Goldcrests and sea eagles in Germany


Goldcrest, 6 October 2016

As I wrote, on 6 October 2016 we arrived in the harbour of Peenemünde in east Germany. We walked to a park not so far away. There, we saw in the bushes various goldcrests, like the one on this photo; looking for insects to feed on. October is autumn migration time for goldcrests. Many arrive then in Germany from northern or eastern Europe.

Peenemünde was notorious in World War II for its base of V1 and V2 nazi weapons. We had passed the big military building; now a museum.

Great cormorants, Peenemünde, 6 October 2016

Past the park, we walked to the shore. Great cormorants resting along the water. Behind us, mainly coniferous trees; with, again, goldcrests.

A birch tree; with proof on it of a beaver gnawing.

Fly agaric, 6 October 2016

On the way back, a fly agaric mushroom.

Sea eagle sits among cormorants, 6 October 2016

The great cormorants were still there. But by then, a white-tailed eagle kept them company. Just like October is migration time for Europe’s smallest birds, goldcrests; it is also migration time for these sea eagles, the biggest birds of northern Europe.

Sea eagle flying, 6 October 2016

A bit later, the eagle flew away.

Great cormorants on 6 October 2016

But the cormorants stayed.

We went back to the ship. Tomorrow, on 7 October, we would sail the Baltic Sea. So, stay tuned!

Swans, cormorants, and storm in Germany


Stormy weather in Germany, 6 October 2016

After 5 October 2016, on 6 October, we sailed from Kamp village on the Stettiner Haff lagoon in Germany. As there was storm, we did not sail further than the estuary, not continuing on the rough Baltic Sea. Already inland, there were white waves.

At 7:45, our ship departed. Great cormorants flying.

In October, migrating cranes arrive here; as we had already seen. This morning, again flying cranes.

Great cormorants, 6 October 2016

At a bridge, great cormorants resting.

Herring gull, 6 October 2016

Also great black-backed gulls. And this herring gull.

Two scaup ducks swimming.

Mute swans, 6 October 2016

And many more mute swans.

Grosser Wotig island, 6 October 2016

We pass Grosser Wotig island. When we passed it north to south a few days ago, this wetland island was mainly land. Now, however, when we pass the island from the south to the north, the storm means that many reed beds and the lower parts of fences are under water. Cormorants and other birds can still use the upper parts for resting.

A little gull flies.

Mute swans flying 6 October 2016

A flock of flying mute swans passes.

Village, 6 October 2016

We pass the village north of Grosser Wotig.

We sail on the Peenestrom.

We reach Peenemünde, where this river flows into the Baltic Sea.

Peenemunde, 6 October 2016

Great cormorants rested at the harbour.

This area is well-known for sea eagles.

We will meet them in the next blog post about Peenemünde. So, stay tuned!

Red kites, raven and storm in Germany


This 2013 video shows grey seals off Greifswalder Oie island, in the Baltic Sea off the German coast.

On 5 October 2016, we were supposed to sail from Rügen island to the smaller Greifswalder Oie.

On Greifswalder Oie is a bird ringing station.

However, storm meant we never went to Rügen, let alone Greifswalder Oie.

Even in the inland river harbour of Kamp village, the storm brough many waves and much rain. So, after 4 October, on 5 October the ship stayed at Kamp.

Near the harbour, great cormorants swimming. A grey heron flying.

The storm is from the north-east. That helps most birds on autumn migration now. We saw barn swallows. And a flock of starlings.

A sea eagle flying.

On the ground, a parasol mushroom.

Twice, a red kite flies past.

And just before we arrived back at the harbour, a raven flew.

Great cormorant drying wings, Germany 5 October 2016

Storm or no storm, rain or shine, like yesterday, still many great cormorants around their nesting colony.

Great egrets, Germany, 5 October 2016

Like yesterday, most cranes had left the wetland where they had slept. But there were still plenty of other birds, like great egrets and ducks.

Birch trees, 5 October 2016

Storm or no storm, rain or shine, like yesterday, still many birch trees.

