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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Not as expected!

The sun was meant to shine, there was meant to be a trip to Norfolk and crab sandwiches.

When Trish and I set out it looked "promising" but as we approached Swaffham the heavens opened so we decided to head to Welney.

Not a lot going on but we saw Redshank, Greenshank, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Snipe and Whooper Swans.

So we headed back early and I took to Trish to the Fisher's Green feeding station. The sun came out and the highlight was a distant fox sunning himself.

Friday, October 30, 2009

White Squirrels

Albino animals are quite rare so Josie Atkins of Wallington in surrey got quite a treat when she had two albino squirrels in her garden! Pic here

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I could weep I really could!

I am not a religious person but if there is a god up there then he must weep at what mankind does some days.

Let us take this story.

A 10 week old puppy was kicked to death when it ran up to a group of people in a park in St Neots Cambridgshire.

The Jack Russell was being walked by its owner, a 15-year-old girl, in Priory Park, St Neots, on Monday.

The puppy ran over to three people in a wooded area of the park, and one of them kicked it in the head. It died almost instantly.

I mean WHY what is the fucking point of that? If it was a flipping adult rotweiller when maybe just maybe they could have claimed they were scared.

I ask you what on Earth has happened to mankind?

I apologise if my use if the F word offends but really!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


My reading experiences are almost exclusively fictional. Ok the odd bit off non-fiction creeps in but it is very much the exception.


I commented that I was reading a short extract from James Lees-Milne diaries and interesting it was. The book was about historic houses and there owners and was mostly set in the 1940's Lees-Milne new many of them personally (he had known the then Duchess of Devonshire since she was a baby) he contasts how much had changed since previous visits in the 30's. One moment it was Bertie Wooster and the next the war had started and the stately homes of England were in decline and things were never to be the same. Anyway I've ordered the diaries covering the 40's and those people at Amazon say they have dispatched.

The book I turned to next was A Wiltshire Diary by Francis Kilvert. Kilvert was a 19th century son of clergyman and was himself a curate and vicar. Kilvert wrote some verse but is best known for his diaries. These are hard to get hold of now (except for the 130 page extract I have). They are gossipy, full of stories about his parishioners and an interesting slice of life in the 1870's. I'd like to read more. Now curiously I've heard of Kilvert! He was a vicar on the Wales/Herefordshire border and regularly visited Hay-On-Wye (there is a pub/hotel there called Kilvert's). Note toself look for second hand copy next time I go there.

I was driving between offices this morning and listened to Radio 4's book of the week which was Dear Mr Bigelow: A Translatlanic Friendship by Frances Woodsford. The description on Amazon says;

"Dear Mr Bigelow" is an enchanting collection of weekly letters written between 1949 and 1961 from an unmarried woman working at the Public Baths in Bournemouth, to a wealthy American widower in New York. Frances Woodsford and Paul Bigelow never met, yet their epistolary friendship was her lifeline. We follow Frances' trials with her ghastly boss Mr Bond; the hilarious weekly Civil Defence Classes as the Cold War advances; her attempts to shake off an unwanted suitor, and life at home with her mother and her charming ne'er-do-well brother. Sparked with comic genius, the letters provide a unique insight into post-war England and the growth of an extraordinary friendship.

Frances had eighty or more correspondents, but Mr Bigelow was particularly special and received over seven hundred letters from Frances during the twelve years that they wrote to one another, until his death in 1961.

In 2006, Frances's letters to Mr Bigelow came to light and were returned to her. Alas Mr Bigelow's letters are no more.

I enjoyed the programme, alas the book is in hardback only so I've stuck it on pre-order.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tidy up please

A duck was pulled from a canal in Lancashire after floundering in water. The duck had a pair of plastic glasses wrapped around its neck.

It's thought that the duck got caught up after coming across piles of litter by the Leeds Liverpool canal in Accrington.

RSPCA Animal welfare officers rescued the duck using a boat and specialist nets. A vet then treated the duck for cuts to its beak and gave it antibiotics.

