Little Egrets and the Mourne mountains.

So the first skiff of snow covered the ground when I woke up this morning. Sitting looking out at it with a hot cup of coffee in my hand it was where will I go to today. With the sun breaking through I headed for Dundrum inner bay. A quick look at the tide tables lot me know the tide would be out. With the mud flats clear you never know what will be about. This morning was going to be about landscape shots and some close ups. I love walking the shore and looking for any  interesting subjects, the feel of the sea breeze on my face. I reality it was a biting  wind that chilled you and the sun that looked great lying low in the sky but gave no warmth.

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Dundrum bay with the Mourne mountains in the background.

The stone embankment on the left is the remains of an old railway line which is now a short walking trail running along the shore of the bay.  A place I have walked many times over the years.

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One of the stone and brick bridges that the railway run over.

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Spotted this shell on a rock and loved the contrast in the white against the green on the rock. the shell was about the size of my thumb nail. I shot this with a Sigma 105 mm macro lens.

I sat down on the stone embankment to just watch the bay with the sound of the birds on the flats and a buzzard calling somewhere behind me. I spotted not one but three White Egrets feeding in the river that run across the flats when the tide is out.

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This were still a fair distant away and has I watched one flew off. While looking else where I discovered another one had gone. Scanning the area I soon spotted it, there around 50 feet away feeding. Right in front of me, these birds will usually flee not come closer to humans. So very slowly I put a mono pod on my camera and was rewarded with some of my best Little Egret shots to date.

 

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Leaving the flats and climbing up onto the trail I got this shot.

 

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A Trush feeding on the trail which is grass cover most of the way.

From here I drove into the Dromara Hills which lay north of the Mourne mountains. I was hoping to get a few more bird shots but it was not to be. Where it was cold on the shore it was freezing here in the hills. the winds stronger and a storm front making its way in. I took a few images from a view point called the Windy Gap which believe me was living up to its name today. These are all looking into the Mourne mountains. Most taken at 150 mm using the car door has a tripod.

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this last one taken on a 24 mm lens.

So thank you again for joining me here in the north of Ireland. Take care.

George.

The birdie place.

Okay so I thought I’d go up to Portmore Lough in County Antrim. It is a RSPB reserve. ( RSPB ) Spent time in the hide on the lough shore, talking to some of the people who help in the running and up keep of the reserve. Below are a few of the photographs.

 

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Frist up is a Great Tit ( Parus major ) at one of the feeding stations , these are right beside the walkways and a great place to see and photograph birds up close.

 

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Whooper Swans (Cygnus columbianus) in flight, There where around 60 – 100 of these swans on the lough but all at the far side well out of camera range. Most of these birds migrant here from there breeding grounds in Russia.

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I salute you, a male Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) on a floating platoon grooming.

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The Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) in its duller winter Plumage. Sometimes a hard bird to follow has it dives for fish and resurfaces else where.

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House sparrow (Passer domesticus) These little birds are a gardener’s friend has they feed on unwelcome insects. Also one of the most successful birds has it is found in nearly every country in the world.

So will leave you with this little fellow.Who just had to be the first in the queue.

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The Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Thank you for visiting .

George.

 

ZOOooooom

I got a used Sigma 150 – 600 zoom lens, it’s about six months old and is in excellent condition. Included  with it was a 1.4 tele – converter which I have yet to try. Camera used was a Nikon D7200. First Photo here was taken from my car, the weather was strong winds and heavy rain. So the light was dull and grey and the subject a Curlew (Numenius arquata) was around 45- 50 metre’s/meter’s away and was a handheld shot. The shot has been chopped and is slightly soft. But unless you were enlarging it, I feel it’s acceptable.

 

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Next up was shot in my mother’s garden. Again hand held and the weather was warm and bright with no wind. The Nikon D7200 was used and the Robin ( Erithacus rubecula) was around 25 Metre’s away. I chopped this photo tighter that the last and has you can see the detail is good.

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If you look close you can see cobwebs running from the leaf level with his beak up to the thorn’s above. The last photo was taken at the coast has a storm was rising. I was shooting waves breaking over onto the road from the beach. Breakers were coming with in a few feet from where I was standing. I noticed water spray blowing off the breaker tops. I got the Sigma and D7200 from the car and using it set around 200mm mark, I shot the following wave. Not chopped in to enlarge but chopped into the  format you see. The result is not bad. Again hand help in strong winds which were coming from behind me.

 

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It was while taking this shot a wave closer in broke a little later and I got wet legs from the knees down. At lease the few people on the bank behind me got a laugh.

So I’m looking forward to using this lens with and without the 1.4 converter. Also with the full frame camera. Will report back in a future post.

Thank you for visiting.

George

Scotland the last leg.

