2020 – A POTTED PERSONAL REVIEW IN PHOTOS

2020 for me started in the beautiful state of Mizoram, in North East India, where I spent Christmas and New Year. Here is the city of Aizawl, built on mountain peaks, and with wonderful sunsets.

Back home to the Dingle Penninsula, in the South West of Ireland, to enjoy, endure, survive the winter storms and the powerful, magnetic and awe inspiring Atlantic Ocean.

And experience the beautiful beach walks!

But….who could have thought…the dreadful Covid-19 came along and threw us all sideways – or worse, in some cases.

I had planned a trip to Italy in March, but had to cancel. Social life was on hold for most people.

Luckily, I was still able to walk and capture the beautiful coastal images – for a while longer, before restrictions became stricter.

More time to study the birds in my garden, through the window.

As a little experiment I recorded myself playing flute with the bird song in the garden. If the image looks upside down to you, it will correct itself when you click it.

Local sunset, below.

Lockdown to a greater or lesser extend affected all of us, world over. Our individual experience of the world became very small, as we were obliged to reduce our social contacts and curtail travel. Many shops and pubs were closed. My regular trad Irish music sessions in local pubs, where I joined in with my flute were cancelled, indefinitely!

For a time my photography focused on my immediate area, and the garden. These sunsets from around the house and very local area take on a caged appearance, as indeed we were caged, all of us, in some measure.

I am very lucky that the local area has many beautiful places for walking. beaches were closed for some weeks, but cliff walks were possible.

My birthday celebration was a cliff walk, with friends. It was lovely.

Much garden navel gazing was undertaken. I never took so many photos of flowers and garden creatures before.

I never before appreciated how beautiful apple blossom can be.

Wildflowers became objects of scrutiny and much enjoyment too.

So many bees in the garden!

– And I discovered just how photogenic the humble daisies can be.

Thistles too!

I am so thankful for my good luck in being able to take many coastal walks.

Seaside and flowers together here. Lovely sea pinks make a wonderful show in early summer.

Beaches finally opened again, in June, I think. It’s all a bit blurred in my memory now, as Covid-19 figures rose and fell and lockdowns went in and out of different levels of severity.

Tourists returned in full force to the Dingle area in the summer, much to the relief of those whose livlihoods depend on tourism.

Sunsets around my area continue to fascinate, less cage-like with the summer foliage.

Lovely coastal and mountain walks. These photos were from different sides of Mount Brandon.

I updated my photos of Dingle Harbour, and took several shots around the town of Dingle.

The swallows raised two families in my shed. These first day out fledgling swallows only had a couple of weeks to grow strong before their long flight to South Africa. I wonder if they made it.

Some apple trees did bear fruit, though hundreds of babies were blown off the trees in summer storms before they were ready to eat. This is the entire harvest from several young trees.

Exploring beyond my own area, as easing of Covid restrictions permitted, I visited Killarney, South Kerry, West Cork and more.

The Gap of Dunloe, near Killarney.

On Cape Clear Island, above, off the coast of West Cork.

The small mainland harbour, Baltimore, County Cork, below.

Back on local Ventry Beach, below.

In October, a cruel hand was served on Dingle. After a several months of Covid-19 related hardships, Fungie, the globally famous Dingle Dolphin disappeared, without trace. Fungie, a wild dolphin has lived in Dingle Harbour of his own free will for 37 years. He was probably about 45 years old. Missed by many, whether they made a fortune running Fungie tourist trips, or whether they were just people who loved to see and play with the dolphin. For sure, Dingle will be a different place without him. This was a major event here. It’s not easy to explain how this wild, free dolphin touched the hearts of Dingle people and many visitors from around the world.

I have no photos of Fungie, preferring to leave that to the Fungiephiles who had developed considerable expertise. Here is a video from Jeannine Masset and Rudi Schamhardt.

More local captures below.

Fungie is gone, but the Dingle Peninsula remains the same beautiful place.

An autumn forest walk, above, in Glanteenassig Wood, on the Dingle Peninsula.

