For our latest holiday over in Ireland, we stayed on the Munster Blackwater River in County Waterford, in the wing of a beautiful old house perched high on a rocky outcrop affording us magnificent views of the river, the countryside of West County Waterford and the Knockmealdown Mountains in the distance but what gripped our attention for most of the time we were in our little cottage, was the river and the wildlife over it, on it and in it.
The Blackwater is a tidal river rising in County Kerry and running through the counties of Cork and Waterford before entering the sea at Youghal in County Cork. It is tidal for twelve miles inland from the estuary at Youghal. In the first twenty four hours of moving into our cottage we had seen cormorants, grey herons, blackcaps, egrets, hooded crows, pied wagtails, rooks, wood pigeons and an otter from the window overlooking the river and then to our amazement, a Grey Seal! At first we couldn’t believe our eyes and thought we must have seen an otter and the photos we took at first were blurry, so didn’t prove anything, then this morning as we sat having our breakfast, again watching the river through the window, we saw the Grey seal appear and along with him on the river were a pair of Mallard drakes. The river was as still as a mill pond and so taking a photo of the seal was easier, even so, he was still a long way off. But I think we can safely say, that what we saw was definitely a seal and a Grey Seal at that!
We watched the seal for a while and then watched the mallard casually drift past him about fifty feet away. Then, there was only one mallard and a very large ripple. We left our breakfast, looked through our binoculars and searched for the other mallard but couldn’t see him anywhere and from our cottage high above the riverbank we can see about eight hundred yards of river and there wasn’t a duck in flight anywhere along that stretch, so it hadn’t taken flight. Hmmmm. And mallard aren’t divers, so it wasn’t like it had gone diving for its breakfast. We sat back down to our breakfast but I was keeping an eye on the other mallard, when all of a sudden I couldn’t see him any longer, only another very large ripple in the water. Again we got up and searched the river with our bins. Definitely no mallard on the river, only a lone grey seal. Who had most likely had duck for breakfast. Gulp!