Friday, September 19, 2008

2008 Ireland Trip - 4 Sep 08

After two nights in Arklow and touring the Wicklow Mountains, we headed southwest to county Wexford. The first stop was for me - the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, which is located on the North Slobs to the east of Wexford.

This is the old pump house, which was used to reclaim a bunch of land from the sea. This area is below sea level and there's a large dike that protects the region from flooding.

This is the view from the sea wall.

I always enjoy birding in new areas, but here are some familiar friends. We call them Barn Swallows in America - they're just called Swallows in Ireland, but they are the same species.

Over the time I spent in Ireland I saw 34 new species of birds for my life list, including several from this reserve: coot, barnacle goose, greylag goose, white-fronted goose, snow goose, green finch, and so on.

There was a huge flock of mixed geese and it was necessary to take a look at each one to make sure I didn't miss any species.

White and blue morphs of the snow goose.

Greylag goose

Barnacle goose

White-fronted goose - looks similar to greylag, except for the blaze of white behind the bill.

Rook. There are several species of corvids that dominate the landscape. Rooks are everywhere, as are jackdaws and hooded crows. Ravens are common along the coast line.

This is a quaint town called Fethard-on-sea. Our first attempt at lunch at a cafe yielded no service and we eventually got up and went down to a pub a few doors away.

Our next stop was the Hook Head Lighthouse - the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in Ireland.

We made a short stop at an area just north of the lighthouse so that I could do some birding. I found these oystercatchers on the rocks.

The coast line is eroding away into caves and tunnels.

The tide was out so we went rock hopping to look at tidepools and to check out the birds.

Here's a flock of Great Cormorants. I didn't see any shags here, but I saw them a couple of days later on the west coast.

The lighthouse is very photogenic - especially in the late afternoon sun.

I always get a kick out of figuring out how the fixtures work in bathrooms. This contraption is a high-tech hand dryer.

We took a tour of the lighthouse, which begins in the bottom floor with an example of the lens that is in use. This one is about 1/4 the size of the one being used in the light house.

Our tour guide was also the clerk in the gift shop.

We worked our way up to the second black band in the building and she explained how monks had run the lighthouse during medieval times.

This is one of the views from the balcony above the top black band.

The staircase is narrow and winds around the perimeter of the lighthouse.

Each floor has a different layout and served as quarters for the keepers and their families.

The walls of the lighthouse are 4 meters thick. I noticed that they had dehumidifiers running throughout the building, and it was still damp and cold in there.

The gift shop, cafe and restrooms are in these buildings.

It is a functional lighthouse, and I'm glad the weather was nice.

A whale vertebrae served as a door stop?

Buoys of various shapes and sizes - these were huge!

Our next B&B was in Clonakilty and so we had a bit of a drive after visiting the lighthouse. First, though, I wanted to see some of the ruins that were nearby.

The first one was Hook church.

The ground was a bit soggy from all the rain, but the place is charming to walk through.

These walls must have had some mortar or plaster that has weathered away.

The door arch is so short that it's pretty clear that we're only seeing the top part of the church and the rest is buried under centuries of accumulated detritus. Michael trying to look scholarly, I think.

That's me - I'm on vacation so I don't care what I look like.

Again, there were recent graves in amongst the older ones.

The craftsmanship of the place is still obvious.

The interiors are sheltered cemeteries.

I'm not sure what this is about - bracing or part of another wall?

Farmland on the Hook Peninsula.

The other ruins we saw were at a Knights Templar spot called Templetown.

The late afternoon sun made for some dramatic lighting.

Here's that interesting Celtic weave design that looks like a dollar sign. With the repetition in threes, it must have something to do with the trinity.

The tower was popular with rooks and jackdaws.

The interior still showed some plaster

So, this gives me a better idea of what these stone ruins may have been like - not bare stone, but plastered and perhaps white-washed as well.

There is a lot of modern grafitti throughout the building - what a shame!

This is so sad to see.

A reminder of how heating was done in the past - probably by turf fires.

The drive to Kilkenny had one fun part - the GPS unit told me to turn left and take the ferry at East Passage.

Ferry? What ferry? When I got there there weren't any cars around and no ferry in sight. I drove around for a bit and then came upon the queue.

It's just a short hop across the bay, but a very long detour by road, so I was glad to take the ferry and pay my 8 euros.

It wasn't full to capacity, but there were quite few cars on board.

Off we go to the other side.

Everyone just waits in their cars during the trip. They probably thought I was nuts in taking photos from the deck.

Cars are queued on the other side for the return trip.

The rest of the trip was pretty straightforward to Kilkenny. It was a rather long day, but it seems like we crammed a lot of sight-seeing into it, so that's ok then.


The Quacks of Life said...

is the WF fronted Geese the same size as the greylag? they are meant to be smaller and browner. and the bill pink

you sometimes see greylags with the white shield. as they probably have some "farmyard" geese in them.

wonder where the snow geese came from? Barnacles have quite an established feral population in the UK.

the walls of that church may have been coloured. certainly over here the walls of many chuches were highly decorated with wall paintings of bible stories.

Andi Wolfe said...

Pete - thanks for the info on the painted churches. That's very interesting.

These were, indeed, white-fronted geese. They were smaller than the greylags and somewhere in between the size of the barnacle and snow goose. They also have that distinctive striping across the belly.

The geese had just started arriving the week we visited. The reserve is a hotspot for migrating waterfowl, and we just happened to hit a good time for geese.

The Quacks of Life said...

jammy so and so.

a few Pink Feet about Saturday