December shots from Mount Eagle, below.

The Blasket Islands, above.


Snow on Mount Brandon, shot from the garden, heralding the coming of Christmas 2020

On Christmas Day on a local Ballyferriter beach, Béal Bán, some brave swimmers rushed into the cold water, with an air temperature of about 8 degrees C. I did not partake, I prefer to stick to the heated pool these days. But it was fun to be there and support them.

Recent Storm Bella, seemed to last for about three days.

I completed a number of paintings this year, and failed to complete several more – so far. I’ve dicovered that I can be more motivated in that field when I have more activity in general in my life. The slower pace of things this year seemed to diminish my motivation in the more demanding creative side.

Now we are in a 3rd wave of the Corona Virus, with a new more transmissable variant of the virus in the country. In fact a case was discovered in Dingle recently. We have a high level lockdown again, going even stricter after today, but vaccines have arrived in the country; I for one will not hesitate to take advantage when it’s my turn.

So now 2021 approaches. May you all be lucky enough to only have contact with those people who are honest, compassionate and kind, who treat you as they would wish to be treated, and I wish the best of health and happiness to you all. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

WILD GARDEN

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Some more photos of the flowers and grasses in my wild garden.

 

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Thanks so much for visiting my post. Please check out my wildflower category on my webiste:

https://www.helene-brennan.com/c802-irish-wildflowers-photos

 

 

DAISIES AND BEES

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Here is another set of photos of daisies and various bees and other insects. I’m finding daisies so photogenic I really enjoy photographing them.

 

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These are also known as oxeye daisies, dog daisies and margaritas.

 

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I like to capture them against the blue walls of my house with the light shining through the blossoms.

 

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I hope you enjoyed these images as much as I enjoyed capturing them. Thanks for visiting my post.

Enquiries about my photos can be made via my website

https://www.helene-brennan.com/c802-irish-wildflowers-photos

 

BALLYDAVID WALK

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This was a walk along the coast and cliffs from the small village of Ballydavid, just a few km down the coast from my home. Thrift (sea pinks) were in bloom and looking glorious.

 

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Above, looking across to Mount Eagle; the small beach opposite is Wine Strand, which has appeared in many of my posts, from a closer viewpoint across the way.

 

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The small lookout post above was one of 83 that were built during World War 2 around the coast of Ireland and were manned by the Local Defence Force.

 

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Cruach Mharhain and  Mount Eagle (right and left) opposite, viewed across from Ballydavid.

 

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The Three Sisters above and below, also to be seen in many of my photos.

 

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The headland in the distance above is Ballydavid Head.

Below, another view of the WW2 lookout post.

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More images of the Ballydavid area can be seen on my website:

https://www.helene-brennan.com/tag/ballydavid

As always, I appreciate your visit. Do take care.

KEEPING LOCAL

corona times

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The number of deaths and transmission rates of the virus are dropping now. Restrictions are easing. I am walking in the local area now; it’s great to be able to walk to the coast, walk on the cliffs and visit several beaches, all within the permitted range.

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This walk to three beaches takes me along the main road, for part of the way, where there is a wonderful range of wild flowers, most of them the same as in my garden, which I have already captured, but every picture is different, even if the subject is the same.

Above are two shots of the wild yellow iris, a lovely flower when seen on the roadside  or unused land, but an absolute menace in my garden where it grows enormous green spears and has massive roots like big tree branches spreading underground. They had colonised this garden for several years and have become too well established.

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Speedwell, above, and herb robert, below.  One of the things I really like about herb robert is the lovely red foliage that it sometimes has.

 

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I just like the tangle of leaves and light in this one above.

 

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I still haven’t identified this lovely small white flower.

 

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Red clover above

 

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My first beach, Murioch beach, above and three pics below.

 

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I often pass this garden with these unusual long eared sheep. They can be difficult to capture as they almost invariably turn away as soon as I point the camera.

 

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Goats in a garden.

 

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Second beach, above and three below, is Wine Strand, a delightful very small beach.  A young family is enjoying the warm sunny day.

