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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

London mostly in B&W

I'm up London for 3 days this week. Should be fun tomorrow if the G20 protest kicks off! There were plenty of police about tonight.

Anyway I thought I'd drag my little Canon compact along this morning and take a few photos as I walked from Liverpool Street.






which version do you prefer? I thought I'd leave it colour as OC would like to see some flowers but the B&W looks interesting.




This is Wesley's Chapel. It's in the book and I've been before.




I'm on floor 8 of this building.




Monday, March 30, 2009

Gulls Eggs for breakfast?

I didn't realise until I read this that some of London's top restaurants serve Black-Headed Gull Eggs.

The eggs can cost over £5 each and 40,000 a year are sold. They are sold to restaurants like The Ivy, gentleman's clubs like White's as well as Harrod's and Fortnum's and Masons.

Only 25 people have a licence to collect the eggs and all of these are over retirement age and Natural England are unlikely to allocate further licences (you have to have a "natural claim"), so the industry may well disappear. The collection season runs 1st April to 15th May.

There are an estimated 83,000 pairs in England but the population has declined by up to 49 per cent in the past 25 years and the Black Headed Gull is now an Amber rated species.

You can read comment from the RSPB, Natural England and the manager of the Restaurant Le Gavroche.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Short but Sweet

I headed down to Rye Meads after lunch. Unfortunately most of the reserve was closed! So no photos. I did get to see 2 Green Sandpipers, Common Snipe, Lapwing, Sparrowhawk and assorted ducks from the one hide open. Oh heard a Cetti's Warbler.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

St Mary, Combs

A week ago I sat in the sun eating an ice cream today was cold, grey and wet! I had an idea of what I could do today but decided getting soaked through was not a good idea!

I did though drive out to Suffolk to tick a church that unaccountably I hadn't been in before, so ....

743 St Mary, Combs














Friday, March 27, 2009

The Act of Settlement

Apparently Gordon Brown has been in discussion with the Palace to change the rules of succession to the throne. These would include giving royal women equal rights and also to amend the 1701 Act of Settlement.

I'm sure that has you all leaping up and down with excitement and has colonial types wondering how there can be a law on the statutes books from 1701 that is worth amending.

Male primogeniture goes back to Norman times and means that male heirs have precidence over females regardless of age. It probably had a degree of relevance at the time when Kings were expected to lead troops in to battle but now? Time for a change methinks. And it can be argued that Britain has been best served by its Queens.

The 1701 Act of Settlement ensures that catholics can't be come King or Queen. It may sound ridiculous now but it came about after the break with Rome 170 years earlier. There had been the dissolution of the Monastries, Armada's, the Civil War and James II. It was felt that no King or Queen could have allegiance to the Pope and be able to serve/rule their people.

The 1701 Act only prohibits Kings and Queens being Catholics OR marrying a Catholic and becoming monarch (there is technically nothing to stop the monarch marrying a Jew, Muslim or Hindu - mainly because at the time it would have been considered unthinkable). And yet when Elizabeth II was marrying Phillip (a Greek Orthodox christian) such was the sensitivity he was advised to convert to the Church of England. More recently when Peter Phillips (Princess Anne's son) married a catholic she converted so he could retain his position in the succession (optimistic at best).

Undoubtedly the discrimination against Women is ridiculous, the catholic one probably but there are more issues involved here. The monarch is head of state and can the ahead of state have allegiance to a foreign national? I guess it doesn't matter, the President of the United States has been a catholic.

Its not that straightforward to change the law though, the Government claim it would require legislation not only here but in 15 commonwealth countries.

Still I think it will come and not before time.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

There's a new bird in the garden

Well not new exactly! The results of the RSPB's latest Garden Birdwatch are out and the big winner is the Long Tailed Tit which makes its first appearance in the top 10 since the survey started 30 years ago. Apparently twice as many LTT's were seen this year compared to last.

