Readers’ wildlife photos

February 16, 2023 • 8:15 am

Today we have travel photos, continuing the series by Kevin Elskin about his travels in Scotland, Ireland, and Northern Ireland (part 1 is here and part 2 here). His narrative is indented and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

In our last episode we discussed our golfing and sightseeing (and whisky drinking) tour of the Kintyre Peninsula in Scotland. This trip was conducted last summer, but was originally planned for August of 2020. Alas, Covid-19. We postponed a year, and then another, but things were looking good for 2022. Unfortunately, one of the keystones of our trip was getting from Campbeltown in Scotland to Ballycastle in Northern Ireland, only about 40 miles as the tuna swims. Before Covid there was a regularly scheduled ferry plying the route, but Covid put them out of business. As a group I would say that we are not great swimmers, and the non-boating alternatives were not good. We did not plan to drive, and hiring a driver for a 300 mile one way trip was problematic. Flying commercial had its challenges (in our original plan we hired Logan Air to fly us back to Glasgow at the end of the trip. That airline was about the only outfit that stiffed us after Covid delays. They gave us a year to rebook after 2020, and when that was up they said sorry, we are keeping your cash.  So we were not keen on using them). Again my great travelling friend and organizer extraordinaire Dick Smith found an outfit called Aquaholics, and we hired them, I mean after all, who could resist a name like that? So here we are loading up for a sea adventure (a 3 hour tour?).

As I recall it took about two hours to complete the journey. A couple of sights, first, the Davaar Lighthouse located at the entrance to the Campeltown Loch. It was built in 1854. More info at the link.

A couple of photos of the Kintyre Peninsula from the sea:

A small diversion here if I may. I was born in 1960, and in my youth I imagined Northern Ireland would be the last place I would want to visit. Shootings and bombings were constantly in the news. Wikipedia says over 3500 people died there from the 1960s to the 1990s due to “political” (really religious) violence. Yet here I was disembarking onto this beautiful and peaceful land.

Pro shop attendants almost always ask a group of Yanks like us where we are from, and upon mentioning my home state of Arkansas the attendant fondly remembered Bill Clinton’s contributions to the Good Friday Agreement. It was nice of him to mention it, and I think it is easy to forget the many positive events that occurred during Clinton’s Presidency.

We stayed at the Cul-Erg House B&B in Portstewart. If life ever takes you there I cannot recommend this establishment more highly. It is run by JJ and Marie, husband and wife, and they do such a good job. He makes sure you have everything you need, and she is the chef who will cook you an absolutely delicious breakfast. Great stay.

On to sightseeing. First up Dunluce Castle, whose original construction dates to the 13th century:

Next up we visited the popular tourist attraction The Dark Hedges, used as a filming location for Game of Thrones. I never watched the drama, but based on viewer reactions to its last show perhaps it should be renamed Games of Moans?

Next up was a visit to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The little foot bridge is about 20 meters long and 30 meters above the rocks. Winds were calm when we visited so the crossing was quite tame. I suspect a 20 or 30 mph breeze would liven things up.

A couple more phots from that area. Can you “Spot the Abandoned Limestone Kiln” in the first one?

Lastly we visited the Giant’s Causeway, a geologic feature of interlocking basalt columns. This site was used in the cover art for an album by the most commercially successful rock group of all time. I am sure most of Jerry’s readers will immediately know the reference, but for the rest you go here.

As we finished one round of golf I could not help but chuckle when I spotted this:

We took a brief trip into Ireland proper, as we visited Ballyliffin Golf Club in County Donegal. Actually a part of Ireland that is north of Northern Ireland. And here is something I have never seen on a golf course: a life ring next to a water hazard?

With our visit to Ireland complete, we prepared for the last leg of our journey. Next time: Islay and the journey home.

9 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Awww, this is just an exhilarating delight! I can almost feel the air in my lungs…

    also – can’t help it : Mull of Kintyre – McCartney.

  2. There appear to be half a dozen Northern Gannets (Morus bassanus) following the boat in the fourth photo from the top.

    1. Your eyes are better than mine. I could not ID them. The one bird we saw a lot of was the Oystercatcher, a pretty common seabird I guess but unique to me.

      1. Yes, oystercatchers have a way of getting themselves noticed! Glad that you enjoyed your visit to the British Isles. There’s plenty more for you to come back to see on another trip!

  3. Winds were calm when we visited so the crossing was quite tame. I suspect a 20 or 30 mph breeze would liven things up.

    There is a reason that we call their (higher-tech) cousins offshore “widow makers”.
    The thick limestones you photograph are actually the same “Chalk” rock unit as exposed in the “White Cliffs of Dover” – and all along the South coast, capped by the “plateau basalts” which form the Giant’s Causeway etc.
    In the cliffs behind the GC photo, and above the Chalk outcrops you can see the classic “staircase” profile that results from erosion of these many, relatively thin, layers of basalt, separated by a few thousand years of soil development giving a soft inter-basalt palaeosol (which doesn’t stay exposed for long).
    The German for “staircase” is “Treppe”, from which it is a short linguistic distance to the Deccan “Traps” in western India (implicated in the death of the non-avian dinosaurs) and the Siberian Traps” (implicated in the “Great Dieing”), and various other “Large Igneous Province”. Repetitive, quite simplistic geology, but rather important in the history of life.

  4. These RWP highlighting your trip to Scotland etc. have been wonderful. Beautiful photos and a delight to read the commentary. Much thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the next installment.

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