Saturday, 29 June 2013

New Bird on the Block

Before we went away we had a whole swarm of redpolls eating us out of house and home, according to C.
When we came back, we had no birds at all except the robins for a couple of weeks, and then the tits came back in good numbers.
But we seem to have done a full exchange of redpolls for linnets! I hadn't seen one for maybe 7 years, so it took a couple of days before I realised that those red fronts back on the feeders weren't redpolls at all. Different colour beak, different shade of red, different call, more black and white on the wings should all have given it away much sooner if I'd been more alert.

This was an exceptionally busy week on a whole lot of fronts, so no photo-editing, alas.
And more computer problems, alas again, but they seemed to resolve themselves quite quickly this time.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Korission Surprise

I know that when I uploaded my first few photos from Lake Korission I said we had had a lovely surprise.
And then life got wedding, family funeral, computer problems, internet problems...
But finally I'm getting time to chip away slowly at editing some more photos.

Our lovely surprise was a whole flock of flamingoes on the lagoon. We certainly hadn't seen them before, even though we'd visited at the same time of year, and neither had another couple we spoke with.
I wished I'd brought my Canon for the extra zoom, but I just had to make do with my medium telephoto for the Olympus - I didn't even bring the longer one on holiday with us. I was grateful at least to have that - the last time we went and were thrilled just to have seen several egrets, all I had was my little pocket Olympus with practically no zoom at all.

We also saw egrets again this time - you can see one in the first of the flamingo photos.
It was our first time seeing red-legged stilts apart from in France two years ago. They're quite small birds, so I really did wish for some extra zoom for them - and for a squacco heron, no shots worth sharing.

The two photos of the swallows were taken in a little café at the top of the road where we turned off to go down to the lagoon. It was delicious coffee, too - we had two cups each, and a long bike-centred conversation with the owner.

Friday, 21 June 2013

A Tale of Tails

One of our robins is moulting at the moment, and has just the stubbiest of little tails. It hasn't affected his aggression and territorial behaviour - he's still chasing the other two (who seem to be a pair) away from the feeder if he gets there first! He looks such a scruffball in comparison to the others.

The cormorant and duck photos were both taken at Heuston Station the other morning.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Corfu Signs

My PC is back up and running again - but it's a bit of a mystery as to what was wrong with it and when it might go wrong again.
So I managed a few quick edits this evening.
More of Corfu town, mostly shop signs. We both liked the steampunk one, which was some sort of book shop - closed, so I couldn't go in and look around.. The antqiuqed scroll sign was another bookshop.

Friday, 14 June 2013

May Favourites

I've been having both computer and internet problems this week, so I haven't got any further with sorting through Corfu photos. They're all safe on an external back-up, but I'm not so fond of editing on the laptop unless I have to, and anyway trying to fix the PC has taken too much energy.

So here are my favourite cards from May! It's taken several years to find a panda stamp I really liked - this one is close to what I have in my imagination.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Loutses Cave

For C, one of the highlights of the holiday this year was our trip to Loutses cave, on our way back from Old Perithea. I've attached an image from Google Earth - you can see how barren most of the road up to it is - real karst landscape. A lot of it was one of those ridged concrete roads, not so comfortable on a bike, but probably better for us than for the jeep safari we had seen come off the road earlier on in the day!

So, we climb ever upwards through the bare country, with a couple of pauses to admire the scenery and a bird of prey circling not that far above us (a short-toed eagle, we thought)  and at the end of the road when we could drive no further there was a little half-built shelter, and a foot track leading  into the trees. It's quite amazing - you walk along the track and all of a sudden there was a fairly steep path down, as if we were in a bowl. You can see, from Google Earth, how there's a little patch of woodland right at the top of the mountain/hill (about 480 metres, 1500 feet). There must be a rift in the centre. We clambered down and down, and then reached the entrance to the cave. The roof has plenty of stalactites, and the bottom is a bit damp and covered with green algae.
It had great acoustics for singing, which C made the most of - but it was full of rooks who kept flying out.


View from the top of the mountain.

Entering the wooded area
Perpendicular tree

Rim of the "bowl"
Cliff face

Looking down to the entrance of the cave (sorry, a bit over-exposed!!)


Looking up out of the mouth of the cave

Definitely a place we'd visit again - and if we do, I'll make sure that I'm wearing my trekking sandals rather than just flip-flops. I managed OK, but trying to pick my way down the path with a camera and camera bag - and my not-so-good head for heights - was just a little precarious. I didn't actually venture much beyond the mouth of the cave.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Pros and Cons

...of a pro camera.

I took these gull photos on the way to work yesterday morning.

Not waving, not drowning either ~ simply bathing

I know I wouldn't have got such good photos with my Canon point-and-shoot bridge camera.  I have more zoom range, yes, but not quite the same sharpness and clarity and it's definitely slower to focus.
However,  I now have a sore shoulder from the weight of the big camera in my bag all day. The body with a kit telephoto lens weighs in at 1.5kg/3 lb, and then another lens is necessary because sometimes (especially in the city) you don't want a telephoto, you want (I want) a wide-angle. And if I've gone for a pro lens rather than the kit ones - well, each lens is almost as heavy as the body. That's a definite con. The lack of video is a minor one - I know that the more modern DSLRs do offer video, but mine is just too old for that.
Another definite pro is the weather-proofing and rugged construction!
The reason I'm toting all that weight around on a daily basis now and not just on outings to the park is that my little Canon picked up some dust while we were on holidays, and is in for a good clean. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised - some of the time it was just slung over my shoulder while I was on the back of the bike.
The Olympus, on the other hand, while it picked up a certain amount of sand on the outside on our visit to Lake Korission, simply required 5 minutes with a blower brush when we got back to the apartment. Because of the weight around my neck, I was actually carrying it looped over my wrist till I realised how much sand I was kicking up as we walked across the dunes.
Cue photo of C in one of his drama moments. I know he's never read Beau Geste, so his concept of Fort Zinderneuf is based on Snoopy as a Foreign Legionnaire leading his troops through the sand traps!! The hunched shoulders and air of dejection are pure drama; like me, he really enjoys this outing.

He still insists that it's shorter to return to the car-park area via the dunes than back through the juniper groves. Shorter it may be - faster I am not so sure, as it's quite hard work trekking over all the sand, and this rocky outcrop was a rarity. I think perhaps he was deterred by the number of spiders' webs spun between the junipers, which at one stage had me thinking of Mirkwood.

For our trip to Corfu town I just brought the Canon, so here are a couple of  short videos of a group of singers. I'm still not sure what they were doing - they certainly weren't busking, as the lady was giving something out (mostly to the shopkeepers as opposed to tourists) from her little basket. The second video shows an onlooker who borrowed the lead singer's hat and danced along with them - after C had joined him for a duet of O Sole Mio. You can't see him, but there was a very good piano accordionist. It should be possible to click on them to view them full screen, and I hope I've set the sharing permissions correctly this time.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Hung Out to Dry

We had just one rainy morning and two dull ones while we were away. On the first dull day we planned a trip to Corfu Town, and had a lovely time just wandering around. The old town is a warren of tiny little narrow streets, as you can see from a couple of these photos.

And yes - after taking a wrong turn when we left the car park, we ended up coming down the centre part of the street in the above photo! Not for the faint-hearted, I will say.

However, there are also plenty of wide open spaces - the first photo is the Liston, looking out over the cricket round and a very trendy place to sit and sip your coffee, and the second photo is one of the main streets in the old town.