 

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I normally prefer to catch a little more drama in my photos. This has been an exceptionally prolonged spell of beautiful sunny and mostly calm weather.  Shouldn’t complain!

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The beaches below are Cúl Dorcha, at Ballinrannig, which leads onto Béal Bán Beach

 

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Pardon me for mentioning it again, but the rocky hill seen here is Sybil Head (Ceann Sibéal) where Lucas Films had their Star Wars set for the shooting of The Last Jedi for several months during 2016.  The presence of the Star Wars film crew and actors in the area was a big boost to tourism – not that it was needed, but I suppose many did benefit from it.

Just to step back in time, here is a photo of Sybil Head from my home showing the temporary steel road that was laid at the time, and some blue containers can also be seen. This was taken in March 2016. I think more of the set arrived later.

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The children at the local primary school here in Ballyferriter, will not forget the visit they had from Peter Mayhew, who visited them at the school in full Chewbacca attire. They told me he had to bend down to get through the door.  It was so nice of him to visit the children.  It’s sad that he has since passed away.

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I digress – back to my walk, still at Cúl Dorcha Beach.

 

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DSC_3325 ballinrannig ogham stone Above, at a grassy promontory at Ballinrannig, between Wine Strand and  Cúl Dorcha Beach is this Ogham Stone (pronounced ome, like home without the h). Ogham is an ancient Irish alphabet, dating back to the 4th century AD.  It’s the earliest form of writing in Ireland. The marks on the side of this stone are the ogham script. There are several of these stones to be seen in the country, and a large percentage of them are on the Dingle Peninsula.  At the end of the 18th century a big storm uncovered seven of these stones here and most of them were moved to other locations by Lord Ventry. This one above is the only one left at its original location.

A project to record these ogham stones and other carved stones in 3d can be seen on this website:  http://corcadhuibhne3d.ie/home.php  Several people in the community including myself have been involved in this project.

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I like to record some of the old farm sheds in the area, here are a couple of examples I passed on this walk. The one above, like many, looks like it was originally built as a home.  Many of these old stone cottages are now used for storage or for animals.

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Peacock butterfly, above.  Looks like some of his colours have faded.

 

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No idea of the name of these pink flowers, but we all know buttercups, below.

 

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So that’s the end of my walk. I appreciate your visit. Stay safe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE WILD THINGS

corona times

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Over the past week I have accumulated a number of more photos  of wild flowers and insects in the garden and beyond.  I am going a little further afield now and have some images of some coastal wildflowers as well as those in and around my garden.

Above are wild violas, very small flowers which are very common on the roadsides. Below are several photos of thrift, or sea pinks. They grow on cliffs overlooking the sea, and close by. The individual flowers are very tiny, but they grow in clusters and can be quite stunning.

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Below are white thrift, not so common as the pink variety. Don’t know the name of the above flower.

 

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Escallonia above, not a wild flower but I love the bee – he’s so fluffy he’s almost cuddly!

 

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I recently read on another person’s blog that dragon flies are scarce at this time of the year. Not sure where he lives but my garden is teeming with them, which I’m very happy about because they eat loads of midges and mosquitoes – yes we do have mosquitoes here, although some people think we don’t. I certainly know when I’ve been bitten by one!  Thankfully no malaria here.

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I’m really not sure what flower this is. It’s very small and reminds me of an antirrhinum.

 

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A hedge of primroses.

 

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Common dandelions.

 

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Above and below, herb robert.

 

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Below, scarlet pimpernel, which looks rather orange when you see it on the ground. It’s a really tiny flower but the colour just sings out.

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This fellow above looked like some kind of shield bug. He was hanging about on my window and I took this shot with my phone from the inside.  On reviewing the image later I was better able to see it.  He was not much more than 10mm long.

Irish wildflower photos available on my website:

https://www.helene-brennan.com/c802-irish-wildflowers-photos

I can receive enquiries through my website.

More soon. Thanks for visiting today, please come back. KEEP SAFE!

