Landscapes & Birds in Cork
I was in Cork for the weekend, and with a full Moon early on Sunday, I was looking forward to trying some lunar Leeside snaps. Unfortunately, it was mostly damp and grey except a brief period of clear skies on Saturday morning. I started off on Lavitt’s Quay where The Photographers Ephemeris said the Moon would be over the prominent landmark of Gurranabraher Church around 6.45am. As an aside, people not from Cork - an unfortunate lot anyway J - are utterly incapable of pronouncing this suburb’s name. It’s not “gurr-an-a-bra-her” but “grawn-a-braw-her” rhyming with “drawn-a-draw-her”- OK boy?? Or girl??
Because I’ve been blogging a lot recently about shots taken with my pocket camera (e.g. here and here), I wanted to use the big camera this time with my new specialist landscape kit, the Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head – that I got from Maher’s Photographic in Drogheda. It’s reviewed here by Landscape Photography Magazine and, as they say, it’s slow to set up. When I arrived on the quay, I could see it would soon cloud over, so instead I grabbed the Panasonic LF1 and the Gorillapod SLR and ran across to the railings to get these two shots before the Moon disappeared. The second one, with St. Mary’s Church on Pope’s Quay, is a panoramic stitch. With the sunrise still as late as 8.26am, it was too early for proper blue hour shots but given the brief appearance of the Moon, I was glad to get them at all.
After picking up Mark, we headed for Ballycotton in east Cork where a good selection of semi-rare birds had been reported on Cork Bird News and Irish Birding – including a new one for me – hopefully! As we approached Shanagarry, we could see it was going to be a colourful dawn so we rushed to the Pier to catch it over Ballycotton Island. When we got there the colour in the sky was peaking, so it was the pocket camera kit to the rescue again to get this stitched panorama within a minute or two of our arrival at 8.07am - from the top of the pier wall.
Having brought heavy the duty kit though, I want to give it a try and I got this panorama twenty minutes later as the rising sun was heavily screened by the approaching frontal cloud. See how all the reds have disappeared for a more subtle sky. I used my new Lee Little Stopper (also from Maher’s) to get an eight second exposure at f11 and ISO 100. This long exposure smooths the sea, compared to the previous shot that was exposed for 1/3 of a second at ISO 80 and f8 - the smallest aperture that the LF1 has.
Parking properly on the pier is important as well!!
With the good light for landscapes over, we turned to birding – starting off with this fine first year Glaucous Gull –a regular visitor to Ireland in small numbers from the Arctic according to Birdwatch Ireland. Light levels for flight shots were still very low, so I used ISO 3200 to get 1/640th of a second at f5.6 on the Canon 100-400 mk1 lens, at 400mm on the Canon 7DII. Pixel peeping at 100% magnification reveals a slight softness at this ISO level – but its fine for record shots. Of course, high ISO shots without motion blur are much better than the reverse!
Next we headed for nearby Garryvoe hoping to see a flock of Glossy Ibises reported from a pond close to the beach. This former rarity from southern Europe is being seen in Ireland with increasing frequency and there has been a recent influx of several tens at least along the south coast. As we birded one of the flooded fields, I heard a shout from Mark alerting me to the flock flying my way and I was lucky enough to get a few flight shots as they passed overhead.
However, my real target for the day was a Siberian Chiffchaff that had also been reported from this spot. We saw several Common Chiffchaffs as we worked the hedges and I was hoping that I wasn’t going to “dip” again as I had done in Wexford recently. Happily, our bird popped out just as the rain was threatening, clearly showing it’s washed out appearance compared to it common cousin - it's got a stronger eyestripe along with a prominent green panel on the wing as well. It paused for a few quick shots and then it was gone!
It topped off an excellent morning with two fine landscapes and three good birds all wrapped by 10.30am – just in time for us to head back to Cork to the joys of domestic responsibilities!
Keywords: Ballycotton, Ballycotton Island, Canon 100-400mm mark I, Canon 7D Mark II, Cork, Garryvoe", Glaucous Gull, Glossy Ibis, Gurranabraher, Ireland, John Coveney Photography, Lavitt's, Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared head, Panasonic LF1, Quay, Siberian Chiffchaff, gorrillapod, high ISO, night photography, www.johncoveney.ie.
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