Saturday, 14 January 2017
Starlings on the beach
J's stay in Northern Ireland over the Christmas holidays coincided with some of the loveliest winter weather I've seen in years. And one of the nicest days was Boxing Day. We made the most of it with a drive round the County Down coast, a walk on every cold but beautiful beach we came across, and dinner at the Mourne Seafood Restaurant.
These images are from my firm favourite, Minerstown. The tide here was at that perfect point where it revealed an expanse of beach but left enough flow for reflections.
This was about three in the afternoon, and though it was still light, dramatic clouds crossed the sun, creating fantastic contrasts of light and dark, all magnified by the reflecting tide and balancing the distinctive shape of the Mournes in the distance.
Just as we were about to leave, a beautiful flock of starlings flew in from the east and tumbled for a few minutes around the base of the clouds.
I was leaping unsteadily round the wet beach trying to catch both the starlings and J in the same shot, hoping they'd move between us and the Mournes, avoiding the sun and finessing my angles. A couple of times I only saved myself at the last minute from falling full length onto the wet beach. It was not an elegant display. Fortunately J was looking out to sea.
The birds moved on. I wrung the seawater out of my woolly gloves and the hems of my jeans, and we headed further down the coast. I persuaded J that this was all just a normal Irish afternoon. It was, and miraculous too.