Apr 202011
 

Woodchat Shrike, Rosscarbery -- photo by Colin Barton

Today was an amazing day.

You know those balmy April days that practically taste of the promise of summer… the vanilla-citrus scent of gorse blossom hanging in the unseasonably warm air. Well, this was one of those.

I had a meeting in the Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery this afternoon, after which the plan was a leisurely stroll across the causeway and down towards the Warren Strand to meet the family for a picnic on the beach. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? But it gets better.

A quick circuit of the reed-bed revealed an assortment of warblers in the deciduous trees at the western end… willow warblers, chiff-chaffs and a full on X-Factor-style sing-off between three male blackcaps.

DSCI2711There wasn’t much happening from the causeway – some late black tailed godwits and a couple of little egrets in their breeding regalia… they look so much “swankier” when they’re all dressed up.

So it was onto the Warren road, heading for the beach. Something made me stop scanning the estuary for waders and look up into the stubble field behind the houses on the other side of the road. A bird flew up and landed on the electricity wires… I swung up the bins.

Surely not…! I looked again… I was definitely seeing an adult female Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator).

I made my way into the field for a closer look. What a magnificent bird… a first for me, and a fabulous bird to find for yourself. I sent the news in to Colin Barton who runs @corkbirdnews and he was on the scene from Galley Head in short order. I’ve used one of Colin’s photos of the shrike above, as mine are a bit ropey (only had the compact camera with me, and handheld digibining is a tricky skill to master, see below).

These are my best two digibining efforts:

Woodchat ShrikeWoodchat Shrike

And here’s another one of Colin’s – a flight shot – to finish off.

Woodchat Shrike -- Photo by Colin Barton

A yellow wagtail in the same field (dubbed the “Woodchat field” by Colin – which has a nice ring to it, I have to say) was a bonus too, and the picnic with the family was a great way to round off a really fabulous day!

Dec 102009
 

Help Portrait Picture framing service / sponsorship needed for Help Portrait Cork… can your business help?

Max 75 frames and mounts, needed – contact Paul O’Mahony for details

Paul O’Mahony, of MarketingWriteNow got in touch earlier today about a fantastic initiative taking place at the Clarion Hotel in Cork on Saturday 12 December from 9:30 to 15:30.

Help portrait is an international movement of photographers and other professional who are donating time, equipment and expertise to give something back to those less fortunate than them this Christmas. Here’s a video explaining the initiative.

The idea is to help boost the self image and self esteem of people who would never normally consider or be able to afford getting a professional photographer to take their portrait. Who’s that, you might ask? Well, according to the Help Portrait site it could include:

Who needs pictures? Anyone who wouldn’t normally have access to or be able to afford professional photography.

We suggest the following groups of people for starters…-

  • the homeless
  • orphans
  • single moms (and their kids)
  • single dads (and their kids)
  • sick children
  • sick parents
  • the elderly
  • army vets
  • underprivileged families
  • your neighbour?

Some of Cork’s leading photographers are already on board for Help Portrait, and they’ll be supported by photography assistants, make-up artists and a host of other volunteers on the day.

But the organisers are still desperately in need of support and sponsorship. If you’re in Cork, and would be willing to contribute time, resources, catering or a donation of cold, hard cash to support the initiative get in touch with Paul via the Marketing Write Now contact page.

And especially if you can donate / would be willing to sponsor photo frames and mounts for the event please talk to Paul before the end of the day tomorrow (Thursday 09/12) to get things sorted.

If your a blogger, twitterer or facebooker please help spread the word about this great event.

UPDATE: Read more about who was involved in Help Portrait Cork on Paul O’Mahony’s blog, and see some great photos of the action on the day over on Roger Overall’s blog

Dec 092009
 

Uncle Frank "enjoying" Cork on Ice It’s official… I still have all of my extremities. I know this because I’ve counted them. Two arms, two legs, eight fingers, two thumbs, and ten toes.

Three weeks ago it had seemed like such a good idea. My wife was browsing the Cork on Ice website and asked if I’d be up for going ice skating with the gang. Sitting at home in a warm living room saying yes had been easy. Now the day had arrived though I was feeling a bit less assertive.

Me, blades and a large expanse of cold, wet slippery stuff… not a good combination.

I’ve been ice skating maybe three times in my life. The first was as a child, when we were taken to a huge Ice rink in North Wales on a school trip. As with most unpleasant experiences, my mind has obscured most of the details. All I remember is clinging, white-knuckled, to the edge of the rink, making my way inch by painful inch around the perimeter. In my mind’s eye all I could see was images of bloody skate-blades and severed fingers. From the moment I stepped onto the ice I remember praying for the experience to end.

The next time was a friend’s birthday party. When I found out we were going ice-skating it was all that my parents could do to convince me to go. This time I was a little braver, and actually let go of the side. Big mistake… I spent more time spread-eagled on the ice than I did actually skating. Cold, wet and miserable I vowed never to set foot on an ice rink again.

Continue reading »

Aug 062009
 
MEXICO CITY - APRIL 29:  People sit in the wai...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Some things in life are too dreary for words… but I’m going to give it my best shot, so prepare to be completely overwhelmed by mindless tedium.

First my own particular pet hate on the "boring things to do" front: painting. Not the artistic rendition of a scene in watercolour or oil, more the "slap it on the walls" kind of painting. Painting in the interior-decorating sense of the word is one of those agonising jobs that demands just the right level of concentration to prevent you thinking about other things, but not quite enough to keep you actively engaged in what your doing. I find the combination is agonizing.

Another one that’s bound to be high on anyone’s list of tedious pastimes has to be sitting in traffic. Yes, you have the radio to keep you company, but that can be as much a curse as it is a blessing… particularly when a cheery "eye-in-the-sky" presenter informs you, rather helpfully, to avoid the tailback you’re already sitting in. Of course, depending on the particular backlog of traffic you’re stuck in, you may have time to turn your mind to other, more productive things. But when I’m behind the wheel I can never really disengage; driving demands concentration… even if you’re crawling along at six-inches per hour. You never know when you might need to react to the unexpected.

Never, is the rather obvious answer… but the point is you have to be ready. I’ll drive for hours on the open road… but fifteen minutes in stop-start traffic has me tearing what little hair I have left out.

What, you may be asking, has inspired me to share this mind-numbing tirade with you? Possibly the biggest waste of our limited time and resources that exists on this or any other planet, that’s what.

Continue reading »

Feb 102009
 

A very talented software developer I used to work with way back when — Walter Higgins (@walter on twitter) over at Cork based Sxoop Technologies — has developed a cool little application that builds a clickable photo-montage of all your twitter followers’ avatars.

People are already putting the resulting Twitter Mosaics on their blog posts, desktop wallpaper, mugs, T-shirts, bags, business cards… you name it. The application has evolved somewhat since I first looked at it — and now lets you selctively delete avatars from the resulting mosaic and even order printed products. It also presents you with the HTML code to embed the mosaic on your own website or blog post.

So if you’re on Twitter, why not check out your own Twitter Mosaic.

Great work by Walter and the crew at Sxoop, and proof, yet again, that when it comes to Twitter application ingenuity Ireland in general, and perhaps Cork in particular, is leading the charge.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]