Scottish Lochs, Easter 2019
I spent Easter weekend with HSAC, staying in Tarbet on the shores of Loch Lomond. Beautiful sunny weather and interesting shore diving in Loch Long & Loch Fyne. Plenty of marine life around, numerous squat lobsters, fish, anemones and other Cnidarians. The water still a cool 8'C but able to warm up between dives thanks to the unbroken sunshine. The heated vest makes a big difference underwater!
Don McCullin @ Tate Britain
In March we visited the Tate in London to see the exhibition by photographer Don McCullin - a hero of mine since childhood. A fantastic collection from his lifetime of photos - an emotional experience, unfortunately many of the issues he highlights in his photography are still valid today - poverty, war, inequality.
Photos added to England.
Winter on the Weaver 2019
I've uploaded a few local photos taken during a cold spell in January. See Northwich.
WINTER 2018/2019 - freshwater diving
I've made a few visits to The Delph over the winter months - cold, dark & gloomy! Pleased with some of the results, atmospheric wide-angle shots of dive buddies & wrecks. Also, managed a few photos of the resident fish, including carp, trout & roach. Found the sturgeon in the darkest recesses of the quarry during one dive - luckily buddy Dave used his torch to highlight the fish. Photos added to the freshwater pages.
STONEY COVE OCTOBER 2018
A first visit to the dive centre in Leicestershire for many years. Water dark & green with poor visibility at depth. A few resident pike around as well as shoals of small perch and several dead crayfish! Photos added to freshwater fish, divers & wrecks.
CONNEMARA SUMMER 2018
Amazing weather during our stay in Claddaghduff this year, one day of rain in almost six weeks. The "Connemara tans" were the result of sunshine and not the usual weather beaten look due to wind & rain. Loads of wild swimming, diving and Guinness to keep fluid levels topped up.
First time diving the salt lake outside Clifden - one of the best muck/macro dives I've done for a while. On one dive I was surrounded by hundreds of moon jellyfish - a lovely experience. Photos added to Cnidarians page.
AN TAISCE - CLEAN COASTS
The image below was placed in the top ten underwater photos in this year's Love Your Coast photo competition, held in Temple Bar, Dublin. A flabellina nudibranch in Salt Lake, Clifden.
FARNE ISLANDS MAY 2018
This year's HSAC trip to Northumberland was blessed with calm, warm weather but there were fewer seals than usual on the islands and very little interaction under the water. It seems the "beast from the east" hit the east coast a few weeks earlier and had driven local populations away to more sheltered locations. The seabirds hadn't been affected, with thousands of gannets, guillemots and puffins around. An enjoyable few days nonetheless - we were even able to BBQ one evening.
Visited Paris in March to celebrate Gina's 21st birthday. Spent weekend walking the sights with great food and wine for refreshment. Photos added to Europe page.
Highly commended in behaviour category in this year's British Wildlife Photography Awards. One of a number of photos taken during a memorable encounter with a seal pup during our club trip to the Farnes, earlier in 2017.
Liverpool Docks - November 2017
A first for me - diving Duke's Dock in Liverpool as part of a Sea Search group survey. Water very clear and cold. Surprised by the variety of life to be found in the docks especially fish and sea squirts.
This year we spent two months in Claddaghduff whilst having major work carried out on the house in Northwich - a new roof and loft conversion. We hoped most of the work would be done whilst we were away but final building work was completed in November and decorating finished January 2018!
We are very pleased with the final result and are extremely grateful to Hartvale and their team for their hard work, professionalism and very high standards.
We had a fantastic time in Connemara - plenty of diving, walking with the dogs and Guinness.
During July a collection of my underwater photos from Connemara were exhibited in the library in Clifden. There was plenty of interest from locals and tourists passing through. Thanks to Paul for help in arranging and setting up.
This photo, taken locally, early one September morning, featured in the Observer newspaper, 4th June.
Farne Islands, May 2017
Annual trip to Northumberland with HSAC - staying in Beadnell and diving with Lee, Farne Diving. Good weather & diving conditions with some fantastic interaction with the seal pups. Water column full of small jellies, sea gooseberries & comb jellies. Using wide angle so few photos of these macro subjects. Once again great craic, with excellent company, food & beer!
Copenhagen - May 2017
A fantastic three days in Copenhagen, our first visit to Scandinavia. Weather was warm and sunny so spent the time walking the city - wonderful architecture, a laid back feel and tasty food and beer!
