Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Christmas!

Now we're back in "blogging mode", we thought we would do one more to bring things right up to date and to finish off the are a few photos from around Christmas time.

Ben was given a slack line for Christmas and so much time has been spent practicing the art, mostly in the shelter of the plantation!

Holly and Ivor, the geese we were given last Christmas, produced 5 goslings this year.  Plucking them all before Christmas to send off for friends and family was quite hard work!  I was quite tired of it by the time we came to doing I didn't do a very good job, as you can see:
It tasted nice though, not too "feathery"!!

 A homely scene!

Some more of Steve's fish eye shots:

This is a blow hole on the West side that has been particularly active over the last few days

Friday, December 30, 2011

Autumn and Winter Highlights

We returned to Enlli after our Kenya trip refreshed and ready for the busy visitor season - although the rest of the summer merged into autumn seemingly extra early, with the unsettled theme of this year continuing.  Harvest was a bit sporadic, a few days having to be grasped here and there to get the silage baled ready for the cattle's winter supply.

One advantage of the dry weather this year has been the opportunity to access Pwll Cain with the digger and do some long overdue silt clearance.  This pond, located in the wetland fields underneath Carreg Fawr, was originally constructed in 1979 with the purpose of attracting passage birds and enhancing the feeding potential for wetland birds and other animals.  In 1982 a Pectoral Sandpiper, a major rarity, visited the pond.  This bird’s name in Welsh is Pibydd Cain, hence the name given from then on to the pond – Pwll Cain.
The pond has only been cleared out once since its construction  and over the last few years it has been reduced to a puddle.  

Pwlll Cain after being attacked by the digger!

Welcome rain in the autumn started to fill up Pwll Cain again, and gradually the springs recovered too.

Once again areas of Barley and Oats were left to provide extra cover and forage for Autumn visiting birds.  Three areas were also sown with Sunflowers for this purpose, although the dry conditions affected their growth this year.

Relentless winds have been a constant companion throughout the year, but especially since the end of August.  The very occasional calm day has seemed eerily quiet!  The sea-scapes have been pretty spectacular as a result, and have provided Steve and Ben with plenty of photo opportunities.

Bonfire night was a good opportunity to burn some waste wood......and for a community get together!

One of Steve's first "Star trails"

The stormy seas are great to look at, but can be dangerous to be out in - sadly there was a tragic accident that occurred about 20 miles out to the Northwest one saturday night in november when a cargo ship sank.  Only 2 of the crew survived.  The search and rescue operation made for an unusually busy sunday, with lots of helicopter activity and life boats around.

Steve bought a fisheye lens at Christmas and this has opened up some new ways of looking at the scenery !

No, it's not snow!  The wild weather churns up the sea so much that a thick foam, looking like the consistency of angel delight, fills the coves and covers the beach!

The night skies have been rather cloudy since October and so Steve has not been able to do any astrophotography . However , he has grabbed the few brief clear interludes to have a go at some star-trail photos. These are images constructed from 99 x 30 second shots with the camera on a tripod...the foreground was illuminated using a headtorch.The first shot is the 12th century Augustinian Abbey.
                                                        The Newborough Cross...
A single 30 second shot outside the back door of Ty Pellaf...the Milky Way heading straight up with the dark dust lanes threading through it. The bright 'star' top left is actually Jupiter. You can also just make out the small fuzzy shape of the Andromeda Galaxy in the upper left fringe of the Milky Way. The orange glow on the horizon is from Dublin...60 miles across the Irish Sea !

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Summer memories

 The lack of blogs since May is evidence itself to the fact that we are not very good bloggers (excluding Ben, who regularly contributes to ). While the winds are raging outside and the temperatures dip close to zero, it seems a good time to catch up a bit and especially to dwell on warm summer holidays.........
Our expedition to Kenya was a special treat, one that we had been looking forward to for years (well, most of us had - Steve took a little persuading as his last sub-Saharan visit was a bit of a bad experience health-wise! Thankfully this Kenyan visit was a positive one).
 Here's a few snapshots....

We started our Kenyan tour with a few days of luxury on Samatian Island in the middle of Lake Boringo.
View of Samatian island from Ol Kakwe
Our lovely accommodation on Samatian island..with an all-round open view.
Ben was rarely without his camera; it seemed permanently attached to his shoulder!
Jo and Ben in one of the canoes on our way over to visit the island of Ol Kakwe. There were crocodiles in the water but they weren't too big .
The biggest termite mound we saw!
                          And we thought that getting sheep off Ynys Enlli was a challenge !
Rachel sketching the resident Verreux eagle owl, 'Wu' (top right-hand corner in the tree)
'Wu'..a dignified and aloof bird who spent most of his time sitting in the tree above the path, looking down on everyone.

                                                    A tortoise crossing ..!
You need big machines when your fields are 900 acres each ! Laurie Sessions shows Steve around the machine sheds at their farm near Mt Kenya.

Steve had an opportunity to check Laurie's hives of African bees...they were a lot more aggressive than our mild Welsh much so that they are only checked during late evening darkness so that they don't follow you back to the house !
         We spent one morning being shown around a wildlife reserve next door to Sarah and Laurie's farm.

A blind White Rhino callled would gently eat grass out of your hand !

A rare sight; an elusive leopard right next to the road.
We had a quick walk up the lower slopes of Mt Kenya....drove up to 2500m then walked up to 3500m.
                       Internal flight from Nairobi out to the coast at Malindi.
         Watamu beach. We were staying at the A Rocha base just 100m back from the beach.
      The raised board walk at Meda Creek where A Rocha have been pioneering conservation work.
       Steve found a kite-surfing school just along the're never too old to learn new things !
We spent a couple of hours early one morning watching this turtle cover it's nest of eggs with sand before heading back to sea.