The duck is now in the care of a private "boarding establishment" and is due to be re-released locally in the coming weeks.

RSPCA inspector Mandi Barr said:

It was really sad to see this duck struggling and just shows the devastating effect litter can have on wildlife.

Thankfully we were able to rescue him quickly, but, had we not been alerted to his plight, the outcome could have been much more tragic.

The danger all these things pose to wildlife is substantial, even proving fatal in some cases, and the risk can be prevented by people taking responsibility for their litter.

There are still far too many animals and birds suffering as a result of litter.

Every animal trapped or injured because someone couldn't be bothered to dispose of their rubbish properly is one more than it should be.

Hard to disagree with the last point.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Can you believe what you read?

Last April I mentioned a series of small paperbacks in a series called Englush Journeys. I did pick some up at the time but they've sat resolutely in the junk room with a number of other books awaiting my attention.

Anyway I finished Simon Scarrow's rather good Young Bloods (first in a series about Napoleon and Wellington) and decided the time had come for something different.

The first book I picked up was Some Country Owners and their Houses by James Lees-Milne. Lees-Milne travelled around the country in the forties trying to obtain properties for the National Trust and he wrote a series of diaries at the time of which this is a very brief extract.

The book is divided in two with the first being about houses that eventually went to the National Trust and the second of houses he visited that didn't. I've just read part 1 so far.

Now I think I've found a rather fundamental flaw. It says of Sherborne Castle that it was eventually bequeathed to the National Trust, now as far as I know its still in private hands! The error is not Lees-Milne's but editor Michael Bloch. You really can't believe everything you read.

I've enjoyed what I've read so far and I've ordered some of his diaries.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday after the clocks go back.

The clocks went back last night and as the sun was shining I should have headed out but I turned over and pulled up the duvet.

I did wander to Rye Meads after lunch. Nice to see a Green Sandpiper and had lovely views of a Snipe.

"Oi I'm not posing!"

Oh alright then!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Its grey and wet (it was lovely yesterday). I decided to just go for a stroll.

I had to bump the ISO up so they are a bit noisey.

Blue Tit

Great Tit




Blue Tit with raindrops.

I also say Eygptian Geese, Lapwings, Long Tailed Tits, Dunnocks, House Sparrow, Wigeons, Shovellers, Teal, Pochard and Great Crested Grebes amongst others.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hopping off a plane.

Some migrants make their way around the world under there own power, some hitch a ride!

The Food and Environment Research Agency(FERA) have identified that a grasshopper that arrived in the UK on a flight from India to Stansted is a painted grasshopper. The insect is 6cm-long and sports bright blue and yellow colours.

The insect is a pest on the Indian sub-continent, however as a lone visitor it will not be able to breed and probably wouldn't have survived our climate.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bird Tales

A couple of wildlife stories caught my eye today.

The first is that young sparrows seem to learn to sing by listening to other birds.

The other is that Magpies feel grief and hold 'funeral services'.

Apparently Magpies hold funeral-type gatherings for dead birdsd and lay grass "wreaths" beside their bodies according to Dr Bekoff, of the University of Colorado.

Dr Bekoff said he studied four magpies alongside a magpie corpse and recorded their behaviour.

One approached the corpse, gently pecked at it, just as an elephant would nose the carcase of another elephant, and stepped back. Another magpie did the same thing, "

Next, one of the magpies flew off, brought back some grass and laid it by the corpse. Another magpie did the same. Then all four stood vigil for a few seconds and one by one flew off.

More in the link

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I do like stories like these.

A Hedgehog has given birth to three hoglets in the 5 star Prestonfield Hotel in Edinburgh. A porter found the mother and hoglets nesting behind a curtain and basket logs in the entrance hall and called the Scottish SPCA.

The family was taken to the Scottish SPCA's Middlebank Wildlife Centre in Fife and are to be released into the wild after seven weeks of care.

The link contains photos!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Get your beaks off of my lunch.