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Okay this is my last post on my Scotland tour. This covers my last two days and has we get into the last day you will understand why I have combined them. So let’s go.

After a great nights sleep on what turned out to be the coldest night of the trip. I awoke and it was still dark, opening the tent door I could see the stars like fairy lights through the tree tops. A thick mist on the water, plus the sound of something close by  doing whatever it does. Out and a quick pee it was back into the warmth of the sleeping bag and with my woolly hat pull over the ears I rolled over.

With light showing I looked out to see this,

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The view from my tent across the Loch. I grabbed the tripod and had a walk along the shore.

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Why there is a lifeboat moored on the loch shore I have no idea. Breakfast was enjoyed listening to the birds and the gentle sound of a stream running into the loch.  Packing up the bike was down to around 15 minutes, getting good at breaking camp. The overcast sky was breaking up and the sunshine showing has I rode into Fort William. Heading towards Onich I got the ferry for the short ride across to Corran and  pointed the bike for the most westerly point in main land Britain. The point of Ardnamurchan. Turning off the A861 and onto a single track road that follows the shore of Loch Sunart. If I recall right some of the wood lands that border this road are so of the oldest oak woods in Scotland. Now I might be wrong on that but they make a grand view with them on one side of the track and the loch on the other.  With the batteries running low for the camera I stopped at a lovely cafe / gift shop and asked if they would charge up a battery while I was out at the point.

I would like to thank Hanna and her folks who run the Cafe for there help. Talking to Hanna she was saying she does a little wildlife photography. When I had internet I was checking out the cafe/ gift shop when I came across a link to Hanna. I hope if you are reading this you will take the time to check this out.

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Hanna the modest lass who does a little photography. All I can say is thank you and much respect for the work you are doing.

With the sun shining it was out to the lighthouse at Ardnamurchan.

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I spend about half a hour here and it was back to collect my battery and treat my self to a coffee and a bite to eat. Has I ordered a coffee and a homemade custard tart I looked around for a seat and there was a lady waving at me to join her. The lass I had met in Ullapool was enjoying a bite to eat. So it was her motorcycle parked in the parking lot. A chat and it was back to the ferry and a B&B I had stayed at before. With my clothes laundered and breakfast shared with a couple from Switzerland I set off on another day of travels.  South down the shore of Loch Linnhe  to Connel where I turned east and onto another single tracked road which followed Loch Awe back south west towards Ford . It was on this road which wandered through the forest. After climbing a steep winding hill I pulled off the road into a viewing point.

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I got talking to Paul who was touring Scotland on a Mountain bike. He  had stopped for a break from climbing hills on this road. Has we were travelling in opposite directions he asked about the road ahead. Well I’m glad I had 1200cc powering my bike and not two legs. Not wanting to be photographed I got him heading off down hill.

 

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There he goes …..

At the end of this road I turned south and down the Mull of Kintyre To Campbeltown  where I returned north up the B842 to Claonaig. You can see the Isle of Arran most of the way while on this road.

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Two Photographs with Arran in the back ground.

I stopped over night on Arran with the tent set on the road side along the shore. The weather turn for the worst overnight and its here My photographs end. I left on the ferry from the other side of the Island to Ardossan where I turned south for Stranraer and then east for Carlisle in the north of England. After the ferry crossing to Ardossan the weather got worst. With heavy rain and strong winds it became dangerous to be on a motorcycle. I have been riding for over 40 years and only once have I ever felt I was at risk. Getting into Stranraer I got a bite to eat and decided to keep going east. After another 50 mile I called it quits and found a hotel that had a room for the night. In that last 50 mile I saw three accidents. I could just about see a large lorry from about 30 metres, so at what distance could I on a motorcycle be seen from behind. So before I go I would like to thank you all who have got this far and yes I left Scotland the next morning. My last Photograph of Scotland is of the refuge I found than night.

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Travel safe where ever you are, and may your road be straight and the wind at your back.

George

 

Scotland part 6

On leaving Ullapool I had to go over to the east side of Scotland to Inverness  and I returned back towards Inverness to continue my coastal route down the west coast.

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Following the A832 just south of Braemore around by Gruinard Bay  I stayed on the A832 till I got to Kinlochewe where I turned right back towards Shieldaig. ( due to heavy rain on this section I took no photos) .Then onto a single track road around to Applecross.

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With the weather showing signs of improvement I enjoyed the views around this run into Applecross.  Then cyclist’s started to increase in numbers, there was a Duathlon event taking place. Yes it was finishing in applecross, so I head over the pass of the Cattle ( Bealach-Na-Ba) . This is a must do if you are in the area, another one to mark of the list of must does. Here is a link off a video from another biker doing it from the 0pposite direction. Bealach-na-ba

I had planned to stop for a couple of days in Applecross campsite, but with it being so busy I pushed on the the Isle of Skye. It was well into the evening When i got there. Looking for a wild camping spot I came across a B&B that had a room so Parking the bike it was a hot shower and down to the local hotel for a bite and a jar of beer.