Footpath, 5 October 2016

Storm or no storm, rain or shine, like yesterday, the old railway track, now footpath, was still there.

Beaver traces, 5 October 2016

Storm or no storm, rain or shine, like yesterday, the traces of beavers gnawing on trees were still there.

Beaver traces, on 5 October 2016

Fallen birch trees, 5 October 2016

Finally, beautiful mushrooms. I wish I knew which species. But there are thousands of fungi species …

Mushrooms, 5 October 2016

Birds and dragonflies in Germany


This video shows a sea eagle, and a mute swan, on Rügen island in the Baltic sea in north-east Germany.

On 4 October 2016, we were supposed to be on Rügen.

However, a storm which caused flooding meant we could not sail on the sea, but had to stay in the interior near Kamp village.

After seeing the cranes and the rest of our early morning walk, we started a longer walk.

Songbirds are migrating to the south this month. We see scores of goldfinches.

Kamp, 4 October 2016

We walk on an old railway track. In Adolf Hitler’s days, trains here went to Peenemünde V2 missile base. After the war, the rails were removed, and a footpath remained.

Great cormorants on 4 October 2016

Many great cormorants sitting in leafless trees. And hundreds of them fishing together in the water.

An edible frog jumps.

A meadow pipit flies.

Emperor dragonfly male, Germany, 4 October 2016

In the bushes, various dragonflies rest. Like this male emperor dragonfly.

Sympetrum dragonfly, 4 October 2016

And also smaller species. I think this is a male Sympetrum dragonfly. I am not sure which species, as quite some related species look rather similar.

Dragonfly, 4 October 2016

And of this small dragonfly I am not even sure which genus it is.

We pass some cranes which stayed in this wetland after most others flew away to feed on fields.

Beavers live there, as trees with obvious traces of gnawing show.

Great cormorant nests, Germany, 4 October 2016

We pass great cormorant nests. They are empty now; the young birds have fledged.

Birch trees, 4 October 2016

Birch trees. A great spotted woodpecker flies to one of them.

On another tree, a nuthatch.

A flock of barnacle geese.

Shoveler ducks.

Wetland near Kamp, 4 October 2016

A water vole crosses the footpath.

Wetland near Kamp on 4 October 2016

We arrive back on the road. Not many cars, but still they are dangerous for the many caterpillars crossing. They are pale tussock caterpillars. The Dutch name for this species is meriansborstel, Merian’s brush; named after famous seventeenth century naturalist and painter of insects Maria Sibylla Merian.

We arrive back in Kamp.

At 18:05, to the cranes again. Many arrive for sleeping; including juveniles. Behind them, barnacle geese.

Black-bellied plovers in winter plumage.

Dunlin.

A juvenile Caspian tern cleanses its feathers.

At 18:30, 670 cranes have arrived for sleeping.

Gadwall ducks land on the water.

Cormorants and black redstart in Germany


Bulrush, 4 October 2016

Still the morning of 4 April 2016 near Kamp village in Germany. After we had seen many cranes, and also many great white-fronted geese, wake up and fly from their sleeping quarters to places for eating, we walked back to Kamp. On both sides of the road, marshy areas with bulrush plants.

A sea eagle flies.

Two roe deer cross the road.

Great cormorants, 4 October 2016

A flock of great cormorants flying.

Four barn swallows fly; passing through on migration to Africa.

Trees, 4 October 2016

Closer to Kamp, more trees grow.

On a roof in the village sits a black redstart.

Black redstart, 4 October 2016

And a great tit as well.

House sparrows.

Eurasian cranes wake up, photos


Sunrise, 4 October 2016

As this blog reported, on 3 October 2016 our ship had arrived in Kamp village in Germany. In the evening, we had seen many Eurasian cranes and geese on autumn migration arrive to sleep in the wetlands. Next morning, we went there again, around sunrise.

Cranes waking up on 4 October 2016

Gradually, the cranes woke up.

Cranes waking up, 4 October 2016

Some of them started to fly in the morning light.

More cranes flying

More and more cranes started flying from their sleeping quarters to places where they might find food …

Yet more cranes

… and yet more cranes …

And yet more cranes

… and yet more cranes.

