’ve been cursing more since I quit drinking.

He was very sneaky yesterday, he said we were going for a walk, yeah, right into the middle of an AA meeting. Which is why I didn’t write my travel log yesterday.

How was AA, Interestingly they said its the first drink that gets you drunk. I shan’t tell you my initial response as it involves more swearing. I always thought that it was the 10th or 11th that got me drunk. But apparently if you can’t stop drinking once you’ve started then it’s the first that gets you drunk.

They said it’s a spiritual program, and the word God was used. Richard’s the one who believes in some spiritual energetic mumbo jumbo, I’m an atheist, so I was adamant that I can’t believe in a power greater than me. How can an atheist work a spiritual program? Well, apparently I can trust the power of the group, a bunch of sober people who most definitely drank like I did, and who are now living sober. Someone even said that I could use G O D as an acronym for Group Of Drunks. I can promise you I’ve turned my life over to many groups of drunks down the pub, in the army, at the football, so I guess I can turn it over to a sober group of drunks.

The crazy buggers even said keep coming back, there’s a turn up for the books. In my drinking most people (not Richard) told me exactly where to go.

Maybe I’ll do just that – go back to another meeting.

Today Richard and I went for an early walk to the Páirc Uí Chaoimh, where Cork play a game called Hurling.

On the way I took a photo of a dawn scene. I like the sky and the reflection, Richard liked the light on the building.

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We were going to take photos of birds on the pond, especially the little grebe (those are on Richard’s camera), and the pond is next to the stadium.

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I’ve had to look up the sport of Hurling, cos neither Richard nor me, knew what it was.

Hurling is a traditional Gaelic game that has been played in Ireland for over 4000 years. Players have a stick, and they can use that to hit the ball (on the ground or in the air), and they can also balance the ball on the stick and run with it. It’s possible to hold the ball and run with it, for a maximum of four steps, before they bounce it or pass it. The objective is to hit the ball between the posts, over the cross-bar for 1 point, below the bar for 3.

Quite a tough game to play and can get a bit rough from time to time. You have to wear protective head-gear as well. Maybe I’ll get to watch it one day. Sounds like a lot of fun. Here’s a link to the Cork GAA website.

The pond was dead relaxing. Mostly black headed gulls, a few swans, mallards, tufted duck and 4 little grebe. There were a couple of Herons nesting in the tree, and also what were either cormorant or shag. The colours suggested they were shag, but I’m no expert on spotting the difference.

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Behind the pond is the River Lee, which runs into Lough Mahon and then out into the Irish Sea, Muir Cheilteach if you’re Irish. The River is vast and from dawn till dusk you will find people rowing on the river or jogging down the path. People on bikes cycle at the pace of the boats and shout at the rowers. That’s a job I must apply for. I didn’t get a photo of the rowers, but Richard took a final photo of me. Catch you tomorrow.

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Gannet’s – Puffin – Guillemot – Lightening Quick Auto Focus On Olympus OMD EM 1 MK ii

A Guillemot in flight, with a Gannet flying in the opposite direction

OH MY GOD

I went to RSPB Bempton Cliff’s (North Yorkshire) at the weekend, specifically to photograph Gannet’s, to hopefully see Puffling’s and to try out the auto-focus pn the OMD EM 1 MK ii. It was a very enjoyable day out for me, it can’t be bad when I can do two of my favourite things at the same time.

The auto focus on the Olympus OMD EM 1 MK ii is phenomenal. I mean that it’s so good that there aren’t the correct words to express how impressed I am. It uses both contrast and phase detection points, and it’s almost instantaneous. I was shooting in Continuous Auto-Focus (C-AF). Here’s the impressive bit, continuous auto-focus on somethings as small as a Puffin (28cm from tip of beak to tip of tail feather), three-quarters the way down a 300ft cliff (225ft below me), at least that far out to sea, and flying at roughly 45mph (they can go up to 60mph). That my friends, in my opinion, is f/’k”ng amazing.

This is a photo of a Puffin taken at RSPB Bempton Cliff's
(Please click on the photo for a full size image) The Atlantic Puffin is a member of the Auk family of birds, and is considered to be a vulnerable species with a declining population.

All of the photo’s accompanying this post are as shot. I’ve taken them into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to add metadata and to resize them for this post. I haven’t even cropped them. Once I am back from my travel’s I look forward to developing a few more, I have some shots that I can’t wait to show you. There are some that I am so impressed with that I will add them to Adobe Stock. All were taken on the Olympus OMD EM1 MK ii, manual, C-AF, 15fps on the Mzuiko 75-300mm F4.8-6.7 ii.

Here are a few taster photos In the mean time, and I look forward to developing the rest after my holiday.

This is a photo of two Gannets, taken at RSPB Bempton during July 2018.
(Please click on the photo for a full size image) The most beautiful part of a Gannet is its eye. A piercing blue eye, that is framed by such a delicate yellow head.
The bonding ritual of a pair of Gannet['s, watched over by two other Gannets.
(Please click on photo for a full size image) Gannet’s mate for life, and once they have a roost they will return to the exact same nest year after year. They have a bonding ritual in which they will preen each other and then perform a dance with their beaks, rubbing them against each other. These must be a newly formed couple. The dark streaks of the bird on the right mean that it is not mature enough for breeding and is probably around 2 years old, at least they will have two years bonding in preparation for mating.
A photo of a Gannet riding the thermals at RSPB Bempton Cliffs
(Please click on the photo for a full size image) A gannet riding the thermals at the top of RSPB Bempton Cliff’s in North Yorkshire. There is a large breeding colony here. RSPB Bempton Cliff’s is an accessible site that has gravel paths wide enough for wheel chair users, and each viewing platform has a space for visitors with disabilities.
A photo in which the main subject are three Gannets which are riding the thermals from the base of the cliff and up to the top.
(Please click on the photo for a full size image) This is a small roost of juvenile, non-breeding Gannets, and is set slightly away from the main breeding colony. It is an important place for bonding and developing the social and defensive skills required for breeding. The social skills include protecting your space from other birds who are looking to pinch your prime real estate for their nest. The birds circle around from the foot of these cliffs, riding the thermals until they reach the top.
A Guillemot in flight, with a Gannet also in the photo.
(Please click on the photo for a full size image) The Common Guillemot is a sea-bird whose numbers are on the increase, and is thereby classified as being of the least concern. How good it is to celebrate a bird population that is healthy and increasing. The Guillemot can fly up to 50mph, can fly as far as 200 miles on a trip to find food, and they can also dive to a depth of 100 meters. This Guillemot is flying in the opposite direction as a Gannet.

Puffin

It’s the time of year when Puffin’s return the UK for their breeding season. RSPB Bempton is England’s only mainland Puffin colony. I was a few weeks too early to see the Puffling’s (honestly, it’s what baby puffins are called), so I’ll have to make another journey.

Puffin (Bempton)

Puffin (Bempton)

Puffin (Bempton)

Puffin (Bempton)

Puffin (Bempton)

Puffin (Bempton)

Puffin (Bempton)

Puffin (Bempton)

Puffin (Bempton)

Puffin (Bempton)

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