The next day was the first I had woke up to sunshine on this trip, and after Breakfast I set off to explore the Island.

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Has you can see from this photograph it was a grand morning to be out on the bike.

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I saw this waterfall from the road and made my way across a very muddy track which motorcycle boots were never designed for. After sliding my way back to the road I pointed the bike north to do a loop around the north of Skye.

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Again this must be one of the most photographed spots on Skye, I know I will be back to Skye with my walking boots and photography gear minus the motorcycle. Think a photography holiday will be had. Next place I was looking forward to seeing was The Skye Museum of Island life. But When I got there it was closed, they don’t open on a Sunday.

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Got these photos from over the fence so another reason to return to Skye. Do you get the feeling I liked Skye….

So on the way back I saw people pulled over and standing looking at something, getting closer I spotted what it was.

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Yep Highland cattle. This was another first for me, seeing the real thing. Love their handle bars 🙂 Was going to get the ferry from Skye to Mallaig, but on a information sign I would have to wait nearly two hours. Looking on the Sat-nav it was two hours to Fort William, so off I went. I stopped for fuel and got water and milk knowing I would be wild camping tonight. Around 10 mile from Fort William I pull off the road and down to a loch.

 

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This site under the trees was my bed for the night, below is a evening view from the tent across the loch.

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A beautiful still evening to sit and enjoy the peace, until around 60 Brent geese landed. Was nice to see them but what a racket they make. after twenty minutes they took off leaving me to a peaceful nights sleep.

One more post and my trip will be completed, thank you all for visiting.

George

Scotland part 5

 

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So on leaving Tongue I continued west across the north coast with the rain closing in fast. not much chance of any photos this morning. Had the roads to myself except for the sheep. Following the road around through Hope and around the shore of Loch Eriboll a small window in the rain. With the sun showing it’s face I got a couple of shots.

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The dry spell didn’t last long and it was back to the liquid sunshine.  The road around the loch brings me to Durness. Its from this point I turn more to the south west and leave the north coast behind, hid from view in the low cloud and rain. Following the roads through the Highlands was pure joy even in the wet. pulling into a small parking spot overlooking a valley with a fast flowing river. I sat and watched the river slow has it widen in the valley floor. With the rain and wind I was looking at what helped shape the landscape around me. Sitting there the weather felt just right. It was part of this landscape. I realised I was looking at the real highlands and they are beautiful.

Continuing on south to Unapool I turned of onto a small single track road that follows the coast around to Lochinver. It was along this stretch the weather showed signs of improvement. Getting into Lochinver it had dried up and a much needed coffee was enjoyed. The bike topped up with fuel, time for a few more miles. Again sticking to the single track roads around the coast and dry roads for a change, the camera came out from hiding. Here’s a few more shots not in any order from this leg.

 

 

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Then it was down into Ullapool and a B&B. Bags unloaded and it was into town for a meal. It was when I had parked up and about to get off the bike a voice to my left asked it I was part of the BMW club that was meeting there. I replied I wasn’t . The voice belong to a female from the Shetland Islands. Sorry I can’t remember your name for it was a German name. We chatted for a while and then she left to find the BMW club riders and  has normal we exchanged email address in case her and hubby are every in Ireland or me in the Shetlands. A hot shower and it’s where I leave you on this leg of the trip for a comfy bed and a night sleep. Catch you on the next leg.

Thank you for visiting and  have a lovely weekend.

ATB George

 

 

 

 

Scotland part 4

So leaving Dornoch its north toward Wick  where its time o refuel the motorcycle. Stopping on the outskirts of the town I refuel myself. Coffee and a sandwich while checking the map, I plan my route for the rest of the day. Time to ride north has far has I can.

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Bar the small harbour and the most photographed signpost in Scotland. The rest is souvenir shops, cafes and a hotel. So while the sun is shining I turn west. A short ride west and it’s a right turn to the UK’s most northerly point, Dunnet Head.

Scotland-117.jpg   Dunnet Head lighthouse.

 

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From here it was onto Thurso and the weather turn’s sour. Turning left to see some of the Highlands on it many of single track roads. The cloud was low and the view was the road ahead with tantalizing view’s . Then the curtain of rain would close and all that’s left is the road. I spotted a bird of prey close by, bike stopped and was looking for it when a pick-up pulled in and a man inquires if all is okay. I point out the bird and he tell’s me its an eagle. A first for me, my day been’s made, rain can’t dampen that. After that I covered another 80 miles or so. Rain is now persistent and the wind is doing it’s best to remove me from the road. My next stop for the day is Tongue where a warm and dry B&B greets me. Tigh-Nan-Ubhal Guesthouse lovely hosts and a homely feel to the place, plus they didn’t even blink at the puddle that was forming around me in the hallway. !0 out of 10 from me. Link below.