I've come across this story in a few places today. Do check out the photos of Starlings trying to nick a Chipmunk/Prarie Dogs lunch!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

They've got me!!

I had to see the practice nurse this morning as I have a repeat prescription for a medical condition (think rich old Aristrocrats with there foot on a stool wrapped in bandages) and this had run out.

My appointment was for 8:15 but I got in early!!!

Nurse - "how are you?"

me - "very well thanks"

Nurse - "i notice you've not had a blood test in ages, I think we ought to do that and while we are at it....."

Damn I'm going to get told to lose weight and I'll have a fair bet my blood pressure will be too high.

Walks down to fridge to finish Flint Dry off.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

And its a wrap.

Yes I know I should be out taking photos but I fancied a lazy afternoon.

So around up of some stories that I found interesting or concerning.

Plantlife is reporting that the Ghost Orchid has been declared extinct in the UK, in response to this they have published the Ghost Orchid Declaration. This is a call to governments, Members of Parliament, conservation organisations and the general public to ensure that we do not lose any more of our native flora.

Plantlife list some facts on there website that I hope they don't mind me snaffling:

  • 1 in 5 wild flowers in Britain is threatened with extinction.
  • Of the 1,150 priority species on the Government’s UK Biodiversity Action Plan, almost 50% are plants and fungi.
  • Out of £4million given in biodiversity research contracts by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee from 2007-2009, nothing went towards plant and fungi projects.
  • Flowering plants and ferns are at the bottom of the Government’s league table for features in favourable condition on Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
  • Despite a 5% increase in broadleaved woodland in the UK since 1990 – the diversity of woodland flowers has decreased by 19%.
  • In England, less than 3% of Environmental Stewardship agreements have suitable options for farmland flowers.
  • The places where the UK’s legally protected animals (including birds and invertebrates) live are also protected by law – but the places where legally protected plants live are not. Why is it OK to move plants but not OK to move water voles, bats or great crested newts?

Hard to argue with some of those I think!

The National Trust is to spend £536,000 on traditional orchards*.

Since the fifties more than 60% of our traditional orchards have disappeared, in some areas the loss has been greater Kent has lost 92% of its orchards and Devon 89%.

Apparently many orchards were close to an estate’s main house, they have been replaced by swimming pools and paddocks by owners.

The trust is to spend the money in a bit to restore 30 of it's traditional orchards and to save apple varieties with such names as Hoary Morning, Slap-Ma-Girdle and Pig Snout. Did you know there are 2,300 varieties of English Apples? How many of these do you see in a supermarket?

*A traditional orchard is defined as one where five or more fruit trees grow no more than 20m apart. They are much less closely packed than commercial orchards.

Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine are backing a Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust campaign to save the water vole. Apparently existing populations are tiny and remote, and there was an 83% fall recorded between surveys in 1978/9 and 1997/8.

Fry and Carwardine said:
We've just spent six months travelling the world in search of high profile endangered species, from kakapo to Komodo dragons.

But it's all too easy to forget that we have endangered species in our own country that need just as much help.

And lastly the National Trust has a plan to identify every ancient and notable tree in the country.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A walk in the Woods

I haven't been over the Forest in a while so off I went.

It was light of small birds at first may have had something to do with the Peregrine flying over! I did see my first Redwings of the year and lots of Jays and Mistle Thrushes.

There was an Owl calling at one point as I wandered around.

The lake was bird light a few teal, mallards and Canada Geese. Black Headed Gull numbers are up as they always are in winter.

There were a pair of Adult Great Crested Grebe

but this was the real little gem.

I did stop for a cup of tea and a bacon buttie and a pig in a poke.

And some trees....

I did pop into Bishops Stortford to raid Waitrose Wine selection (yes Jan a bottle of Chapel Down Bachuus in the cupboard - I'm having a Flint Dry tonight!!). The camera shop had a Panasonic GF-1 (a compact camera with a largish sensor) with 20mm f1.7 lens in the window. And no I never spent the £769. A little bit big but the price needs to come down :D