MCS Spring Magazine
IWT 2016 Winter
Photo of little cuttle on front cover of the latest IWT magazine.
Dublin - 101 Interesting Facts
Author Brendan John Murphy has included two photos of our dogs in his new book. The book gives a fascinating insight into the people, places, culture and events that make Dublin such a wonderful city.
The Delph -November
Had a couple of enjoyable midweek dives in the Delph - spent time in the shallows with the resident carp. It was a clear sunny day so conditions were good for photography. Dark and gloomy as usual in the depths.
Loch Fyne - October
Last trip of the year with HSAC - a few days diving Loch Fyne out of Tarbet. Dived with Malcolm & Big Blue - an excellent dive boat and very helpful skipper. Weather was grey & overcast, but fairly flat with good underwater visibility. Plenty of marine life around still, including scallops, squat lobsters and thousands of brittlestars and other echinoderms.
My photo of a chiton grazing on purple algae covered rocks has been awarded Highly Commended in the Close to Nature category at this year's awards. The photo was taken on the HSAC Scottish Sea Lochs trip early in 2016 - Kentallen reef, Loch Creran.
Trefor Pier 2016
This disused pier in North Wales has been a popular site for divers and fishermen for many years. Unfortunately, the wooden part of the pier is failing and repairs have not been carried out for a while. The local council have declared the pier to be unsafe and are planning to demolish it this summer. It is a haven for a wide range of marine species and a safe shallow dive for newcomers. It's a great site for underwater photography and I will miss it. Species encountered include octopus, Risso's crab, little cuttle and the friendly shannys and tompots. I've managed a few dives there this summer and added photos to fish, crustaceans and cnidarians.
Connemara June 2016
This year we decided to spend most of June in Claddaghduff, staying in the usual house overlooking Omey & Aughrus Bay. Weather was very good , warm and sunny with only two wet days. The dogs loved running wild on Omey every day. Managed a good number of dives off Aughrus Pier, Anchor Bay and up at Scubadive West. One of the highlights diving off SDW - hundreds of juvenile sea hares swimming up into midwater before settling onto the sea bed. Photos added to Molluscs page. Encountered one of the Aughrus congers out hunting, didn't seem fazed at all and swam under me at one point. A number of sticklebacks around this year, mostly males I presume tending to their nests. Photos added to Marine Fish. The Guinness was as good as usual in Sweeney's as was the local sea food - especially the clams/cockles we picked off Omey Strand.
Northumberland April 2016
Just returned from a short trip to Beadnell, two days diving with Farne Divers out of Seahouses. Unfortunately conditions not ideal, SE to E winds meant usual dive sites not accessible. Seals not playing this trip so restricted photo opportunities. Nevertheless, a highly enjoyable trip with great company, good food & beer and loads of beach walks with the dogs. Photos added to Cnidarians and Echinoderms.
NUPG/Northern Dive Show 2016
These two photos placed first and second in the British & Irish macro print category at the recent Northern Dive Show in Manchester.
Scottish Sea Lochs, March 2016
Recently spent a week at Tralee Holiday Park with HSAC, diving the local sea lochs. Weather was good for the majority of the week, although visibility underwater was variable. Eleanor and the dogs came and enjoyed the walks on beaches and mountains - plenty of snow still on the peaks. We stayed in a lodge on the park - excellent accommodation & facilities.
Diving was shore based and very enjoyable, water a cool 8'C with plenty of marine life to photograph. Hopefully get back later in the year.
Underwater Photographer of the Year 2016
British macro category - highly commended.
Three 2016 calendars, featuring my photos, are available on Amazon, Book Depository and other sites. Subjects are Irish Setters - photos of our dogs, Freshwater Diving - photos from local dive sites, and Fish Faces - close-up photos of UK fish.
Clifden Arts Festival 2015
A selection of my photos were displayed in the Strand Bar aka Sweeneys, in Claddaghduff, as part of the visual arts in this year's festival. The exhibition features underwater images taken locally as well as a few above water shots. Thanks to Mary, Malachy and Terry for helping to organise.
We enjoyed a relaxing two weeks in Claddaghduff despite the torrential vertical rain that fell for the first 36 hours of our stay! Dived the usual local sites and Little Killary. Highlight of the trip? England 25-28 Wales.
The Guinness & Snackage Tour , June 2015.