Guest House

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A damp morning greets me and with a full tank another day begin’s. I leave with a view looking back at the misty Highlands with the sands and waters of Tongue in the foreground.

Next post see’s the north coast completed and starting down the west side of Scotland. Thank you for viewing.

George.

Scotland part 3

At this point I’m back home in Ireland, sorry for the delay in posting. There’s no internet connection in the tent.  Right lets travel a little more up the east coast of Scotland. This was a long day in the saddle. With shower’s and some bright spells, it was a day for the road. I travelled away from the coast on a route that took me into the highlands moors and mountains. These roads where all single track and covered around 60 mile before I returned to the coast. And turned south for 20 mile to my bed for the night.

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The route in red is the roads covered. I finished the day at a Bed & Breakfast in the town of Dornock. A word about my B & B, Amalfi B&B in Dornoch. The greeting when I arrived was one of the warmest I have ever received. Marelle and Edward helping with my luggage , supplying a metal plate so the motorcycle was supported on the gravel parking area. Great advice on where to eat in the town, beautiful rooms and  large en suite meant I was well catered for. If you are ever in this part of Scotland here is the link. Amalfi.

Thank you Marelle and Edward.

I’m going to leave you with a few Photograph’s from this leg of the trim. Thank you for visiting.

 

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Thank you for your support.

George.

Scotland part 2

With the rain has my travelling company I continued north , With a stop for coffee in Aberdeen and a little sunshine starting to show I was on my way. It was just after Newburgh that I pull into a road side parking to get a photo while the sun was shining. Looking around I spotted and world war two  pillar box.

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With grass and shrub trees growing around it it was hard to get a good photograph of it. Would have had a look inside only it was full of rubbish. Sitting on the River Ythan  it had a good view of anything moving on the river.

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Has you can see for this photo the sky way just hanging on to the next shower of rain and I didn’t have to wait long.  I follow the coast through small town and villages. They  are all worth a photo but when on a motorcycle with all the wet gear on plus your camera in a tank bag inside its own waterproof bag. It’s not just a quick stop and grab a shot. So my next stop was the city of Elgin where I grabbed a soon food for to cook for my evening meal. with the tent up and the sound of waves breaking I started cooking has the rain drummed on the tent. There’s something very relaxing about the sound of rain on a tent. Yea I know weird guy. Well it relax’s me. Yes next morning the rain is still drumming only this time it’s got bigger drum sticks. Now packing up camp is no fun in the wet. but I’m getting to be an expert.

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One of my stop overs.

It’s of to Inverness and over the new Firth bridge. Road works and heavy traffic make for slow progress. The next bridge was over the Cromarty Firth and more roadworks to make me stop and admire the view.

 

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These were taken after I crossed the bridge. Seals basking in the foreground and traffic hold ups in the background.

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And looking the other way oil or gas platforms being worked at.

And at this point I will thank you for visiting and part 3 will follow soon.

 

 

Wet weather motorcycling in the Peak District UK.

So Friday the 8th September rolls round and its an early start for me. Motorcycle packed and its off to Dublin to catch the ferry across to Wales. Leaving the house the dark and wet morning wasn’t looking good for a 100 mile plus ride to the ferry. Heading south the weather picked up and by the time we cast off the sun had replaced the grey sky.

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Irish ferries terminal Dublin Port. With a slight swell on the water it was out pass Howth peninsula has it projects out into the Irish sea.

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Leaving the harbour in Wales you could see the rain falling in the distance. It wasn’t long before the lovely welsh mountains disappeared  behind a curtain off falling water. When I arrived at The Royal Oak pub and camp site the with the sky grey but bright. The start of the tent village started to appear on the slightly sloping camp site.

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The last dry photo of the day before the rain returned. with a wall of water falling it was time for a beer and motorcycle talk in the bar. Saturday started like Friday finished, yep it was still raining. What should have been a ride out with scenic views over the Peak district. Turned out to spot the roadside hedge’s. Yes it was really a wet day. We hit lucky once and stopped at Lady Bower reservoir where I got a couple of photos.

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So this lasted about 5 minutes before …….. yep you guessed it. More rain.

It was great to meet up with friends old and new.

Sunday comes and its time to pack up and head home, or in my case head north to Scotland. Will be there on Monday and hope to get some posts done has I travel around the coast over the next couple of weeks.

Thank you all for spending a little of your time here.

George