After the wettest December on record in Ireland, and an unseasonably warm one, the rains of early January have finally given way to good cold clear skies chilled by winds from the Arctic. Although daffodils did bloom, and some snowdrops have already awoken, more sensible crocuses are still lying dormant here in Wicklow and it has become typical January weather. In 1998 there was also a very severe El Nino Effect which brought terrible rains to Europe, but miraculously the Jet Stream was far to the south of Ireland and we were spared. However, this time another severe El Nino was predicted and it hit the island right on the chin, and we got what we missed in the winter of 1997/98. These things do happen. Wicklow, as usual, is well able for floods and has only suffered minor inconveniences in comparison with the rest of Ireland. On New Year’s Day I spotted this beautiful creature in my neighbours, a cock Ring-neck Pheasant.
He is already approaching breeding plumage, and has a habit of calling loudly outside my bedroom window in the early hours of the morning. In the past pheasants would never have been considered ‘garden birds’ but in the last decade, all across Europe, they have started to become so, and they make for a spectacular addition to any garden. Here’s the same bird, but his head is a little blurred as he pecks up small insects and other creatures from the ground.
In the early hours of this morning we had a super full moon, which is when the moon is much closer to earth than usual, making it appear bigger. And, as most readers will know, we also had a full eclipse of the moon, the first of a super full moon since 1982 apparently. This is how it looked from Wicklow, in a series of photos I took over the few hours of the eclipse:
A shadow then began to cross the moon diagonally from upper left to lower right.
Soon the shadow almost crossed the entire moon surface.
Gradually the re-emerging of the moon becomes more spectacular, but the eclipse is drawing quickly to and end and soon the moon will be as it was before the eclipse.
In the summer of 2018 we are to have another lunar eclipse, but apparently it will be very early in the evening on one of our long July days so it might be some time before the right conditions occur again. Last night was a cool (3.5 degrees Celsius) and clear cloudless night so I was a very lucky eclipse photographer indeed.
In some ways it is a great shame that November is the quietest month for tourists visiting Wicklow. November in particular gives us our most spectacular skies. Why they are so amazing in November is undoubtedly due to a combination of factors such as the angle of the autumn sun, atmospheric moisture and pressure, and the lie of the land, particularly the Wicklow Mountains and hill. Much more sholuld be made of this spectacle. There should be a cloud festival in November and buses bringing painters and photographers to the best vantage points. In this, the quietest month, we could truly celebrate nature in a way that no one does. Until that time the skies are left to the connoisseurs of light and cloud.