Back from our annual summer visit to Claddaghduff. This year the weather was more typical of the west of Ireland, very changeable - days of warm sunshine followed by horizontal rain and strong winds. Plenty of walking, diving and Guinness. Dived at Scubadive West this year - on the house reef. A great spot for temperate water muck diving, loads of critters amongst the silt and weed. Also, dived the wreck just off-shore - the trawler or "Sixty-footer". Covered in life with large shoals of bib and young pollack milling around. Visibility was fine for macro but would have been a struggle using wide-angle. The storms/tides were throwing loads of stuff in the water column.
Encountered hundreds of sand eels on most dives - in the sand and midwater. Pleased to get some decent photos of the mauve stingers again and also some amphipods. Photos added to Cnidarians and Crustaceans.
This photo, Eleanor snorkeling off Anchor Bay in Aughrusbeg, appeared on the letters page on Friday 12th June.
Porthkerris - May 2015
First dive trip of the year with HSAC, to Cornwall. We dived again with Porthkerris Divers. The weather was kind and we were able to get out to the Manacles, diving wrecks and reefs. A great few days in a beautiful and relaxed setting. The highlight for me was the large number of barrel jellyfish around - there must have been hundreds. Plankton bloom just starting so not long before the basking sharks show up. We did see one, 5-6m long, but sadly it was dead! Photos added to Cnidarians.
Interviewed by BBC Cornwall who were doing a piece on plans to open a super quarry opposite the Manacles, to ship stone out to build a tidal barrage off Swansea. Needless to say, I wasn't a supporter of the plan. Luckily, my bit didn't make the final cut!!
Claddaghduff - Strand Bar
A few photos on display in Sweeney's Bar. Also have some up in Newman's in Cleggan. Thanks to Terry, Mary & Malachy, & Richie.
Ireland, September 2014
Just returned from a two week visit to Ireland, a few days visiting the folks in Castlerock followed by a trip down to Claddaghduff. Once again we were lucky with the weather, warm sunshine, gentle winds and hardly any rain. The dry calm weather did have one drawback in Connemara - midges!
The clear night skies meant we had fantastic views of the milky way overhead in Claddaghduff - no photos though.
Underwater, I came across swarms of tiny mauve stinger jellyfish and spent time with the resident congers at Aughrus.
As usual the sea food was delicious and the Guinness in Sweeney's slipped down a treat. Many thanks to Terry for putting up the photos in Newman's and in Sweeney's bars.
Northumberland, September 2014
We spent a long weekend in Northumberland, staying in Beadnell, two days diving the Farne Islands with a group from Frogsborn Divers. The dogs loved the beaches and I had some amazing interaction with the grey seal pups. Thanks to Maureen for being a great dive buddy - photos added to seals, divers and England pages.
My photo of a shanny camouflaged against the barnacle encrusted wall at Trefor Pier was awarded a Highly Commended in the Close to Nature category, and the photo of three shannys, taken at Criccieth, will also feature in the BWPA 2014 book.
A long weekend diving with HSAC at Porthkerris Divers in Cornwall. A great set up in a fantastic situation on the Lizard. Again, weather was good as was the diving - from boat and shore. Managed to tick one off my wish list - a photo of a John Dory. It took me until the last day's diving to see one - off the beach in 2-3m water.
Just returned from our annual summer pilgrimage to Connemara. Three weeks of amazing weather: warm/hot , still and sunny. A couple of grey wet days but otherwise some of the best conditions we've experienced in over 15 years.
Good weather meant we spent most of the time locally, around Claddaghduff, walking and swimming on Omey Strand and cooling down with a pint of the black stuff outside Sweeneys.
Did a fair bit of diving locally, the pier, Anchor Bay and Streamstown.
The dogs ran themselves into the ground everyday, Finbar has now learned to swim - reminds me of a polar bear when seen swimming underwater. We entered Roonagh in the dog show at Claddaghduff Pony Show and she got a second in Puppy Class and third in Pedigree Class!
Already booked to return in September for the Arts week.
Freshwater Diving 2014
Photos added to freshwater pages - diving with HSAC in Capernwray & the Delph - visibility poor but I'm pleased with some of the results.
Marine Conservation Society
Ballan wrasse photo taken in the Farnes is on the front cover of MCS Spring magazine.
After a very wet & windy few months, I've only managed two cold open water dives - both in Capernwray and a couple of try dives in the pool using a full-face mask. Photos added to freshwater and miscellaneous pages.
