Drove down to Sally Gap and took a left on to Military Road. I got out and walked a few parts along this road, the landscape is so amazing. It was noticeably silent of bird song or raptor calls. No small birds = no big birds.
The blue sky of the morning had obviously been a temporary hurrah as the afternoon brought rainclouds, several hailstorms and several downpours.
Standing in the same spot on Military Road these photos show how rapidly the weather can change in the Wicklow mountains within 10 minutes. Every photo has the same landscape and a different sky.
There's no path/track going up Gravale, but I figured it might be the only chance I had to get a bit of a walk in, so up I climbed. Even if Gravale is just like a big, heathery, boggy hill the views were amazing.
After a while I decided I wasn't going to go any further and I had a lie down in the heather, face up to the sun and listened to the silence. A raptor flying across or a red grouse appearing out of the heather would have been perfect but instead my phone rang. I was suprised I had reception. 'What you doing', 'lying in the heather', 'well I think I'm going to head down to Derrybawn'. I wasn't going to make it to Derrybawn, but I took that call as the nudge I needed that it was time to head back, so down I skidded back to the car.
I stopped at the organic shop in Laragh for a coffee and a flapjack handing over €6.15!! for the privilege. I was going to say it seemed a lot, but in typical fashion, I just gave her my money and didn't say a thing. At least the coffee was really decent and how often can that be said for takeaway coffee?
I pulled up at Vartry Reservoir and saw Sarah also pulled up there, as we were chatting, another of Sarah's friends turned up - who needs pubs?
|Great Crested Grebe - Vartry reservoir|
With not much else going on, we headed off, unaware we were about to witness a raptor making a kill. It took us by complete surprise, Sarah spotted it first from behind some trees and thought she saw a moustachial stripe, but it was so quick it was difficult to fix a decent look at it. We thought it was a Peregrine at first, but then switched to it being a Sparrowhawk. Luckily I had the camera to hand so was able to snap some shaky shots and looking back at them, it was indeed a Peregrine Falcon.
|Peregrine Falcon, bendy wings|
|Peregrine Falcon - bluey, grey back|
|Peregrine Falcon - visible thin bars on tail|
|Peregrine Falcon - yellow legs and white chin and cheeks|
|Peregrine Falcon - yellow eyes, moustachial stripe, grey finely barred underwings and body.|
|Ever changing sky over Wicklow mountains|