Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Butterfly Punctuation

Comma, Butterfly, Rosary Cemetery, Norwich

I managed a half hour walk around the Rosary Cemetery at lunch time today, a beautiful clear blue sky and screaming Swifts added to the atmosphere. From the dense foliage recently fledged Green Woodpeckers called as they pestered their parents and a Jay upset the local Blackbirds. White Sp butterflies fitted around the Gravestones alongside newly emerged Meadow Brown's and this splendidly immaculate Comma.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

House Sparrows for Lunch

Male House Sparrow, Snettisham, Norfolk

I can remember as a kid going to St James Park in London and being amazed by the Sparrow Man, who hand fed the large flock of House Sparrows that lived there, he even had some feed on food he held between his pursed lips. Since then Sparrows have disappeared from much of London and much work has been done to try and understand the reasons for their decline. As is often the case with song bird declines part of the answer at least is a lack of suitable insect food in the breeding season to feed their young. So it is good to see this colony of House Sparrows in Snettisham doing well and a quick look at their surroundings rich in food and nesting places provided by the horsieculture explains why.

These shots were grabbed in a twenty minute session with my camera yesterday lunchtime outside the office I was working from.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

A Psychogeography Field Trip along the Thames

Thames Barrier looking towards the City of London, June 2009

Work took me to London today and a trip along the Thames from Embankment Pier to the International Cruise Terminal at Tilbury and back. Like most of the people on the boat I like to consider myself relatively well travelled and having a reasonable knowledge of London. However as we followed the sinuous course of the Thames, a route most will be familiar with in outline from the opening credits of Eastenders, a new view of London emerged.

I've always known that London in reality is much more compact than it might appear on a map or that journey times via its overburdened transport network would make you think. But by following the Thames you see how close together major districts are. You also see sweeps of the city and country's history from the ultra modern docklands developments back through the Royal Naval college at Greenwich and back even further to the Tower of London.

As we passed along the Thames it was also possible to observe major differences to the river today compared to the one we would have experienced before the 1950's, gone is the hustle and bustle of one of the worlds great ports, moved down river closer to the sea or across the sea to Rotterdam. Gone to is the stench and pollution , its impossible to imagine this river catching fire or being the source of outbreaks of disease. Indeed I saw plenty of evidence of a clean river, evidenced by the presence of fish eating Cormorants and some rather wonderful Common Terns.

The very embankment of the Thames of course points at possible future changes. Surge tides forced up river and a sinking east coast allied with the effects of climate change could have a serious impact on this city and the Thames Barrier is a visible reminder of that possible fate. To me the Barrier reminded me of the walls around a medieval city with the tidal gates ready to be closed shut in the face of the enemy, not this time marauding Vikings but a surge tide threatening London.

Will Self writes a column in the Independent called Psychogeography [The study of the effect of geographical factors on the mind or on behaviour ] and today felt to me like a very enjoyable journey into my own Psychogeography of London and the Thames.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Minsmere Hobby

Hobby, Minsmere

Spent Sunday volunteering at Minsmere, initially parking cars in the rain and then taking pictures of visitors. Finally at 4 pm I had some time to myself and headed for Bittern Hide. The birding was great, in the hour I had in the hide I saw Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Kingfisher and four Hobby's.

The Hobby's were hawking for insects over the pools in the reedbed and seemed intent on making up for the time lost to the rain earlier in the day, this meant they put on a great show for those of us in a packed hide.

Photographing them was a real challenge and I am not really completely happy with any of the shots I took [you can see a couple more at http://www.flickr.com/photos/bullofthebog/ ] If anything I found them harder to photograph than the Swifts I have been working on at Titchwell. Still the pictures I managed to take give me something to work on and hopefully I'll get at least one more go with these dashing falcons this summer.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Evening Shift at the Staithe

Little Egret, Brancaster Staithe
This evening took a dusk ride along the back roads near Ringstead and then down to Brancaster Staithe and back along the coast road. Highlights were this Little Egret in Brancaster Staithe harbour that I saw catch a small flat fish and presumably the same Tawny Owl I photographed just outside Ringstead a week or so back.