Roonagh is now 6 months old and proving quite a handful - a typical irish setter! Loads of energy and mischief - well behaved when she's asleep. Just returned from her first visit to the seaside - Conwy. A mad hour on the beach with Finbar. Photos added to dogs.
October 2013 - a new addition.
Our new puppy, Roonagh, joined the Thomas household this month - she's settled in quickly and is a great little companion for Finbar. Photos added to the Dogs page.
Irish Wildlife Trust
My photo of a male cuckoo wrasse, taken off Inisturk a few years ago, features on the front cover of the Autumn edition of the IWT magazine.
Just returned from10 days in Claddaghduff - weather this year was very unusual for Connemara, hot & still for several days! Our visit coincided with the Clifden Arts Festival where I had some photos on display at the Community Centre. The same photos are now on display in Sweeney's - thanks to Malachy & Terry.
Spent much of the time relaxing in the sun, walking with Finbar and passing the time with friends, and a pint of the black stuff, in Sweeney's.
Really enjoyed Declan Sinnott's gig and Mike Harding reading from his latest tome - the Connemara Cantos. Photographer Kevin Griffin launched an exhibition of photos of local legend, Pascal Whelan - sometime stuntman and now the last permanent resident on Omey Island - Last Man Standing.
Amazed to have won the Animal Portrait category in this year's British Wildlife Photography Awards, with this photo of a tompot blenny taken under Trefor Pier. Tompots are photogenic little fish, very inquisitive and seem to like posing for the camera. Never sure if judges see too many Tommys in competitions, but they liked this one!
BWPA event was held 4th September at the Mall Galleries in London. An amazing showcase of photos of wildlife found in the UK. The standard of photographs in the exhibition and accompanying book is fantastic, so I'm even more chuffed to have won the Animal Portrait category. It was hosted by Chris Packam and expertly organised by Maggie Gowan & team.
More details can be found at www.bwpawards.org
This Capernwray trout photo was Highly Commended in the Animal Portrait category
and this close-up photo of a plaice at Trefor Pier features, with the other two, in the BWPA book.
Criccieth Beach, July 2013
Spent a hot sunny day at Criccieth, Eleanor & Finbar walked and swam on the beach whilst I had a mooch around underwater. It's a lovely little dive, 5-6m deep, over sand with sea grass in places. Managed a few photos of weever fish & a tub gurnard which are both new to my collection - water a balmy 20'C.
Summer definately has arrived so returned to Criccieth, water felt like the Med. Spent 75 mins underwater - the shannys were particularly nosey. Saw gurnard again but very skittish.
Connemara June/July 2013
Returned to Claddaghduff this year after missing out last summer. We spent 3 weeks chilling out - walking, diving and drinking Guinness! Just what the doctor ordered. Dived the pier at Aughrus and once in Streamstown Bay. Water only around 12'C and the marine life seems a few weeks behind this year. Many of the fish were smaller than usual - a lot of scorpionfish, 3-4cm in length.
Finbar had a great time on Omey - he's become quite a water dog and even had time to win Best of Show at the Claddaghduff Pony Show.
Diving June 2013
Finally managed to get in the sea this year - a couple of dives off St Abbs and one under Trefor Pier. Water temperature a few degrees down on normal, 9'C in Scotland and 12'C in Wales. Everything a few weeks behind, the same as in the garden. A few macro photos added to the site from these dives - the shannys at Trefor are as inquisitive as ever.
A New Experience
"total darkness diving" in the Rez - a concreteunderground chamber, 40 x20m with a maximum depth of 2m. It was built to supply freshwater to Stoke-on-Trent and is now used as a dive site. It is a very different type of diving and very enjoyable. Photography was challenging - a few photos have been added to the freshwater pages.
Hartford SAC Photo Comp 2013
Divers Above Water - winner
Life Underwater - winner
Prints - UK/Ireland first place
Prints - Overseas first place
ICOMOS Photo Comp 2012
This photo has been highly commended in the competition run to celebrate 2012 - International Year of the Rural Landscape, and is featured in an exhibition at the National Museum of Country Life in Mayo.
December 2012 - Ireland
We spent Christmas and the New Year in Ireland, our first visit since September 2011. We had ten days in Claddaghduff and then drove to the north on New Year's day for a short visit with the inlaws. Weather was wild - especially in Connemara. Photos added to the Connemara and Northern Ireland pages.
