Amidst muck and mystery

August 18, 2010

On Twitter a few days ago, I posted a photo accompanied by a rhyming couplet. Michele of Divinipotent Daily guessed that there was more to the story, so I’ve added more couplets to make a simple poem – but without giving too much away. Because where would the mystery be then?



Wanderers we numbered four,
Left the woods to roam the shore;
Splashy suds bespoke the tide –
A soundtrack for the countryside.

Grass and wildflowers led to stone,
Pointing to a place long known;
Nettles leant towards our knees,
Ivy crept from rocks to trees.

In we went, a-hunting mystery;
Muck we found, amidst the history.
Crumbling walls held musty air,
Held us rapt while we were there.


[All comments are very welcome, as always; comments in poetic form are especially welcome.]

On a wing and a poem

July 24, 2010


You may glare
And cry “Unfair!”
I do not care.
I will not share.


A damselfly in no distress
Pauses now to take a rest.


Pink-purple funnels,
A hovering visitor:
Summer encounter.


[Previously: Garden haiku; more poetry.]

The happy leaves of Galway

June 4, 2010


Leaf no.1 photographed on 25 June 2008.


Leaf no.2 photographed on 25 May 2010.


It makes me wonder what they’re putting in the soil around here.

Darling starling

May 20, 2010


Sturnus vulgaris: an ill-fitting name
for so genial a bird (though you’re not quite tame)
From treetop to rooftop on sorties incessant
With firework-like feathers of dark iridescence.


The second verse was worse, so I’ll spare you.

The last place I lived was populated more by smaller Irish birds such as finches, pipits, tits, stonechats and wagtails; I’d forgotten just how noisy blackbirds and starlings can be.

Not that I mind. The starlings nesting in the roof are the first thing I hear when I wake up, and they hardly stop chattering all day. Or maybe one of them is making all the noise. The only time it’s not whistling, clicking or chirruping is when it has a juicy meal in its bill.

Because I eat in the garden whenever possible, I have to beware of aerial bombardment. To date I have been splatted only once, which makes me feel very lucky, though in the immediate aftermath of these events it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that the bird did it deliberately, out of mischief.

Garden haiku

April 21, 2010



Bright yellow-white cup
Hover ever closer… Now!
Liquid lunch aloft.


(Comments in haiku form, though not compulsory, would please me very much!)

Frogspawn in an Irish pond

March 15, 2010

As a child I spent endless hours exploring the shallows and periphery of a nearby lake, peering into one mysterious microhabitat after another. Between the house and the lake lies a pond whose gentler motions foster a different kind of local ecology. For example, every spring the pond plays host to masses of frogspawn that grow gradually and perilously into tadpoles, tailed froglets, and finally (if they’re very lucky) adult frogs.

The Common frog (Rana temporaria) is one of Ireland’s three amphibious animals, along with the Natterjack toad and Common newt; all are protected species. Ireland’s frogs appear to have a unique lineage, and despite their vulnerability they may even have survived the last Ice Age. If so, they were probably helped by their ability to breathe through their skin: this allows them to hibernate at the bottom of a pond or in a deep layer of mud.

On a visit to the countryside last weekend, I was delighted to see the local frogs tending to a prodigious clump of spawn that floated serenely at the side of the pond in the early morning sun:

View downward at part of a still pond, with clumps of low reeds and grasses in the foreground and masses of frogspawn amidst and just beyond them. At the top can be seen the reflections of trees on the pond surface.

Click here for clammy close-ups

Irish winterlude

January 22, 2010

We had an unusually cold winter in the west of Ireland. Layers were worn, walks were taken, fires were lit.

It felt like this, and it looked like this:

Ghostly faces in a frozen puddle. How many do you see?

Blue tit enjoying provisions from the bird feeder.

The view across Lough Corrib on New Year’s Day.

Click for more photos