This doesn't surprise me as my gut feel is that there are a lot more LTT's about this winter. The RSPB reckon that this is due to mild winters and birds adapting to the use of Garden Feeders - something you see at the feeding station at Amwell.

1. House sparrow (3.70)
2. Starling (3.21)
3. Blackbird (2.84)
4. Blue tit (2.45)
5. Chaffinch (2.01)
6. Woodpigeon (1.85)
7. Collared dove (1.44)
8. Great tit (1.40)
9. Robin (1.36)
10. Long-tailed tit (1.34)

The number in brackets represents the number of birds per garden.

All the birds showed an increase in recorded numbers with the exception of the starling. The Goldfinch fell out of the top 10 but showed an increase in recorded numbers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

RSPB and WInd Farms

The RSPB has called for more Wind Farms to be built.

The RSPB says it will draw up a map of environmentally sensitive sites where it would advise that farms should be avoided. It will then work with developers to advance farms in less sensitive areas.

The RSPB believes the UK could greatly increase onshore wind development without damaging nature conservation.

Ruth Davis said it was in favour of such an expansion because

Left unchecked, climate change threatens many species with extinction

Yet that sense of urgency is not translating into actions on the ground to harness the abundant wind energy around us.


There has been controversy in the past because it has been believed that birds can crash into the blades of the turbines. I guess the RSPB believes its map will minimise the risks.

In 2007 2% of the UK's energy came from wind power that compares with 29% in Denmark, 20% in Spain and 15% in Germany.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's the Law

I think this works better in B&W than it did in colour (see Saturday)?



I think it looks quite poignant with Dad walking away and the shape of the path with the Rotunda in the background.

Anyway the UK government has introduced the 2008 Counter-Terrorism Act section 76 thereof makes it an offence to to take a photograph of a police office, military personnel or member of the intelligence services—or a photograph which 'may be of use for terrorism.

This is rather vague don't you think? Does this mean we can no longer take a photo of Buckingham Palace because there'll be a soldier in it? A photo of the Horseguards? Well they are soldiers!

Yes I'm sure that isn't the intention but there is a point here.

Vernon Coaker, the minister for policing, crime and security, told the NUJ last year that photography could be limited
on the grounds of national security
in
situations in which the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations or inflame an already tense situation or raise security considerations
, or
to prevent a breach of the peace


Val Swain, a member of Fitwatch, a collective which photographs police intelligence teams taking pictures of protesters, said:
I took a picture of an officer on my camera phone and he walked over and said, 'you are going to delete that'. We're in a public place, he's in a public role and he knew that. They've been gearing up for it but so far they've stopped short of arresting people. Now they will have the power to do it.


Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the NUJ, said:
Police officers ... believe they have the power to delete images or to take editorial decisions about what can and can't be photographed. The right to take photos in a public place is a precious freedom. It is what enables the press to show the wider world what is going on.


I've no idea what that all this means but I expect that the Police will use it as they see fit.

As much as we have to protect ourselves from terrorists I don't believe that curbing our civil liberties still further is the way to do it.

If you object to this law and are a British Citizen then this petition may interest you.

For my part I've emailed my MP and told him that alas I won't be voting for him next year. 1) he's a government minister and 2) he has a 92 majority.

I regret this because I think he is a decent consitituency MP but I think I've had enough of being "protected" by New Labour.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another day in the Spring Sun

When I woke it was cloudy but soon enough the sun came out so I headed out.

I went to the RSPB's Fowlmere reserve. No idea why since I seldom see lots of birds there, I ought to try in Summer to see how it does for Dragons. Still it was a lovely walk and I saw some nice birds, Chiffchaff, Snipe, Little Grebe, Teal and Siskin. Oh and some Brown Trout.







I then headed to Audley End Mansion.

















A Comma, the first photo of a flutter this year.











The sun was gorgeous and I sat in the garden and read some of my book. Lovely!

As I drove home a Buzzard got harassed by a corvid.