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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Local Churches

It was lovely yesterday and yet when I poked my head out of the window this morning it was foggy. It was positivey autumnal!

I decided that you would fancy a change from wildlife and so you can have a look at a couple of local churches.

People refer to Dunmow but what they mean is Great Dunmow and just down the road is Little Dunmow.

On first glance the church might be assumed to be a small box but we need to look closely. Those wonderful decorated windows look big for a small building don't they.

But from this side the windows are on a much smaller scale.

And yet when we go inside that same uninspring wall has magnificent arcading which has been filled in!

What we see is a small fragment of the Priory of St Mary and a chapel off of the Priory churches chancel.

It was the Priors of Little Dunmow who came up with the idea of the Flitch. Weddings were informal affairs and the Priors offered a flitch (side) of Bacon to any couple who agreed to be married in church and remained "unregreted" after a year. The tradition died out at the reformation but was reinvented in the 18th century by a manorial lord. It is carried on today at Great Dunmow.

Down the road is St Mary Stebbing with its fine Stone Rood screen (these are quite rare but there is also one a few miles away at Great Bardfield).

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hawkers Galore

In answer to Jan, Tesco may be open all night but M&S isn't so I duly arrived at 8:30, managed to pick up a casual pair of trousers in Tesco £7 off and two work pairs in M&S.

So I wandered off to Cornhill Meadows and there were one or two dragons but not many and they weren't playing ball all I got were these....

Speckled Wood



I popped into Fisher's Green, there is a feeding station with a hide next to it....

Blue Tits

Definitely not a great pic but its the first I have of a Lesser Whitethroat

More Blue Tits

This Greenfinch is not well, see the deformities on the head.

After lunch I headed to Rye Meads, the sun was out it was warm. From the Draper hide there was a Green Sandpiper, the Garganey and ooh look at this....

They are tiny aren't they!

There were loads of Hawkers about, here we have Migrant Hawker.

Grey Heron

The Hawker's were bashing away at each other. I've never seen a Brown Hawker at rest until NOW!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

New Trousers

And so another week comes to an end. It's exciting today as I'm interviewing all day (if you believe that you'll believe anything!!), I've popped out for a sandwich!

The weather is meant to be nice tomorrow so I have to decide what to do. It appears I am going to HAVE to do something else I hate..... clothes shopping!! I am in need of a new pair of casual trousers and two pairs for work! I don't like spending money on clothes at the best of times but on a nice day? Yuck! I suppose I could do with a few new work shirts as well - SIGH! Honestly, new camera? No problem! Food? No problem! Books? No problem! Holidays? bring it on! Clothes? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am going to plan my day and slot in a quick trip to M&S/Tesco. I think its going to be a local day and so I may pop down to the dragonfly sanctuary (nature reserve) at Cornhill Meadows. Think you must be sick of the Forest and Rye Meads. If anyone would prefer architecture to wildlife let me know.

Of course knowing me I am likely to fly to Tesco at 6am buy some trousers and then head off somewhere totally different!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lost in Austen

ITV have an uh interesting adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice.

It takes Amanda Price, a modern young woman who is a big Austen fan, and has her swap places with Elizabeth Bennet ia a portal in Amanda's bathroom.

It will keep all of the characters and costumed glamours with the twist of Elizabeth being "inhabited" by a modern woman. The idea being I guess to show the Georgian world through modern eyes.

It picks up when the book starts and starts next Wednesday at 9pm

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oh the Stress.

Its been a VERY stressful day. I've had to do something I haven't done in years!! I've been to a hairdressers!!

For years (I reckon at least 18-19) my hair has been cut but by the woman who cut Mum's. When she left the shop Mum went to to have a baby she came to the house and cut mums hair. She then started doing mine & Dads as well. But it seems she no longer wants to do this since she never answered the two messages dad left a week or so back.

So faced with my hair getting scruffier I bit the bullet and walked into a barbers. It wasn't one of these fancy places, just an old fashioned barbers. Let me stress I DO NOT LIKE HAIRDRESSERS I never have. I have no sense of style and fashion and I'm convinced everyone knows it.

My hair is now considerably shorter and tidier and to be fair it wasn't that painful!

Poor Year for Butterflies

I've commented a few times this summer that it felt like a bad year for butterflies. This is not in anyway a scientific analysis but just that I felt I had had less opporunities to present you with photos this year. Indeed if it wasn't for a certain budleia bush at Hatfield Forest......

Anyway my gut feel approach seems to be backed up by more expert evidence. We've now had two poor summers on the trot. Rain forces butterflies to find shelter and prevents them foraging for the nectar they need for a good breeding season. Ideally what they want is sunny weather with just enough rain to help flowers grow.

Apparently butterfly numbers have been in decline since the 1950's with intensive farming fueling the use of pestiscides. Wet summers therefore compound the problems.

According to Butterfly Conservation Chief Exec Dr Martin Warren:
There is no doubt that it has been dire for most species and unfortunately it follows an already bad run of summers.

We are really concerned about the small tortoiseshell which has been in long-term decline and which seems to have reached a trough and stayed there."

and from Matthew Oates, National Trust nature conservation advisor:

Weather conditions impact greatly on the fortunes of butterflies. The last two summers have been blighted by rain and wind that seriously affected their fortunes across the UK.

Yet some species have managed to overcome the odds and have had excellent flight seasons. Overall, though, it has been a dreadful butterfly year, probably the worst in my 45 year experience.

I've kept detailed records since 1972, and it's certainly the worst year since then. My previous lowest tally of small tortoiseshells by mid-August was about 250, in 1988. This year I've counted 20.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Titchwell Marsh the Future

Forget Russia invading Georgia, the Olympics etc THE BIG news is that the RSPB is to abandon part of Titchwell Marsh to the sea.

This sounds disastrous but perhaps is not as bad as it sounds.

Titchwell's sea wall will be moved back behind the old brackish marsh and this will create a tidal salt marsh and a new sea wall will be built to protect the freshwater marsh (and Bitterns - the RSPB's raison d'etre). This may mean a different mix of birds but some are already adapting with some Avocets moving from the brackish marsh to the freshwater marsh. At the same time visitor facilities will be enhanced.

Rob Coleman, the reserve’s manager, said:
I know this is a huge change for Titchwell and for the very many people who share our deep love for the reserve, but the need to go ahead with this scheme was clear.

We faced a stark choice between sacrificing the brackish marsh or losing the whole site to the sea.

In drawing up these changes we have listened hard to local people and to visitors. As a result, the new-look site will keep and improve on all the things that make Titchwell special for them.

The RSPB plans to create new nesting sites at its Freiston Shore and Frampton Marsh reserves, 19 miles away on the Lincolnshire side of The Wash. And I hope the RSPB will create new facilities for birders as well.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Being a tourist guide

Trish has long hinted that she would like to visit Rye Meads so I said yesterday if she wanted to come up to day I'd show her around.

As she was early I took her to the forest first. The sun was shining, not many birds we had a big Goldfinch flock (mixed adults and juveniles) and a Common Whitethroat. I did see a Kingfisher and Trish missed it again!

The lake was quiet (it will be until autumn/winter now) still three adult Great Crested Grebes and two juveniles (we discovered that there have been two breeding pairs this year, having two broods each).

The buddleia by the shell house was alive

We stopped for breakie at the National Trusts excellent tea bar. Trish enjoyed her pig in a poke even if she moaned about the sudden loss of sun.

And so on to Rye Meads it will be interesting to read about it through other eyes.

Lots of Green Sandpipers about, Trish found a Kingfisher. Lots of young birds, including Little Grebes. Oh I was well chuffed to find the Garganey again.

Record shots

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