Cranes flying and standing

Though many cranes flew away, for the moment many stayed as well.

Cranes flying

As the sun rose further, more cranes started flying …

Cranes flying away

… encouraging others to fly as well.

Cranes flying away, 4 October 2016

Stay tuned, as there will be more on this blog about 4 October 2016 near Kamp village!

Cranes in Germany: here.

African Irish photographer’s exhibition


This video from England says about itself:

A Short Film on the London Irish Centre

Shot in Camden, north London, on 6th of February 2008.

Filmed & Edited by Eoin O’Donnell.

By Angela Cobbinah in London, England:

Black, Irish and proud

Saturday 22nd October 2016

LORRAINE MAHER tells Angela Cobbinah what inspired her to mount the ground-breaking #iamirish photography exhibition at the Irish Centre in London

WHEN she was growing up in County Tipperary in the 1960s, Lorraine Maher met no other black people and on the few occasions they came into her midst she would avoid them.

“I didn’t want to draw attention to myself in any way,” she says.

“I grew up in a beautiful town full of beautiful people but there was racism all around me. This was the age of the golliwog and the ‘black baby box’ to collect money for starving African babies.

“I knew I was different but my blackness was never spoken about and I spent my childhood just wanting to hide away and not be noticed.”

It did not help that her mother had handed her over to her grandmother to be brought up while she lived nearby with her new family.

“In those days it would have been very hard for my mother to have not only had an illegitimate child but a black one too,” Lorraine acknowledges.

“However, I had a very difficult upbringing and I am living with the effects of that.”

There were children like herself scattered all over Ireland, many fathered by African doctors who were based there in the 1950s and ’60s as a result of bilateral work and study programmes. The unluckiest ended up in the dreaded “industrial schools”, children’s homes run by the Catholic Church where abuse was said to be widespread.

Not surprisingly, Lorraine left Ireland as soon as she could, heading for the bright lights of London aged 17. It proved to be a liberation. “I arrived at a place where I met people of all colours and where no-one questioned my identity,” she says.

“At last I felt I belonged. I dropped my Irish accent and I started seeing myself as a black woman.”

But as time went on, she realised she was still very much Irish. “It is the culture I was brought up in and it is important to me. These days I say I am black, I am Irish and I am proud.”

It is this often painful journey to self-realisation that laid the seeds of the #iamirish exhibition she has curated for the London Irish Centre, tellingly its first ever contribution to Black History Month. Opened last week by Ruaidri Dowling on behalf of the Irish embassy, it is a display of stunning portraits by photographer Tracey Anderson that aims to question the concept of what it looks like to be Irish.

“It is a celebration of Ireland’s diversity,” explains Lorraine, who works as an education manager at the Clean Break Theatre Company and has four children.

“The photos are accompanied by family crests, linked to Irish surnames, to dispel the idea that if you are from a non-white community you are automatically an immigrant. I myself can trace my ancestry back thousands of years.”

The Ireland of today is very different to the one she grew up in, she agrees. The economic boom of the 1980s and ’90s brought in migrants from all over the world transforming the country’s monocultural view of itself and when Muhammad Ali visited Ennis in County Clare in 2009 where his great great-grandfather hailed from he was given a huge welcome.

But according to Lorraine: “Ireland may look very different but it is not as blended as it looks.”

The contradictions were brought home to her by two events earlier this year, which spurred her into organising the exhibition.

The first was the mayor of Ennis’s announcement that he was going to attend Ali’s funeral and the second was news the following day that two African students had been refused entry into a Dublin bar.

“I felt I really had to do something to bring the two communities together.”

The exhibition consists of images of people aged from one to 70-plus but all are anonymous. Despite that, it is full of warmth and optimism.

Bar a few Facebook trolls, the response has been extremely positive, says Lorraine, touching as it does the hitherto hidden lives of children like herself and the generations who have followed.

#iamirish runs at London Irish Centre, Camden Square, London NW1 until October 31. There will be an accompanying workshop and a panel discussion during the month. Details: londonirishcentre.org.