Silent Spring - Part 2

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

The spring of 2020 turned out to be of the driest and warmest in years. Many wildflowers started to bloom several weeks early, the most extreme was a single sheep's bit that flowered in late April, while others appeared in much smaller numbers than usual, the dandelion stood out for me here. Another sign of the times? Here are the next 30 days of the Silent Spring of 2020.

Day 31 – 19. April: Rock of Ages, Ross

This small, horseshoe-shaped cove is guarded by sheer cliffs and conveys a sense of shelter. On a fine spring evening it is indeed a tranquil place, in autumn and winter however this changes dramatically. When the weather is less pleasant and the wind blows from the north the churned up waters of the Atlantic Ocean turn the cove into wild whirlpool and batter the rocks relentlessly. These are the conditions that have turned the rocks on the upper shore in the artistically shaped masterpieces they are.

Day 32 – 20. April: The Maze, Loop Head

A little east of Loop Head the cliffs fold in on themselves and create a maze of sheer rock walls, sea stacks and arches. Among other birds a raven pair nests here on a lofty home overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately they made themselves quite elusive and the sunset I had been hoping for didn’t materialize either. All I had left to work with were the swirling rocks and clouds.

Day 33 – 21. April: Rock Pipit, Loop Head

I was out again looking for the raven. While I was waiting and hoping the object of my desire would leave its lofty lookout far away on the cliff edge, a rock pipit showed some pity and posed on a lichen covered rock nearby. The rock pipit is a common and inconspicuous resident bird of the Irish coast, in looks and behaviour very similar to its cousin the meadow pipit. This little bird is always on the move but quite curious which gave me the chance for a few frame filling portraits. The raven on the other hand never left its lookout.

Day 34 – 22. April: Thrift, Loop Head

Thrift, sea pink and sea thrift are all names for the same plant: Armeria maritima. For most of the year the plant sits unassuming on stone walls and cliff tops, forming large, soft tussocks. Come spring long stalks, topped by green buds, appear. Within a few weeks the buds open into small flowers that range in colour from pure white to a deep pink. These small flowers appear in such numbers that the landscape disappears under a pink blanket. For me this is the real beginning of spring.

Day 35 – 23. April: Bramble Leaf, Kilbaha

Brambles are a major part of the Irish hedgerows and from late summer onward a source of free food. Unfortunately blackberry picking isn’t practiced widely anymore, our consumer oriented society prefers to buy jam, jelly and tarts even if the hedge outside is laden with blackberries. Spring however is still some months away from harvest season and all there is now are the emerging leaves that start in crimson red and only turn green once they have unfolded completely.

Day 36 – 24. April: Robin, Kilbaha

The robin is one of Ireland’s most common and well known birds. Contrary to their cute appearance robins are highly territorial and will aggressively turn away intruders. They are also very curious. This individual edged closer and closer until it eventually landed on the lens to give it a thorough inspection.

Day 37 – 25. April: Seaweed, Ross

Not only the land is going through a transformation at this time of the year. The coastal waters also see a seasonal change which becomes most apparent in the intertidal zone. Seaweeds are starting to grow vigorously and spread a blanket full of colours and textures over the rocky shore.

Day 38 – 26. April: Early Morning Light, Loop Head

Mist patches were lingering over the fields when I got up shortly before sunrise. I set out for the headland of Loop Head and suddenly found myself immersed in a wall of fog. Before me rose a grey wall of water droplets, behind me the rising sun painted the vapour in soft yellow tones. As suddenly as I had been engulfed I emerged out of the fog. The headland sits just a bit higher than the surrounding countryside but this little bit makes all the difference. The cliffs were battered by a strong swell, the fog I had just passed through was flowing over the cliff edge and above it all the morning sun painted the sky in pastel colours.

Day 39 – 27. April: Cuckoo Flower, Rinevella / Whimbrels, Ross

The cuckoo flower, also known as lady’s smock, got its name because it is said that it flowers at the same time the cuckoo arrives from its wintering grounds in central and south Africa. This year this theory was very much proven true. Only minutes before I made this image I had heard the first cuckoo call of the year.

When daisies pied and violets blue And lady-smocks all