WILD AND FREE

corona times

Wild and free as we would like to be – just now! This post features more wild flowers and insects, in and around my garden, where I search for inspiration to create interesting images, while I’m staying at home.

There are reports of people getting complacent and stealing out and about where they should not go, and I completely understand them. The longer we are restricted, the harder it is. But wandering around the garden with my camera is very absorbing and I have enjoyed being more observant about the little things that appear around my home.

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These delightful white flowers are actually very small and they are called cuckoo flowers.

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Known as speedwell apparently, these very small blue ones, but when I was a child we called them sore eyes, for some reason. I may have been misinformed. There is another little white flower called eyebright. Perhaps it was confused with that one.

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Primroses, above

 

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There is at least a few varieties of dragon fly in my garden. This is the first I’ve seen this year. It’s a very skinny fellow, blue and black. I love the large all blues, but I haven’t seen any yet this year. I find it very difficult to capture them – they don’t like you to get too close, and my lens is not particularly suitable for this type of photography.

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Mid flight, above.

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A lovely speckled wood butterfly on the apple blossom.

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Dandelion seed heads.

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In my youth we used to blow the seeds off these, saying – he loves me – he loves me not -he loves me….. whatever happens on the last blow would be the truth. I don’t think we ever believed it and certainly not if it turned up a negative final statement! We had fun that cost nothing, and didn’t require any digital technology – there wasn’t any!

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Buttercups, of course, and with a fly below.

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Red clover.

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Ribwort plantain, above and below. It has a brown insect on it in these photos.

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Ragged dandelions, just for the variety. I’ll have to get better images of these next time.

One thought that often occurs to me is that for the first time in my living memory, there are people all over the world now who are living the same restricted lifestyle, coping with the same difficulties that come with those restrictions, listening to the same WHO reports and advice and extending themselves in terms of creativity and development in ways that otherwise may never have happened. In the most unexpected way we have a common uniting force, we are communicating more than we did before Covid-19 arrived, albeit digitally. We can understand the issues affecting others in far away countries from ourselves, in a much more empathetic way than ever before, I think.

DO STAY SAFE!

WILD THINGS

corona times

I heard recently of a number of Covid-19 cases in this area, within a couple of kilometers of my home. Mostly they are kept hush, hush, until it eventually leaks out. It really is uncomfortably close. An employee of the shop that delivers my groceries was infected. That’s very close! Best not to dwell on it, but it’s a fact to be aware of.

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I’m still continuing with exploring around the garden for subjects to photograph, in the absence of opportunities to go out and about on the beaches and cliffs etc., due to the Covid-19 restrictions. These wild yellow rapeseed flowers are so attractive to bees that I happily encourage it in the garden. Currently there are apparently several varieties of bees around it.

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The bee in the picture below looks different from the usual bee visitors.

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I just love these fellows with their fancy hats below, ribwort plantain, they are called. They commonly grow wild all over the country, as far as I know. I would be delighted if someone could tell me their name. As kids, we used to play a game with these, each child holding one by the stalk and trying to bash hell out of the head of the other’s to knock the head off. At the time it never occurred to me that they were so pretty.

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This poor butterfly appears to have had a lucky escape from some pair of claws or jaws, I think.

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Above are wild bluebells by the roadside outside my home.

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I don’t have a clue what type of insect is on the apple blossom above and below, it’s possibly some type of bee mimicking fly.

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Buttercup with insect above. Below is some skinny type of fly, like a gnat, on a red currant bush.

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Wild primroses above.

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Wild daisies colonising the rockery, choking out a delicate campanula. I’ve left it for now, being such a pretty flower.

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Captured through the double glazed window. Not an ideal method for wildlife photography, but good to record the images of the birds on the patio feeder.

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Below is another recording of garden birdsong. The picture brightens when you click it. The purpose of the video is to play the sounds of birdsong in the garden. You can see the Atlantic Ocean in the distance, and with a northerly wind the sound of the incoming waves makes a bit of hiss on the recording.

And just to end this post I would just like to mention that I saw my first swallow of the year today! It’a great to see them return.

STAY SAFE!