LAUPS - 2012 Competition
This photo of a rainbow trout, taken in a rain storm in Capernwray, has been placed third in the Coldwater category of this year's Los Angeles Underwater Photography Society Competition.
Irish Wildlife Trust - 2012 Wildlife Photo Competition.
One of my photos has been chosen as a finalist in this year's Irish wildlife photo competition and will feature as February in the 2013 IWT calendar. The photo, a compass jellyfish in Little Killary, was taken during a flying visit to Connemara in 2009.
www.iwt.ie - copies of the calendar available on website
September 2012 - Connemara
Heather Greer, a local resident and photographer has set up a website highlighting the attractions of Aughrus and its environs. It features local news, activities and facilities etc. As well as Heather's photos, a few of my own, taken during our numerous visits to Connemara, are featured.
I've only had 3 dives in UK so far this year - all freshwater sites. Have spent more time on "nature walks" with Finbar, photographing the local fauna and flora. It's quite a challenge taking photos accompanied by an inquisitive & boisterous Irish setter. Photos have been added to the site - click on birds, dogs, fauna or Northwich for the latest.
Revillagigedos Islands - March 2012
Travelled to Mexico with Frogsborn Diving, last two weeks of March, to dive the Revillagigedos Islands aka Socorro. We flew to Cabo san Lucas via Los Angeles and spent five days in the town before boarding the Solmar V for a week's diving out in the Pacific Ocean.
There are four islands in the archipelago, Socorro, Isla San Benedicto, Roca Partida and Clarion Island. The islands are uninhabited apart from a small naval presence on Socorro, and lie 250 km south west of the Baja Peninsula. Diving was challenging especially on Roca Partida, with horizontal and vertical currents, but it's these conditions that attract the "big stuff" to the islands.
We had some fantastic dives with the giant Pacific mantas, dolphins, various species of shark and even heard humpback whales singing during one dive. The mantas were passing within feet of us, seeming to like the feel of the exhaled bubbles on their bellies. The sharks unfortunately kept their distance so didn't get any decent photos. From the boat we saw whales breaching and tail slapping, dolphins and leatherback turtles.
British Wiildlife Photography Awards 2011
I have one image included in the book featuring this year's winning photographs - taken in a quarry just up the road!
Not much diving this summer/autumn - one visit to Trefor Pier - poor viz & very little life .
A weekend trip to St. Abbs in October was blown out - heavy swell & no viz. A good time though - walking the dogs, watching Wales beat Ireland and the craic was good.
The closest we got to seeing any marine life was rescuing a few crabs, lobster & a small lumpsucker from lobster pots washed up on the beach by the storms.
Clifden Arts Festival September 2011
Spent an enjoyable ten days in Connemara in September - weather windy most days, varying from moderate to gale force. Dived the pier a few times but conditions poor & a lot of debris in the water following stormy weather. There now appear to be 4 congers living under the pier!
LUXe and Fidget Feet, together with local schools put on a spectacular night time show on Omey Strand - featuring mobile illuminated sculptures, music, fire & aerialists!
Enjoyed a pint of the blackstuff as usual - watching some of the live bands including Dead Cat Bounce, Goodwin Sands & Rob Strong.
Finbar continues his love for the sea - charging into the water at every opportunity. Sorcha takes life more leisurely these days but still enjoys a sedate swim.
BWPA Exhibition 2011 - Penrhyn Castle
A couple of my photos were included in this year's exhibition - currently touring UK.
Finbar part 4
The pup survived his first holiday to Ireland - loved the strand at Omey - charging around the sand & in the sea. Hasn't mastered swimming yet but hopefully will follow Sorcha's example & become a salty sea dog.
Connemara June 2011
Just returned from our usual 2 week visit to Claddaghduff, Connemara. Only dived the pier at Aughrus this year, concentrating on macro - used the 60mm lens. Still amazed at the amount and variety of marine life around this concrete pier. Highlight was swimming with the resident conger -he/she emerged from under the pier to swim in open water, stopping briefly to sample pieces of the fish carcasses discarded by local fishermen. Wide-angle would have been good!
Not much diving this year compared to previous years - a couple of dives in Trefor Pier & some at Capernwray and Eccleston Delph. I've added a few underwater photos from this year to the site and some from above water.
Finbar part 3
Finbar is now 6 months old and growing into a lovely natured, boisterous and mischevious dog.
Finbar - part 2
The ASBO pup has settled in and is growing rapidly - must have giraffe genes.