Musings and photos of wild and everyday life

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Blessington Basin

Hooded Merganser M & Mandarin Duck F in Blessington Basin x 7319

Hooded Merganser drake and Mandarin duck

It’s always great to have wild places in cities. This one is a super water oasis in the middle of Dublin.  The ‘Blessington’ in the name comes not from the town in Wicklow but from Blessington Street, in Dublin.  It is reached on one side from a linear park that used to be a canal, through a small gate in the surrounding stone wall.

This gives rise to its other name as ‘Secret Garden’.The Lodge cottage 1811 Blessington Basin Dublin rc 9904 At the other end is a more salubrious entrance, gate and lodge, dating from 1811. 

The ‘Basin’ itself is a fairly simple, rectangular tank with vertical walls and an island at its centre.  This was originally built in 1810 as a water reservoir  (The Royal George Reservoir) for Dubliners and was used by a number of whiskey makers into the 1970s. Restoration in the 1990s cleaned it up and it is now well visited by people and wildlife.

Feral Pigeon head Blessington Basin Dublin x 7313Visiting from the secret end, the first wildlife encounter may well be a pigeon.  Feral pigeons know how to find feeding spots and this is a good one with some very regular patrons.  They will line up on railings and take off together at the slightest hint of danger or new food, with an alarming beat of wings.

Wood Duck M Blessington Basin Dublin x 7364However the Basin often holds some surprising bird-life such as the Hooded Merganser drake and Mandarin duck in the top picture and the Wood duck above.

These are normally found in North America but have presumably found their way here after being discarded by collectors.

Sparrowhawk imm in tree on island Blessington Basin Dublin x 7334

Immature Sparrowhawk in tree on the island

Keep an eye out for birds of prey – where there are birds feeding, predators lurk.

For me the star of this show was the male Hooded Merganser which just looks so proud and ‘kingly’, somehow beyond normal reality. 

And that’s just what’s so fantastic about the Basin – it is a common haunt of locals and aficionados while at the same time an incredible revelation, haven and uplifting surprise for newbies.

Hooded merganser Blessington Basin Dublin x 7342

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Seville

Giralda Cathedral Seville rcxs 4352This is a really majestic, beautiful and fun city. The large complex Cathedral and magnificent Giralda tower in Plaza Virgen de los Reyes, together with so many other lovely buildings, could take most of your attention.  Archbishops Palace Seville rcxs 4347
These buildings include the Bishop’s Palace in the North of the Plaza

Real Alcazar Gardens from viewing alll end rcs 4889

Reales Alcazares walled gardens

and the Royal Palaces, Reales Alcazares, to the South.

But Seville has much more and demands more time.  It is not a place to be rushed and only a hint of Seville’s treasures can be shown here.

Plaza de Espana towards N tower Seville rs 4681

Plaza de Espana looking towards North Tower

Plaza de Espana Seville at night rcs 4949Further South still and nearer to the river, you’ll be flabbergasted by Plaza de Espana, stunning at night as much as by day!

Gold Tower with Seville Tower behind rcs 4663And speaking of the river, a walk along the Guadalquivir is very relaxing with rowers and wildlife as well as other jewels including the Golden Tower and the Bull Ring, Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza.

Rowing under Triana or Isabel II bridge & Capilla Virgen del Carmen rcs 4661

Rowing under Triana or Isabel II bridge & Capilla Virgen del Carmen

It is hard not to see interesting buildings and the bridges are great in their own right.

Fountain & Ducks Maria Luisa Park Seville rcs 4463Beside Plaza de Espana, Maria Luisa Park is full of trees, ducks, water and offers some quiet and shade but it is very popular and busy.

Metropole & San Pedro church Seville rs 4610

Metropole & San Pedro church Seville

Finally check out a few of the many quirky churches – many along very narrow streets and the Metropole, a sort of modern art city canopy with awalkway and great views from the honeycomb-like roof.

3 tips –

  1. Spoonbill preening in Charco de la Boca lake El Rocio Spain rxs 8082

    Spoonbill preening in Charco de la Boca lake El Rocio

    It is a relatively short trip South to Donana National Park with Imperial Eagles, Peregrines, Azure-winged Magpies, Boar, Deer, Lizards and much more are to be seen or even shorter to Charco de la Boca lake at El Rocio where Glossy Ibis, Spoonbills, Egrets, Coot and many other birds thrive.

  2. Mercado de triana Seville rcs 4634

    Mercado de triana Seville

    This is a place that produces great food – enjoy.

  3. Seville Cathedral interior including ceiling organ & carvings rcss 4575Should the unthinkable happen and it rains, explore the interiors of Reales Alcatras and the Cathedral – even if not religious you will come away uplifted! 🙂